Perhaps my favorite character in all of literature is Ayn Rand’s Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d’Anconia from her novel Atlas Shrugged. The descendant of long line of industrialists and sole heir to his family’s fortune, Francisco flouts the idea that money destroys by working to be worthy of his inheritance. He also delivers the iconic money speech in which he asks “So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money?”
Atlas Shrugged is full of speeches that ask such questions. The answers, and the novel as a whole, are tangible and definitive odes to the ideals that America was founded on–life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A Russian immigrant who suffered alongside her family during the Bolshevik Revolution, Rand was uniquely positioned in history to understand and communicate the importance of the United States of America’s commitment to individualism and its physical symbol money.
“To the glory of mankind, there was, for the first and only time in history, a country of money–and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America,” Rand shows through Francisco’s theatricality, “for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement.” Whereas money is sometimes damned as the reason people make choices (especially poor ones), through Francisco Rand reminds us that money is actually a consequence of our choices. In this sense, a person’s character is reflected in what he does with his money–and how he earns it.
Rand affirms this symbolic nature of money as Francisco continues, “If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’” Unlike past societies that held the belief that wealth was a limited quantity bestowed by God, the crowd, or the state, Americans understand that money is created through hard work that can only stem from the mind of an individual man or woman.
To celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the country recognizing women’s natural right to vote, The United States Treasury will unveil a redesigned $10 bill in the year 2020 bearing the visage of a woman who “makes a statement about who we are and what we stand for as a nation.” Great, my co-hosts and I on Welcome to The Midside say. There is no better woman to adorn it than Ayn Rand, a strong-willed, talented woman who escaped communist Russia to celebrate democratic America by composing compelling fiction (and non-fiction) that featured beautiful, intelligent, and strong female protagonists.
Some may turn to economic arguments to assert that Rand herself would not want her image to appear on currency not backed by a gold standard. Let them. This choice is symbolic, and there can be no better symbol than the woman who wrote “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction.” Others may attempt to mis-characterize her as elitist and hateful. Let them. Rand wrote extensively on the importance of respecting the individual’s free will and the evils of collectivist thought such as racism.
The root of money is you. Perhaps no one understood that fact better than Rand, and she showed us why and how in a dramatic and entertaining fashion never before seen in the history of humanity and not since equaled. Honor her in the way she, and you, deserve.
There is no more perfect $10 than Ayn Rand.