• Ethan Lang

The Amorality of Money

Updated: May 5, 2020

In the CBS News article “The Secret Meaning of Money” Mark Jaffe states that “money is just money.” Is that really all money is? Money. If so, why do so many people cling to it as if it was life support? Why do some people steal this precious gift while others give all theirs away? Why do some forget their families trying to get it or start doing drugs once they have it? Money prevails as a sore word that should never be talked about, but why? Money intrinsically does hold value; however, it endures as amoral and exposes our inner selves when we take hold of it.

Physical Meaning of Money

Money, of course, has its literal definition. As Dictionary.com states, money is defined as “any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits.” This definition believes money is nothing more than a way for us to exchange currency of some sort without having to barter. Additionally, it states the fact the money avails itself in different methods, such as coins, paper money, and demand deposits. While stating that money is a “circulating medium of exchange,” it shows us currency holds true value besides those who behold and give meaning to it. In addition to the intrinsic value, money also contains no morality because it is simply a way to exchange goods. Therefore, the dictionary.com definition of money states money is simply a way to exchange goods and value, while also stating nothing about the morality of it.

Psychological Meaning of Money

While the dictionary may be the literal definition, Roy Baumeister, in his 2008 Psychology Today article, gives us the psychological meaning of money when stating that “Money is control over the environment by means of the social system.” This definition sounds as if money is controlling us, but he goes on to say, “You have control to make the system give you what you want.” This shows us money, as he states, is a resource for us to use. Throughout the social system, money exists for everyone. The means by which one attains their share of the pie exposes their morals. Money has the value of any other resource such as shelter and food because most need it to survive. From this, we see that Roy Baumeister states that money is a resource in the social system in which we have the ability to control.

Money Is Just Money

In the same sense we control money, it seems a small group controls a large stake of our money. Mark Jaffe states this point and others throughout his CBS News article when he declares that “For obscenely loaded individuals, money is just money. And making it is a game.” Many individuals wonder why the ultra-rich keep striving for more money, but it always comes back to the point that the meaning of money comes from the eye of the beholder. For certain wealthy individuals, money does not appeal to them, but the game and the chase of making it does. Other individuals gain joy from donating every cent they have, while others are afraid to give even a cent away. Overall, Mark’s definition proves that although it may seem that money has many different meanings is because we all personally define what money means to us, and it, in turn, reveals our character.

Final Thoughts

Money does not hold morality, but instead, it reveals our own personal morality within. While money still holds monetary value, the innate value of it is up to the beholder. As described earlier, money means a multitude of things to various individuals. Since money's innate value comes from the beholder, what does money mean to you?