All Commentary
Tuesday, December 1, 1992

The Love of Money

It is not money itself that is the root of all evil.

The famous Biblical statement about money is not about money but about loving it. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself, and that is crucial—love is to be reserved for God, family, and friends—in short, for those who are one’s personal intimates, not for anything else. No wonder, then, that if one gets confused and actually loves money or golf or deep sea fishing, thus seriously mistaking one’s priorities, it leads one astray and ought to be resisted. But there is nothing actually wrong with money—any more than with golf or deep sea fishing.

—Tibor R. Machan


On Need

In a market economy, consumers get what they want. If you’re selling what people want, you will survive; if you’re not, you won’t. There are no hearings, no votes, no lobbying, no log-rolling, no protesting competitors, no grandstanding by morally superior do-gooders, and no judges.

Determining “need” by a political administrative process is flatly impossible. Information about “need” exists only in the minds of potential customers faced with future conditions and alternatives that are unknowable to them. There is no way that future “needs” can be determined by anyone, even less by a committee that is tugged to and fro by lawyers and others intent on mischief.

The only way to find need is to have an entrepreneur take a chance on his own nickel and see what happens in the market.

—John Wenders


A Self-Made Nation

Businessmen, self-made men, and entrepreneurs are vilified in film, fiction, and television. From Sinclair Lewis’ Babbitt to the Dallas TV soap opera, and the movie Roger and Me about General Motors, businessmen are portrayed as villains and also as graceless, unlettered boors, the true ugly Americans. Why, when we are a nation of self-made men?

Some businessman, some risk taker, had to take a chance on the first railroad, automobile factory, and radio station. On a more prosaic level, someone had to believe in the plastic garden hose, and the stick-on towel rack. More often than not these were individuals who scraped together every nickel they could get their hands on and went to work. Why is there such animosity toward those who are the glue that helps to hold the whole nation together?

IBM founder Thomas Watson started as a sewing machine salesman. He was far from rich, but he had something to offer. Robert Gross borrowed $17,000 at the height of the Great Depression to buy the nameplate—which was about all that still existed of the Lockheed Aeroplane Company. One of his engineers, Jack Northrop, later struck out on his own, with borrowed money, to start his own company. And so it went with thousands of others who looked into the future, took enormous risks, and in time became successful.

We are a nation of self-made men. And self-made men have made us a self-made nation. They enable us to exist. They are the reason we are unique. To deny this is to deny the color of the grass or the inevitability of the seasons. If there is a moral, it is that we shouldn’t be so harsh in our appraisal of the self-made man, the businessman.

—Donald G. Smith



Poverty has been the natural condition of the world from time immemorial. It remains the condition for the majority of the world’s population today. But there is a significant difference. It is no longer the natural condition. Today, each country determines for itself whether it will be rich or poor. Its political policies, past and present, determine its economic status.

One common belief is that countries are poor because they lack capital. But as Lord Bauer has emphasized, if all the conditions for development except capital are present, capital will soon be generated locally or be imported from abroad.

in brief, a necessary, although not sufficient condition for economic development is the establishment of an “enabling environment,” essentially a classical liberal government which maintains order and protects property but does not interfere in the economic realm.

—David Osterfeld


Science and the State

As applied, for example, to science, [central] planning means the attempt to replace the aims which science sets itself by aims set to science by the government in the interest of public welfare. It makes the government responsible for the ultimate acceptance or rejection by the public of any particular claims of science and for granting or withdrawing protection to particular scientific pursuits in accordance with social welfare. The proper aims of science being denied justification and even reality, the scientist still pursuing them is naturally held guilty of a selfish desire for his own amusement. It will be logical and proper for the politician to intervene in scientific matters, claiming to be the guardian of higher interests wrongly neglected by scientists. It will be sufficient for a crank to commend himself to a politician in order to increase considerably his chances of recognition as a scientist. In fields where scientific criteria allow wide latitude of judgment (e.g., medicine, agricultural science, or psychology) the crank who can enlist political support will find easy openings for establishing himself in a scientific position. Thus corruption or outright servitude will weaken and narrow down the true practice of science; will distort its rectitude and whittle down its freedom. And it will similarly distort and whittle down all rectitude and freedom in every field of cultural and political activity.

—Michael Polanyi

Science, Faith and Society

  • The Freeman is the flagship publication of the Foundation for Economic Education and one of the oldest and most respected journals of liberty in America. For more than 50 years it has uncompromisingly defended the ideals of the free society.