Money is the inspiration for some of the world's greatest aphorisms. But are they True or False? We asked Jacob Needleman.
Money can't buy happiness.
True. Happiness is meaning and money can't buy meaning.
The love of money is the root of all evil.
False. The root of all evil is craving and obsessiveness. It doesn't matter if it's money or postage stamps.
Money makes the world go round.
True. But desire really makes the world go round — and money is just desire's way of organizing itself.
Money can't buy love.
True. Of course money can buy some kinds of love — but not a certain kind.
Too much money too easily gotten spoils you.
True. There's a law of payment for everything in life: you have to work for things in order for them to work for you.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
True. But also a fool hoards his money. A fool just behaves foolishly about his money.
A good reputation is more valuable than money.
False. Not today when reputations can be created. In ancient times, a good reputation actually meant you had a good character. And in that sense it was more valuable than money. But today I would have to ask, "How much money?"
Greed is good.
False and True. Greed, by definition, is an uncontrolled craving; therefore, greed is not good. But you do need a certain amount of "greed" to succeed in business.
All men have their price.
Almost True. There are some men who have no price, no matter what. But usually that's with inner moral things — so almost all men have their price.
I've been poor and I've been rich. Rich is better.
True. This saying is a great antidote to hypocrisy.
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine.