Making Money

Atlas Shrugged made it to the NYTimes.com in a section entitled, “Quotes Uncovered.” A reader wrote in to ask this question:

In Francisco D’Anconia‘s “money speech” in Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged (the full speech is online at Capitalism Magazine), the following statement occurs: “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.’” Is that a fact? That is, was “to make money,”presumably rather than earning it or acquiring it or all the other phrases for the accumulation of wealth, actually coined by an American?

Francisco’s (Ayn Rand’s) assertion about American’s coining the phrase seemed valid to me at the time, but I didn’t pursue it wholeheartedly. The author of the column responds this way:

Fascinating question. I will resist the temptation to make a crack about Ayn Rand being about as good a historical lexicographer as she was a philosopher, but the fact is that the Oxford English Dictionary documents the expression “to make money” back to 1457. It was probably not Americans who were using it in 1457.

What do you think Ayn Rand would say if she were alive today?

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