Wealthy families, James Taggart
As money is the barometer of a society's virtue (383), so is money the measure of a person's worth. This is the importance of money in the story of Atlas Shrugged, where the stakes are high and some of the characters larger than life. Amongst the characters are Francisco d'Anconia and James Taggart, descendants of two wealthy families who have known each other from young and see money in their own particular ways. On one level, James and Francisco share certain similarities when it comes to money: both want to make money, because both recognize money as a means to something else.
On another level, though, their understandings of money and the ways they relate to it are so different because their underlying motivations and philosophies are at odds with each other. This is why they are foils of each other, and also explains why James Taggart desires money but does not earn it, while Francisco d'Anconia does not desire money but earns it.
[...] Conversely, although production is in some sense the “hardest” way to make money, it is also in another sense the simplest, because money will naturally come to the man who applies his creative faculties honestly. It is for this reason that Francisco makes the somewhat cryptic remark: “Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth—the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.” (382) Ultimately, it makes sense that can't buy happiness” (364) for James, since he is amongst those men whom Francisco labels as having concept of what he wants” (382). [...]
[...] What he does not understand, however, is that such attributes cannot be derived externally, and moreover, that money should not be implicated in this formula as having such an objective, or indeed any objective at all. This is why he uses money erroneously, is thereby accused by Cherryl Brooks of wanting unearned in spirit” and ultimately fails in his search for self-validation. Under such circumstances, money can only become an opiate that drugs James further. www.oboolo.com But viewing money as a means to an end is not always incorrect; Francisco does this too. [...]
[...] Moreover, Francisco understands that it is not the money that one owns which is important, but rather how one has come to possess it: just because some men like Hank Rearden make money order to exchange [their] best effort for the best effort of others” (419) does not mean that only the men who “give value for value” (380) will have money. This is because “exchang[ing one's] best effort for the best effort of others” presupposes in the first place putting in one's best effort, which is the “hardest” (419) way to make money. The question that then follows is, why do some men still choose to do this? If money is an opiate for James, then it is a certificate of achievement, and thereby a “token of honor” for Francisco. [...]
[...] With regard to money specifically, the tragedy of James Taggart therefore lies neither in hypocrisy, nor in an incorrect or incomplete understanding of it; instead, it lies in the fact that he does not have any firm understanding of it at all since he is unwilling to think and define for himself a purpose in life. This, in turn, explains the different ways he relates to money concretely, as illustrated by the examples above: they are not so much hypocritical, contradictory, or even inconsistent, as they are incoherent. In this sense, then, it is true that James never cared for money” (794). [...]
[...] Yet he does call the www.oboolo.com failed investment of the San Sebastián Mines a “disgraceful affair” at one point certainly wants to purchase shares of the Interneighborly Amity and Development Corporation “which would bring him a fortune” and even talks to Dagny Taggart smugly when it seems that he is “better at [money-making]” (327) than she is. What exactly then does money mean to James Taggart? In fact, the exact purpose for which James wants money is in some sense inconsequential, because what he really wants is to feel validated. [...]
using our reader.