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In this quote, Ralph Waldo Emerson seems to be making two key points about money:
- That money itself has no inherent worth and is useless if not put to practical use, as it cannot “spend itself” without human action and decision-making.
- That how well money is utilized depends entirely on the abilities and judgment of the person choosing to spend it. Emerson refers to this as the “skill of the spender.”
Overall, Emerson appears to be arguing that financial resources only gain value and purpose when deployed effectively by knowledgeable and prudent spenders. The quote conveys Emerson’s view that money’s utility relies entirely on the spending skills, wisdom and resourcefulness of the individuals allocating and applying funds, not on the money itself. It emphasizes the active, thoughtful role of spenders in determining money’s real impact and value.