Time might be money – but only time is limited…

The general conern that time is money is surely true – and all of our times’ is limited.

But having read a very long but sometimes interesting, article on Modern Monetary Theory and how the Job Guarantee is less effective than than a Universal Basic Income, I conclude that we have not ever properly considered time.

I was attracted by the article as I – very broadly – agree with the sentiment…

Still, I suggest that if the object of the economy is, at base, to assist us all in pursuing a life that is better with the current economy, rather than one without it, then getting people to spend their time, as, for example, our current unemployment benefit insists, to devote every waking moment of their time in order to find a job, is hardly promoting any economic benefit – particularly when David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs clearly suggests that these jobs can sometimes be actually for no discernible purpose.

In fact, surely time is one of the most mis-spent values in our economy.

Time is of course, yet another abstract noun, and straightforwardly the essence of time is our limited human life.

Why should the state be obliging us to spend our time doing things they sanction?

Clearly they should when we all agree that all our time is valuable and together we can combine to improve our general benefit.

But obligatory continual job application?

That, surely, has zero general economic benefit.

(Even if eventually, it might benefit the applicant.)

Regrettably, for many, much of our time is engaged in financial survival, which when a basic income could provide for everyday life then that obvious ‘economic waste’ would no longer be required.

How on earth is Unemployment Benefit that is conditional on job applications benefitting the economy?

We need to get the economic actual purpose in gear, I suggest.

Money gets stuff done for sure – and government creates it for that purpose.

But the further requirement for our human created economy is surely the time to look after and raise children, which, in the end, is the very purpose of humanity.

We have an economy which now seems, given the cost of child care, to discourage it.

We need an economy that gives us time to do things that are for us and for the benefit of us all.

That is if, in the end, the economy is properly to work, for general, societal future benefit.

In short we need an economy that, if it is to work properly for the benefit of everyone, is one that actually respects time – and actually, our time.

But that is also time on this earth.

It could help if people understood money creation, which is of course the way that government gets things get done.

But in the end, that would be in order, in fact, to have a time-limited chance to improve the economy that is all of ours….

Still, even when time is money, money is a human invention.

The time that is running out is not….


  1. Michael G -

    Stephen Hawking:
    “If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”

    1. Peter May -

      How very true.

  2. Andrew Dickie -

    How right you are, Peter and Michael.

    One of the problems is the capture of economics by economists who wanted to turn it into “economathematics”, effectively turning it from a social science, into and exact science, and burying its true meaning.

    Here’s Wikipedia’s take on the word:

    Oikonomos (Greek: οἰκονόμος, from oiko- ‘house’ and -nomos ‘rule, law’), latinized oeconomus or œconomus, was an Ancient Greek word meaning ‘household manager’.

    The only danger of this definition is that it could seem to validate the “household budget” model of economics, until one realises that “household manager” refers centrally to the members of the household in whose interest the household is being run – in other words, people.

    In other words, the money is managed for the benefit of the household, and not the other way round, as the ‘economathematicians’ (and econometricians) would have it, fitting people to the Procrustes’s Bed of econometric theory.

    Actually, I wish ancient Greek had gone for ‘oikianomos’, rather than ‘oikonomos’, because ‘oikos’ refers more to the building, with the people implicit in the concept, where ‘oikia’ means both ‘household’ and ‘estate’.

    ‘Ecianomomics’ would thus refer to the whole complex of people, buildings and estate/land, linking them together into an organic, and people-centred whole – exactly what economics should always be about, with people as the subject and money and resources as the object, and not the other way round.

    The Modern Money Scotland Facebook site is prefaced by this apt quotation from the great economist (and true ecianomist), Joan Robinson:

    “The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready made answers to economics questions, but to know to avoid being deceived by economists.”

    (From ‘Contributions to Modern Economics’, 1978)

    1. Peter May -

      I’m no Greek scholar but cannot ‘oikos’ also mean family? That’s the conclusion I seemed to come to – perhaps thinking wishfully?! – some years ago http://www.progressivepulse.org/economics/basic-econimics/rethinking-economics-what-is-the-economy-for.

      Very good quote from Joan Robinson. How right she is. But it’s a long haul to study it all – only to realise it’s all a deception anyway.

      Universities simply should not be teaching it as they do – and in continuing to do so they prove of course, that it is very far from a science….

      1. Andrew Dickie -

        Peter, you are quite right that ‘oikos’ CAN refer to a household, hence the definition of ‘household manager’ in Wikipedia, but it more usually refers to the building (with inhabitants implicitly included), where ‘oikia’ refers more to a whole estate.

        It’s why I prefer to translate the famous quote fro St John’s Gospel affirming that “In Father’s house there are many rooms” by “On my Father’s estate there are many stopping places”, so turning a static localised image into a dynamic mobile image – a pilgrimage in place of a destination.

        As to the correctness of Joan Robinson, and the failure of many university economics Departments to teach ‘ecianomics’, that is very true, and is the reason for Manchester University’s rebellion against the stranglehold of economics as econometrics.

      2. Peter May -

        Many thanks, Andrew.

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