Reflections on Money
by Kianga Daverington
September 1, 2020
This essay, written by Kianga Daverington of Daverington PLLC , was originally published in January 2020. The piece as been condensed for clarity.
Money is not a physical object like a coin, a bar of gold or a dollar bill. Money is at its core, a technology. It is a human invention designed to solve a specific set of human problems. Consider money, perhaps, in a new way. Think of money as a system for capturing time.
Time is the one thing we each have that is absolutely finite. We are born, we die, and the dash in between is all the time we have.
Think of production. We can usually produce more of some good by adding people to a task (also known as “WORK”). But we are still constrained by time. Whatever we produce is still limited by the amount of humans that can be organized to go into that production. Each of us possesses a limited amount of time available to us individually, so we need to convince or coerce others to add their time to ours if we want to achieve more than we can alone.
Out of this imperative, nations are born.
The most important quality of any particular form of money is how well it preserves the value of time over time. Can you buy the same amount of stuff or more in the future than you can buy today? If yes, congratulations - your money is accumulating time for you and future generations while you relax on the beach. If it takes more and more of a unit of money to buy the same amount of time in the future, well then I’m sorry, but that unit of money is getting weaker and weaker. It’s losing value or said another way – it’s losing purchasing power. The longer you hold it, the less it buys.
In a way, by purchasing goods and services, you are purchasing time. Every product and every service requires time to make and time to deliver - your time and/or someone else’s. The price therefore reflects the collective value of all the time put in. Money is a way we exchange time and move it around from where it is valued less to where it is valued more.
This is where prosperity comes from. It comes out of how well a society, collectively and each person, spends its time. How much time is spent creating and making? How much time is spent consuming? If we make more than we consume, we have something left over called wealth. If we consume more than we make, we are left with debt. You can’t consume what you don’t have, unless someone extends credit. Where does this “credit” come from? Basically –it’s made up.
Too much credit or debt eventually collapses and everyone is mixed up in the collapse.
If we understand that a unit of money represents a unit of time, and we understand time is limited, then a unit in a system of money with unlimited supply cannot have any value. This is the problem we are facing today with the world’s money supply. The supply of money in the world is increasing exponentially as central banks create money by giving loans to national governments, which is where our money comes from.
Our entire world financial system is a powder keg of debt.
National currencies today are known as fiat money, a currency without intrinsic value that has been given its power to be used as money by a government that says it is money by regulation. Wikipedia says, “Fiat money does not have use value, and has value only because a government maintains its value, or because parties engaging in exchange agree on its value.” Well said, Wiki.
A government’s job of maintaining the value of its national money boils down to a confidence game. On what basis do the people who use that government’s money believe it has value?
What happens to the money and those who hold it when the foundation of that belief begins to crumble?
The Astounding Reach of US Military Counterterrorism
by Stephanie Savell
August 1, 2018
This article and the accompanying maps were first published in frank on April 3, 2018.
Stephanie Savell co-directs the Costs of War project at Brown University's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
In the name of fighting terrorism, the US military footprint is rapidly expanding across the globe. President George W. Bush launched the “Global War on Terror” with Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in October 2001. Today, this war has morphed into a shadowy, expansive network of counterterror activity in more places than most Americans could possibly imagine. According to a map released by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the US military is taking some sort of action against terrorism in 76 nations, or 40% of the countries on the planet.
In a lack of transparency that is unsurprising, perhaps, but striking nonetheless, the US government does not release complete information about the locations of US counterterror activity to the public. In creating the map, the Costs of War Project assembled this data in one place for the first time, gathering information country-by-country from reputable news sources, government websites, and expert input. One obscure but key source for the map, for example, was a Pentagon list labeled “Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medals Approved Areas of Eligibility.” From it, the Costs of War team was able to learn of places the military deems part of that “War on Terrorism,” like Ethiopia and Greece. These locations were then crosschecked with the State Department’s “Country Reports on Terrorism,” which officially document terrorist incidents, country-by-country, and what each country’s government is doing to counter terrorism.
Of the four categories of military activity on the map, by far the most common is training or assisting other countries’ security forces in counterterrorism (58 of 76 countries’ forces are being trained). Various countries also see more intense levels of activity -- they are home to US military base(s) and/or lily pads used in counterterror operations, they host US combat troops deployed in counterterror missions, or they are targeted by US air and drone strikes. But even the category of “training and assistance” is often far less innocuous than it sounds. A recent investigative piece by The New York Times into the deaths of four Green Berets, last October, by an Islamic State affiliate in the West African nation of Niger, revealed that so-called “training” missions can involve a great deal of on-the-ground combat.
Noticeably, the map shows that beyond the Middle East – which most Americans associate with the war on terror – counterterror activities are taking place in Africa more than any other region. The continent is home to countless US military bases, camps, compounds, port facilities, and "cooperative security locations," and the US military is providing massive amounts of military technology, hardware, training and expertise to local African militaries and police forces. US special operations forces have been deployed to track local insurgents, and drone strikes to kill terrorist targets have increased substantially, causing hundreds of civilian casualties.
After the Niger incident, congressional debates revealed that American lawmakers had little idea where in the world our troops are stationed, what they are doing there, or even the extent of counterterrorism activity among the Pentagon’s various commands. This map, therefore, is an important step towards increased public awareness and oversight of US military activity, in Africa and in many other countries. It is the visible face of a vast financial, political, and social investment for which Americans can, and should, hold lawmakers accountable.
Below are a series of maps created by Stephanie and frank. Scroll through for a visual look at the astounding reach of the U.S. Military.