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?
Bobby Kim On Using His Platform
by Bobby Kim
September 10, 2018
Bobby “Hundreds” Kim, is co-founder of streetwear brand The Hundreds.
I believe that everything is political. The way you comb your hair, the produce you eat, the movies you choose to watch. For some people in this country, just existing is a politically charged statement, whether due to their skin color, disability, or sexual orientation. That’s why it confuses me when people tell me to stick to designing clothes instead of politics. Or that they would prefer I cut down on all the social justice talk in my channels. I don’t see how I can divorce my art from my experiences, or me from the world.
With Nike, Ford, and Levi’s boldly taking a stance on the NFL/kneeling issue – a remark that was certain to turn off a segment of the American population – it shows that it’s harder than ever to brush social issues off the table. Our parents advised us to never bring up religion or politics over dinner. That willful ignorance oiled familial relationships and social niceties. It was more comfortable to avoid the hard discussions and keep friendships intact. It was a selfish play. It made for a wrinkle-free life, one where our gardens bloomed and children celebrated birthday parties. Yet, it also locked others (the voiceless and powerless ones) in systems of oppression.
Activists have always known this truth. Social justice warriors have interrupted your regularly scheduled programs to remind you of violations. But, in the past, you could avoid that street corner or not pick up that magazine. The zealots and fanatics were ignorable, and so was the injustice. Today, however, we can’t hide from social media and the transparency it brings to our communication. For the first time in history, everyone is speaking their points of view with abandon. We are virtually reading each other’s minds and colliding with people’s deep-rooted fears, misinformed insecurities, and cold hate. And many of these people are humans we love and care deeply about.
The Kaepernick affair illustrates this revelation. This pulling-back of the curtain on our disconnect, our misalignments as a society. Pre social media, most Americans classified racists as WWII Nazis or the KKK. Then, there were the rest of us, floating around the spectrum, having Black friends at work and celebrating Martin Luther King Day. But, racism isn’t just burning crosses and firehoses. It can be overlooking Asian-Americans in casting Hollywood movies or refusing to acknowledge the disproportionate number of Black men who are murdered by the police. With social media, that murky grey middle ground is disappearing and that line in the sand is getting bolder and starker. We are getting a sharper picture of who stands where and it sucks to see our friends and family on the opposite side.
But, it is necessary. This is the hard stuff - the arguments and debates we’ve staved off for generations. Swept under the rug, they’ve now abscessed and swelled and must be addressed head-on. The elephant in the room is now sitting on us and it is time we worked together to guide it out.
To mute myself of these topics, to dance around the thorny issues, is as duplicitous as a friend who only tells you what you want to hear. In fact, it’s worse as a business. It’s a friend who only looks to take your money. If you’re operating a brand today, your customer wants to know everything: the way you comb your hair, the produce you eat, and the movies you watch. They also want to hear what you have to say about current affairs. And it’s not just to be enlightened or swayed by your opinion. It’s to make sure your heart is beating and that you’re keeping it real.
We’ve trained ourselves to see politics as divisive and inflammatory. Politics, however, can also be unifying, constructive, and a bridge between islands. Right now, everyone is unloading centuries of anger and resentment and it’s an ugly display. We’re getting everything out on the table. But, it’s not until we start listening, that we’ll be able to sit down and join hands around it.