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?
5 Lessons In Plastic From Waste Dive
by Cole Rosengren
January 26, 2019
Waste Dive's mission is to provide independent and insightful coverage of the waste and recycling industry, primarily focused on the U.S. market. The rise of plastic packaging, and the challenges it presents to collect and recycle, is one of the most complex issues we encounter on a regular basis. It's emotional, technical and often intractable. Here are a few examples of what we've learned along the way:
1 | Recycling is big business.
The ecosystem of packaging manufacturers, recycling companies, policymakers and other groups is vast. Without a coherent national recycling policy it can often be hard to find unbiased perspectives or assessments when it comes to charting a path forward amid global trade disruptions. Last year, the EPA attempted to bring some clarity to the current moment with a summit on America Recycles Day. Few publications were in attendance, and fewer still knew what to make of the multi-hour event. After a lot of thinking, and re-watching the tape, we delivered this account of why it has been – and will likely continue to be – so hard to find common ground.
2 | Recycling is political.
Because of this decentralized policy structure, most recycling decisions get made at the local government level. Except when they don't. As we've been tracking in New York for years now, the city's hard-fought attempts at a plastic bag ban were overruled by the state legislature in 2017. From there, the governor delayed the discussion with an inconclusive report, sat on the issue some more, revived it when he had a primary challenge and has now brought it up once again. Meanwhile, New York's Department of Sanitation has been handing out free reusable bags and trying to push the message voluntarily at the local level. We'll watch with interest where it all goes from there.
3 | Recycling is hyperlocal.
As noted, most decisions about what you can or can't put in the bin get made at the county or municipal level. While some states play a large role in policy requirements, many don't and expertise often comes from the private companies that are contracted to collect or process recyclables. In the wake of market upheavals over the past year-and-a-half, certain types of "mixed plastics" have become an easy target to cut from programs due to their low value. In other cases, the cost to recycle has gone up to maintain the same access for consumers. We've been tracking these changes across all 50 states on a regular basis since Nov. 2017.
4 | Recycling is personal.
Straw bans are all the rage right now – perhaps to the detriment of larger structural changes depending on whom you ask – so we were intrigued by new research from the University of Southern Maine about how this fits into consumer psychology. Professor Travis Wagner explained why these policies might be a "gateway" to broader waste reduction measures for some people and what he'd learned from studying 133 restaurants in one post-ban California city.
5 | Recycling is wonky.
Plastic has been getting even more attention in the UK than the U.S. recently and we're fortunate to have had contributor Maxine Perella help break it all down. After one piece on the ways the UK is handling plastics amid lower commodity prices, she took a close look at how Scotland's unique carbon metric reporting system gets beyond the "highly emotive issue" of plastic to tackle why might be even more effective holistic policies.