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?
by Sayan Das
June 12, 2019
Sayan Das is a writer and human rights advocate focused on refugees and gender.
In June 2018, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) released its annual Global Trends Study. The report stated that 68.5 million people across the world were displaced. Of these 25.4 million were refugees, 40 million were internally displaced people, and 3.1 million were seeking asylum. While all these people when taken together are displaced, there remain several degrees of separation among them. Additionally, given the day’s many migration stories, terms such as migrant, immigrant, refugee, and internally displaced people are all found together making readers rather confused.
Below, a readers digest of all the terms regularly being deployed by the media to make them more evident as migration stories continue to shape global politics and economics.
These people need international protection and cannot return home. The 1951 United Nations Convention defines the term refugee and along with the 1967 Protocol provides rights for this class of people. Signatory countries must adhere to these documents while assisting refugees. Among the many global rights that refugees have, the most important one remains non-refoulement, i.e. that refugees cannot be expelled or returned back home where their lives and freedoms are under threat.
The UNHCR decides on the status of the refugee based on the dictum “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality”. Using the legal process of Refugee Status Determination (RSD), the UNHCR and local government authorities determine if the person who has sought protection is a refugee. RSD has no single unifying format and is complicated.
The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) estimates that there were 258 million international migrants in 2017. The organisation estimates 740 million migrants move internally within their countries, a rather conservative figure. People become migrants when they seek work or an education. Migrants from the third world countries need visas to enter other countries, most notably countries within the European Union. However, having the right to enter a certain nation does not give them the right to social and economic benefits. However, there are pathways to citizenship and settlement for migrants. Today, migrants are seen as those who come to countries for short-term stay or the foreign population who reside within a country even when they become citizens.
The Difference Between A Migrant and A Refugee: This is a grey area.
A lot of the people arriving in Europe by boat are a mix of migrants and refugees. However, migrants face extreme issues ranging from economic or environmental challenges to political conflicts that force them to move. However, the one way to differentiate a refugee from a migrant will be that the former will be forced to leave, and the latter is coerced to leave. This is best understood in the words of Judith Vonberg, “the term migrant ought to be accepted as a neutral descriptor which covers the situation of everyone who migrates, whether in exercise of a positive right as a citizen through to the desperate search for a safe haven”.
Newcomer: A newcomer is an immigrant or a refugee who has been given protection and residence permit in the host country. Newcomers have access to settlement services such as language, education, employment, and integration.
However, not all asylum seekers are refugees, but every refugee becomes an asylum seeker when they submit an asylum application. Asylum is sought when one feels their life is in danger but whose refugee status has not been officially determined. Additionally, asylum seekers must cross the border into the destination country to apply for asylum. Crossing into international borders to seek asylum is not an illegal act and is recognised under international law.
Immigrant: An immigrant is a person who leaves their home country to live in a foreign country with an intention to settle permanently. This is a legal process that entails lengthy vetting procedures to find legitimate pathways into the country of choice. They can always choose to return to their home country.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs):
These people might not have the means to cross borders to another nation, making them one of the most vulnerable populations globally. The rights of IDPs are not globally known. However, due to internal sovereignty, IDPs can still make their governments liable for their protection. Yet in many cases, the government is the reason for the misfortune of the IDPs. The Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons developed a set of non-binding guidelines for IDPs called the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement in 1998.