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?
There Is No Migration Crisis
by Jack Strang
June 20, 2019
Jack is a professional humanitarian and amateur anarcho-syndicalist.
There is a spectre haunting Europe - the spectre of migration.
In the past two years, we have seen in the news an increasingly hostile environment, both for migrants and their advocates. Europe and the United States have begun placing greater obstacles in front of asylum seekers from filing claims (which are guaranteed by seemingly forgotten international law) through bilateral agreements with countries like Turkey and Mexico. Border patrolling militias have emerged in Texas and Greece. Far-right populist politicians have grown in popularity, largely on anti-immigration platforms and the use of disturbing, dehumanizing rhetoric. Now, Western countries are seeking to criminalize the provision of life-saving care and support to migrants with the arrests of Pia Klemp in Italy and Scott Warren in the United States. While Scott Warren was thankfully exonerated by jury nullification, Pia Klemp’s trial remains ongoing. You can honor her service by supporting the search and rescue missions of her organization, Sea-Watch, by donating here, or sign this petition to demand her release.
The increasing militarization and security-centric approach to migration policy, while alarming, was largely inevitable. That’s because the so-called migration “crisis” doesn’t exist. This isn’t to say that the fact that, according to the IOM, 244 million people – 3.3% of the global population – became international migrants in 2018 is insignificant. Global movement of people at this scale is incredibly important, and must be addressed with sophisticated policies that provide durable solutions and address the root causes of migration. However, this does not constitute a crisis.
The increase in migration and human flows globally is nothing more than the natural result of exploitative, imperialist policies of the West over the past several centuries. This is also the case for most root drivers of conflict: political and conflict factors, climate factors, and economic factors.
Political and conflict factors, like the intrastate conflict in Northern Nigeria and Syria or the political repression and persecution in Eritrea, bear the marks of imperialism and colonization. The carving up of the “less civilized” world by the European powers in the 1800s, and the continued underdevelopment of the Global South by Western countries created the conditions for the pernicious cycles of violence that now drive conflict globally. This imperialism never ended, it just changed its name. Beyond that, the exportation of violence through weapon sales by the United States, which is responsible for 34% of global arms sales, and its allies to repressive regimes and “moderate rebels” have drawn out conflicts. Central American migrants at the US border have largely fled conflict and poverty that are direct results of imperialist US aggression that toppled governments, as in the case of Honduras, and fomented insecurity in the region.
Climate factors, including the rise in inclement weather and recession of water sources, most notably in the Lake Chad Basin, are the culmination of 200 years of capitalist industrialization, whereby (predominantly) Western states have pumped increasingly large amounts of pollutants and carbon into the sky. In recent years, despite the fact that the science is clear and the effects of climate change are visible, Western governments have been hesitant to take drastic action, out of fear of the economic consequences. The real impacts of climate change are now being felt across the Global South. While that is changing, it is likely to be too little, done too late. (Team Greta all the way, even if I’d prefer that the voice of the movement were Trans, Black and Muslim).
Economic factors include the lack of available livelihoods and the inability, or lack of interest of governments, to use state resources to help people claim their fundamental rights to food, water, shelter, healthcare and education. The global capitalist machine relies on the extraction of resources from the Global South and the redistribution of wealth to Western governments. Global austerity, driven by predatory international lenders, has destroyed the bureaucratic architecture of underdeveloped countries, allowing western corporations and the robber baron heads of state to collect rents at the expense of countless people. States that resist this model, like Venezuela, face decades of sanctions and are deprived of international monetary assistance through the World Bank, IMF and bilateral arrangements.
Migration has been a constant throughout human history. People have constantly been on the move, searching for new, more prosperous places for themselves and their loved ones. The rise of the internet and social media has made imagery of the luxuries of the West more accessible in the Global South. It’s only natural that people in more disparate situations would seek to find their way to the gilded citadels of Italy or France. It’s only natural that, faced with no economic opportunities, inhospitable weather, political repression or a life in the midst of conflict, that people would seek refuge in countries that so clearly have the resources to give them a better life. Migrants risk their lives, travelling across the desert and the sea, in search of hope for their future – yet when they arrive, they face abuse, detention, repatriation, and contempt. Rather than treat migrants as human beings, countries like Italy have decided that they would prefer that migrants die in the ocean. This is the world we now live in.
We have the resources and technology to not only support migrants everywhere, but also to remove the drivers of migration by creating a better life for people everywhere. So why then is global migration labelled a crisis? Fear is an important component of political control. The capitalist system is under pressure due to the global rise in inequality and the subsequent discontent of the working class in the West. In order to perpetuate this system, which has allowed 26 individuals to own the same wealth as half of Earth’s population, the capitalist class – our modern aristocrats - as used the crisis narrative to foster a false consciousness that divides the global proletariat. This division is physically manifest in the presence of borders and concept of states and nationhood.
No global compact or international mechanism can fully address the challenge of international migration, as they don’t combat the power structures driving the phenomenon. There is only one way to solve the migration crisis: a complete dismantling of borders, states and global capitalism and the creation of a new, equitable, and just global society. Set the dialectics into motion. We have nothing to lose but our chains.3