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?
Expats And Their Privileges
by Daniela Tecu
June 27, 2019
Daniela Țecu is a freelance translator and business communication specialist. She was an expatriate at the European Commission in Brussels and Luxembourg for ten years.
Globalisation is present almost in every aspect of our lives. Socially, we can have international friends very easily, either because we travel, study, work or browse the internet, or because we simply live in a cosmopolitan city. Politically, there are more and more decisions and agreements to internationally cooperate and support the development of an action in a field of common interest. Economically, a broad range of offers can tempt us to migrate to another country for a certain period or for all our life. Thus we become expatriates (expats), and acquire a unique international experience that could be a real added-value to our professional expertise.
Migration has its impacts on politics. Whether or not migrants consider the national policy frameworks of their new countries, it is the case that they also move into certain places and types of employment where policy issues can be highly specific. For instance, the delivery of key services such as education, health and housing tends to be the concern of local authorities. High numbers of newcomers can put a strain on service provision, for example on language training for their children in schools.
It is also to note that migration can be strongly supported by business, as well as by political parties embracing liberal economic policies. Removing barriers to free movement can help people be more flexible in responding to job opportunities, and thus create more efficient markets. Liberal labour migration policies can ease labour shortages, and allow businesses the advantage to employ at lower costs while disregarding the existing demand for work on their market. Such benefits of free movement have increasingly gained ground in the internationalist and liberalizing agendas of many international organizations. The World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the OECD support entirely the free movement of people between countries.
The terminology referring to international contracts includes several types of employees: emigrant, posted or detached worker, and expatriate. We do not analyse the status of the immigrant, as then the question of illegality in providing services might arise and it would not be of interest for this article. These concepts will be defined to allow us to delimit the status of an expatriate. The following definitions are excerpts from the text of the Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services:
A) a posted or detached worker is temporarily sent by his/her employer to another country to perform the required activities under the terms of the same contract, that is outsourcing personnel.
B) an emigrant worker goes to another member state to seek work and gets employed there.
C) an expatriate (expat) may be an employee:
i. that has not been detached by the parent organisation;
ii. that has initially been a detached employee, and his/her mission has been prolonged beyond the initial duration;
iii. that has been employed while living in the country of expatriation itself or has been offered the contract while still in his/her country of origin;
iv. that benefits of the social security system in force in the welcoming country.
The expatriates represent a different category of migrants, insofar as their status is concerned. They are not trying to escape poor living conditions or unhospitable political regimes, they are not looking for a new El Dorado, and do not fall within the category of people to be assimilated into the national population. Such employees are aware and proud of their status of professionals building up a career in a new environment. The country itself may not mean an objective for the expatriates because of their assumed transitory stay. They understand their life as having a professional and a personal dimension that better develop in an enclave arising from their own privileged environment.
Expats are like strangers enjoying their spatially and socially transitory stay in the new country. Such an attitude can entail a relative quiet self-exclusion from the external world while within their own environment the expats can develop very strong social relations. One reason for this exclusion could be the privileged infrastructures the organisations offer them in order to facilitate their settlement and transfer – e.g. kindergartens, schools, sport centres, cultural clubs, etc. The quiet self-exclusion can lead to a certain hostility from the local population, and make the expats confront the new, the strangeness. The locals themselves perceive the transitory status of these migrants, and do not feel encouraged to socialise with them. Their reserve reinforces the feeling of quiet self-exclusion making the expatriates create their own network among their peers. However, studies have demonstrated that, step by step, the expatriates will open themselves towards other horizons and will include the locals, too.
Taking possession of the city/country where they establish themselves would mean for the expatriates to invent the geographical space according to their interests and their daily mobility: work place, hobbies, social networking, home address. That city/country can then be different for each person due to his/her favourite corners or secret routes to avoid traffic jams.