Time is Our Most Valuable Commodity
‘Query: How contrive not to waste one’s time?
‘Answer: By being fully aware of it all the while. Ways in which this can be done: By spending one’s days on an uneasy chair in a dentist’s waiting-room; by remaining on one’s balcony all a Sunday afternoon; by listening to lectures in a language one doesn’t know; by travelling by the longest and least-convenient train routes, and of course standing all the way; by lining up at the box-office of theaters and then not buying a seat; and so forth.’
I picked up Albert Camus’ The Plague this weekend. It’s where this little excerpt is from.
The story takes place in Oran, a busy town where the inhabitants spend most of their time doing business. That is, until the plague hits.
Time. It’s an interesting thing.
It’s subjective. It can pass too slow or too fast.
It’s a limited resource. We all have a certain amount of time allocated and that’s that.
And it’s also a currency. We are owners of our own time, one we can ‘spend’. Who with and how you pass your time are all choices we make.
We spend it with family and friends, with people that inspire us, or helping others. We exchange our time for work, which we get money for so that we can buy the things we need, pay the mortgage, schools, and so on. Everything we buy costs us time.
Not sure if you’ve noticed, but for a little while now, the value of our time has been changing.
The income stream of building wealth through work and salary increases is pretty much gone. Salaries are stagnant and your savings get a pittance. Instead, it’s assets which are seeing all the price increases.
I’ve written before that the coronavirus has expedited trends, and we have definitely seen this trend quicken with the pandemic.
To the point now that we are getting income without working, with people stuck at home. Meanwhile the economy is still somehow ticking along on its own, without us…at least for now.
Don’t get me wrong, the pandemic has been a huge blow. People are losing their jobs and I think there are hard times ahead. We didn’t have much of a choice.
But, it’s not just people stuck at home getting money either.
It’s companies too, receiving money for nothing. It’s why you have markets soaring, even without profits.
But my point is that this was already happening before the coronavirus hit. The pandemic sped it up and exposed everything that was wrong with the system.
And, it couldn’t have come at a more vulnerable time. Interest rates were already at record lows, and we had been relying on debt and spending instead of growth. It’s why salaries weren’t moving.
The US Federal Reserve’s balance sheet has increased to close to US$7 trillion. The Fed continues to print to keep credit going. They’ve said that ‘there is no limit’ to what they can do.
It’s a nice thought, you know? To think that you can print an unlimited amount of money to do whatever you want without consequences. I’m not so sure it will work.
And we are already getting some signs there’s something wrong with this picture. Gold prices hit US$2,000 for the first time last week.
Why Money is flowing into gold…
What’s real anymore? Property, the stock market, even the real economy are all propped up artificially. It’s why money is flowing into real things, like gold.
But the real question is, what will the long-term effects of all this be?
After all, the pandemic is transitory, even if it may not seem that way today. It’s how this changes society that will stick.
I’ve written before here that I think this pandemic is a change in our economic system. Jim calls it the great reset.
I think that at some point this will involve a change in the way we look at time. That our vision of time will change.
For us, there’s not much we can do throughout this period, only to do the best we can to come through to the other side in the best shape possible.
And to focus on the things we can control and protect, like our finances…and our time. This life pause is a chance to spend more time with our loved ones (even if it’s through Zoom), doing things we enjoy, to support each other.
To end, here is Camus again: ‘What we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.’
For The Daily Reckoning Australia