Time – Resource and Currency Outlines of a book written by the Romanian economist and entrepreneur, Octavian Bădescu
Although it is a work that appears – at first glance – to be very analytical, the essence of this book is a relatively simple one – a practical vision for a better world.
Continuing the ideas expressed in another book by the same author (For a Golden Romania [Pentru o Românie de Aur – in Romanian] in which the vision of the Romanian economist Anghel Rugină was brought back to light, especially regarding the issue of money – that should be completely backed in precious metals – and monetary systems – either in place, historically, or theoretically imaginable), in Time – Resource and Currency [Timpul – Resursă și monedă – in Romanian], Octavian Bădescu delves into a deep inquiry on the nature of money and its logical and practical essence, while exhorting readers to return with him to the “fundamentals” of economic reasoning.
At the same time, the rectitude of the current architecture of the monetary and banking system is contested, pointing out the negative effects and proposing an innovative alternative.
In this vein, the author starts by talking about the ultimate resources existing on Earth – “man”/human person and “nature” – and about the notion of “time”, as it was defined by man. Elaborating on this, each man is actually born “rich”, having “incorporated”, in his possession and at his disposal, the largest possible amount of… time available for that individual. To that, the “capital” is then added – the saved time of the predecessors, distributed partly equitably, but obviously not equally.
Just as crude oil can be measured in barrels, gas in cubic meters or gold in ounces or grams, each individual “deposit” of time can be measured in equal units, in “days” or “minutes”.
There is thus an “individual stock of time”, finite and non-renewable, as well as a “global” one, with a relatively slow dynamic, regardless of the life span of each individual. And there is also one at a “historical” level, in continuous growth, with every human born on Earth.
The right to own your own lifespan. “Time” as an asset
The book talks about the natural right of every human (therefore sentient) being to consume a share of all renewable and non-renewable resources of the Earth, including plants and living things. This share is proportional to the duration of his existence, his right being limited – naturally – to what man can acquire by and keep exclusively to himself, by his own powers and by consuming his own time in this process.
Man can exploit, transform and consume that share, in exchange for his time received from the Creator/Nature; what he gets with his own time can be used, by him personally, for “saving” (he stores and consumes it in the future) or can be used for “exchange”, in the present or in the future, in relation to other people, by barter. However, to the extent that the time resource would automatically benefit from a monetary representation, the respective currency would substitute barter.
The amount and type of natural resources obtained, transformed, kept in different forms and not consumed by each man is different, being influenced by location and individual capacities, by the “productivity of one’s own time”. Therefore, it can be said that people exchange among themselves, in fact, a result of their time resource, which makes “time” a “commodity”.
The surplus time after self-consumption should be used as a “means of exchange”, this at certain “price”; each person has the right to ask a price, but, following negotiation, the “transaction price” emerges, when demand meets supply.
Another idea highlighted in the book is that the amount of time included in the “price” of time does not represent just the actual time spent in the exploitation and transformation of nature or intended directly for exchange by offering services to others, but also the time – indispensable for this production – spent growing up, for education, for resting, for eating etc. Implicitly, the primary production factor called “work” today is not only “work”, measurable in units of time and currently remunerated in the “fiat” money, unbacked by a physical commodity, but also the “time” of man itself, in fact, his entire life. Thus, the asking price of everyone’s time will very likely be higher than the actual working time.
Considering the previously mentioned arguments, the book affirms the need and pleads for the “effective monetization of the time resource”, by implementing a “currency backed by time”, considering that, in the end, this will be transformed into the standard currency.
A transition from receiving money (as a reward for an activity performed or for a resource made available to someone) to spending money you already have can happen only to the extent that, throughout your life, others will be more useful to you than you will be to them; that is, only if you intensively consume other people’s resources.
The necessary function of “preserving the value” of time in which other people’s resources have not been consumed can be achieved through the individual monetization, at a certain exchange rate, of “elements of nature transformed through time”, of non-renewable resources that are the most durable in time and easier to transport in space, such as gold or silver.
Fiat money is simply fake money. “Time” to change this!
The Romanian economist and entrepreneur Octavian Bădescu argues that the big problems of today’s world – inequalities, inequities, polarization, the accelerated consumption of non-renewable natural resources through over-consumption, waste, the feeling of time being compressed or the lack of time, the struggle for subsistence, economic crises, inflation, unemployment, wars, pollution and more – are all based on the systemic problem of “legal counterfeiting of currency”, implicitly affecting the rationality of economic calculations, through the current monetary and financial-banking system.
The author explains the process by which this system illegitimately appropriates a large part of people’s finite and non-renewable time resource, with the help of the permanent dilution of the purchasing power of money through creating, “out of nothing”, a “pseudo-capital” which it (the actual system) makes available by charging interest and without “real” backing; we are witnessing monetary/credit expansion, practiced more and more rapidly by the central and commercial banks.
This “pseudo-resource” disguised as “genuine capital” is arbitrarily and deliberately redistributed with the help of banks, states and corporations, in favour of a limited number of main beneficiaries, who, together with their vested groups, are the first to have access to cheaper “money” not yet eroded by inflation generated by monetary expansion, gradually and permanently increasing their power by seizing control over natural resources and real capital, at lower prices. This is to the detriment of the majority of people (even future generations who will have to pay debts and interest, ultimately with their own time, although they did not have a saying in this inherited indebtedness).
Octavian Bădescu states in his book Time – Resource and Money that, taking into account that the need to be in possession and control of one’s own savings is a precondition for individual and collective freedom (not to be forced to sell your time permanently and cheaply), the only possibility for man to be free in the future, to be able to live in a civilized and balanced society, is monetizing his own time and keeping individual control of this new currency, which he calls… “convertible minute” and which can have digital representation (single bank account represented by personal identification number, controlled by the individual) and/or physical representation (in banknotes and coins or even in gold or silver bullion).
To a revolutionary monetary order. Is the “time” ripe?
From a practical perspective, the author proposes to the readers the gradual development, from the ground up, of such a system, which he sees, at least in a first phase, complementary, not necessarily a completely alternative to the actual system, through individual decisions, without the need for collective or political decisions.
Each individual will hold – in an “account” or in a physical form – the monetary representation of his individual stock of time (established conventionally at the difference between the potential life span and the number of minutes passed since his birth), the amount with which he will be able to buy goods and the services supplied by other people, who accept to receive and use the new currency.
The money supply will be represented by the total of “convertible minutes” that each person possesses. Depending on the individual usefulness for others, the cash balance (as share of the money supply) of each participant will evolve dynamically over time.
The only option by which an individual will be able to increase the money supply will be through the monetization of the net assets held, i.e., through the conventional and permanently reversible transformation of his monetizable reserves, at a certain rate, depending on the ratio between the gold/silver stock and “convertible minutes”. The money supply of the society will increase only by monetizing the saved resources and by expanding the community.
In this way, this “convertible minute” currency, usable in a hypothetical present moment, will be permanently fully backed by time (past and future, but limited to the current resource-consuming population), and people will be able to exchange goods and services, without sensing any lack of liquidity.
In the author’s view, the need for expensive and subjective political decision systems regarding, for example, “minimum wage”, “pension point” etc. could become obsolete. Man will be able to manage and allocate his own reserves starting from his youth, his own money with which he was already born. Banks would function more like “local time resource evidence centres”, they would not make arbitrary decisions regarding people’s capital allocations, loans would be limited to the resources of the living individuals (their net assets, the cash balances) and the system would tend permanently towards equilibrium. Their shareholding/decision structure will be permanently correlated with the weights of the individual capital stocks. Even the idea of “legal entity” could be re-evaluated. Only the institutions/organizations that the communities consider useful to them would continue functioning (it remains to be seen in what form).
Technology as a facilitator. “Time” to press the buttons
The retaking of control over money by its natural owners, preserving the value of savings, rewarding with monetized time the postponement of consumption, correlating the money supply with the amount of time, implicitly reducing the funds allocated for mass destructive activities such as large-scale wars – all these can lead, in the author’s vision, to a world with resources administered at the individual and possibly community level, where contributions will be, to a large extent, voluntary.
Octavian Bădescu also discusses the viability of current statements regarding economic objectives (such as “consumption growth”) and the representativeness of some of the main current economic indicators (such as GDP), proposing alternative indicators, which he considers more appropriate, such as EIB (Gross Internal Efficiency) and ISFI (Individual Financial Health Index).
The last part of the book consists of a selection of articles on the subject, published by the same author in different economic journals.
The objective of his work is, in fact, the promotion of developments towards individual freedom, towards power correlated with responsibility, towards a more efficient, more ethical and implicitly better world.
And last but not least, the book represents, for all those interested, an invitation to informed and intelligent action.
Octavian Bădescu is economist, entrepreneur and investor, with over 20 years of managerial experience, former independent candidate for the position of Mayor of Bucharest; supporter of the virtues of the free market, the real currency and individual freedom, author of articles on economic topics.