09 September 2018

Life/Time

Nothing serious today, just some minute musings.

I had an idea, the kind of idea that people have that seem good at first and then fall apart upon the slightest bit of reflection. Let us put it in the form of a story called "Life/Time", for marketing purposes.

There's this idea that time is money, and there's some truth to that. You trade time, your life, for money, so you can keep on living. Right now you have to trade time one second at a time to get money, so you trade now for money in the hope that you can save up enough to retire when you get too old to enjoy your freedom. But what if you could directly trade time for money? What if you could trade time off the back end for money now? What if you could trade the last years of your life for money so you could retire young and enjoy a shorter, happier life? What if time was exactly money and you could pay for stuff by trading away minutes and hours of your life?

It seems like a good idea on first reflection, but put it to any scrutiny and the whole thing betrays itself as nonsense. For one thing you would need to be able to actually trade time, to trade life. That would mean that there would need to be the technology to engineer life extension to such a degree that every death would be deliberate and one person could steal life off of other people. At the same time you would need to have someone else do the work that young people are not performing by trading away their older years. You would need to have every job totally automated and people would be paid to live.

You then realise that if that level of technology existed there would be no point in trading time for money because everyone would have everything they could need or want anyway. The whole system of trading time would be a mere contrivance to make keep the population in check.

You then realise that time is not money. You are not trading life for money, you are trading something else for money.

At least, you were, prior to the modern age when automation and globalisation really have eliminated many of the productive jobs. Companies are, by and large, paying people to perform meaningless work because the alternative, having the majority of the population unemployed and rioting in the streets, would mean the very end of the system that allowed those companies, and their owners, to rise to control the system in the first place. That is why there has been a proliferation of meaningless jobs, to keep people busy and happy enough that they don't overthrow the oligarchy.