3. INFLATION: THE THEFT OF TIME
Part of understanding inflation is realizing that inflation has been around for a long time. Inflationary suffering existed before currency. Existentially, inflation is the cheapening of human life. Inflationary suffering is the theft of another person's time in the form of products for survival. So understood, inflationary suffering occurred pre-historically when cultivated grain or groomed children were stolen, for each commodity was a product of human effort to improved the quality of the producer's life.
Currency is an innovation which facilitates the transaction of products (goods and services) between producers. It is not the cause of inflation. The changes in the value of currency merely provide an easily quantifiable means by which to measure the more basic cheapening of life. This cheapening underlies the cheapening of currency as a time-saving tool of production.
In function, currency is nothing more than a common, intermediate product. People use it to exchange their production time for each other's goods or services. As such, one should be wary of those who narrowly define inflation. As an example, consider what the Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman said about inflation. "Controlling the growth of money is important because, ultimately, inflation is a monetary phenomenon--nothing else." Friedman is talking exclusively about monflation.
Inflationary suffering can and does occur without a corresponding growth in the money supply, for example, as a result of production recession or product hoarding. Such suffering occurred in the Depression of the 1930s. The amount of money in circulation did not change: in fact, its value increased. Yet people's buying power decreased due to massive unemployment. In essence, since so little work was available, people's time was cheapened, thereby reducing their buying power in an inflationary manner. Currency and the money supply are not the source of inflation; rather, they indicate a more basic cheapening within human systems of production:
the loss, theft, or destruction of human time.
This theft of time is most evident in production time losses which lead to shortage inflation.
Moneyless inflation existed before money and it could exist today independent of monflation in its contribution to the overall inflation rate, e.g., shortage of production. The characteristic common to all forms of inflation is the conscious or unconscious theft, destruction, or loss of another person's products. Inflation destroys someone's past, present or future time.
For example, consider the effect of adverse weather conditions. Would not a drought drive up the prices of goods? How about a crop-destroying freeze in the Sunbelt that increases the price of orange juice? Or, adverse interest rates that destroy the farmers' willingness to plant crops? Inflationary suffering is not always due to monflation--the obsession of monetarists such as Friedman--but can also result from sinflation: shortages of production in relation to demand.
Effects of Inflation
If inflation is theft, then the Consumer Price Index is a gauge of intentional or unintentional theft. Inflation, taxes, unemployment and violence (crime and war) indicate how much time-theft is occurring. "Time" includes the past, the present and the future.
Is not inflation, as it erodes the buying power of pensions or savings, the theft or destruction of someone's past time? Suppose you worked an hour to put five dollars into your savings or pension. Would not a 10% annual inflation rate constitute the theft or negation of 6 minutes that you spent acquiring the five dollars? Through inflation, your pension or savings would have the same limited buying power as if someone stole or denied you 10% of your busytime. Through inflation, the individual suffers financially as if he did not work the full time, as if he did not earn 100% of his pay.
Inflation is the theft of productive busytime. Jimmy Carter argued that the only way to stop inflation was through unemployment: accordingly, he forced high interest rates. This action precipitated unemployment that resulted in an economic recession. In terms of productive time, what is unemployment but the loss, negation or theft of productive busytime?
Less obviously, inflation is the theft of present time in a second sense. Along with the reality that you can no longer afford a company's products, which affects you in a direct way, comes the possibility of unemployment for those at the company whose production is now in reduced demand. Job loss affects the employee directly, and affects you indirectly by weakening the economy.
Inflation is the theft of present time in other ways as well. In the previous two examples, inflation was described as theft of productive busytime as indicated by rising unemployment. Inflation is also the theft of leisure time. If inflation causes your disposable income from one job to disappear, you will look for a second job to avoid a loss of income. As a result of inflation, you lose leisure time.
Inflation is also the loss of future time. Unemployment, inflation and taxes generate or increase domestic and international violence. Criminal, terrorist, or war violence can wipe out much leisure and production time. Some victims of violence are responsible for their own sudden and acute inflationary pain: Those who pursue inflationary returns for their chronic income earn violence in return. Their short-term gains eventually vanish during domestic or international violence. Unstopped, inflation increases the chance of crime and war. Consequently,
NO ONE BEATS INFLATION.
Most deserving of the violent ramifications of inflation are those who foolishly pursue mere symbols of time (currency) rather than time itself. Sadly, all are guilty of the destructive separation of time, specifically production time, from its namesake: currency. People increasingly pursue symbols rather than the substance of production. The temporal worth of humanity rapidly recesses.
Flation: An Existential Necessity
Currency inflation, as an instance of human theft, simultaneously measures the different types of theft in a system of production. Some theft occurs of necessity, some by choice. Theft can be a conscious or unconscious action. Some theft is obvious as theft; other forms of theft are not so salient.
All forms of human theft add up to the losses which the currency inflation rate indicates. All forms of human theft represent unsolved problems. The cost must be exacted from someone.
Of necessity, a starving man may steal bread from a baker. The baker, to cover his costs, will raise the price of his remaining bread--inflation. By choice, corporate executives may conspire to gouge the consuming public by raising the price of their common products--inflation.
Consciously, robbers, burglars, and muggers steal from the innocent. The victims, in turn, must suffer product shortages along with the cost of replacement--inflation. Unconsciously, a professional may charge unnecessarily high prices after a few hard years in school. He may also support a professional position that restricts the number of personnel in the field. These contrived shortages, relative to demand, permit high service charges--inflation.
Clearly, foreign nations with a monopoly on energy may raise the cost of energy. As a result, people lose their jobs when the cost of running their production plant is too high--inflation. Secretly, banks and insurance companies may misuse their reserves: either stimulating domestic, counterproductive enterprises or stimulating foreign production. Either way, inflationary suffering results for the domestic individuals who save with the bank or insured with the insurance company. Ironically, their savings compose the reserves that the banks and insurance companies use against them.
In the above cases of theft, the perpetrator engaged in the action because he thought it was crucial to his survival. Obviously, the starving man's theft of bread was crucial to his survival. Similarly, the colluding price-gougers no doubt feel they must overcharge to keep up with or stay ahead of inflation so their corporations can survive.
Survival, the extension of one's time, is common to all the human theft indexed by inflation. It doesn't have to be this way. One can survive without inflationary theft from one's own kind. And that is the crux of the inflationary problem when analyzed as an index of stealing time. Existentially, in order to survive, a living entity must steal the time. However, the theft should not be from one's own kind.
The above description of inflation as an index of theft denotes a basic fact of existence. In order for living creatures to continue their existence, they must shorten the existence of other forms of life. Timistically stated, one continues to have time by taking time from other living things: existential canabalism or infanticide.*
Consuming plants or animals extends human existence at the expense of those plants or animals. In terms of inflation, we increase the value (potential) of our lives by cheapening the value of others' lives.
The quality and longevity of one's life depends on whether he survives by "cheapening" those below, equal with, or above him. This unavoidable, existential necessity describes the process of flation. One inflates his relative value by cheapening that of another. Important is whether one survives by cheapening the time entities
one's species. Crucial to a species' survival is the level of life it cheapens relative to its own level. Members of a species can survive by consuming each other in the same level. Eventually the species will die out as there will be only one member left.
Infraflatic survival refers to inflating one's existential worth by cheapening, shortening, or ending the time of an inferior biological being. For instance, humans harvest grains. We shorten the natural lifespan of the plant to extend or inflate human life. Similarly, infraflation occurs with the slaughter of poultry, fish, and other animals for food.
One can take this analysis of infraflation to a biochemical level. For instance, the Krebs Cycle* demonstrates how sugar molecules in the cell break down into carbon dioxide, water and energy. Timistically, the unique existence of the sugar molecule ends so as to give time to a higher form of existence, a higher form of time itself. The higher form could be bacteria or a human being.
The hierarchy of plants and animals represents a chain of time.* This chain extends to the level of the polity and its policy-makers who create or destroy time. Those entities consumed by higher levels are quantifiable amounts of time.
Often, organisms composing the chain of time can survive by consuming organisms of their own kind, from within their level of existence. One instance is the black widow spider; another would be human cannibalism. Rephrased, intraflation means surviving by cheapening the existential worth of one's own kind.
Intraflation, unstopped, will end the survival of a species. For instance, if female black widow spiders somehow limited their consumption of food only to male black widows, black widows would eventually die out. Similarly, if every human being took a vow never to eat anything but human tissue, humanity would eventually die out.
The biological examples of intraflation are clear in their effects on a species. Intraflation occurs throughout the economic system as well with parallel ramifications. For instance, a meat lover indirectly consumes more grain than he would if he were a vegetarian. Every pound of meat represents several pounds of plant energy. A meat-loving person will indirectly buy more grain than he needs to survive through his carnivorous diet.
In times of hunger, the carnivore denies grain to the people of drought-stricken lands. Drought-stricken people cannot afford overpriced grain bid up by meat-eaters or government price supports. The meat-eater will lose as these people die. Products that they might have produced in better years will not be available after their death by starvation. The overpaid overeater survives by intraflation: inflating his existential time-content by consuming the time of his own kind.
Other instances of intraflation include the many business monopolies or takeovers. They are the real sacred cows. The legisflating politicians protect these manipulative "privileges" in the private sphere so a special few can milk the many for inflationary returns. For instance, certain businesses conspire to inflate prices by restricting production. Their goal is to increase their income for a better level of survival. However, this form of intraflation comes back to haunt its perpetrators.
As a good example, both OPEC and the oil companies have used their monopolistic control to raise the price of petroleum, thereby causing inflation. Their survival by intraflation is showed up in a reduced demand for their goods. The projected rises in oil consumption did not develop. Unstopped, their intraflation will eliminate a demand for their products altogether. In addition, the global economic instability generates domestic and international violence.
Another form of intraflation is the takeover of one corporation by another. In 1981, quite a few takeovers occurred. Again, the oil industry received a lot of attention: oil companies used their windfall profits to acquire mineral companies. More than likely, no one will benefit except the acquisitors. The acquisitors lack the expertise to run the mineral industries efficiently as they are. They will have to carve up the mineral concerns to run them.
While the average efficiency per mining worker may increase, the overall drop in production and employment will cause shortages relative to demand. Acquisitions are intraflatic in nature, as expressed by one politician in 1981:
Democratic Rep. Don Edwards of California calls the takeovers "cannibalistic" because an existing source of capital is swallowed. The Judiciary Committee member says the mining takeovers could be "inflationary" because they "reduced competition" in mining and don't alleviate the nation's energy problems.
Supraflation is more suicidal than infraflation or intraflation. A supraflatic entity survives by cheapening the time of entities above its level. These higher levels are the whole of which one is a part and on which one is dependent.
Cancerous tissue within a body is an example of a supraflatic survival. A cancerous growth cannot survive by consuming and destroying the larger temporal entity of which it is a part. Another example of supraflation is the offspring who decides at the age of 20 to kill his parents for an early inheritance. Even if undiscovered in his crime, the cancerous offspring will have less than if he learned to produce a level of survival in a less inflationary way. With the early demise of his parents, the growth of his inheritance will be less.
Supraflation exists in business. One rapidly growing supraflationary form of survival is corporate acquisitions of larger companies. This is different than oil companies buying leaders in non-oil industries. Consider the takeover of the Pullman Corporation by a company one-third its size, Wheelabrator. The following headline reveals the supraflatic, cancerous nature of this particular acquisition.
Big Bite - Wheelabrator Digests Larger Pullman Inc.
As the article states, "dismembering Pullman and scaling down operations to efficient size" is nothing more than economic cancer. Wheelabrator's act of milking the "Cash Cows" is a private "sacred cow" favored by legisflating politicians.
These hidden sacred cows are more inflationary than the obvious public ones. Public pork projects receive too much attention relative to the inflationary suffering they cause. Is it fair to view Wheelabrator's action as a form of economic cancer? Yes. The following are parallel:
an dying, emaciated human body racked by thriving carcinomas and
What happens, typically, when the acquisitor's productivity or efficiency per company worker increases? National productivity and efficiency per worker drops. Production dies. Acquisitors assisted by financiers cause economic cancers.
Wheelabrator did not increase the efficiency of a single worker when they increased the efficiency of their average employed worker. The efficiency per worker employed and unemployed decreased, for the discharged worker's production level was reduced to zero. If Wheelabrator were a wrestling coach, it would have all the players cut off their weaker arm. The strength of the average arm on the team would be stronger.
Who allows this sort of cancerous supraflation which is destroying our human systems of production to occur? Foremost, corrupt and incompetent congressional policy-makers are to blame. They confuse productivity per worker with per capita efficiency. Unstopped, their brand of legal logic will metastasize.
Corruptly and incompetently, our politicians permit the supraflation of the legislative process (government) as well as the national system of production. Government is a temporal entity. It has the capacity to be a highly evolved, efficient producer of time for itself and its parts. If a government is to survive, it must not let its parts consume it.
People consume and destroy their government when they use the legislative process to get something for nothing. Monopolizing the ears of the politicians for unproductive tax-exemptions is an example of supraflatic existence. It cheapens the law process. Cheapening the law process is behind the dual meaning of legisflation.
Legisflation results in legalized inflation and worthless government. Those who suffer from legisflation value their government less and less. The good name of democracy suffers. The injured turn away from government to correct injustices. Often, they resort to terrorism.
When government collapses from supraflation, everyone will lose. Those who cancerously survived by corrupting the governmental process for their income will become the targets of revenge. Many of them will stick out like sore thumbs. When the nonexistent government can no longer nurture or protect the supraflationists, they will be objects for attack.
One's nation is a higher form of time. The U.S. is 200 years old, older than any of its present citizens. As a temporal entity, its capacity to provide time for itself through its citizens is decreasing. Production per capita suffers when special interests monopolize politicians.
Our sphere in space, earth, is the second largest temporal entity on which we depend.* Excessive energy and resource consumption are destroying its ability to support human beings. The timistic model of existence provides another view on the self-destructive use of earth by human beings.
In order to survive, a living entity increases its existence by "cheapening" the time of other living organisms. Inflation is a double-edged sword, simultaneously increasing and decreasing the value of different life forms. Life is a hierarchy of temporal entities that can exist only by consuming other temporal entities. Increasing one's own temporal worth is basically stealing the time and life of other living creatures. However, you don't have to steal from yourself or your own kind.
As a whole, life is not fair. Some life must suffer loss of its time, must die, for other life to live. While life in general is unfair, human life can be more fair. Morally and pragmatically, individuals as well as humanity as a whole lose when human life is unfair. It is unfair when human policies for time exchanges allow some humans to steal time from fellow beings. The blame for such illogical theft rests with the top policy-makers.
A robber, mugger, or burglar readily steals the time of another. So do those who benefit from legisflation that allows them to legally overcharge for their goods or services. Tolerating legal or illegal theft of a person's time initiates an inflationary spiral. People increasingly prey upon one another. Civilization regresses when people survive by stealing from one another instead of from lesser forms of life. As a result, less and less is produced. The quality of life has to go down.
Personal Freedom: Enslavement or Liberation
One's standard of living can improve by enslaving or liberating others. History is full of enslavers. Enslavers seek a better life through owning the goods and services of the enslaved. Enslavement involves intra- or infraflation.
This form of survival limits a person's freedom and longevity. It consists of cannibalizing one's own kind. Total production per capita is less. A better form of survival lies in liberating others. Liberated people can optimize their personal potential. This higher form of survival requires teaching the evils of enslavement. With increased liberation and freedom from the unfair problems of life, people produce more. There is more for everyone.
Many financial services enslave their naive users. This enslavement fulfills the literal meaning of finance: to ransom or to forfeit. With rising interest rates, people ransom and forfeit their futures to financiers. At a certain point, usury interest rates bankrupt individuals and industries. Production then is less than if people had not become enslaved to interest rates.
In summary, and as analyzed within a timistic concept, human inflation is theft between human beings. The top policy-makers are responsible for this theft. Both Democrats and Republicans have legisflative lifestyles predicated on intra- and supraflation of civilization. One party is the party of poor thieving beggars. The other is the party of rich begging thieves. Can an inflationary sufferer expect any solution from those who repeatedly fail to solve the problems? The theft, loss, and destruction of human time increases if legisflators remain in control of policy-making.
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