Time

“Time is of the essence” is a well known quote and accurate. But what does it mean? The significance of time varies. For example, when households were in need of currency to compensate the providers of their necessities, currency was able to be distributed rather quickly through established channels manned by the Social Security Administration and unemployment registries. The banks, meanwhile, the normal distributors of currency for commercial activities took nine months to distribute $42 Billion of the $500 billion they were allocated.

It takes much more time to distribute than to collect and accumulate. It takes even more time to spend, to convert currency into goods and services. I think our accounting systems do not take the difference between distribution and spending into sufficient account. Indeed, the INTENT to spend is often equated with actual spending. And that is not just because all accounts merely represent the conditions in a moment in time. Giving such lip service to time is really misleading.

John Kenneth Galbraith made the point that the economy is a dynamic system and our accounting systems cannot accurately represent a dynamic system. I’m not sure that dismissing the problem as unsolvable is appropriate. Perhaps a closer look at components, such as the difference between distribution, spending and use should be considered. Perhaps we have to get rid of the dichotomies that result from binary thinking.

At this time, when we think about allocating currency for infrastructure, we need to be patient. Regardless of how quickly we allocate, the disbursement, spending and building will take much longer than keeping the lights on in homes and putting food on the table.