February 21, 2012
The Real Returns Report
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has become this society's money. Goods, services and labor --all are paid for in time, which also functions as a store of wealth.Not everyone is equal in this world, however. The world(there is no indication that nation-states still exist) is dividedinto "time zones" that correspond to different strata of wealthand rank in society. There are borders between the time zonesand one has to pay a toll in order to cross them. As you go upthe hierarchy of time zones, the toll increases. In order toenter the most exclusive time zone, "New Greenwich"
, the tollis a full year. This ensures that no riff-raff can penetrate thisultimate gated community; indeed, inhabitants of the lowesttime zone are literally living day-to-day (as the protagonistsays: "Just once, I'd like to wake with more hours [left] thanthere are in the day.")The film contains an element of stark social commentary: Inorder to control world population, the plutocracy creates priceinflation. Rising prices ensure that some percentage of ghettoinhabitants will quite literally run out of time. The plutocracy,on the other hand can continue banking time (wealth) that iscreated by those underneath them and live forever.Meanwhile, one as one character explains to the protagonist,"there's enough time for everyone."I was less interested in the social commentary than in theclever way in which the screenwriters imagined that usingtime as a currency would affect behaviors and social mores.For example, when the protagonist, who is from the ghetto,travels to the New Greenwich, it's impossible for him to hidehis origins
a woman who waits on him in an expensiverestaurant explains: "You do everything a little bit tooquickly." In a world in which time is the currency, adopting aleisurely pace is a privilege only the wealthy can afford. While the film can function as a metaphor for inequality inour society, it's also an interesting reminder that time
aform of currency that has at least one egalitarian aspect.Unlike the privileged few in the movie, there is a biologicalceiling on the amount of "time wealth" any one of us can bank. It's true that access to better nutrition, healthcare etc will allow someone to increase their expected lifespan;however, no-one, no matter how wealthy or powerful, canavoid the clock ticking down to zero. Your time wealth is
The name was not chosen randomly. Greenwich, CT has become (along with London) the world hedge fund capital.Consequently, the concentration of wealth is extraordinary is extraordinary. With billionaire hedge fund managersrunning around buying and building pharaonic mansions, the price of real estate (and everything else) has shot up.