Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What Makes Time Arbitrage Value Effective?

In other words, how might individual time arbitrage create greater aggregate value, than settings where time use is mostly determined through institutions? While individual time value is captured and defined (not necessarily for pay) in institutional settings, the purpose for doing so is to provide a single dimension wealth gain, or that which is capable of creating institutional profit. Whereas time arbitrage would also seek to recapture multi-dimensional processes of knowledge and skills use which came naturally, prior to the advent of today's institutions. By recording and coordinating these methods, they can be applied to today's contextual environments with technology and widespread monetary systems.

For the normal institution, arbitrage definition and "self preservation" mostly depend on a monetary result which exists independently of societal consideration or transformation. That is why the preservation of knowledge in societal terms can sometimes get "lost in the mix". A significant degree of today's knowledge, is in fact from a time when (individual to community) knowledge use was far more widespread at local levels than in the present. Suffice to say that one good reason to utilize individual to community time arbitrage, is to make it easier to spread and maintain knowledge use beyond normal institutional limits.

Time arbitrage in local individual to community settings has the capacity to capture time value in at least two capacities: on the part of the individual and on the part of the community which captures, measures and records the actions. In a strict sense one might refer to a community as acting in an institutional manner, because it too needs recognizable forms. However a community is not a hierarchical structure (or so one hopes) - hence knowledge can be freely applied and utilized wherever and however people see fit. Civilizations are built when local economies are free to apply and utilize knowledge in a myriad of ways not captured by institutional definition.

Plus, as a community seeks to maximize knowledge use for total wealth gain, the fact that knowledge is openly used means gains can spread well beyond its borders, making it capable of seeking out the knowledge wealth of "outsiders". This is possible because ongoing individual to community skills wealth connections exist beyond the need to create immediate profit. Fragility for community still exists mostly because of long term decision making processes that go awry, whereas normal institutional fragility is more immediate (in profit terms) - hence the frequent decisions to isolate knowledge within institutional structures.

How might time arbitrage differ from present negotiation processes outside of institutions? Consider some examples of comparative advantage that readily come to mind. A recent Catherine Rampell article emphasizes (individual) time management in relatively traditional terms - that of the ability to "outsource" activities to others in a lower pay range. There are natural limits to these forms of arbitrage: limits which result both from income variances in populations, and specific valuations on skills sets which tend to be fairly rigid in many respects as well. Such rigidities arise because education which could smooth actual societal needs has been severely limited. Time arbitrage in individual to community settings would especially seek to create greater elasticity in both skills valuations and educational needs.

The desired result? Communities which can aim for equivalence in time use amongst those with similar motivations and abilities. Individuals would be able to find economic balance amongst themselves which nations despair at being able to do in the present for their citizens through redistribution of wealth. However, time arbitrage also involves long term strategies for the spread of multiple forms of applied education, which are now limited to certain regions of the world. Applied education (local producers and consumers) would ultimately result in a blended "insourcing" form of time sharing in group settings, or "horizontal" comparative advantage such as what was once possible amongst populations.

More importantly, however, this form of work organization gives people from all walks of life a chance to blend aspirational responsibilities with the mundane, which is especially important in an era when otherwise, as Simon Kuper explains, "A class divide separates people who choose their job from people who don't." In other words, simply approaching work from a horizontal framing gives everyone a chance to look closely at what matters most with their personal time: not just those who are able to hire individuals based on a wage advantage. This increases time optimization in an aggregate sense. Of course, this perspective does not even detail the identity gains at stake by so doing - gains which can be quite significant.

Before anyone despairs at the thought of blending the inspirational with the mundane in a normal set of activities, consider: there is something any knowledge worker shares in common with someone doing hard physical labor. Our bodies (or metabolisms) often rebel whenever we try to maintain the same pace of focused thought or physical activity for more than an hour and a half, without breaks for entirely different kinds of activity. Of course many push through these natural limits just the same and pay for it in medical terms, but when we follow the rhythms our bodies were built for, we become more effective at both the inspiration and the mundane.

Another important reason for the effectiveness of time arbitrage is that it has the capacity to reestablish trust at local levels. How so? I must emphasize that this is a long run outlook and one that also would in some instances encounter cultural resistance. But here's the thing. A lot of cultural resistance to outside economic factors stems from the fact that the local economy is 1) forced to rely on said outside economic factors and 2) local resources on the part of said local economy are greatly affected by those same outside factors, in ways that sometimes leaves locals powerless.

Time arbitrage, on the other hand, becomes an internal lever by which local economies can finally begin the arduous process of taking their economic fate back into their own hands. And by so doing, trust finally has a chance to reemerge among local economic actors. It is too easy to assume that relative isolation dooms local economies. No wonder they don't trust the outside world or one another, we could rationalize. But how much of that is brought on unnecessarily? In many instances this isolation could be changed by creating economic access through knowledge use, so that locals no longer feel helpless to determine their own fate.

Without a doubt, one of the best examples of time arbitrage value I could promote, is the local (internal) balancing effect that tends to "fairness"concerns. For instance, the illogic of community ratings in Obamacare appears to have flown out the window, because it is a supposedly insurmountable concern at national levels. Greg Mankiw places the problem into simple context in this post. Community ratings in healthcare, is but another example of government throwing up its hands and giving up on basic economic principles, when they don't fit with the strategy of maintaining hierarchical structures in knowledge use.

What time arbitrage also makes possible is the use of an economic "camera" with a zoom lens. That would allow vital statistics and factors to be measured, which would otherwise be completely missed. While one often doesn't think of such a lens as important in everyday terms, ultimately what happens at a close up level is quite important to society: especially as any society fills up the larger perimeters which have been previously created in their overall structures. Long before those perimeters fill, the wealth a society is able to create is able to extend to the whole. In those circumstances, people often forget to notice what is happening in the "backwaters". Only when the larger perimeters fill, does society need to back up, and look at what happened to stop the flow of wealth through the entirety of the economic structure.

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