Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Arbitrage Potential, and Time Based Social Security

Where is the untapped arbitrage potential of the present, and how might it be released? How much of it exists as human capital...or other forms of resource use? For me, these issues have more relevance, than ongoing attempts to divert already existing arbitrage flows. Especially given the fact that norms for resource use patterns are starting to shift.

How would new communities respond to arbitrage potential? Local economies would need to start with the identities which citizens have already formed, the skills and resources they already have, and from there, do what they can. Even though this may sound obvious, presently existing marketplace design scarcely takes advantage of given attributes. One might say that arbitrage is about making options in resource use patterns more explicit, both in sequential terms (time) and spatial terms (place). From the Wikipedia definition of arbitrage:
In economics and finance, arbitrage...is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.
However: differences in price are not the only mechanism which can carry transactions forward. Consider how local calendars, sequential voting and "just in time" adjustments could uncover group variations in time use preferences. Here, profit exists not just in the compensation of matched time, but also the accumulation of recognizable time value and knowledge aggregate gains in group settings.

A marketplace for time value, allows individuals to develop skills portfolios for the needs and preferences of others. Even so, it would leave space for one's own hierarchy of time concerns. Short of emergency situations, family time and vacation time become "built-in" internal negotiation factors. One could say that "deals are struck" with one's one time management priorities. Personal time management does not have to be sacrificed, in order to add meaning to the time of others.

At local group levels, possibly the greatest potential for time arbitrage is in the provision of reliable social security systems. While one normally thinks of social security in terms of monetary benefits, personal attention from others in the course of a day is not always recognized for the immense value it holds, until one unexpectedly finds themselves without it.

While many aspects of life can nonetheless be tended to without assistance, people are social animals for a reason - which means there are times when even simple feedback from others can make a difference for one's sanity. Unfortunately, government attempts to substitute impersonal institutions for familial relations has come up short. Both service providers and recipients need more flexibility in relations with one another, than has been possible thus far. The greater the diversity of services offerings, the easier it would be for individuals to maintain healthy boundaries with others - particularly late in life when such boundaries are equally important.

Governments have become too caught up in other competing large scale priorities, to provide real assistance for older citizens at this critical juncture. Even though many now decry government involvement in the marketplace, there have been few attempts thus far to design time based services at livable/workable scale which more closely matches retirement income potential.

Today's institutional services settings for older citizens tend to either be designed for a high income clientele, or are mostly intended for emergencies instead of ongoing needs. Even though many hope to be able to live out their lives with family, the reality is that it is not always possible to do so. Through time arbitrage, local groups can plan for the inevitability that some will end up without family members, so that these individuals can remain in the company of others for the remainder of their lives.

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