Time as a Form of Equity

To build my economic and political philosophy further, I am committing to holding an opinion of the concept of time as being a form of equity. To hold an opinion of something, I must be able to understand it first, which required quite a bit of thought work in putting myself into time and allowing myself to explore what it is. Having gone through the motions of forming myself an understanding of time, I’ve realised just how important a concept it is to understand. My purpose with this paper is to share an introduction to the main idea of how to use time equity as a tool for thought.

How I think about time

I find the most economical path to understanding time is to consider it a form of equity. Considering my time as a form of equity that I invest, to create my own life experience as I best see fit, is a very practical way to think about time. It gives me control over the concept and allows me to consider what life would be like with full control or no control of it.

In the realm of the business sciences, from where I draw the concept of equity, there also exists an accepted term called “opportunity cost”. Opportunity cost is required to allow us to explain our time investment decision with economic rationale, by means of the relativity of the two concepts of equity (something to invest) and cost (required equity investment into another form of equity – worthiness of two things in relative terms). One goes hand in hand with the requirement of the other.

Considering time as a form of investable equity allows me to realize that, whilst doing any consciously chosen act, I have made a decision to invest my time into doing that activity, because I have decided to not invest time into another opportunity, since it came at higher cost. There is always the other opportunity to whatever you are doing, which is actualized when you stop whatever it is that you are doing and do something else than what it is that you were doing.

At minimum, the alternative opportunity is always defined as not doing (the absolute logical negation of) what it is that you are doing. Given the control of one’s time equity, the option to stop always exists.

The alternative opportunity comes with, at minimum, a time cost but perhaps also a financial cost – in total sum, an estimated investment decision price, a required equity investment.

If you are doing an activity, and if you knew there was an alternative activity but decided to do the activity you are doing anyway, then you have calculated the price of “not doing the activity you are doing” and realised it was high enough to prevent you from not doing the activity you are doing. Hence you find yourself doing the activity.

Utility can be maximized without financial equity. Control of time equity is all that is ultimately required to maximize utility in any given moment. This is a big thought in that the removal of financial equity from utility considerations reduces all decisions to a desired emotional outcome experienced in time – at minimum, is it better to be doing what I am doing now, or to not be doing it?

By considering time a form of equity that I am (theoretically) deciding to invest at all moments in time, I am taking control of my own actions. It allows me to consider my ultimate motivations in creating my own experience of life. Considering that there is a well-defined average life expectancy for humans across different societies, then I can roughly estimate what amount of time equity I still have remaining to invest, and what kind of experiences I’m looking for down the road. I can consider my time equity portfolio allocation.

Continuous time allocation

To paint the idea into a broader context, being able to look at the finite amount of time equity I have allows me to form further opinions on systemic societal issues that are impacting my life experience, regardless of my singular ability to control the emergence of these issues as part of my life experience. Put plainly, if the system is outsourcing negative externalities to me, I need to primarily understand how it is impacting my ability to control my own experience of time in order to be able to take action against the externalities.

In realizing time as a form of equity that I have, and control over which might be limited by societal circumstances, my consideration of the externalities society makes me pay for changes completely. I am much less forgiving of negative externalities present in society when I discretely realize that I only have a finite amount of time equity available, and its potential value is being eaten by circumstances not created by me – such as climate change and war-mongering politicians.

Time, considered as a form of equity, is a very powerful way of conducting one’s thinking.

The fundamental importance of the logic of the financial mechanism

Does the option of not doing an activity have a higher cost because what you’re doing is something that you enjoy, and not doing it would come with a cost in the form of a loss of a moment of joy that outweighs any equitable benefits of not doing the activity?

Through an equity lens of examination, the experience of time becomes a fundamental form that we can use, via the concept of a financial mechanism, to examine the nature of time itself and its inherent potential value to actualize desired emotions. The concept of potential and actual, from Aristoteles’ metaphysics, is an almost exact metaphor for time equity.

In utilizing the financial mechanism with time equity inputs, we can remove the need for the usage of any financial equity component in examining the potential emotional utility value of a time allocation decision. In other words, using the concept of a financial mechanism purely with time equity inputs allows us to completely focus our potential decision-value analysis on the desired future emotions from time allocation, with no need to account for any extrinsic financial motivations whatsoever. Simply put, we can focus our analysis purely on the desired emotional impact of a decision, and radically simplify the economic consideration of the logic of everyday decision-making.

The concept of a financial mechanism forces us to examine desired future emotions, resultant from allocations of time equity, from the perspective of mathematically representable risks and opportunities. Mathematical representation brings a layer of objectivity to the analysis of subjective motivations, inherent to the markets, no matter how simple the representation.

The symbolic language of mathematics brings discreteness to the otherwise definitively subjective discussion of human aspirations – what we hope to be able to invest our time into. The mathematical representations can be at an extremely simple level, such as an expected pure good emotion outcome (+) or a pure bad emotion outcome (-) from a potential time equity investment decision – at minimum the comparison of continuing to do whatever you are doing now versus stopping (eg. reading this text versus not reading it. Don’t stop now! You’ve already got this far!).

Despite the simplicity, the mathematical representations of opposite emotional polarities fit the minimum for objectively discussing the subjective decision of time allocation and why certain decisions are or aren’t made. Delving into the subjective rationale for a decision is possible, and this might involve financial argumentation with profits and losses, but the objectivity of any time equity investment decision is already maintained with a simple denotation of emotional polarity – an expected good outcome (+) or a bad one (-).

For example, a + or – answer could be used to answer the question “why am I continuing to do what I am doing? Why am I investing time equity into continuing to carry out this operation as opposed to not carrying it out? Do I want to or need to keep doing it, or not?”

If continuing is a better expected outcome, then the decision gets a + and the other alternative gets a -. Or vice versa. Furthermore, whilst in consideration, both + and -, according to quantum probability logic, are in play at the same time on both sides of the calculation. You can even give both sides a “-“ (“life sucks”) or a “+” (“everything is awesome!”) – it simply depends on the story you want to tell about your motivations in maximizing utility, your return on time equity investment. At best, you get to experience maximum utility. What maximum utility is in practice is not relevant, and completely down to the subjective definition of the observer.

Transforming time

The logic of the financial mechanism is also very important in allowing for the transformation of different experiences in time between two or more parties. At minimum, there is always a supplier and a consumer in the market, which trade experiences in supplying in and demanding. One makes the other possible. The value of those experiences in time are quantified by the financial mechanism, and the exchange of the actual product or service is conducted with money. Money, in turn, helps the supplier live longer to serve the experience to subsequent customers. A piece of the consumer’s ever-decreasing time equity has been put to work in preserving the experience in the market, as shown by increased money in the supplier’s bank account.

For example, a supplier is experiencing the production of a product, whereas a consumer is experiencing the product’s consumption. Both see the product as worthy of their time on different sides of the table. The interchange mechanism of financial paper allows for the transformation of these two experiences in time to provide “unanchored value potential” (money) for the supplier, which can malleably be transformed, via the marketplace, into whatever subsequent forms of experiences in time the supplier wishes to invest into. This could be anything from investing in new tools to paying bigger dividends to reap the rewards of being a business owner.

In turn, the consumer gets the experience of receipt of the product and everything that having experienced the product will lead to. The ever-decreasing time equity of the consumer is, for the time of the experience, transferred to the supplying organization, which has the potential to keep the experience going as long as there is demand in the market. The additional cash on their account, from the consumer’s purchase, gives them more time to keep the demand going with good marketing.

It’s like, when you buy coffee regularly from a local coffee shop, giving a piece of your soul to the place to help keep it alive as long as possible. I find that that is a way of thinking that helps time as equity to sink in as a thought.

Suppliers live and die by consumer review
Two sides of an experientially-motivated transaction

Taking a financial component into account, usage of a financial mechanism will also require the assignment of ownership between at least two parties, as any transfer of equity will, firstly, require another party and then

  1. potential – internal motion of time equity investment to match motivations from both parties, to approve the transfer in the first place, taking ownership of the decision to move time equity towards the other party


  1. actualization – the resulting external motion of financial equity (the product, the cash) from one party to another

Ownership is a very important concept the financial mechanism forces into existence. Ownership is seen in who is assessed to hold financial equity after an equity transfer – the basis of property rights is built on the existence of a financial mechanism and the concept of equity (something to own/control) itself. Its importance would also be seen in ownership of both parties’ commitment to the decision that approved the transfer in the first place.

In other words, ownership of time equity is seen as taking responsibility for one’s own decisions, which will actualize into reality through financial equity. In turn, ownership of financial equity is seen as taking responsibility for the resultant maintenance of an actualization – such as making sure that the delivered product fulfills promises made in marketing, whatever that might mean in practice (eg. maintaining a rental apartment).

These examples of the importance of the financial mechanism in creating the concept of ownership truly bring Aristoteles’ metaphysics to life, and reaffirm the logic of considering time as a form of equity that is naturally owned and controlled by every individual. Should Aristoteles’ block of wood be turned into a table or a bowl depends on what future experience in time is desired – what kind of an outcome is the time investor “ready to own”?

As can be seen, the assignment of time as a form of equity allows for the birth of a very powerful, new realm of logic. The new time equity-based methods to examine the path of internal human thought rationalization and external interaction would be very useful for increasing our scientific understanding of conscious experience and real-world societal outcomes. Only upon understanding something, can we improve it to the next level.

Absent the usage of a financial equity component as a factor in a time allocation decision, realising the existence and our natural control of time equity allows us to look at the purely emotional risks and opportunities of making a time allocation decision. In other words, money isn’t fundamentally necessary to consider the potential value of decisions, but time and the emotions it comes with are.

Regardless, considering time as equity forces time to function upon the logic of a financial mechanism. Because of the logical link to finance, it could be said that “time is (an ultimate, experiential form of) money”.

Desired emotions, the concept of aspirational experiences of being, will always be measured and dictated by time equity investment decisions, since time is definitively how experiences will be experienced. As the Stockholm-based creative strategy agency, Pond, has said: “You can’t experience an experience until you’ve experienced it.” The potential is not equivalent to the actual.

In summary, time equity investments conceptually utilize a financial mechanism and, potentially, a financial equity component (such as money) to actualize the potential of an experience in time into reality. Money and other subsequent forms of financial equity are but interim products towards the inevitable emotional end goal – the desired emotional experience of time.

© 2017 Jens J. Sørensen