August 10th, 2011

happytoast power lines

the myth of the time travelling dollar

The myth, in its simplest form, goes something like this:

You travel back in time to 1920, and deposit $1000 in a bank savings account. You earn 5% interest, and then travel back to present day, 2011. Your money has doubled about 6 times in the intervening years, and you now have $64,000. You repeat the process, and now have $4.1 million. Repeat until sufficiently wealthy, or until you can fund your time travel costs, ad nauseam.


This is an exploratory post designed for me to think out loud about the concepts of income, wealth, and rent. It is not intended as a justification for wealth, poverty, usury, rent-seeking, envy, lust, greed, or any other first world problem.

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I believe that one can participate fruitfully in value-added discussions on issues of money and wealth if one is willing to let go of their belief in such a thing as the myth of the time travelling dollar. But doing so, and recognizing all the ways it creeps back into our lexicon, is not a simple task. It becomes a nagging straw man, too easily kindled.