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Instruments of Borrowed Time

Why tech entrepreneurs succeed so young? Because they use other people’s time indirectly.

Fullmetal Alchemist’s Law of Equivalent Exchange requires that to get something, one must give up something of equal value. Maybe this is something that is not only true in the anime, but in the real world. But the question is, is the person who bears the cost and the person who yields the benefit is the same person?

These entrepreneurs benefit from the availability of cheap capital, be it in debt or more often, in equity from venture capital. These allowed them to scale rapidly in a pace they otherwise cannot. But where does the money from? From VC of course. But before that? From institutions? But before that? From other people’s time.

People work for years, generating value that worth more than their salary (cost). The difference is captured in corporate profit. Some of that profit is channeled to venture capital arm of a corporate.

People are enrolled in pension schemes. Some of the money is channeled to venture capital.

People save their hard-earned money in banks. Some of the money is handed over to VC as alternative investment to balance the banks’ portfolio.

People pay insurance premium to insurance company. The premium money that is not paid as claims become idle capital ready to be deployed. Some of it may end up in venture capital.

I think success can only be manifested after a certain amount of man-hour worked. For business that can only rely on their own cashflow to grow, the man-hour worked has to come from inside the company itself. But for companies with access with external capital, they can delegate some, if not most, of the obligatory man-hours worth of work to the masses via the medium of capital through the intermediary of corporate entities and financial institutions. That is what enables them to accelerate their growth using other people’s labor, not only limited to their employees, but also the broader society in general.

Capital is an instrument of borrowed time.

This partly sounds like Labor Theory of Value I read in my college years. I read the term in some obscure Marxist blog created by students from Universitas Indonesia. The 19 years-old me must have been so fascinated by these thinking because it is so rebellious and cool.

But the pragmatic me wants to develop a full-fledged instrument out of this conceptual thinking. How to get the most value from these borrowed times? In what way I can borrow the time in even more amount from the broader society? Can these concept be exploited to give birth to a mammoth institution capable of regulating the flow of human labor in a complex adaptive system that we called the economy, voluntary or otherwise?

I need more time to incubate this idea. Yet one more typhoon-seed of idea taking residence for and indefinite time in my already tempest-like brain.

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