Sunday, January 17, 2016

Time Poverty

We live in a technological world, where every eighteen months the power of computers doubles. But at the same time we live in a cultural world where expectations rise to meet the expanding possibilities of technology. So that as fast as we create new ways to save time, we find new desires to chip it away and distract ourselves even more.
If I was a wise man like Lao Tzu, Buddha, Jesus, or Krishna, I would not know, or even understand, what time poverty is. But I am not. I'm just an ordinary human being, with ordinary problems, faced with schedules, deadlines, bank accounts that rise and fall, and there is, all too often, this pressing sense of there not being enough time, not enough time to do all the things that need to be done. I can scramble around with different strategies to manage that time, so that the lists become prioritized, and I'm supposed to know what to do first and next. And yet no matter how much I try to manage that time, new variables, new events, happen continuously to disrupt that.

For me, not being wise, to rise above time is to ignore it for a while, and try to enter the space of what I refer to as eternity. For at all points in time, if I focus deeply enough into this particular single present moment, then I'm arrived, I have arrived, I am exactly where I should be at this particular instant. I'm fully present here, not having to be anywhere else, so that gripping sense of not having enough time fades away into the eternal moment. That is the way time poverty is transcended, by going right into time, through time, into what is timeless.


David Locke said...

Just finished "Chronos." In it was a discussion of psychological time.

Psychological time comes in many flavors. One class of time occurs when we are sick. It is in illness that we live only in the now. There is no "when we are well," or when we were well. There is just the uncomfortable now.

In physical time, now is the disconnect between the past and the future. It is an open on the time line.

In psychological time, now is a Gestualt of the past and the future, of memories and expectations.

But, psychological time is organized in the same manner of psychological frameworks. Sick time reminds me of Maslow and survival needs. And, being in survival mode right now, out here in LA with less money than it takes, I know that I haven't been able to even look up for more than a few seconds. I've smiled only once. I haven't had time to hurt from recent losses. I haven't taken the time to think deeply. I worry about where my meals will come from as payday approaches. I worry about running out of gas. It's nuts.

Time poverty comes and goes for most of us. I should be turning the corner next week. But, some people live in financial poverty their whole lives. They work three or four jobs. They live in th now, the sick place. And, they never escape it.

Financial poverty isn't about the balance of our checkbook. It is time to the opportunities of place, so it is geographic, and it is a culture, a way of thinking, a way of meaning. So imagine what the culture of time poverty would be like where everyone around us suffered from it.

David Locke said...

Time poverty happens at work. When we are in a lagging reactive-time stance, we are in time poverty. We have no influence over our work. We sacrifice quality for expediency. And, there is always another lump of work after this lump. The next lump will not be dealt with until it too is in the lagging reactive-time stance.

The software patent situation demonstrated the time poverty that surrounds all legislation, administrative law production, and policy of any kind, including business policy. For a very long time software was copyrightable, but not patentable. Then, the Supreme Court ruled that the Patent Office had to issue software patents and business model patents. The patent office did not have ANY trained patent examiners who knew prior art. So they granted patents that violated prior art, and the courts were left to sort those out. In effect, the Supreme Court was saying, "hey, we need more work," and the issue drove lawyer employment, but only for a while. Eventually, the Patent Office did hire trained patent examiners and prior art violations declined.

So quality was sacrificed for expediency. Much like financial poverty where tomorrow is sacrificed for today. The cure, sacrificing just a little today for tomorrow.

We see the quality sacrifice as unintended consequences. We see unintended consequences, because we didn't think hard enough about the policy to avoid the infinite possibilities and the path dependencies that get us stuck. You might just say there is a law of the conservation of chaos, well, yeah, entropy, what?

So what does time poverty say to the financial markets with their quarterly expectations? That time poverty is causing the loss of jobs, the loss of transactions dependent on those jobs, and the asymetries of executive compensation. Bad managers must take from employees as cover. All the while time poverty kills society.