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Stimulus Spending and the Keynesian Multiplier: The Thirteenth Stroke of the Clock

A new television commercial proposes a new way to add time to our day. 

In the commercial, the woman presents a generic clock which shows the addition of a thirteenth hour between the twelve and the one. 

Humorously, the space between the twelve and the thirteen, and likewise between the thirteen and the one, is precisely half of the distance between every other hour interval, and unless the gearing has been modified to accommodate this change, this implies exclusively that the twelfth and thirteenth hours will merely split that same hour, allotting only 30 minutes to each before the one o’clock hour. 

What’s more, this achieves nothing in the way of actually extending the day, serving only to unimaginatively obfuscate the reliable measuring apparatus which humbly reflects the average amount of time for the earth to complete a single rotation around its axis. 

While we could surely re-engineer the clock to accommodate a thirteenth hour, this change will only alter the significance of time, while failing to achieve that original objective of legitimately extending the day. 



From this change would spawn a cascade of additional requisite adjustments to the compositions of months, years and all periods of time which have become meaningful specifically due to the manner in which they capture worldly phenomena and relate important information. 

Oddly, this sort of proposal is just about as laughable as the many protests, projects and maxims which have passed the shaky litmus test of popular opinion across recent generations. 

One such set of notions, in particular, appears within the forum of economics, where the most common and erroneous complaint centers around the belief that money is too scarce, that if only we had enough money, we could claw and spend our way to prosperity. 

If only the results weren’t so serious, this series would present a great opportunity for the guys at Saturday Night Live. 

Just as with the aforementioned clock idea, which serves only to alternatively reclassify our time on earth, this monetary proposal serves only to find a classier or more exciting way to slice a pizza. 

Regardless of how we slice that same pizza, however, it will always remain the same in total. Of course, the only way to enhance that pie is through the quality or quantity of supply. 

The same rings true for the changes made to the economic picture, where dollars and cents serve only to relate purchasing power to the total goods and services available in the marketplace. 

Those dollars and cents, as unbacked (fiat) units of account, fail to organically make anyone any richer by their mere rise in nominal form. 

Insofar as commodity or representative money serves differently in this specific capacity, we find no difference between the kind of change required to achieve this end and the kind required to enhance real economic productivity and add to the economic pie of supply. 

Those changes to human action which yield material gains in productivity and efficiency prove equivalent to the efforts which result in gains through the usable commodities which form the basis for commodity and representative money. 

Therefore, any proliferation thereof serves intrinsically to materially benefit users, not merely as a medium of exchange, nor exclusively as a store of value, but principally as a source of value in and of itself. 

In this sense, we find an appropriate amendment to that erroneous complaint: it is, therefore, not a lack of money, but rather a lack of production, which separates the world’s inhabitants from its desired level of opulence. 

In keeping with this principle, while there surely exists a scarcity of both time and resources, it is our task to explore methods for optimizing the ways we use them, not to consider ways to merely reclassify their terms. 

The former serves to materially enhance our lives, while the latter serves to distract us from this opportunity. 

Ultimately, the thirteenth stroke of the clock calls into question the validity of the entire system. 

In the case of modern economics, that stroke is the myth that spending spurs sustainable prosperity. 

And the new-age economist is the contemporary cretin observing the clock while ignoring the sun and disavowing the circadian rhythm.

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