Time may be money… though I’ve always resisted that loathsome platitude, the alchemy by which the very gold of our lives is transformed into the base lead of commerce…
— Mark Slouka, Quitting the Paint Factory
In economics we are taught that everything money could be spent on has an opportunity cost, which is the next best thing that you could have purchased with the same money.
Money, too, has an opportunity cost.
Most obviously its opportunity cost is what one could have done with the time one spent to earn that money (see—spent to earn… the analogy is inescapable). What Mark Slouka does in the quotation above is show us that sometimes, comparisons do an injustice. To say that time is money is to think that they are on the same ground, that it is a choice of either/or.
But money can buy everything in the world aside from time. The richest person in the world can do nothing to slow ageing, to stop days passing.
“Time is money”; we grow up with that innocuous statement without realising the harm it causes, how we debase the only thing we really have, and the only thing that money can never buy.