Tag Archives: Movies

The huge economic problem with the movie “In Time”

9 Jan

It sucks, but not for reasons most movies suck.

It sucks because the entire premise of the movie is that people use different lengths of time to buy/sell/pay rent/live (either by shaking hands – yes, really – or by touching their left forearm to an electronic scanner). If they run out of time (either by spending it all, having it stolen or letting it run out), they die instantly and horrifically. ┬áIf chance has it that they are rich and have a lot of years saved up, the intro to the movie claims that these futuristic tycoons could possibly “live forever”. One of the first rich people we run across in the film is said to be worth “hundreds of thousands of years”. Meaning he could live for that long even if he just sat in a chair and ate cheetos all day.

If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t understand what I’m talking about, go look for it online; there are a million-and-one places to stream it illegally, if that’s something you’re into. To be honest, I don’t feel like taking the time to explain it all here.

The problem with the movie and its use of time as the basis of the world’s monetary system is really, really huge (and makes the entire story completely unbelievable). By using time as money, the creator’s of this film have invented the largest economic sink that can be imagined, and it lies within the flowing of time itself.

Want an example of what I mean?

Let’s say, for the sake of simplicity, that the movie’s universe has the exact same population that we do today, even though it takes place roughly 150 years in the future. That gives us around 7 Billion people that are all genetically enhanced to use time to buy/sell everything from toys and TVs to sex and drugs.

With every second that ticks off of the combined arm-powered bank accounts for all 7 billion of these people, the movie-verse loses 222 years from their collective monetary system. I like to think that is equivalent to $222 million dollars just vanishing every single second of every day for the entire world… without any way of actually making new money to replenish the bunch that just “went away”.

222 years lost every single second equates to 7,005,637,572 years lost every single year (in the economy) simply by letting the clock tick. This doesn’t include deaths of people who still have time saved up in their “clock” (which also goes away entirely to never be used again), doesn’t include people who spend their days stealing money and hoarding it all for themselves so that they can attain immortality, and doesn’t include the costs of running a government (which, if our current economy is any sign, is pretty costly). Basically, this whole thing really sucks.

A friend offered an argument which the movie throws in early on – new babies are given a free 25 years to get started with their lives before their clock starts ticking down, at which point they are given another free year to use for buying/selling with. The “solution” that I have heard to the problem with this huge money sink is that these newly created consumers bring a lot of time/money back into the pot to overcome the loss that every single second brings.

Sadly, this argument doesn’t hold up, since only 134,050,000 people are born every year – far short of the 7,005,637,572 years that are lost in that same time frame (if you’re not good at math, that means that even with that many people adding another free year into the economy, the movie-verse still loses 6,871,587,572 years, every year, just by existing).

Is it possible that there is a government system that is pumping massive amounts of time/money back into the economy through various programs and charities? Sure, anything is possible in a made-up Universe. Unfortunately, I can’t really see that happening, what with how history has shown that governments are terrible with managing money and all that.

What I’m trying to say is that this movie-verse simply could not work, would never exist, and is not even slightly believable. If you include the fact that the characters in the movie are still using pay phones, then you can see why I think this movie is dumb. Which is sad, because “That Truman Show”, directed by the same guy, really had a fun world to explore and think about.

I’m not really to the point to say that I want my 2 hours back after watching the film, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend that my friends should lose their own precious life-moments by doing the same. It just felt like a lazy story that was written in a hurry – but then, maybe the creator’s can use the premise of the story as their own excuse as to why the plot was terrible. *shrug*