BY THE NUMBERS: How a Second-Grade Math Problem Makes Economic Elitism Obsolete


(Edited 12/15/2020)

How a second-grade math problem makes economic elitism obsolete.

By Michael Shoeman

The challenge posed to me for writing this article was about how the COVID pandemic benefitted my business.

In short, it allowed me to create a Time Bank.

Time Banking methodology is simple: One hour of service is worth anyone else’s one hour of service regardless of socioeconomic status. The doctor’s time performing surgery is worth as much as the neighbor using fire safety skills to save your cat getting stuck in a tree. The hours spent ineptly learning a skill is worth the same in monetary terms as the hours a seasoned “Master” spends who performs as easy as breathing.

My mission is to create a “Time Bank Hybrid” which accounts for hours served while accruing compounded interest for all members until economic equality is achieved. This is accomplished through virtual services. During COVID we have utilized tools like Zoom to connect with colleagues all over the world. I personally have developed relationships with friends from the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Nigeria, and South Africa.

I wanted to share with the readers of Heartrepreneurs ™ Magazine the numbers and statistics which prove the only thing getting in the way of world peace is our own competitive egos and possibly a fear of the unknown. This article is written at a time where I personally have been meditating on my own humility. Speaking from my heart, I truly believe the information provided should be “earth-shattering”. However, humility also informs me of the great measures taken to reject such radical ideas. The listener receiving such ideas is often numb with skepticism and doubt.

All that matters is Fellowship. If the relationship is not deep enough – if it does not solicit a commitment and positive flow of consciousness – then the knowledge of how to change the world is worthless. All you need to change the world is a deeper relationship with three to five people.

Every day without Fellowship is a tragedy. In turn, every moment in Fellowship has the potential to be a source of new life. Fellowship and true service mean there is virtually no striving. There is simply an allowing of mutually considerate agreements leading to equal partnerships and a cultivation of deeper understanding.

Let us look at the numbers which point toward establishing an Equal Partnership Economy…

As of Quarter 1 for 2020, which is pre-COVID for the US, the global debt was reported as $257 trillion.

Take a moment to appreciate that amount: $257 T-R-I-L-L-I-O-N*.

My research over the past ten years indicates there is only $60-$80 trillion (which is always a moving target) of tangible assets available on this planet. If that is the case, how could we possibly pay off a $257 trillion (and growing) deficit?

I believe the answer lies in the way we perceive “Time”.

If you take anything away from this article it is this: “Time” is a tangible, measurable asset which is thrown away and exploited.

Let us consider “Time” for a moment: There are over 7.8 billion people reported to be living in this world. There are 365 days in a common year with 24 hours comprising each day and night. This means we have 8,780 hours a year that we spend working, playing, sleeping, celebrating, mourning, etc.

Now take that 8,780 hours and multiply it by the 7.8 billion people. What you have is 68 T-R-I-L-L-I-O-N hours of potentially creative energy to solve global problems.

(Remember, “TIME” is a tangible and measurable asset.)

Take those 68 trillion hours and divide up the $257 trillion global deficit. What you are left with is $3.78 per hour.

Reflect on this a moment…

$3.78 every hour spent by each man, woman, and child contributes to economic inequality, psychological slavery, dysfunctional relationships, and emotional addiction. This amounts to each person contributing $2 to $3 million into the global deficit over the course of a 60- to 90-year lifespan.

It does not matter how successful your business is – competitive enterprise only exploits these dysfunctional relationships and keep global debt escalating. The exploitation of every hour we spend in this unconscious state contributes to the inequality…

Until we make it conscious. The $3.78/hour can be an entry point of awareness. It can allow us to make unconscious exploitation into a conscious awareness for shifting power structures.

A standard annual Time Bank membership is about $25. Normally those membership fees are used to defray administrative costs or pay a staff to facilitate fund-raisers. In a “Hybrid” Time Bank, we propose reinvesting those fees back into our Member Owner’s projects.

The question now becomes: How do we raise the cumulative value of our “Time” to create equal market share in the competitive economy?

This is where the second-grade math problem comes in.

Are you familiar with the science of binary fission? It is a reproductive process in which an organism splits into two forming two new organisms. The same process is also how cells divide to make up new biological structures. The two splits into four; four into eight; eight into sixteen; and so on. This process only must duplicate itself twenty times to make up 1,048,576 new organisms originating from the one original host!

What if each hour, up to twenty hours, spent in services to others could create the same effect using monetary measurements?

If I started a Fellowship and shared this information with two people, we could spend one hour a month discussing Time Banking and how to create Fellowships. One Fellowship member forms a new group with two new people focusing on Nonviolent Communication. The other member forms a new Fellowship with two new people focusing on Collaborative Innovation for businesses. Then four new Fellowships are formed — each with a new topic or area of focus designated by each individual member.

You can earn an hour by teaching a topic; then spend an hour learning a new topic. In the first month your capital is worth $2. In Month 2 it is worth $4; Month 3 – $8. By the twentieth month – about one year and eight months later – your interest would accrue to the same $1,048,576.

So, let us break down the numbers again: A $25 annual membership costs the Member Owner $1.25 per service hour. Once the cumulative bank hours support the capital investment, then it costs centralized banking $52,428.80 per service hour! (Not bad considering we were only worth a $3.78 an hour liability within the competitive economy.) This is all funding taken out of black-market activity – human trafficking profit, drug trade, war profit, inflated medical or legal expenses, and any other industry which heavily relies on coercion and manipulation to exploit labor. The $52,400 represents ONE MILLION HOURS of lost “Time” taken out of corrupt business practices.

But how do we assure economic equality? How do we make our “Time” more valuable than exploited material resources and wasted social capital?

Simple. By only allowing a new $25 donation ONLY after 20 hours of services have been logged.

This is the foundation of a Service and Education-based economy: By cultivating Fellowships, we transcend the duality and polarization of socialism versus capitalism, becoming capitalistic with our “Time” and socialistic with our material wealth.

My guess is that most of you reading this will be thinking, Dream on! My only response is that our entire monetary system is already “a dream”. It is a psychological game based on faith. When you deposit $100 in your bank you do so with the faith it will still be there when you need it.

Is it any wonder why there is so much time and money invested in creating dissention and spreading misinformation? We need to ask ourselves if the $257 trillion deficit really exists, or if it represents a substantial measurement of the opportunity for all of us to grow together.

It will take a lot of development of emotional intelligence but, hey, we literally have “Time” for that now.

How far can we take this accounting system?

Well, I hear there is a $257 trillion deficit and 68 trillion hours a year to spend. That sounds like a good benchmark.

*Update: After the Covid pandemic hit the United States, global debt rose to $277 trillion by Fall 2020. The hourly rate quoted above goes from $3.78 to $4.07 – a difference of 29 cents an hour.  

Michael John Shoeman is the Administrative Director of the Karmic Margin Call Project and Coordinator for the KMCP Virtual Services Time Bank. The Project’s mission is to facilitate Fellowships between artists, teachers, and entrepreneurs dedicated to creating an Equal Partnership Economy. The KMCP Time Bank is an internationally based co-op dedicated to converting “Time” into monetary capital. Mike specializes in facilitating small groups, or “Fellowships”, dedicated to collaborative innovation, emotional intelligence, and nonviolent communication inspired dialogue. His method is a hybrid combining time banking with a self-discovered accounting theory called Reverse Market Mechanics. Residing in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Mike has spoken at Brown University and is co-founder of Not on My Watch Productions, producing video, theater, and written content about suicide and bullying. He may be contacted by email at

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