May 10, 2006

What is an asset?

As a scientist, Dr. Lenny is used to precise definitions to define terms, so that when people are speaking, we (the global hypothetitical we) are on the same page as to what we (you and i) are talking about. I have seen the economists use this term asset in so many different ways that i am having discomfort trying to put my hands around this rapidly growing beastie of a term.

Physical assets are things like property. They tend to have a value. Is knowledge an asset? Does knowledge have any real value, or is it freely available to pick up off the TV or internet and thus of no value. Do assets have to have monetary value to be real assets? Or just to get a bank to loan against them?

While we are at it - how do you build equity if you have to keep spending assets to maintain the status quo? And why does sweat equity to get something going get undervalued after the fact when the monetary interests seek to take advantage of an asset discount situation? Doesn't this directly discourage risk and innovation? Wouldn't you call this theft, if time were considered an asset with value that could be recovered after it has been spent? Is it productive to keep spending our assets in this country working to maintain a status quo that nobody really likes to deal with (except maybe a few vogons that enjoy shouting)?

Perhaps it is time to look at equity we (global) hold in the resource base and ask ourselves if churning the economy to produce very little productive work is a value to be spending our asset base - when the results are warfare and extremes welfare (elite and poor) and a tightening of all belts in every other area. Do we need all the cost of the paperwork justifications of our existances, when there is nothing to show for most people's work of a 40 hour week? There is so much verbage clutter in our work, that we barely have enough energy to melt down into couch potato form when we get home. Is this any way to run a lifestyle? What assets are we building? Family? Is family an asset by our definitions? What is an asset?

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