Time, a commodity

I always thought that a commodity was an article that could be traded, and that time (99-year lease, delivery in October, they’ve already started rotting) was a major determinant of price. Not so in the Guardian, where Hugh Muir writes of Simon Hughes’ moribund campaign to become London mayor that

The Liberal Democrats need a surge, a breakthrough, but for all the bright ideas – a flag for London, a telephone helpline for London – good fortune seems a long time coming, and time is a commodity he does not have.

Of course, it may be that commoditised time has, along with some other strange beliefs, been sanctioned by Guardian management, and that Mr Muir is subtly trying to flag the impossibility of having something that does not exist. However, there are suggestions that the phenomenon is out there and that it is culturally specific. Writes Jennifer Akin:

For most Americans, time is indeed thought of as a commodity[, which] becomes problematic when an American interacts with someone from a culture for whom time is not a commodity.

And, since the culturally specific must have an origin in human history, some minion (or invention) of Annabel Burton, Astrologer, helpfully informs us that

time is a commodity that Astrology has been using for 5000 years.

Unfortunately, no one seems to be able to explain exactly how, when or where time became a commodity, nor why I am still unable to find anyone who will sell me some more of it. I suspect that some of the confusion comes from vulgar “time = money” Marxism, but it may be Einstein’s fault.

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