Imagine living someplace like the Middle East, where, on a daily basis, stuff is getting blown up, people are getting blown up. The perpetrators include domestic and foreign actors. How does the average Joe function in a situation like that?
We have our share of violence here, also on a daily basis, but there have only been a few times in our history as a country that we have faced direct, on-our-own-ground, threats from an outside force. The initial European invasion of the New World should probably be in its own separate category, but there was Pearl Harbor, of course, and Sept. 11 comes to mind right away.
Remember that so-scary time, when President George W. Bush encouraged frightened and bewildered Americans to go shopping? We can take the charitable view of his recommendation and believe that what he really meant was for us all to just continue on with what we would normally do on any given day of the week, because to hole up or otherwise change our behavior would be giving in to the bad guys.
Or, we can take a more cynical perspective regarding Mr. Bush’s suggestion. He didn’t really know what to say or what to do, so at the moment the easiest thing was to encourage us to continue spending money, because as long as the economy is chugging along everything else will eventually be OK.
Or, if not, the things that aren’t OK are easier to overlook if Wall Street is having a good day. It is, indeed, the economy, stupid.
NPR’s “Morning Edition” broadcast includes a segment called “Marketplace Morning Report.” It’s all about the economy, stocks, international market analyses, that sort of thing.
On the jittery morning after Iran had launched its retaliatory missile strikes against American targets in Iraq, one of the analysts on the program surmised the strike was intended to satisfy a domestic audience — that is, Iran had to do something, and this was perhaps the least evil of many possible responses. Iranian media is reporting American casualties; American media is not.
The jury is still out on who is responsible for the deaths of the 100-plus passengers on that Ukrainian jet.
However, the analyst concluded, with that domestic audience at least temporarily satisfied, the world’s financial markets settled down.
And with President Donald Trump’s reassuring “all is well” tweet, it was like everybody got the green light to take a deep breath and go shopping.
All hell can be breaking loose in other parts of the world — it often is — and here in America our daily routines don’t often change much.
Nice for us that we’re that insulated. Nice for those of us who have the ability to invest that the markets “settled down” after this last near miss in the Middle East, although it’s no secret that war can be financially lucrative. Nice for us that we can afford to overlook so much as long as our portfolios are fat and the trains run on time.
Nice for us that we can go shopping, but I’m pretty sure all is not well.