The shock therapy of
decisive war will elevate the stock market by a couple-thousand points. We will
know that our businesses will stay open, that our families will be safe, and
that our future will be unlimited.
--Larry Kudlow, National
Review, June 26, 2002
I remember my mother telling
me when I was an idealistic teenager about a person who she called an "ignorant
old man," who she heard say in public prior to WWII, "If it means
higher prices for corn, then let it be war!"
I could not help but think of
those callous words when I ran across the esteemed Mr. Kudlow's words, which I
cited in the epigram to this essay. Now Mr. Kudlow by no stretch of the
imagination could you be considered "ignorant" like the poorly educated farmer
my mother mentioned so many years ago
Mr. Kudlow is CEO of Kudlow &
Co. and Economics Editor of the National Review, a respected (by Republicans
anyway) conservative periodical. I took a couple of economics courses in
college, and I know that the subject is quite difficult even if it still retains
(somewhat erroneously) Thomas Carlyle's nineteenth century moniker, the
Thus, Mr. Kudlow, you are no
lightweight—at least with respect to financial theory and market savvy, and
since you are a CEO of a your own corporation, you must also be well versed in
management, and human relations. (I may have that last bit about the human
relations wrong, since in today's corporate world, the winners are the sharks
that excel at corporate infighting.)
Aw shucks, Larry (May I call
you, Larry), I am only a sometime journalist and writer, but I can't help but
wonder what all those soldiers may think about your statement. Having
served one hitch in the U.S. Army, I might have felt pretty good about keeping
the "families safe," and maybe even have agreed with some of that keeping the
businesses open since that implies keeping the breadwinners working to support
However, I do know what I
would have felt about elevating the "stock market a couple of thousand points,"
and it probably would have involved procreation with your self in a darkened
Now, I know playing—excuse
me—investing in--the market is supposedly not the same as "making book" on
sports action or the "ponies," as there is research done by a whole lot of smart
people—probably like yourself--who attempt to time the market and pick the
securities that are on the way up or down (since knowledgeable investors make
money either way). Then again, maybe my naiveté exceeds that of a
little old lady buying Enron stock with the last of her nest egg from a trusted
broker at Merrill Lynch.
Hey, Larry, you know; it just
dawned on me--in spite of my persistent 3rd grade view of American
history and society. People at your socio-economic level with your inside
knowledge of markets, access to the corporate "old boy" network and good friends
over at the SEC most likely only bet on sure things—like the fact that wars
drive up the stock market. After all, it took the entire mobilization of
the country during WWII—not to mention a few tens of million of deaths--to end
finally the Great Depression. Hey, Larry, I guess I just made your case, didn't
Still, Larry, dying for one's
country, making the ultimate sacrifice for the survival of our people and our
democratic republic is one thing. I could probably have even died
peacefully while serving my country knowing that my parents were living well and
my children, eating hamburgers and fries under the flawed economic system that
some now worship as free-market capitalism.
However, I don't think that I
would have been exactly thrilled to die for the greed of you and your cronies,
no matter how much it is couched in your quasi-patriotic language expressing "that
our businesses will stay open, that our families will be safe, and that our
future will be unlimited."
You go on to say in the same paragraph, "The world will be
righted in this life-and-death struggle to preserve our values and our
civilization." Since when did the upward mobility of Dow Jones have
anything to do with preserving anything of our values and civilization other
than the most crass—much less the gallantry of our young men, Larry?
All too often the deaths of a brave soldiers merely to
preserve entrenched political and business interests smacks of the "rich man's
war and the poor man's fight." I cannot help but think of World War I
British poet Wilfred Owens' lament
The old lie:
Dulce et decorum for patria mori.
Those Latin words translate to "Sweet and glorious it is
to die for one's country." Those words are not always a lie used by elites
to rally the population around the flag; occasionally those deaths may be
necessary for the greater good.
Nevertheless, Larry, it is not sweet and glorious to die
for greed and crony capitalism. Besides, I wouldn't want to shock my
sweet, 80-year old mother with the truth of your well-wrought words about truth,
money and the "American Way." After all, she still, in all innocence,
thinks that only a low-class, semi-literate old dirt farmer would wish for the
deaths of young men and women just to drive up the price of corn.
Certainly, she would never in her wildest dreams believe
that a man as well-educated, well-connected, and literate enough to write for a
prestigious national magazine would want to unleash the dogs of war just to
chase a few bears on Wall Street.
Let It Be War - Online Published