Before Going South

Dearest Rachel –

I’ve already recently bemoaned the fact that, despite every intention to avoid discussing it, politics informs more of my life – and everybody’s, for that matter – than I’d like it to. We are shaped by the circumstances around us, regardless of how much we might insist otherwise. Our impression of God the Father is colored by that of our earthly fathers, however saintly or flawed they might be, for instance. More relevant to the current situation, however, is the fact that there are certain things we can and cannot do anymore, not because of our own limitations (although there certainly are those – I know that, when World Vision blows into town either this week or next, I already know better than to attempt to join up as a runner), but the limitations placed upon us by forces considerably larger than ourselves, and by extension beyond our control.

To be sure, certain quarantine restrictions are being lifted by a number of states – even our own. It would seem that Uncle JB has seen the writing on the wall; trust me, it isn’t as if the ‘science’ has changed in the last week or two, unless you take into account the political science. Be that as it may, I’ll take the win if I can get it. Certainly, Daniel is mildly exultant, although I still don’t think he’d be allowed in the Station yet – not that he seems to want to just yet. He still seems to be waiting for something to happen; I’m not sure what, or when that will be.

But there are also certain issues that are taking shape that even exceed the state or local quarantines in terms of both scope and effect. Geopolitical issues, if you will. And while this is one of the many things that we all realize and accept deep down, it’s weird when something that’s happening halfway across the world might directly affect you.

Just yesterday, I got a call from Sean, who manages most of our finances, including half of your family’s estate. He was expressing concern about the mass of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, and the possibility that an invasion might be imminent. Needless to say, an actual shooting war would tank (pardon the pun the value of many stocks); he was of the opinion that, since I have plans to spend money on renovating the house (among other things – more on that another time), that I should liquidate certain positions now while they still held more value than they will if Putin sends his men in.

Now, I personally don’t think it’s going to happen. As much as old Vlad seems to dream longingly of the possibility of a Russian Restoration, I think even he’s smart enough to know that invading Ukraine would be catastrophic in the long run. The idea of invoking an interminable guerrilla war on his doorstep borders on stupid. However, while he knows it, he’s probably betting that western leaders don’t know it – certainly not as well as he does. This is just a feint to get something else from them – a guarantee that Ukraine will never be allowed into NATO. Then again, I’m no political scientist; I don’t have the chops to definitively say what’s on Putin’s mind. At the same time, I don’t think our alleged betters than Washington are any smarter than I am on the subject.

Sean’s point is that the markets will fall precipitously if there is an invasion – which he thinks might take place over the weekend, or even over Presidents’ Day, when the markets are closed, and nobody in the financial world is able to react. So he suggested that I get out the cash I need for the year before everything goes south. And while I might not believe an invasion is likely, that’s beside the point – if the markets believe it, that’s enough to create uncertainty, and you might recall how much Wall Street (as well as the rest of the financial world) hhhhates uncertainty.

Not that any of this matters to you, after all; you don’t take any of this world’s goods with you when you leave it. Indeed, I’m sure you’ve discovered that what you’ve left behind is a mere trifle in comparison to what is now before you. Still, if you were ever to be interested in the lives you left behind, I figured I might as well keep you informed, even on such trivial matters as this.

Besides, some of the positions I liquidated had to do with companies that had been handed down from your grandparents. None of us – not me, not Sean, not even you – knew quite what to make of these particular companies. They weren’t on the brokerage’s radar in terms of recommendations (whether buy or sell), or even being kept track of. And in my hands, it’s like trying to figure out what to do with your old family photographs from long before your own time. I don’t have the sentimental attachment that you might have had (although in fairness, what sort of sentiment could be involved in shares of a company?).

Besides, I’m only liquidating what I need for the coming year – that doesn’t amount to much in the overall scheme of things. And while Daniel approves of my also disposing of a certain amount of Pfizer shares, I don’t share his belief that Pfizer will not only go bankrupt but cease to exist because of ‘what is to be revealed,’ whatever that might be. The boy does not understand how corporations work; even when a company goes bankrupt, it lives on. The fact that Hostess treats are still available in grocery stores (the fact that he prefers Little Debbie is irrelevant) should be more than sufficient proof of that. Criminal charges – if there ever will be any – will apply only to those who work there; you can’t arrest a corporation.

Regardless of anyone’s opinions of the future, the deed is done, and I am now prepared to pay for most of what will need to happen this year. Naturally, I’ll do my best to keep you informed of everything that’s happening as it does. Whether you’d still be interested or not is another matter – it’s the sort of thing that we would’ve talked about were you still here, so…

In any event, wish me luck, honey. I’m going to need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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