I passed Cap’n Snark on the Plaza recently and made the mistake of nodding “hello.” Immediately he restrained me by the elbow and launched into one of his high-decibel rants.
“Them rules about humane war is messin’ up this Ukraine thing!”
“OK . . .gotta run, Cap’n. Have a nice day.”
“Hah!” he said, tightening his grip, “You think it’s OK to have a war, so’s long as it’s done according to that Geneva Convention, eh? An’ I suppose if we win without killin’ too many people – Russkies! – we kin earn style points at the next environment conference??!”
His breath was about 80 proof but, cleansed of its more colorful adjectives, his Ukrainian monologue can be summarized thusly:
War spending by both sides – and those on the sidelines – plus billions needed to rebuild destroyed cities, bury the dead, feed, shelter and care for refugees and the disabled will cause a huge net increase in global economic activity, profits, and GDP.
Thus, he concluded, “Them Russkies could get the Nobel Prize fer Economics because this here war’s gonna be great for business!”
“What?! You can’t be serious.”
“War’s always good for business!” he continued, “Somebody’s gotta’ pay for it, an’ it’s gettin’ damned expensive, what with the cost of them Pentagon war toys. And Congress don’t get no Amazon Prime free shippin’ neither!”
“Ya see,” he insisted, “that’s why money – sanctions – was Biden’s weapon of choice! AND why everybody on Wall Street is all-in with sanctions – not bodies, bombs, an’ bullets! – sanctions! Yep, they’ll devastate the Russkies without no dead ‘Merican kids; just dead Ukraine ‘n Russkie kids. And when the Russkies take to the streets ’cause they can’t get a Big Mac, Putin’ll be done!”
Despite my attempts to walk away, he followed, loudly insisting that “The best part is that when the shootin’ & bombin’ stop – and they always do! – they’ll be plenty Wall Street opportunities to rebuild the place. Putin’ll hafta make concessions to get back in everybody’s good graces, AND pay reparations to rebuild all the damn buildings he mashed, and for violating them war rules against killing too many civilians! I mean, a couple dozen’d be OK, but that Putin’s gone way overboard with the killin’. Wait – where ya’ goin’?”
“Gotta run, Cap’n; I’m already late for my funeral.”
“Hold on! Don’t ya’ see Putin’s makin’ life hell for us folks right here in the Valley, too?! Why, a tank o’ gas’ll soon be higher than yer PG&E bill, an’ if the wind blows wrong, all them explosions in Ukraine’ll smoke-taint every damn grape around! If that happens, business in this Valley’s gonna tank! People what can’t afford to live here’ll hafta move someplace else they can’t afford. Even worst, we’ll have to wear them damned masks again, and all them fancy parklets around this here Plaza’ll not be fit to eat in!”
In a desperate effort to end his ranting, I played my Ace In The Hole: Force him to Think.
“So, Cap’n…If this Ukrainian thing gets out of hand, what do you think should we do?”
“Easy,” he replied, “We can’t get caught short like we did with the Covid.”
“. . . come again?”
“Toilet paper,” he said, his jaw set.
“Put yer money in toilet paper. If that Ukraine gets outta hand, sure as hell there’ll be another big run on toilet paper.”