As Americans were thrown out of work and into sudden fear of hunger, our economic system encouraged farmers to intentionally destroy their crops. At least 60,000 gallons of milk were dumped into dairy farm manure pits, traditionally the last place you like to see food. Milking cows were sent to slaughter. Fertilized chicken eggs were crushed rather than hatched.
A report sent to the White House on Tuesday from the National Academy of Sciences cast doubt on hopes that the novel coronavirus will naturally diminish in the spring and summer. “A decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed,” the report explained. “Pandemic influenza strains have not exhibited the typical seasonal pattern of endemic/epidemic strains.”
Amid all of this, Trump demonstrated that he apparently believes Covid-19 is a disease caused by bacteria, rather than a virus. The difference between bacteria and viruses is often taught around 5th grade, when children are ten years old.
The combination of this bad news with the stock market’s ebullience makes it tough not to think that it actively delights in human suffering. During the 1990s in particular, it was notorious for leaping upward when corporations announced massive layoffs.
What would truly make the stock market skyrocket, you might think by now, would be nuclear war followed immediately by a gigantic asteroid striking Manhattan. A hideously-mutated Jim Cramer, the last man on earth, would shriek “Dow 10,000,000!” just before expiring.
This is not the case, however. Rather, the stock market is simply agnostic about human happiness. It’s just a best-guess measure of future post-tax corporate profitability. If future post-tax corporate profitability is compatible with people being alive and having enough to eat, that’s okay. If not, that’s likewise totally fine. We’re just not part of the equation.
Looked at through this lens, the stock market’s latest behavior is easy to understand. As Dean Baker, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., puts it: “We should take the recent jump to mean that investors are betting that Congress and Trump just gave them lots of money.”
This content was originally published here.