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The Alchemy of Consumption

You’ve no doubt noticed by now that we have refrained from commenting on the 9-11 terror attack. For one thing, we are a monthly publication and it would be hard — given the fast pace of events — to write anything that wouldn’t be ancient history by the time the NOR hit your mailbox. For another thing, we couldn’t come up with anything that hadn’t already been said a hundred times.

But there was one aspect of the apocalypse that we have neither seen nor heard any comment about. So where angels fear to tread, we fools rush in. It doesn’t pertain to the horrific loss of innocent life, about which we’ve all seen and heard so much; rather, it’s about economics. In the aftermath of 9-11, people refused to fly, hotels were almost empty, cruise ships stopped sailing, cabbies had no customers, restaurants and movie theaters were virtually vacant, and the stock market plummeted.

Then the word went out, from the President on down: You can stop mourning now. Return to normalcy. Go out and buy something — it’s your patriotic duty!

Normally we don’t need any coaxing from our statesmen and lesser dignitaries to buy things. Madison Avenue takes care of that task. But Madison Avenue lost its alchemy. Have we ever seen this before?

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