the monkey and the child and the grownups who rule our world

People are confused by the recent 889 point jump in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Why, in the face of a global economic contraction, did investors see fit to push the average up to one of its best ever days in all recorded history? What the hell, market playas?

To answer that, let’s first imagine a titanium bunker, sunk so deep in the Earth’s crust that not even two Eiffel towers acting as chopsticks could pluck it out. The bunker is supplied with food and water. It runs off geothermal energy and could theoretically function forever, even if the surface of the entire Earth were turned to slag by an ill-timed nuclear belch.

In that bunker lives a monkey. This monkey has been raised by robots in the titanium bunker deep below the Earth. The monkey sits all day in a room with a big red button and a video screen. On the screen is a crippled, deformed child in another room, somewhere on the surface of our benighted world (possibly an abandoned Soviet nuclear shelter in Kazakhstan, or maybe a retrofitted grain silo in Pennsylvania – who knows?). This child has never experienced a single moment of human kindness or love, not even at its birth, when the doctors held it up to the light and the parents shrieked at what they had wrought. It ekes out its lonely days in its room, sitting in filth and scratching listlessly at sores when the filth-sitting portion of its day gets tired.

This child is the monkey's only entertainment. Whenever the monkey gets bored, which is every few seconds or so, it hits the big red button, and a mallet extends from the wall of the child’s room and bonks the kid on its knobbly head. The child screams, the scream is registered and recorded, the recording is measured out and sent to stock markets around the world as the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Meanwhile, stockbrokers around the world gather at the exchanges, wave and gesticulate at the numbers and graphs spilling across the boards, hoot and yell and incant in the hope that their grunts and gestures are imbued with the power to push the numbers this way and that. They don’t know it’s a monkey with ADD torturing a crippled child. They think its their savvy in practice, their acumen in action. But even if they knew the score it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference.