I have mentioned the $30 steak dinner for two. And the eight dollar doctor visit. And I just dropped off what felt like 25 pounds of laundry for 400 pesos, or about $7.50. And last night’s dinner…
A king crab for two; seafood appetizer with shrimp, squid, crab and mussels; rice; salad; and a nice Argentinian white wine, and gratuity, for about $55. The crab was very fresh, and like all very fresh seafood did not taste at all “fishy,” but sweet and deep and briny like the ocean. The appetizer was wonderful, too, and the wine is one I might try to find when I get home. It was the best meal I have had in years.
One the one hand, it’s wonderful having a dinner to savor over two hours without thinking twice about the cost. I would never have ordered king crab in a restaurant because it would be more expensive than I would feel comfortable with. And talk about eating local: the crab had been pulled from the fish tank at the front of the store before being cooked. (I called him Bertie. He was delicious.) The owner of the restaurant runs a crab fishing boat (they really need to do a “Deadliest Catch: Southern Hemisphere) and supplies all the local restaurants. The waiter patiently showed us how to crack open and eat the crab.
On the other hand…
The prices are so low in the dollar equivalents because the Argentinian economy is in free-fall. And the day after the people elected a left-leaning populist, the peso dropped twenty-five percent in a single day. According to the news sources I read, that was the market response to fears about Argentinian solvency.
I worry about what the markets in the U.S. will do if a Democrat is elected. While I understand that financial decisions need to be made in advance of what happens, I also realize the markets exist for the sole benefit of investors and companies and let the devil take the rest. Unfortunately, those market drops affect everybody (Main Street as well as Wall Street, as the saying goes). And while I realize Wall Street is composed of many disparate elements, they all seem to work in lockstep sometime. (Admission: I have never quite grasped how the U.S economy works, The Big Short notwithstanding.) What if the markets instigate an economic crash, helping to make Elizabeth Warren (to take the candidate they are most scared about) a one-term President?
And the immediate question for me: by being here, am I helping or hurting? I am going to be here anyway, but am I pumping money into the local economy or taking advantage of an economic crisis? Or both?
I care enough about people to think about these things. I started to say “I’m enough of a lefty” but really, I do know conservatives who consider these issues, although I suspect they would frame it differently.