I was turned on to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" in 1995 while reading Reginald Lewis' autobiography "Why Should White Guys Have all the Fun." Of course I'd heard parts of the work throughout my life in movies, commercials, and even cartoons, but it was after reading how Lewis would sit in his private jet and listen to the piece that I was compelled to purchase it for myself. I bought three versions that week and numerous versions since. Lewis was my idol, a blue-collar guy from a rough Baltimore neighborhood, who went to Harvard and became a star on Wall Street.
His drive to achieve unlimited personal goals and attain wealth made the American Dream more accessible to me. Four Seasons is the perfect soundtrack to such a dream - it's real live harking back to a time when climate change wasn't an excuse to confiscate money but to celebrate life and challenges that come with life. Here is the sheet music and sonnets:
Spring has come and joyfully the birds greet it with happy song, and the brooks, while the streams flow along with gentle murmur as the zephyrs blow.
There come, shrouding the air with a black cloak, lighting and thunder chosen to herald [the storm]; then, when these are silent, the little birds return to their melodious incantations.
And now, in the pleasant, flowery meadow, to the soft murmur of leaves and plants, the goatherd sleeps with his faithful dog at his side.
To the festive sound of a pastoral bagpipe, nymphs and shepherds dance under their beloved roof, greeting the glittering arrival of the spring.
In the harsh season scorched by the sun, man and flock languish, and the pine is on fire; the cuckoo begins to call and soon after, the turtledove and the goldfinch are heard singing. Zephyr [the west wind] gently blows, but Boreas [the north wind] suddenly enters into a contest with its neighbor, and the little shepherd weeps for he hears the awesome threatening storm and his fate.
To his tired limbs rest is denied by the fear of lightning, awesome thunder, and the furious swarm of flies and hornets!
Alas, his fears are justified. The sky is filled with thunder and lightning and hail cuts down the proud grain.
The peasant celebrates the pleasure of the happy harvest with dances and songs; and inflamed by the liquor of Bacchus, many end their rejoicing with sleep.
The mild pleasant air makes all abandon dance and song; this is the season that invites all to the sweet delights of peaceful sleep.
The hunters, at the break of dawn, set forth with horns, guns, and hounds. The animal flees, and they follow its tracks. Already frightened and tired by the great noise of guns and hounds, the wounded animal makes a weak attempt at fleeing, but is overcome and dies.
Trembling with cold amidst the freezing snow, while a frightful wind harshly blows, running and stamping one's feet every minute, and feeling one's teeth chatter from the extreme cold;
Spending quiet contented days by the fire while the rain outside drenches people by the hundreds;
Walking on ice, and moving cautiously, with slow steps, for fear of falling, spinning around, slipping, falling down, again walking on ice and running fast until the ice cracks and splits; hearing Sirocco, Boreas, and all the winds at war burst forth from the bolted doors - this is winter, but it also brings joy!
Frightful Wind Harshly Blows
For all the fear mongering about climate change that often highlights examples that we once called weather or typical days depending on the season, there is a ton of scientific research that suggests the planet had many periods that were warmer. Moreover, like the peasants that once celebrated the happy harvest with dances and songs, mankind took a giant leap in quality of life once this current 8,000 years of sustained warm weather began. Global warming moved mankind to better nutrition of the body and mind and to heights unimaginable when we cowered in colder days.
Part of the fear-mongering campaign is to insult people that think independently of the hype and conventional wisdom. To that end, we hear about the devastation of global warming based largely on economic loss. Of course man is moving into areas where people never lived before and the replacement cost for structures is a lot higher. What about apples to apples comparisons? Hurricane Katrina wasn't nearly the most powerful to hit America. Moreover, there is evidence of fewer hurricanes making landfall.
Researchers Chunzai Wang at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Sang-ki Lee, a scientist at the University of Miami, published a report called Geophysical Research Letters covering 150 years worth of hurricane data that showed a small decline in hurricanes making landfall even as oceans warmed.
Yale University professors Robert Mendelsohn and James Neumann edited The Impact of Climate Change on the United States Economy and found there were numerous positive impacts. In May 1996 Thomas Gale Moore of the Hoover Institute found that warmer temperatures will result in 40,000 fewer deaths in the United States annually, saving $20.0 billion (maybe twice that now adjusted for inflation).
In Greenland warmer temperatures have helped fishing and even hastened the return of daily cattle. Around the world warmer temperatures will result in more crops, larger livestock herds, greater fishing, and greater logging all while plants eat up more CO2 emissions. And humans are living longer just as they have throughout the global warming period.
Each morning we are greeted with fear ... a 2% cut in the rate of government spending is the end of the world. The Second Amendment and those that embrace the Constitution are the causes of evil and indifference as neighbor kills neighbor, and it's celebrated in music and movies. We are told who to love and who to hate, with the latter almost always law-abiding citizens that think government shouldn't owe $17.0 trillion dollars.
Vivaldi's music speaks to walking on ice and moving cautiously with slow steps for fear of falling, spinning around, and falling down. It's dangerous, but when we run fast until that ice cracks, hearing the harsh winds from the north meeting hurricane winds from the Mediterranean in a clash that sounds of all wars ever fought, we find winter - and we find joy. It's a wonderful thing, not something to fear but something that's been around from the beginning of time bringing joy and fortitude.
Most people don't realize Chicago is called the Windy City because of its long history of loudmouth politicians. Just as climate change has always been with us, so too has frightful wind harshly blown by the very people we elect to lead us out of caves of fear that cloud our minds and limit our potential. Instead, warm weather brought mankind out of caves and into the glory of being, a glory that includes timeless music by geniuses like Vivaldi and inspirational ambition by men like Reginald Lewis.
The market remains tentative in the aftermath of a slew of earnings from key retailers. Anecdotally, the reaction to Target (TGT) which offered strong guidance and Dollar Tree (DLTR) which barley beat and offered in-line guidance, speaks to angst over the economy. The shares of the former are getting hit while the dollar store stock looks like it's going to have a great session (there is an open position in our model portfolio). I continue to think the administration is railing against sequestration because internal work sees a very soft economy, and it would be nice to be able to blame anything outside the White House.
There was good news from the durable goods report this morning as new orders sans aircraft popped big time. This report is volatile, and we need to see capital expenditures increase like this for a sustained period (and confirmation from corporate America), but it's a hopeful sign. Once businesses stop buying back stock and hiking dividends so they can build plants, buy equipment and hire people, instead I will be extraordinarily bullish.
This column was originally published in Townhall.com.