Taking Stock

We, the staff of the Thoreau You Don't Know, are watching the stock market dive down deeper and deeper, and wondering what it all means. We often turn to these words that Thoreau wrote to a friend. Lately, they have been sounding exceptionally true:
The merchants and company have long laughed at transcendentalism, higher laws, etc., crying ‘None of your moonshine,’ as if they were anchored to something not only definite, but sure and permanent. If there was any institution which was presumed to rest on a solid and secure basis, and more than any other represented this boasted common sense, prudence and practical talent, it was the bank; and now those very banks are found to be mere reeds shaken by the wind. Scarcely one in the land has kept its promise…. Not merely the Brook Farm and Fourierite communities, but now the community generally has failed. But there is the moonshine still, serene, beneficent, and unchanged. Hard times, I say, have this value, among others, that they show us what such promises are worth,—where the sure banks are.
(Photo, Library of Congress on Flicker: Farm auction, Derby, Conn.; 1940, Sept.)