Driving to Vermont last week, I thought I would write about this phenomenon everyone is calling inflation.

Between Thomaston, Maine, and southern Vermont, I enjoyed the scenery at the pace of roadwork, zooming along at 70 mph and then, intermittently dropping down to a standstill. In a half-dozen different locations, across three states, highway crews were accomplishing jobs that had languished for years in the planning phase. The last leg of that journey was Route 9, between Brattleboro and Marlboro, Vt., a stretch of road has been on the repair list since August of 2011, when Tropical Storm Irene undermined, in half a dozen places, the state highway that winds west from the Connecticut River to Hogback Mountain.

All over New England, and I imagine the rest of this country, COVID stimulus money is repairing roads, purchasing fire trucks, helping businesses, and just keeping the cash flowing. Here in Maine, stimulus funds are filling in the potholes that formed while former Gov. Paul LePage was refusing to sign bond issues. Projects that had been kicked down the road, if you’ll forgive the pun, are now being accomplished.

That’s what I was thinking a week ago, at the tail end of six weeks of travel, celebration, and family, that started with a weekend in the Boston area and went on to include Passover at my place, Passover in Vermont, May Day in Western Massachusetts, ten days of wonderful plans close to home that were sidetracked by a thankfully-mild-version of you-know-what, four days on the road being my daughter’s backup at a fine craft event … after five nights in my own bed I am just starting to feel as though the world isn’t moving past me at breakneck speed.

It felt good to know what to write about a whole week before deadline. I came home ready to dig into some good research to explain why I don’t think what is happening to our economy is inflation, as we’ve known it. I was ready to expound on something that my readers might find interesting, something political without being too terribly divisive.

If only my fellow Americans would behave for one week.

Like so much of our impact on the world, it seems that we have reached a point where small acts rapidly add up like the plastic fruit labels accumulating into a cancer-causing toxin that is now literally everywhere. The invisible bits of our lives have seeped into forceful reality and cannot be ignored. Every mile down the road, every degree on the thermostat brings us all closer to the day when our efforts at comfort will cease to provide protection from the reality that is mortal existence.

An angry boy walks into a store and easily find the means to turn himself into a gunman, something out of the violent fantasies of a 1960s television western. Wyatt Earp meets late-stage capitalism and the internet.

Am I rambling? Absolutely. It hurts to look too directly at any one news story.

Even when I sit still, human endeavor moves past me at light speed. State governments are boycotting businesses, including pension funds, that support sustainability efforts in the name of climate change. You may have to read that last sentence again, just to be sure I am even suggesting the interests of money have truly come to outweigh those of pretty much any other issue, in the calculus of commerce and competition.

Last week, international banking giant HSBC found itself navigating political waters when their global head of responsible investments, Stuart Kirk, told people at something called the FT Live Moral Money Summit Europe conference their fiscal goals would not be negatively impacted by climate change.

“Who cares if Miami is six meters underwater in 100 years?” Kirk said, reminding his audience a rising tide lifts all markets, even if coastal cities might come to resemble settlements in the dystopian 1995 movie, Waterworld. The response from those who own stock not just to make money but to influence how it is invested, was swift, as was that of money market mavens who see the movement of capital as an unqualified good.

After HSBC suspended Kirk for being out of touch with reality, the conservative National Review responded with an editorial slamming so-called Environmental, Social, and Governance Investors (ESG), saying “ … stakeholder capitalism widen(s) the gap between investment managers and the interests of the owners, actual or prospective, of the capital they are managing.”

As the National Rifle Association met in the home state of yet another 18-year-old child murderer and his victims, the United States continued to be the largest seller of weapons on this increasingly overburdened planet. As they mourned the deaths of innocents, governors and Congress folk continued to woo the dollars and votes of those who still believe their guns will protect them.

“The proportionality is completely out of whack,” Kirk said about the burden of adjusting investment strategies to compensate for climate risk. “The more we’re doomed, the higher prices go,” he said.

When money wins, job losses increase; when stocks take a dive, unemployment goes down. Houses doubling in price translate to reduced availability of affordable real estates and rentals. The more we fear the more we spend, build, hide in our fantasies.

And if those fantasies are of power and conquest, of the permanent silencing of those who oppose us? I am rambling and it hurts to look at this reality we are creating as we hurtle toward an exit none of us wants to take.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist Driving to Vermont last week, I thought I would write about this phenomenon everyone is calling inflation.