Successful investors know when to ignore surrounding emotionalism and become hyper-rational; at the same time, they must know when to "turn-off" the logic-parsing and take the sort of bold actions that can only be successfully executed by harnessing emotions such as fear and transforming them into courage. Similarly, to be successful in the long run, Americans need to turn off their Apple ( AAPL) iPhones for a moment and create sufficient time and mental space to meditate upon the noble values and sentiments that inspired others to create and defend the great civilization in which they live. And in particular, it behooves Americans to reflect upon the emotional and spiritual forces that inspired many thousands of men to give their lives for a cause greater than their narrow self-interest. If these noble sentiments that exalt the values of service and self-sacrifice are not cultivated amongst her citizenry through traditions such as Memorial Day, America is unlikely to remain a great nation.
On a narrow economic view, it is possible to see the time that we spend on Memorial Day texting on our iPhones, watching our Sony ( SNE) flat-screen televisions and shopping at Best Buy ( BBY) and Amazon ( AMZN) as a very good thing. This all apparently good for the earnings of those companies, good for the S&P 500 and good for the GDP of the economy. At the same time, based on the sort of personal-utility-maximizing thinking that has come to dominate our culture, it is difficult to see that an alternative use of time, such as tending to the graves of dead soldiers, is anything other than a waste of time. However, many practitioners of the investment craft that have become adroit at recognizing the intellectual and emotional complexity of human affairs can probably see the fallacy of this way of thinking. Fundamental analysts know that there is more that affects the value of a company than the latest fluctuation in its market cap. And technical analysts know that humans are spurred to action based on factors that are far more complex than a rational calculation of next quarter's earnings.