Naked Capitalism: Once More Unto The Tip Jar, Dear Friends

By reader aab

I read Naked Capitalism every morning. Often, it is the first thing I read, and one of the last places I check before I turn in for the night. I do this because in an increasingly vast, roiling ocean of propaganda, Yves, Lambert and the commenting community here stand as a reassuring promontory of truth. Not that there aren’t disagreements (woo boy, are there disagreements) over interpretation, perspective, even the relevance or reliability of particular fact sets or sources. But if you are participating in the Naked Capitalism community – whether you are writing articles and comments or simply reading – you are seeking clarity. Your goal is understanding and illuminating things as they actually are. To keep this content coming, and the community thriving, please visit the Tip Jar, to learn how to contribute via check, credit or debit card, or PayPal. Any amount helps, whether it’s $27 or $2700.

Our major media organizations have revealed themselves to be completely uninterested in either understanding or communicating reality to the citizenry. They admit it, openly. “It is not my job to fact-check a political leader,” they say, over and over again, in various permutations, offering up varying excuses. “We can’t give comfort to our enemy by discussing how the war is failing/the policy is flawed/the person is corrupt.” Why exactly it is better to hide unpleasant truths and offer up deceitful messaging instead is left unsaid, because to those who believe it, it is self-evident: “We” on the side of the status quo are on the side of good, because the status quo is good. It must be good, because we are doing well, and we are good.

As Clive pointed out in his fundraising appeal last year, if a person wants to have an economically secure job now, there is an increasing likelihood that they will be forced to be complicit in systemic deception and exploitation. It’s an elegant arrangement, in its way. As the in group of wealth and comfort shrinks, the incentives for those on the outer rim to obey and do whatever is necessary to avoid being cast into the barren lands of basement dwellers and irredeemables become stronger. The psychic pain of continuing to acknowledge the ugliness you are facilitating in order to avoid becoming a victim yourself is intense. How much easier it must be to read The New York Times or watch the major television outlets and believe them to be truthful. You just need to align with whoever they say is good and whatever they say is the correct position. Believe, and be cleansed.

That is where we are. Whether or not we ever do descend into a formal state of neo-feudalism, faith once again reins supreme – faith in the Market God and his priests in the ruling elite. There is no alternative, because there is only the one God. Our Market God cannot be failed, because he is almighty and all-knowing. It is right and good that a small minority of global citizens hold almost all wealth and power. It is inevitable and unchangeable that market forces will immiserate most human beings on the planet as labor conditions devolve towards slavery. If the Market God demands such tribute, who are we to refuse? If the priests of the Market God say bird entrails (aka data) show that the future will be thriving and prosperous, and then there is a massive, global financial crash, we do not change gods, or even priests. There is only the one God, and his servants the 1% are good because they are wealthy.

So (we are told) the correct response is not to change the system, question the theories that have been invalidated, or throw the priests out of the temple. No, we must work harder to serve the Market God and his chosen priests. We must serve up more, and higher quality sacrifices to appease him. Unskilled laborers were not enough. Skilled laborers were not enough. Information workers are not enough. College instructors are not enough. Eventually, we are told, the Market God will be sated, and he will rain down prosperity on those who are left, however few they may be.

Meanwhile, here at Naked Capitalism, we recognize that the earth revolves around the sun.

Whether you are inside the church of the Market God and benefiting from its largess, or outside the system seeking to understand how and why playing by the supposed rules has gotten you nothing, if you are reading this, you prioritize reality over belief. You may be an investor looking to protect your portfolio in a stock market whose shifts are unmoored from fundamentals, or a Midwestern plumber wondering how much longer your customers can pay you as all the factories in the factory towns shift operations elsewhere. You may be a retiree whose home was illegally foreclosed and your pension drained in a buyout, or a college graduate working three minimum wage jobs, none requiring your degree or offering benefits. You may simply be someone who recognizes that all of our traditional information sources and institutions have been corrupted into dysfunction. A wide range of classes, professions, locations and ideologies are reflected in the commentariat here. We come for the shipping container data, the pension fund fee malfeasance, and frank coverage and analysis of the economic and political forces breaking nations and blowing bubbles. We come to refresh ourselves in a community shaped by a respect for critical thinking and human dignity, as we gird ourselves with the necessary but sometimes painful knowledge we will need if we are to participate in making positive change going forward.

For that to continue, we need your help. Please give what you can, whether it’s $5 or $5,000. Every dollar helps keep the site up and running, the curated links to pieces worth reading elsewhere coming, and Naked Capitalism’s own groundbreaking research and reporting flowing, today, tomorrow, and in the months and years to come.

You may think to yourself, “’Human dignity?’ That’s laying it on a bit thick for an economics blog, isn’t it?” But consider that Yves is an active member of the financial services sector who lives in Manhattan and has worked at – among other major firms – Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Company. Yet she doesn’t just expose the predations of these and other power players in her writing. She has created an environment in the comments section where people with dramatically different backgrounds and life outcomes are treated and respected as peers. This is my kind of meritocracy, one where people are respected or shunned on the strength of their evidence, argument, honesty, and nothing else.

None of us know what the future holds. As I type this, the election is once again being rocked by salacious leaks to distract from other leaks illustrating profound deceit and corruption. Dark clouds continue to roll in, with no sign yet of whether we will get rain that washes away the mire or twisters (possibly literal AND figurative) that will tear civilization as we know it to pieces. But this was never going to be easy. It never is. It takes a lot more than a comma to get from “then they fight you” to “then you win.” The Overton Window has been dragged from its entrenched capital-friendly position. The rumbling of change can be felt beneath our feet. We need the power of knowledge and the power of collective action if we are to make that change positive. We need a thriving Naked Capitalism for the challenges ahead.

So join me in contributing to the site, to keep the servers safe, to keep Lambert in winter vegetables, to keep the truth via Yves, Lambert, and the many guest posters coming. Head over to the Tip Jar, and donate via check, credit card, debit card or Paypal. If you can give a lot, please give a lot. If you can only give a little, give whatever you can. As the past year has shown, small contributions can make a big impact. Let’s keep it going.

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  1. readerOfTeaLeaves

    A wide range of classes, professions, locations and ideologies are reflected in the commentariat here. We come for the shipping container data, the pension fund fee malfeasance, and frank coverage and analysis of the economic and political forces breaking nations and blowing bubbles. We come to refresh ourselves in a community shaped by a respect for critical thinking and human dignity, as we gird ourselves with the necessary but sometimes painful knowledge we will need if we are to participate in making positive change going forward.

    While reading this post, I repeatedly envisioned that ancient god of fire, Moloch, who seems to have first morphed into a spreadsheet, and then into a lobbying group exalting capital above the quirks, dreams, and efforts of human labor.

    Moloch has shape-shifted in our modern era.
    It is such a pleasure to start my days among those who are skeptical of the Gods of Money.

    1. George B.

      As I was reading, I was trying to figure out which historical god the “Market God” paralleled, and you nailed it. Of course it’s Moloch reborn!

      People are already literally sacrificing their children to him.

      I worry about what future my children and grandchildren will inherit. I had no hesitation giving my support to one of the few places of honest talk about reality.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        People are already literally sacrificing their children to him.

        Two book recommendations, if you are interested and/or can find the time, that she a lot of light on this whole nexus of sacrifice:
        The Spirit Level, which I learned about at NC. (Available on audio.) Written by epidemiologists, it is a profound analysis of how every member of an unequal society – including the wealthy – are ‘worse off’ in terms of health parameters in a society that is vastly economically ‘asymmetrical’.

        The other book was written by Elizabeth Warren (now Senator from MA) and her daughter, The Two Income Trap, about fine and decent people who — as they eloquently document — ‘did everything right’, played by the rules, and got completely screwed by forces beyond their control, having been sold down the river by neoliberal, myopic political, economic, and regulatory forces.

        I swear, if those two books were required reading for every pediatrician, pediatric nurse, teacher, school board member, school administrator, cop, social worker, and hospital administrator in America, we’d have a peaceful, practical, economically sane revolution in this nation within 24 months. Once people connect the dots in those books, which shed light on the forces that result in children being sacrificed, we’d have meaningful, restorative change.

        I left this comment because I have the same worries that you express. And not only my kids, but their friends – a whole generation of remarkable, hardworking, hilariously witty people.

  2. Anne

    I can’t remember exactly when I found NC, and for a few years – or more – I was a reader, not a commenter. That changed sometime after the first of the year, when I had to give up on another blog I had been participating in since 2008, as it had just devolved into something shallow and gossipy that had lost a significant amount of active attention and participation from the blog-owner, and its main contributing writer had departed for the land of Daily Kos, making only occasional return visits which seemed mostly about mocking and deriding much of the commenting community.

    So, here I am, and here I hope to hang out for as long as you all will put up with me! I was happy to make a contribution to this endeavor that has only made me smarter and expanded my knowledge base. I was happy to make a contribution to a place with such high standards for facts and truth, and with some of the smartest people I’ve ever had the privilege of being able to engage in discussion and debate. I know, without hesitation, that if something is happening, I’m going to be able to find out more about it at NC. And it won’t just be the usual headline blather: it will be background, timeline, names will be named, sources will be questioned, contrast will be provided, the parts that got left out by stenographers will be found and placed in context. I will learn something. I will find things that make me think and question and provide me with ways to counter the conventional “wisdom” that often threatens to smother the truth.

    As with aab, this is the first place I land in the morning, and usually the last thing I check out before I unplug.

    Any help my small contribution provides, in whatever way it is needed, I am happy to make, with thanks for all the work that Yves and Lambert and others do to inform and enlighten.

  3. lawyercat

    I came out of undergrad, having learned how to learn on my own, but enamored by works such as Hayek’s Law, Legislation, and Liberty. Then the financial crisis hit and I suspect that a lot of the readers here were like me in fumbling to understand how the crisis could fit within our understandings of the world.

    Luckily, I stumbled across a link to nakedcapitalism as a recommended source on independent reporting on the crisis. Yves and associates have been an important voice for me ever since, both as a portal to a world of ideas that only in the last few years have seemed to surface in other publications and as an incisive, critical, and intelligent voice in its own right.

    I’ve been a daily ready for the last seven years and I want to you wish you good health and ample vacation time for the next seven years along with a promise of continued support for as long as you can continue to make nakedcapitalism an important forum for ideas and discussion of our world.

  4. flora

    In 2007, I read an article in the WSJ reporting then Fed Chair Bernanke saying; 1. there was no housing bubble, nor any problem in the financial markets, and ; 2. mortgages were now being written without the requirement for private mortgage insurance (PMI) on contracts that had less than a 20% down payment (which had long been the industry standard). Mortgages with as little as 3-5% down didn’t require PMI. Not a problem, said Bernanke, such a sea change did not indicate an unstable market.
    Let’s just say my internal alarm bells started ringing.
    I started reading many, many great blogs but couldn’t find a good source that tied all the parts together. A comprehensive fact based narrative that I could understand was missing.
    I starting reading NC in 2012. NC: Comprehensive posts with fact based narratives. wow.

    “Knowledge is power”, as the old saying goes.

  5. tricia

    I have limited means. I have struggled personally with the Market God and its manifested evils, all assiduously addressed in naked Capitalism. Illness w/o insurance, low pay w/o benefits, children with mounting debt burdens to attend college.

    Still, I am a lot more fortunate than many others. I grew up in a middle class family. I had generous friends to help me through tough times. My kids got/are getting a decent primary and secondary educations. I am white. There are so many really suffering on a daily basis.

    Naked Cap has been a primary source for my late and growing awareness of what is really going on in the world. It is not pretty. It is horrifying. Grossly immoral.
    At this stage in my life I can engage in limited forms of activism. I can go to protests and verbally support other activists on the front line. I can raise my kids to be conscientious world citizens. I can put bumper stickers on my car. I can try to live morally, do the least harm.

    IMHO Yves, Lambert, other writers here at Naked Capitalism are great activists.
    I consider it a (albeit lesser) form of activism also to talk up the site, engage with others about the information here (today it seems more true than ever that, as Howard Zinn suggested, if you’re neutral or passive about what’s going on, you’re a collaborator).

    I wish I could support Naked Capitalism financially the way I’d like to. I do the best I can. I urge everyone to support the site the best they can for all the reasons others have outlined but also simply because it’s a great- and easy – form of activism.

  6. Jeep

    I’ve never, ever left a comment anywhere.
    But I found NC via Le Show, and Yves was so chuffing articulate about the arcana that rules us all.
    I have to drip what little I can to keep these folks movin’ and groovin’.
    This place helps me unravel the skeins of doublespeak we are spoon fed daily.
    Keep up the grind.

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