Announcing 2018 Mini-Fundraiser for Water Cooler!

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Dear Readers,

As you know, I’m a WASP’s WASP, and by nature diffident about money matters. So I’m tempted to kick-off this year’s Water Cooler fundraiser — last year’s went very well, and we would like this year’s to go even better — by simply asking you to go read what Yves wrote in 2017 — you can contribute at the bottom of that post, too, as well as here — because she’s much better at this than I am. Instead I’ll quote her:

Besides providing general business news, Water Cooler files all the scamming and grifting and phishing under the heading of “The Bezzle,” provides a contextual view of official statistics, maintains a watch on important indices, and follows shipping and supply chain news as a non-financial window into globalization. In politics, Water Cooler provides detailed, gritty coverage of important races, like the one Jon Ossoff just lost, of sausage-making on policy, especially health care, and tracks the continuing legitimacy crisis of the political class as a whole, especially out in the “flyover states.” In addition, Water Cooler covers ecological news under climate change, and gives dispatches from the front of Class Warfare. That’s a lot of material to cover and bullshit to wade through on a daily basis!

Yellow waders don’t come cheap!

How has the world changed between Yves’s summary in 2017, and 2018, and how has Water Cooler evolved? That’s not such an easy question to answer, because each day’s Water Cooler is a quickly assembled mosaic of bright shiny objects, and then the next day I start fresh from scratch, and create a new mosaic. So I don’t pause to think about editorial design more than I need to. That said, I think two general themes emerge:

1) You should support Water Cooler to protect us all against increased levels of ambient bullshit

After 2016, who would have thought there could be more bullshit to deal with? After 2017? There was, both times. In the world of numbers we track in “Stats,” the continuing discrepancy between surveys and data has now become an open but unspoken scandal. So too with the official view of the labor market as contrasted to the lived experience of workers that we track under “Class Warfare.” Even more so with the companies we track in “The Bezzle,” where the corrupt language we started calling out two years ago (“innovate”, “disrupt”) turned out to signal the existence of real questions about valuations, especially for unicorns. Yet more in the world of politics, especially prevalent in the Democratic contest we are also tracking, between “Medicare for All,” and “Medicare for Some,” but also everywhere in the factional struggles for control of the party that we track under “2016 Post Mortem.” “2020,” and “Realignment and Legitimacy.”

There are times when the whole world seems to me like an airport lounge filled with the yammering of loud and bad TV. I hope Water Cooler lets you turn that TV down, and gives you some space and silence to read, to think, to reflect, possibly even to act. This is, after all, central to Naked Capitalism’s mission of promoting critical thinking. If Water Cooler has helped you or anyone you know with this, then please click the hat below and contribute what you can.

2) You should support Water Cooler to help us become even more knowledgeable citizens and voters

I confess that I follow the political maneuverings among the parties — especially Democrats, I grew up among them, they are my people — for their own sake. I love the clichés that express certain truths (“change vs. more of the same,” “a week is a long time in politics”), I love the sly schemes, the occasional moments of courage, the amazing times when technical excellence and the desire to do the right thing come together at the right time on the right terrain in the right campaign (as I am convinced will happen with #MedicareForAll). The word “passionate” (especially on a resume) is a bullshit word, so I won’t use it, but you know what I’m about here. I also love the sense that enormous, Civil War-, Late Roman Republic-scale changes are coming, and that it may even be possible to affect the course of history for good, just a little bit, with luck, and effort, and skill.

I digress, except not. The “gritty” character of the “Politics” coverage is there to help us all recognize the nature of political events in near-real time. (“Yes, they ran that same play in 2006.”) The political economy coverage is there to help us do the right thing when that recognition comes, all the way from talking to your neighbors and friends to writing a letter to the editor through doing electoral politics. This, again, is central to mission for Naked Capitalism (“Fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power”). If Water Cooler has helped you or anyone you know with this, then please click the hat below and contribute what you can.

3) You should support Water Cooler for random, serendipitous reasons

I lied. There are three. If you like light irony, bad jokes, ornate Gilbert & Sullivan tunes, the works of Shakespeare, euphuism, the meta, the plants that you all send in, and Haygood’s charts, then Water Cooler is the place for you! Please click the hat below and contribute what you can.

* * *

2017’s Water Cooler fundraiser went very well, and we would like 2018’s to go even better. What Yves wrote in 2017 is true this year as well:

Despite Water Cooler getting consistently high traffic levels all this year and plenty of comments, donations to it fell sharply since the shock of the election wore off, and have remained flat ever since. To be crass, Lambert is making well under a living wage for his work on Water Cooler and that is not right. We need you to live up to what we hope is one of the widely-held values in the commentariat, that people should be paid fairly for their work, especially work that has already been done! That means digging into your wallets, whether a little or for a lot, and chipping in for Water Cooler.

To which I would add that the money pit I call a house was unusually demanding this year, and that’s where a huge chunk of my wage goes.

Readers, I couldn’t write Water Cooler without independent funding from you; there’s no mainstream market for calling out bullshit. Your contributions tell me that you value the work I did for the past year, and your contributions will determine how much work I can do in the next year. Please click the hat below and contribute what you can. Even if you can only make a small contribution, we’d still appreciate that, because we also have readers who can make much bigger donations. Our target is 275 donors, and we’d like to return to our regularly scheduled programming as soon as possible. I really enjoy writing Water Cooler, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Thank you!

* * *

To make the business relationships clear, Yves writes:

Water Cooler is a separate store front within Naked Capitalism to pay for [Lambert’s] considerable effort on it over and above all the work he already does on the site… Yes, Lambert also gets paid out of the annual fundraiser, but that is for the considerable amount of work he does besides Water Cooler, such as DJing the site, helping manage the comments section, managing a lot of the tech issues, and helping in tooth-gnashing over other “business of running the business” matters.

To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.


If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Angie Neer

    I hate pledge drives, but dagnabbit, you caught me flat-footed. I’ve been meaning to click the hat for months. Your nudge got me to finally do it. Please keep up the good work.

  2. flora

    As you know, I’m a WASP’s WASP, and by nature diffident about money matters.

    As another WASP’s WASP I’ll comment that we do not talk about money…. however… we do talk about investing. So, I invest in the water cooler with pleasure.

  3. Lois

    Done! Honestly, I appreciate the reminder. Life on the hamster wheel gets awfully busy and I forget things like this. :)

  4. Arizona Slim

    Count me in! And, one of these days, we’ll have the pleasure of your company at the Naked Capitalism meetup in Tucson.

    1. blennylips

      Bitcoin has been bery bery good to me, so its only poetic that I invest in the Lambert Bitcoin Memorial Prosecution Futures Fund.

      Only question: Why limit to $100? The general donate route allows arbitrary numbers. With so many “Please click the hat below” I did not dare to try anything else;(

      You gonna make me do this multiple times? *sigh*

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, it’s the diffidence kicking in again.

        Any potential “whales” can send me mail at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com and I will send directions on how to send a check.

        Frankly, I’m wary of tampering with the PP drop-downs; the back-end interface is absolutely horrible and I’m worried I’m break something or hit a tripwire!

  5. Avalon Sparks

    Thank you for all your hard work, I can’t imagine how you do this everyday, but it’s kept me sane through these crazy times and words cannot convey how much I appreciate it. I don’t know what I’d do without NC and Watercooler. It’s my favorite website ever.

    Shout out to all the commenters too – the civility and intelligent responses are by far the best on any website. I’ve learned a lot from you as well.

    Donation happily sent and good luck reaching the goal!!!

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