By Lambert Strether of Corrente
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.
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.