Announcing 2019 Mini-Fundraiser for Water Cooler!

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Dear Readers,

As you know, I’m one one of those INTJs, and I hate to impose on people by asking for things, especially money. (Those of you who are quick decision-makers may wish to click here and go right to the Donate button.) In fact, I had collected all the links to do a regular Water Cooler, because there’s so much going on, so I was going write all that up, and then put a modest plea at the top. But then I looked at what I had done last year, and it turned out I had written an entire post, and because I am also a creature of habit, I decided to do again what has succeeded in the past. (Last year, 275 of you donated. This year, I would like to try for 300. And last year, we achieved the goal with one post over one day. Please don’t make me ask for money twice in one year!)

Yves has described Water Cooler’s mission as follows:

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…, 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!

There have been, as of this writing, 1,146 Water Coolers. How has Water Cooler changed since Yves’ original description in 2017, and today? That’s a harder question to ask than you might think; Water Cooler is rather like a kaleidocope that I assemble each day: Water Cooler only takes two-and-half hours to write, but I’m constantly collecting bright shiny objects in the the form of links and quotes and tweets throughout the day; and as the deadline approaches, I dump the shiny bits into the kaleiscope, shake, add perspective, and the pattern of the day emerges.

That said, I think two general themes still emerge:

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

Ambient bullshit has, if anything, increased in the last year because of the continuing destruction of newsrooms, especially local newsrooms (thank you, Facebook, for the “pivot to video”MR SUBLIMINAL And let’s not forget private equity! but also because of their partial replacement by social media. We also have Facebook to thank for the increase in bullshit, besides the comparable though not identical venue, Twitter. Twitter has, amazingly, replicated the function the blogosphere performed fifteen years ago, as a place where press, politicians, and particularly verbal and aggressive hio polloi duke out how to frame the issues, and what the issues should be. For those of you who don’t hate the Twitter, I hope I’ve done a useful job of curating the best of it; Twitter is where much of the news breaks, these days.

It’s beyond the scope of this post to develop a typology of ambient bullshit, but the following categories suggest themselves, all of which are regularly displayed, attacked, and dissected in Water Cooler:

The Bezzle: This section of Water Cooler began by noticing and calling out Silicon Valley bullshit: “Innovation,” “disuption,” etc. Notably, that was an early tell for fabulated valuations, as with Uber, and the “start-up” mania generally. Over the past year, I think the number of grossly outright frauds and impositions on the public has increased, with the general theme being regulatory arbitrage (Uber, AirBnB), regulatory capture (Boeing), and farcically poor IT (Boeing again). All this is covered on a daily basis.

Parties and Movements: As I wrote of the Politics section of Water Cooler last year:

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.”)

Seeing political events for what they are is especially important in a Presidential campaign year, as 2019 has — horridly, Christmas music in the stores in July-style-of-thing — become. (584 days is a long time in politics.) I can’t think of another venue that provides [lambert blushes modestly] such detailed, insightful, and near-real-time coverage of center-to-left politics, where “left” includes DSA (and people who think DSA is too moderate), besides follwing movements and entities like the Women’s March, Indivisible, Black Lives Matter, and the reparation movement. Of course, Water Cooler also keeps a watchful eye on Presidential candidates, including Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Delaney, Gabbard, Gillibrand, Harris, Hickenlooper, Inslee, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Trump, Warren, Williamson, and Yang. Maybe when I understand Republicans better, I’ll branch out.

The State: The State is, quite naturally, a major source of bullshit as well. (Here, though off topic, I would like to give myself a pat on the back for this December 2016 post, which was very early to flag the role of the intelligence agencies in what today we call RussiaGate, in their attempt to change the Constitutional order.

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

Here are I think there are two ways that Water Cooler eases “the cost of citizenship”; the level of effort required to understand “finance, economics, politics, and power,” and understanding, find the leverage points and work for change. The first is on policy; the second is with respect to systems.

On policy, Water Cooler leverages the expertise in health care policy we have developed over the years, with a view to guiding the system toward Medicare for All. (I view providing universal concrete material benefits through Medicare for All as — believe it or not — the easiest and best way to demonstrate that government can actually function (that it can be “here to help you,” as any Social Security recipient knows, for example). One that demonstration is made, we can move on to larger things, particularly climate change, where we have greatly expanded coverage, under “The Biosphere,” to include scientific research when it appears, policy proposals (e.g., the carbon tax or the Green New Deal), as well as the “wonders of nature,” as miraculous adaptions occur, or new geological events are understood, and so on.

On systems, particularly political or administrative systems, we try — much as I love “horse race” coverage, and I truly do — to move beyond personalities and consider politcal figures as the representatives of factions, and especially to move beyond identity politics — where ascriptive identities like [x] gay [x] latin [x] woman are viewed not merely as virtuous in themselves, but as direct readouts for policy — to a more grounded politics where economics enters in the form of class interests (working out, for example, Thomas Frank’s insights in Listen, Liberal). This is especially the case in the “Class Warfare” section, where we cover everything from strikes to densely argued theoretical articles from all over the political map (and, of course, “Guillotine Watch,” for the utterly egregious).

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

Heck, good things come in threes. Let’s go for the synthesis! If you like light irony, cryptic allusions, gardening, dad jokes, bad tweets, new vocabulary words, The American Conservative jowl by cheeek with the New Left Review, and a range of musical taste that runs from Gilbert and Sullivan to the Clash, everything included in the present classification, and the lovely plants you all send in, then Water Cooler is the place for you! Please click the Donate button below and contribute what you can.

* * *

2018’s Water Cooler fundraiser went very well, and we would like 2019’s to go even better. What Yves wrote in 2017 is true this year as well:

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.

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 — you are contributing for work I have already done, not for work I will do in the next year — and your contributions will determine how much work I can do in the next year. Please click the Donate button 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. Again, our target is 300 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.

* * *

PayPal has upgraded its donation button and screens, and the clumsy dropdowns have gone away, as have the difficulties with entering custom amounts. If you click the Donate button below:

the following new and improved screen will appear, which I have helpfully annotated:

Step (1): Click the amount you wish to donate. ($100 is the top amount, because I was persuaded by a commenter not to underprice myself, something I have consistently done as a consultant and contractor, back to the days when I was mowing lawns for the neighbors as a teenager). Alternatively, you may choose to

Step (2): Enter an amount, whether larger than $100, smaller than $25, or somewhere in between. (This eliminates a difficulty small donors had; and if you can contribute only a small donation, that is absolutely fine; the amount is meaningful to you.)

Step (3): If you wish, make the donation recurring. (Helpful to me as a stress reducer, though of course you can cancel at any time).

Step (4): Donate. PayPal has naturally made itself the default, which is fine if you have a PayPal account, but you can also pay by credit card (the bottom button). Click that button and the usual sort of credit card page will appear.

If you hate 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. Thank you!

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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. notabanker

      Who can resist random, serendipitous, synergistic hamsters who ironically thrive on the Clash?

      1. Patrick Morrison

        You had me at ‘random, serendipitous, synergistic hamsters who ironically thrive on the Clash.’ I went and donated before I finished typing out this comment.

  1. ALW

    I am a long time lurker and appreciate your efforts. So you get some $$, not many but some, as I am very old and very poor.

  2. katiebird

    I added to my subscription with a little thank you donation. I appreciate the Water Cooler so much…. Thanks!!

  3. Black Beauty

    The added value you contribute is…utterly immeasurable, and worth far more than I can currently give, though I just put a little something in the hat : – ) I thank you, *from the bottom of my heart*, for your daily missives (you and Yves, et al), a tonic in a toxic world as we strive for a better, ecologically stable and more just one. Great big hugs.

  4. deplorado

    Thank you Lambert – you have a special touch. It’s a rare feat to remain humble, spirited and humane after wading through all that “ambient bullshit”.

    Also, because of the Twitter finds you publish, I have revived my 10yo Twitter account and have found a trove of great stuff, strong food for a hungry mind, well worth wading through some clutter for.

    Just donated.

    Thank you!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You’re welcome!

      Adding, Twitter is useful insofar as it is carefully curated. But there is a range of discussion there I find nowhere else; it’s not all party types screaming at each other and over-valuing their ideas. (For example, I subscribe to robots for Manet, John Singer Sargent, and Dutch Masters (not the cigars, the painters). They are very calming.)

  5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Ill donate some money that i earned from tips at ‘Hamilton’

    T-minus 4 shows to geaux…

  6. timotheus

    I am currently very strapped but will put in something to boost your donor totals and plan to add more when things get sorted out. WC is better than a (now prohibited) afternoon coffee! And a great source for our single-payer campaign work, so you are both useful AND decorative.

  7. barefoot charley

    Donating was easy and fun!

    You’re doing God’s work on a prole’s wages, Lambert, thanks for the info, yocks and hamsters. You and Yves are my very favorite class traitors. And though you tempt me, please just keep reading Twitter so I don’t have to.

  8. Vikas Saini

    I’m totally in!

    Lambert you are my must read on a nearly daily basis. Stopped reading the NYT, Nation, Globe, years ago.

    Definitely worth the benjamins.

  9. tegnost

    I’m in as soon as I get to the right location. NC, worth it’s weight in gold, err..bitcoin, no…
    Cash Money!
    Thanks to all and in this case specifically, Water Cooler and Lambert.

  10. JP

    Does paypal wet their beak if I use that to donate? IOW, how do you get most net, or doesn’t it matter?

    1. Joe Well

      I take business payments with Paypal and for US-US transactions they take the standard 30 cents + 2.9% unless Lambert has a special volume deal. For transactions from or to other countries, it’s a bit more.

      If you have a personal account I believe they don’t take anything but I think it would be against tos for Lambert to use a personal account for this.

      I’m curious what Lambert’s feelings about Patreon are…

        1. Yves Smith

          Paetron is terrible. Takes a bigger cut than PayPal and insists on hosting, which means they control your IP and own any comments.

          There used to be an independent service (charges similar to PayPal but at least not PayPal) but they started acting like a standard credit card processor, with a hefty monthly minimum fee.

          You can always send a check!

  11. dcblogger

    donated, please all my fellow DC area Water Cooler, donate enough for lambert to come to the DC meet up.

  12. Paul Coombs

    Your way of portraying the relevant news of the day brings a lot of order to chaos…
    and we don’t have to watch or listen to any talking heads.
    Very pleasant, if that word can be used.
    And, as Bob Marley said, “Get up! Stand up!”….. and you are.
    Blessings…..and something for the tip jar,
    Paul from West Bath….

  13. Kate Marchetti

    Naked Cap, we call it around here; my adult children love to tease me about my devotion to your site. You keep me involved in a community of seekers and true leftists that I cannot seem to find IRL; for years I suffered as a political pariah. Nowadays, your calm, funny, stringently honest daily posts keep me sane. And your critters–especially the cats. ;) Thank you so much!

  14. AstoriaBlowin

    Love Water Cooler, wish I had time to read it more often but just donated.

    I know wading through the muck of our current economic and political landscape is very time consuming but any plans to do more book reviews? The one on US Grant’s memoirs is one my favorite all time NC posts.

  15. philman

    I read Water Cooler every weekday and really appreciate it– helps to sort through the dross and beyond that, makes my day daily! Kicked in 50. Thanks Lambert for all you do.

  16. Joe Well

    I’m one one of those INTJs

    Please, please, please tell me this was sarcastic. “Personality types”: social science as astrology:astronomy.

    I know it’s gotten into the water, but as a former social sciences major it bugs me no end.

    I can only afford a tiny token donation since my credit card belongs to Bernie but please know I appreciate everything you do.

  17. Debra D

    Lambert, You (and your hampsters) have been taking care of us with the Water Cooler. Happy to make a monthly donation.

  18. Lambert Strether Post author

    Returning briefly with a bright shiny object from the Twitter. This thread is quite remarkable:

    We seem to have an NBC managing editor acting as the agent for a principal, the DNC.

  19. McDee

    Your check is in the mail. Thanks, Lambert, for all you do. Water Cooler is a valued asset at this time when the Bullshit-O-Meter is stuck in the Red Zone.

  20. ChiGal in Carolina

    I just KNEW you had your own fundraiser but when I asked about it during the NC one Yves said No. So…I was waiting to donate to you from my first paycheck (!) in almost three years but as billing lags a month behind and I just started seeing patients, there’s $50 coming your way today, sir.

    Occasionally I may have a quibble but generally you are the BEST EVER curator of the zeitgeist.

    A thousand thanks…

    1. Yves Smith

      I am sorry as to the misunderstanding but I never said any such thing. Lambert has has a Water Cooler fundraiser for the last three years. The only way your recollection could be correct would be if you asked before Lambert asked me to host his Water Cooler fundraiser the first time. Or perhaps you asked something more ambiguous, as to whether Lambert gets paid out of the annual NC fundraiser, which he does, in several ways.

  21. Ancient1

    Lambert – Appreciate all that you do. Sent in a small contribution, unfortunately I wish that it was more But int these times,every dollar counts in this house, especially if you are beyond seven score and ten. Thanks again.

  22. barrisj

    What I originally posted that after spending several months on unmoderated sites, and getting flamed for posting, e.g., counterfactual Collusionist articles, it’s a pleasure to return to an informed and rational medium of exchange of POV.

  23. Late Introvert


    This got referred to above but I’ll ask again. I prefer to pay by check but will do PayPal if you prefer. Hassle with a check or let them take a cut?

    1. dcrane

      Hope it’s not bad form to jump in here, but I donate by snail-mail check to an address that Lambert sends if you email him at the yahoo address found on his donation page.

      For me, it does feel good giving money to the postal service instead of PayPal.

  24. freedomny

    I am willing to give Water Cooler/and NC about $25-50 a year. And that’s about it.
    What I am more than willing to do is to help you increase your audience…Because it’s deserved.

  25. Howard Hawhee

    how could I not donate? NC and WC are my main source of news for at least the past 2 years [there, I admitted it]

  26. Joe Renter

    Thanks for all the hard work. I threw some cake to the hamster. More to come.
    Reading NC since Yves put her condo for sale on the site.

    Joe Renter

    1. Yves Smith

      Huh? I only owned coops, never a condo, and sold the last one I owned in 1989. I started NC in 2006. So I am not sure who or what you are confusing me with. But that means I’ve been a renter for even longer than you thought.

  27. Janie

    Thanks to you and to all at NC. Best site and best commentariat on the web. Wish donation could be more.

  28. Art Vandalay

    Water Cooler is one of the true highlights of my day and, along with the rest of NC, a truly indispensable resource. I am continually amazed by your prodigious output and perceptive wit, Lambert. It is with pleasure that I donate and say thank you for all you do for us.

  29. meeps

    It boggles the mind that the water cooler “only” takes two-and-a-half hours to write. I can barely string together a handful of paragraphs in that amount of time I’d judge coherent enough to post. Your kaleidoscopic creative process clearly works, Lambert.

    How has water cooler changed since Yves’ 2017 description? I’d say reader feedback is rather artfully integrated into the pattern of the day, which is saying a lot. Water cooler and NC on-the-whole have always done this well and it just keeps getting better. Thank you.

    I’ll pledge some for the hamster. I hope it’ll cover a tiny burrito or two:

  30. Skip Intro

    Thank you Lambert, one can’t have too many Dune quotes!
    Fear is the mind killer,
    The slow blade penetrates the shield.

  31. CoryP

    Donated! I barely have time to read it every day but I know a valuable service when I see one. Keep up the great work!

  32. PlutoniumKun

    Your deep dives alone are worth a contribution, they are amazingly informative. Keep up the good work, I’m happy to donate, small and all as it is.

  33. Stillfeelinthebern

    Water cooler is how I end my day here in fly over land. Love every last bit of your brilliant writing and link collecting. Thank you Lambert. I’d be insane without your writing and also the community here. Check on the way.

  34. Lupemax

    sorry to be a bit late. But Just donated! Thank you for ALL you do. I so appreciate your water cooler (your blog) and everything else you (and Yves and everyone else) do. It keeps me going, really. Sane as well. You take care too. And your kitty, they are special, kitties?

  35. La Peruse

    From the wilds of East Gippsland, Australia, another year packed with information, commentary and the best commentariat on the web. Much appreciated.

  36. Kurt Sperry

    I cannot sufficiently compensate you for the bounty I find at the WC five days a week but I tried anyway. Hope it helps.

  37. Whoamolly

    Grrr… Donate button did not work for me earlier tonight. Will keep trying.

    Apologies for late reply. Busy days around the homestead.

  38. ChrisAtRU

    Late to the dance, but will do my two-step by the usual methods! Thanks for the continued great work, Lambert!

Comments are closed.