When we started this website in December 2006, seeing signs of the crisis to come, it was inconceivable that the response to the eventual cataclysm would be to patch things up and try to restore a failed status quo. That process imposed tremendous costs on ordinary people: the biggest looting of the public purse in history via bailouts; 9 million largely preventable foreclosures; massive post-crisis transfers from savers to financiers via negative real and sometimes even nominal interest rates; austerity, which shredded social protections and in Europe, also served as an excuse for further weakening labor rights.
We’ve chronicled how the impact of the crisis, like a bomb dropped into a lake, has rippled out in widening circles, roiling social and political structures. This dislocation occurs when failure to address climate change is rapidly becoming a crisis of its own, one with vastly higher stakes. The press duly chronicles obvious signs, like torrid summer temperatures in Alaska, the opening of the Northern Channel, radical shrinking and disappearance of glaciers, accelerated movement of Antarctic ice sheets toward the sea. Absent a technological magic bullet, humans are almost certainly past the point where we can prevent irreversible damage.
Yet in a mass show of Easter Islandism, there’s a lack of will, particularly at the top of the food chain, to do anything about these fundamental threats, save maybe building a bunker in New Zealand. Even with responsible individuals doing what they can to mitigate damage, what is needed is radical societal-level action, and it just isn’t happening. The powers that be weren’t willing to put their boots on the neck of the banks. They are behaving true to form by not being willing to take on the military-industrial complex, fossil fuel producers, housing, and transportation. The Jackpot is coming, and William Gibson’s timing of its onset as roughly 2027 looks right.
Now one might say, with that sobering overview, why should ordinary citizens even try? One answer comes from the Mahabarata, that every day of life is a denial of the inevitability of death. Another answer is that humanity has lurched from horror to horror, yet somehow survived. Yet another is whether we have children or not, we have a duty to the next generation to do what we can to be part of solutions rather than part of the problem.
And here is where you readers come in. You are stern-minded enough to come here for an unvarnished dose of daily information, where we collectively try to get past the spin and understand important, underlying developments in the realms of finance, economics, and politics. Because so many elements of the established order are under stress, we’ve had to cover ever more beats, sometimes even neglecting finance-industry developments (like the recent Fed funds spikes, which were attention-grabbing but not a sign of systemic tsuris) because other topics seemed more pressing. And with the considerable help of our observant, rigorous, and well-plugged-in commentariat, we’ve been able to cover vastly more ground than we used to, despite having what amounts to 1.6 full time writer equivalents. If you value this informational heavy lifting, please go straight to the Tip Jar and give generously.
Despite the discouraging outlook, there are still hopeful signs. One of the requirements for real change is underway: fractures among the elites. The very fact that many of Bernie Sanders’ ideas from his 2016 campaign, like single payer healthcare and free college education, that were seen as too wild eyed to take seriously, are now embraced or at least addressed by the major Democratic Party presidential contenders, is a massive shift in the Overton window. Similarly, Silicon Valley titans are no longer revered; even once-loyal Democratic party operatives, who are seldom the sort to attack major meal tickets, have become openly critical of Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Demands like breaking up the tech giants show a fundamental disdain for the once-esteemed “innovators”. This is a necessary if far from sufficient condition for reining them in.
We are asking you, as we do every year at this time, to invest in this community. Whether you realize it or not, most of you are acting as leaders and influencers in your personal and professional networks. Every bit of information that you get here, from our Links and Water Cooler, our articles, and ideas and articles that readers provide in comments, is a tool for helping persuade others you encounter, even if only by denting their confidence in what they think they know.
And the vigorous, sometimes heated, discussions in comments don’t simply keep Lambert, Jerri-Lynn, and me sharp by catching sloppy thinking, imprecise writing or even (embarrassingly) occasional errors. We together are engaged in a collective exercise that is the core mission of this site: honing critical thinking skills. The better you get at vetting supposed facts, testing arguments, and parsing propaganda, the better you can navigate what too often is an informational hall of mirrors. Reading and participating in comments also helps improve your ability to make cogent cases and take apart dubious responses.
Google and Facebook have been cracking down on alternative news sites like ours, choking off their search results in favor of “authoritative” sources, because at elites are in the midst of a war for mindshare. The rise of populists (it takes an awfully loose term to put Sanders and Trump in the same bucket) is an all-too-visible demonstration that their command of governments is slipping. Regaining control of the prized narrative is their fastest avenue of response. It’s all too easy to brandish the menace of Russian meddling or right-wing creepy crawlies, like emboldened white supremacists, to justify a broader but largely below the radar crackdown.
Despite operating in a hostile environment, Naked Capitalism continues to punch above its weight, getting press notice on topics that are not core beats, such as a recent a New Republic mention of our coverage on the 737 Max debacle. Similarly, a flack for the private equity heavyweight Apollo felt compelled to contact us when we had the temerity to write about the firm founder Leon Black’s unseemly-looking relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Naked Capitalism has long straddled a position few can occupy, providing both hot takes and near think tank-level analysis. A few of many examples: Lambert has done deep dives on various health care “reform” plans. Jerri-Lynh has been ahead of the curve on the right to repair and plastics waste.
We’d like to do more. We’d like to do it even better. Just imagine how much trouble we could cause if we ever got our hands on some real money!
Please support our efforts. Give whatever you can, whether it’s $5, $50, or $5000, via our Tip Jar. Even a small donation helps us meet our fundraising goals. If this has been a good year for you, please dig deep and give generously, particularly on behalf of loyal readers who have taken hits in this two-tier economy and aren’t in a position to donate as much as they’d like to.
And if you aren’t able to make a financial contribution, rest assured there are ways to help! More than ever, we depend on all of you to promote Naked Capitalism and bring in more readers. You can help by sending articles, Links, and Water Cooler to potentially receptive friends, family members, and colleagues, by linking to our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, by talking up the site, and by making comments.
In our accompanying kickoff post, we identify specific things that your donations will fund and will tell you when we’ve hit each of these monetary goals. Our first goal is $19,000 for digital infrastructure essentials. That may not sound very sexy, but this is our plumbing. I’m sure you know from your own experience that when your plumbing is not working, you feel its absence acutely. We have a large nut due both the size of our database (over 1.1 million comments and over 21,000 posts) and rising security threats.
You can give via check made out to “Aurora Advisors Incorporated,” sent to:
Aurora Advisors Incorporated
164 Peachtree Circle
Mountain Brook, AL 35213
Notice this is a new address as a result of my having moved from New York City over the summer to take care of my 91-year-old mother.
Please be sure to let us know if you have sent a check so we can include your contribution in our fundraiser tally. Please send an e-mail with the subject line, “Check is in the mail” with the $ amount, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also use the Tip Jar to donate by credit card, debit card, or PayPal. Please note PayPal allows you to use your regular credit or debit card. If you are allergic to PayPal, checks are always welcome!
Finally, if you are better off in frequent flier miles than cash, Yves can also accept some frequent flier mile transfers for American Airlines or Delta. Please e-mail her at the address above if this applies to you. Any donations of this sort will go for flights to meetups.
Again, we hope you’ll support our work in ways big and small. You’ve helped us build a community, and with your continued backing, we aspire to make it even better in the coming year.