Announcing 2021 Mini-Fundraiser for Water Cooler!

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Dear Readers,

As you know, I hate to talk about money — for those direct souls who can’t stand to watch me circle round the topic, my goal this year is 325 donors, and you can click here for the tip jar; dig deep! — so I thought I would begin this year’s fundraiser by quoting some nice things you all said about Water Cooler:

Thank you ever so much for Water Cooler! –CG

Thank you for all your work this year. You are such a mensch! –HF

Thanks for your hard & quality work –ML

Thanks for all the hours you put in at Naked Capitalism –JP

Thank for all you do, you’re our main source of news links and we are very grateful. –MBH

Thanks for the excellent coverage of COVID-19. Reading the news isn’t exactly comforting, but I’d rather know what is happening than be in the dark. –k

And thanks for your work on our behalf. –SS

Thank you for all you do for civilisation and support for people who feel isolated from an intelligent and moral community. –PD

I love the pics that people send to you. –GW

I love them too! Many thanks to all the readers who send plant pictures in; the plants and their stories are very touching.

What Yves wrote in 2017 is a better description of Water Cooler than any I have ever been able to come up with:

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!

The “gritty coverage of important races” was especially important in 2020, a Presidential election year, where the volume and elaboration of the bullshit was like nothing I have ever seen (and yellow waders don’t come cheap). Readers will recall my election eve call, on the Election Eve:

I think the polling and the reporting is so corrupted that it’s too difficult to reverse engineer facts on the ground from it (due to the “airtight consensus” referred to by Thomas Frank).

… I think a Biden victory is more likely than not. First, Covid — regardless of systemic issues that should be, but will not be, raised — happened on Trump’s watch. Voters will punish him for that. Second, Trump’s messaging has been scattered and undisciplined (no doubt due to lack of the A/B testing he did with crowds in 2016). Third, we are seeing what looks like the birth of class consciousness in the PMC, and the suburban vote + Never Trump Republicans giving the country club permission to vote for Biden will help. Fourth, none of the potential Trump October surprises panned out: No (colorable claim of) a vaccine, economy not good enough, no foreign policy deal (e.g., North Korea), [and no Durham Report]. Hunter Biden’s issues wouldn’t have made the grade even without liberal Democrat censorship.*

I expect the Republican party apparatus to suppress as many votes as they can (which they do in the general; Democrats only suppress votes in the primaries), and I expect, from anecdotes, surprisingly big turnout by Trump voters on election day, but I expect Biden to escape that pincer movement.

NOTE * Here too the Trump campaign and/or its allies failed to execute. If Hunter Biden’s laptop had surfaced in September, there would have been time to construct a proper narrative, bludgeon the platforms, etc.

I underlined the key part: “Pincer movement” captured the dynamic of the actual election pretty well, and that the election would be a lot closer than political class was saying it would be wasn’t easy to dope out from the hysteria and triumphalism surrounding the coverage, either.

Balance. Balance not in the inane concept of “balanced coverage,” but in the sense of remaining a known, stable quantity (that can be properly discounted); not a feather in the wind; not a cork bobbing on the waters. The year 2020, for me and I suspect many of you, was a matter of trying to keep one’s balance. I think I kept my balance with the “gritty coverage” of election 2020, and I think I did pretty well keeping my balance on Covid, the year’s other big story. With Covid, balance was a matter of making sure that, well, marginalized voices were heard: The voices of doctors and nurses, the voices of scientists from the Middle East, India, Latin America, and Asia, and above all the voices of aerosol scientists, whose demonstrations that “#CovidIsAirborne” were consistently shouted down and silenced by CDC and WHO — less and less successfully! I believe that our early call and relentless focus on Covid’s airborne transmission helped keep you all safe, and those for whom you are responsible safe. Then too, my “tape-watching” of the Covid numbers helped with balance, too; I could ignore all the clickbait about what was going to happen, because the tape would soon tell us. If you agree, the tip jar is here.

To help us all stay balanced, I introduced several editorial elements: Birdsong of the Day was the main one, because it’s cheering and clarifying to start the day with birdsong (and it’s fun for me to research the songs of our tiny dinosaurs when I start the day’s Water Cooler). So now, we have topped our coverage with song, and tailed it with soothing plants. I also tried to introduce more humor, with zeitgeist-y distractions like Feral Hog Watch, Sports Desk, The Agony Column, Under the Influence (of influencers), The 420, and Games. And I tried to sprinkle plenty of “Dad jokes” throughout (though granted my own Dad’s sense of humor was surrealistically dry, and I take after him).

* * *

2020’s Water Cooler fundraiser went very well, and we would like 2021’s to go just as well. Our goal is 325 donors. What Yves wrote back 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 — the hours and hours so many of you mentioned — without independent funding from you; there’s no mainstream market for calling out bullshit — let along keeping your balance! You are paying me for work I have already done — unlike the Naked Capitalism fundraiser proper, which sets the budget for the following year — and so having played the fiddle, I am now passing my cap. Please click the Donate button below and contribute what you can. Again, our target is 325 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!

P.S. I appreciate the small regular contributions very much, and spread out through the year they really help to keep the lights on. However, this quarter is also tax time for me, and if there are any of you who can dig deep, please consider doing so!

* * *

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.

* * *

Readers, you may donate here:

Here is the screen that will appear, which I have helpfully annotated.

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!

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. Katiebird

    Lambert, I’m a monthly contributor but sent in a one-time donation in honor of your fundraiser. I don’t comment much but I check in several (or more!) times a day. Your links and asides & the water cooler comments are amazingly informative and addictive

  2. cocomaan

    In the words of Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks: “I have no idea where [the water cooler] will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”

    I just donated. I at least skim the Water Cooler every day. Lambert is always painstakingly putting together a real digest of cool stuff.

    I am donating in the hope that Lambert and Yves get more sleep.

      1. cocomaan

        The most fantastical part of that show isn’t the wacky dreams or BOB, it’s how efficient (and friendly) the FBI is!

  3. Carla

    One way to distinguish weekdays from weekends during the endless sameness of the pandemic days — just check, has Lambert posted the Water Cooler yet? If not, and it’s after 2:00 p.m., it must be the weekend! Thank you, Lambert.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Donation made – thanks for the amazing links, commentary and articles over the year.

  5. Alternate Delegate

    I had thought it was about time to feed the hamsters; was already in the mail.

  6. ambrit

    Those speciesists at the Treasury didn’t include Hamsters in their stimulus calculations, I’ll wager. We’re trying to make reparations to our quadripedal brothers and sisters, one small increment at a time.
    Stay safe in the wheel!

  7. jhg

    Good Day Lambert. Thanks for all your good work here. I have sent a donation to you. I try to read a selection of the major news services everyday, CBC, BBC, Reuters, Aljazeera, etc, even CNN. Then I come here to try and make sense of it. You separate all the chaff and leave the wheat behind. The insight of the commentariat in invaluable as well. I post very rarely but I am here every day. Stay safe and well.

  8. Not Berlin

    Amazing, complex, and time-consuming work. Wish I could send more, but happy to do this. Thank you! –Kevin

  9. Jake Dickens

    I also contribute monthly and will now contribute to this fundraiser. Thanks for all you do, Lambert. Your work is very important to me.

  10. Boris

    Done. I hardly ever comment, but you see even some of us (mostly-)lurkers are very much appreciating your work. ;)

      1. Late Introvert

        From me as well, the $2000 check actually has helped at our house, and I’ll send some of it to Water Cooler!

  11. fumo

    WC has been a mainstay of my late morning routine for years now, thank you for providing it!

    Donation made.

  12. L Anselmi

    Help. I tried to donate twice — this morning and just now. Both times I’ve gotten this message. “We couldn’t process this donation. Please try again later, this could just be a temporary glitch.”

    Any idea why? Is anyone else having this issue? Thanks

  13. You're soaking in it

    having played the fiddle, I am now passing my cap.

    I think that with the passing of James Brown, you’re the hardest working man in show biz. I appreciate all you do, which helps keep the torch lit!

  14. Angie Neer

    I just donated, with gratitude for all your work. But would you please be less fascinating? My brain needs some time off. ;-)

  15. Shonde

    I know this is a Water Cooler fundraiser but my contribution a few minutes ago was done as thanks for the Obama and Bush Horrible President posts. My hope is that your posts will be the first of many such posts from others.

  16. Scott Mc

    Just sent a donation. Thanks for all you do. And a special thanks for the recent addition of the Bird Song of the Day.

  17. Paul Fitchett

    Just sent some dosh. NC helps to keep me sane. High quality content from Yves and Lambert, and from the audience also in the comments. Here in AU we don’t seem to have the same covid issues that are happening in EU and NA (I’m in Victoria and life is basically back to normal), but in foreign affairs our government and mass media have just gone crazy. Full on Sinophobia and Russophobia. Not sure where this will lead.

    Best wishes to you both.

  18. Anonymous

    I can only second what all these more eloquent people said. I feel more aware of the world because of WC and NC, and I try to proselytize it to others. Thanks for what you do—in my circle of references, there’s no substitute for it.

Comments are closed.