Naked Capitalism: Lambert, an Unexpected Optimist Speaks….and Asks for Support

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Yes, I, Lambert Strether, am writing a post entitled “An Optimist Speaks” [gasp]. “How is that possible?” (I hear you ask). Let me abandon my customary register of light irony and explain.

Only optimists — people who believe that a better world is possible — could process the enormous amount of propaganda, mis- and disinformation, and outright lying that we process here at Naked Capitalism while not succumbing to denial, fantasy, tribalism, or self-indulgent nihilism, and retaining (as I hope you will agree) level heads and cool hearts.

And we harness our optimistic temperaments for you, dear readers, by providing truly unparalleled daily link aggregations, besides deep coverage of the crucial events of the day. Because of your support, we are optimistic enough to believe we need not curry favor with anyone.

You may have disagreed with our takes on the Great Financial Crash, the Greek Financial Crisis, the Covid pandemic, or the war in Ukraine, but you will always know why we reached them. And that is why we hope your will support us, at the Tip Jar.

Because of your support, we are optimistic enough to believe that we all, in the comments section, can enjoy the many absurdities, learn, exchange ideas, and protect each other from oncoming harms.

Finally, we are optimistic enough to believe that we can perform this swan dive of a fundraiser year after year, and come up with 10s across the board, this year as in years past.

And yet — it pains me to say this — we do not yet have enough people cheering in the stands. In fact, some of the seats are empty. Last year at this point in the fundraiser we had to raise the donor count goal from 1100 to 1325. We have yet to reach that point this year. So dig deep. Reinforce our optimism. Now is the time!

However, I have personal reasons — beyond my sunny temperament — for optimism. Let me turn this post over to IM Doc for a moment:

Very early on, after reading your research, we started the placement of Corsi-Rosenthal boxes in the office.

I had never heard of this and still it is crickets in this issue in the medical literature.

I have the lowest employee infection rate of any office and more importantly not a single patient has ever been found to be infected in my office on any contact tracing. There is not another office in town that can say that.

That means that the work we all do here at Naked Capitalism actually saved some people from suffering or even death by preventing infection[1]. I am an old-school blogger, so I am accustomed to steering or tweaking the discourse, but never, not in my wildest dreams, did I imagine I would ever be involved in a life-saving process. And yet I was. That makes me optimistic.

That should make you optimistic, too. So much of what passes for reporting and opinion in our famously free press is meant to make us all feel powerless. In fact, when people work together, then can effect change. So keeping most of us atomized and afraid is key to preserving a status quo that serves the 0.1% and its many retainers. That is why you, dear readers, will hopefully dig deep to help us all work together, via chipping in at the donation page.

And the key tool that give us power is critical thinking skills (which is how we earned a reputation with IM Doc such that he trusted us enough to adopt the research we presented). Honing and deploying critical thinking skills, as it happens, is Naked Capitalism’s editorial mission.

Critical thinking, too, is fundamentally optimistic: Understanding can make change. What we do here is method, even though that sometimes winds up with us looking like we have strongly held views. We go where information and our best understanding of institutions and power dynamics take us.

Critical thinking means we can have your back in crisis, whether the crisis be mortgage and foreclosure abuses, the abyss of the health care system, or a pandemic. Sometimes, critical thinking culminates in very practical — and empowering — advice on solar panels, home maintenance, wood stoves, help with Medicare/Medicaid, and many other topics. And if things are going to become more difficult, a community where you can get a heads-up, as well as practical and psychological support, becomes even more important.

You can reinforce our collective sense of optimism by donating here. If you can give a little, give a little. If you can give a lot, give a lot. If you have already given, consider “paying it forward” by donating on behalf of those who wish they could but cannot. You will be investing in a community where critical thinking skills save lives.

NOTES

[1] I think this is true not only for C-R boxes, but for other non-pharmaceutical interventions that we collectively and transparently worked on and through, like masks, Povidone Iodine, etc.

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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.

16 comments

  1. JustAnotherVolunteer

    Upped my donation – and this one’s for Jerri-Lynn. Thanks for all the textile and literary links.

    Every loaf needs a little leaven.

    Reply
  2. Mark Gisleson

    Optimism, deep coverage, objectivity (not currying favor), quality reporting, critical thinking?

    These are NC’s trade secrets!

    Should you really be sharing them openly like this?

    What if CBS or MSDNC or the NYTimes started copying you?

    Reply
  3. Left in Wisconsin

    Late to the party, as always. Was about to hit the tip jar but keep getting messages that say the site is offline, which makes me wary, so I will use snail mail instead. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      We are fighting the deadliest of all bugs, an intermittent outage.

      But you don’t need to worry. When you have clicked through at the Tip Jar you are in the PayPal world, which is not affected by our troubles at all.

      But thank you!

      Reply
  4. Eudora Welty

    Donated. I can think of so many reasons I appreciate NC: IM Doc’s reports, the formerly Jerri-Lynn’s style, lectures from Michael Hudson, Yves’s acerbity (is that a word), Lambert’s irony, the commentariat. The antidotes, too. It’s the best source for real news.

    Reply
  5. Mucho

    I didn’t find the time to contribute yet, but I will remedy this shortly. Thank you Lambert (and Yves and the rest of the team) for your invaluable coverage, critical thinking and optimism.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      Thanks for asking! And sorry the process seems difficult.

      If you have a credit or debit card, PayPal allows you to use that without having a PayPal account (or using it if you have one). We’ve gotten donations from readers outside the US during this fundraiser.

      On the upper right of every page, there is a picture of snow leopard kittens. Underneath is: Please Donate or Subscribe. Click on Donate.

      If you click on the Donate button, you get a page with the heading Tip Jar, some text, and then further down:

      To leave a tip with PayPal:

      Donation Amount: [blank box]
      (Currency: USD)

      Please click on the yellow Donate button after you fill in an amount.

      You then get a page that confirms the dollar amount and has two buttons underneath:

      Donate with PayPal
      Donate with Debit or Credit Card

      You would then click on the second and fill in the information.

      Reply
      1. VVP

        Thanks for these detailed instructions but there’s still no luck. I’m using on the “Donate with Debit or Credit Card” step of your instructions. However, when you click on that, it brings you the Paypal page where it asks you to select your country. When I choose India, there’s a message below that says “Donations to this recipient aren’t supported in this country”. I’m not sure if paypal accepts indian credit/debit cards even when the cards are enabled for international transactions.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith

          I could scream. This was not the case last year. I spent 2 hours with PayPal where they kept insisting this was a user issue. I finally escalated (a third time) to someone who looked into the rulebook and said PayPal does not allow “donations from some countries in Asia. I suspect “donations” wind up being used to pay for sex services. They do allow goods payments.

          You could try subscribing if you are willing to make more payments over time. You can cancel your subscription but you would have to remember.

          We will have to implement another payment system. We were planning to do so but held back because found an 11th hour problem with the one we thought was a go. We identified a second one but didn’t have time to give them a real look, much the less sign up, before the fundraiser. This one most definitely takes foreign payments.

          So if you can stand to wait till perhaps as late as early Dec (and earmark how much you planned to give) you could contribute then.

          Again I am so so sorry but the entire financial system is making international transfers hard.

          Reply
  6. Mareko

    Awesome thank you so much. I have been wanting to donate this year but was reluctant to tangle again with PayPal. Thanks to these instructions I was able to tip. I wish I could give more, you deserve it.

    Reply

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