This Week: Nygaard Notes #622: SPRING PLEDGE DRIVE!

It’s the Spring 2018



Please donate to keep this

radical newsletter going strong!



It’s been a long time since the last Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive. 15 months, in fact. And that oh-so-long-ago Drive was a weird one—if I do say so myself—as it occurred when I had both hands in casts after a serious bike accident and ensuing surgery. So, on December 20, 2016 I announced that Nygaard Notes was taking a Medical Leave and, by the way, it’s a one-issue Pledge Drive. I think that Drive was successful, but I honestly can’t remember much from my 4-month recuperation period. I was mostly occupied with feeding myself and other activities of daily living.

The other thing that went by the wayside over the past year and more is my formerly-dependable practice of sending out reminders to existing Pledgers. I will be getting back to that before long. If you have sent in a Pledge of support to Nygaard Notes in the past, it’s fairly certain that it’s been a year or more since you did so, and I apologize for not reminding you to renew your Pledge for 2017/2018. I’ll be sending reminders soon, after this Pledge Drive is done and people have had a chance to renew without being personally reminded.

Thanks in advance for your support!


What IS a “Pledge Drive,” Anyway?

Nygaard Notes is made possible by readers who donate money to the project in the form of Pledges. A Pledge Drive is just a special moment when I ask people to make their donations. People can donate any time, of course, but most people won’t do that unless they are specifically asked to do so. And that’s where The Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive comes in.

Subscriptions to Nygaard Notes are free, as I believe that news and information are the lifeblood of democracy and should be freely available to all who want to engage with the world. But, in order to keep it free, from time to time I ask those who read the Notes to make a Pledge of support.

It’s like a public broadcasting Pledge Drive, in the sense that it’s all voluntary, and there’s no fixed minimum amount—Pledge whatever you can! And, as with a radio station, you can read Nygaard Notes without ever making a Pledge.

BUT… A Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive is different from a Public Broadcasting pledge drive in one important respect: Nygaard Notes survives by virtue of direct reader support alone. No grants, no corporate support, no commercials. Really, nothing except YOU.

Your contributions pay for printing, Internet connections, subscriptions that the Notes purchases for research purposes, stamps, and so forth. But most of the money you send in goes to buy time for me to do my work.

Each issue of Nygaard Notes requires tons of research. I do my own fact-checking. I take time in deciding on the focus and tone of each issue. I sit and think, making connections where connections are not obvious. I talk to people, I read and listen to the news. For all of these reasons, every issue of Nygaard Notes takes a great deal of time to produce.

Of course, I have a “day job” that provides the bulk of my income. And here’s the main point about these voluntary Pledges: The Pledge money of many people, taken together, means that I only have to work part-time in the regular economy, which frees me up to produce the radical, independent, quirky, idiosyncratic newsletter that you are reading right now.

Put most simply: Without your support there would be no Nygaard Notes.

So, how does one go about making a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s How to Make a Pledge to Support Nygaard Notes

Pledges can be made anytime, but a Pledge Drive is when most people make their contributions. I hope you will become a Pledger THIS MONTH! And, if you have already made a Pledge, NOW is the time to renew. In either case, the process is simple.

There are two ways to make a Pledge of support to Nygaard Notes.

The FIRST WAY is to make out a check to “Nygaard Notes,” and mail it to:

Nygaard Notes
P.O. Box 6103
Minneapolis, MN 55406

The SECOND WAY is the paperless way. It works like this:

1. Go to the Nygaard Notes website at
2. At the top of the page you’ll see the word “Donate.” Then you just click on that and follow the extremely simple directions. You can use your debit or credit card, or donate directly via PayPal.

If you already have made a Pledge, or already know that you want to, then there’s nothing else for you to read in this issue. Thank you.

For the rest of you, you may be wondering how big a Pledge you should make. The next article offers a few ways to think about that very issue.

How Much Should Your Pledge Be?

I don’t know about you, but I always find it a bit difficult to decide exactly how much I should donate to a worthy project like Nygaard Notes. For those of you in that same boat, here are THREE tried-and-true methods for addressing this burning issue.

Method #1: The Typical Pay-Per-Issue

Some people like to donate as if they were purchasing Nygaard Notes, which means they calculate how much each issue (or page, or word) is “worth,” and donate enough to pay for a year’s worth. That’s a little tricky with Nygaard Notes, as it is improvisational. That is to say, it’s unpredictable, and no one knows how many of anything will come your way in a year. However, if you insist, here are some facts:

Since I returned to publishing almost exactly one year ago, subscribers have received 18 issues of Nygaard Notes, averaging eight typewritten pages each. That amounts to roughly 145 pages of 100-percent original writing, about the size of a small book. Through the miracle of computer technology, I can tell you that you received 61,730 words of Nygaard Notes over the past year. Remarkable!

So, you could donate one penny per word, and send in your donation of $617.30. If that seems a bit high, you could donate one quarter-of-a-dollar per page, or $36.25. If you sent in a mere $2.50 per issue, your Pledge would come to $45.00. Any of those amounts would be great! (My favorite is the first one, of course.)

Maybe you can afford $1 per issue ($18), or 50 cents ($9). Anything you can do will keep Nygaard Notes going into 2019.


Method #2: Income/Wealth Calculation

A second way to think about what amount to pledge is to relate your contribution to your own income or wealth. Are you willing to devote one or two hours worth of your wages each year to supporting Nygaard Notes? Then send me that amount. If you make minimum wage, I am more than happy to accept $7.25 or $14.50 for your annual subscription donation. Maybe the minimum wage in your state is different than the federal minimum, which is the number I used. Go with that.

If you make closer to the median hourly wage for United Statesians, then it gets a little more complicated. The median hourly wage in Minnesota at the moment is $19.28. So $19.28 or $38.56 is what you would donate using this method.

Moving away from income to wealth (that is, looking at what you HAVE instead of what you EARN), you could send one-tenth of 1% of your net worth. The median net worth for white households in the United States is about $171,000 (most recent figures), so using the one-tenth-of-one-percent method, your Pledge would come to $170.

The median net worth for black families is $17,600, so using this method a Nygaard Notes Pledge would be $17.60. It’s $20.70 for families whom the Census Bureau refers to as “Hispanics.” I looked and looked for statistics on median net worth of indigenous people in the USA, but the problem is summed up in an October 2017 report on the racial wealth gap by Prosperity Now, which noted that “when it comes to Native American net worth, scant data are available to illustrate the current state of wealth within these communities.” In fact, the most recent data we have is 17 years old! So we learn that “In 2000, the last time Native American wealth was systematically measured, the median net worth of Native households stood at just $5,700.” If we go with that, a Nygaard Notes Pledge would come to $5.70.

(There’s a bigger issue here, as the report comments: “when it comes to Native American data, the issue for these communities is less often about how they are seen and more often about if they are seen.”


Method #3: Whatever

You may wish to think up your own Pledge amount based on some outrageously complex system that is impossible to reproduce here. Or, you may just wing it. Whatever works for you is fine with me!

Whatever you decide to send, I will record it and then I will contact you in a year and ask you to renew your Pledge. (Most people do renew, but you don’t have to.) I will even send a pre-addressed and stamped envelope—that’s about as easy as it gets.

Thank you for supporting Nygaard Notes!

What Readers Say About the Notes

From time to time, people take a moment to write to me in response to something they have read in Nygaard Notes. Here are just a few of the recent comments, which I hope will inspire you to make a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes.

On February 19th Travis wrote, saying that “as much as little incomplete day-to-day news updates are annoyingly superficial, I count on the Notes to look at the choices behind those updates—what’s being hidden… why were those words chosen… who is this being written at/for…”

One of my favorite comments came in response to Nygaard Notes #620, when long-time reader Bill wrote to say “Congratulations on another brilliant article. I do not think all 620 of your articles have been brilliant, but at least half of them have been so.” [That’s a pretty good average!]

In response to Nygaard Notes #615, Ryan wrote in, saying, “Thank you for Nygaard Notes. I first found it a couple years ago—not sure exactly what year—and have been very appreciative of your contextual analysis of current events and for introducing me to systems thinking. Each time I read it I think I should reach out to thank you personally, and so I am finally doing that.”

Roger read #614 and wrote, “Jeff: Outstanding Stuff!!! You are a strong voice in our struggling democracy. Keep up the thoughtful/thought-provoking ideas. Much appreciated.”

Last July Betty wrote, saying simply, “I so appreciate what I see as your thoughtful, skeptical, optimism.”

I do love it when readers take a moment to write, even if it’s critical instead of complimentary!

The comments provide emotional support for the difficult work of researching, thinking, and writing. Now, if you can see fit to add in a little financial support, then we’re really getting somewhere!

Thanks to you all for your emotional—and hopefully financial—support!