This Week: Nygaard Notes #640: Pledge Drive Part 2

This is Issue #2 in the Spring 2019 Nygaard Notes Pledge Drive!

Many thanks to those of you who already sent in your Pledge. I am humbled. But we’re not done just yet.

Some of you meant to send in a Pledge after Pledge Drive Part I. But, for whatever set of reasons—you got distracted, couldn’t find an envelope, the dog ate your stamps—you never did send in that Pledge.

Now, here is Part II of the Drive. There will only be two parts, so now is the time to make a Pledge of support for Nygaard Notes. And by “now” I mean: today. Go.

In case you forgot how to do it, here’s an extremely brief refresher course.

The old-fashioned way—still my favorite—is to make out a check to “Nygaard Notes,” and mail it to Nygaard Notes, P.O. Box 6103 Minneapolis, MN 55406

Being dimly aware that we are living in a new digital age, there is also the paperless, electronic way of making your donation. And that starts with going to the Nygaard Notes website at Look for the “Donate” button.

That’s all there is to it. Other than accepting my sincere thanks for your support, that is.

Now, to incentivize you (economics term that I find amusing), I have compiled the following list of some of the nice things people have said to me recently when sending in their Pledges. Maybe you agree with some of them. Maybe you’ll join them in making a Pledge!

What They’re Saying About Nygaard Notes

One of my favorite things about Pledge Drives is that many people send nice notes along with their contributions. Here are a few recent comments that readers sent along with their Pledges:

“We really need your cogent wisdom and analyses in these trying times.”

“ I so respect your analysis of what’s happening in the world.”

“I appreciate your work and insights!”

“Your voice of reason helps sustain me against Dictator 45. I won’t use his name.”

“Thanks for another great year of writing the Notes. Your perspective is so hopeful AND REAL in a time when FAKE news is confusing us all (trying to, anyway!) Keep at it! A big fan…”

“It is good to know we have plugged into an honest, no-nonsense source for our news.”

“Words I associate with you and the Notes: Complexifying; Integrity; Breadth with Depth; Deeply Thoughtful; Synthesis; Resolute; Providing a Forest for the Trees; Gratitude; Conscience”

“Thank you for sharing your intelligence, analysis, insights, otherwise known as Nygaard Notes.”

And I had forgotten about this one from a couple years ago: “I’ve read every single word you’ve put out in, gosh, how many years? It’s brilliant, and I’m so glad you’re carrying on with it.”

And I’m STILL carrying on with it, because lots of you have made contributions to the project. If you agree with some or all of the comments above, I hope you’ll consider backing up your appreciation with a donation. You know how. You know why. Send in your Pledge today!

How Much Should Your Pledge Be?

Last week I said “I never know what to say about this.” That’s not strictly true, as I have in many a Pledge Drive offered a few ways to think about this. Two methods come to mind.

Method #1: Pay-Per-Word, Page, 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:

Over the past year I have published almost 44,000 words worth of Nygaard Notes, spread out over 15 issues (not including Pledge Drive issues).

What if you decided to donate one penny per word? Well, you’d send in $440. But that includes every “it,” “and,” and “the.” Who wants to pay a penny for those useful but repetitive words?

What if you paid a dime for every typewritten page? You’ll get at least 100 pages per year, so maybe send in ten bucks. Of course, 25 cents a page doesn’t seem unreasonable, so how about $25?

15 issues at $1.00 per issue would lead you to send in $15. But isn’t an issue of the Notes worth $3? OK, then, send in $45.

Any of those amounts would be great! But there’s another way to approach it.

Method #2: Ability to Pay

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 support Nygaard Notes? Then send me that amount. If you make the federal 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. 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 $20.49. So $20.49 or $40.98 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 $163,000 (most recent figures), so using the one-tenth-of-one-percent method, your Pledge would come to $163.

The median net worth for black families is $16,000—yes, about 10 percent of white households! So, using this method a Nygaard Notes Pledge would be $16.00. It’s $21,000 for families whom the Census Bureau refers to as “Hispanics.” Send in 21 bucks, then. I have looked high and low 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 18 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.”

Here’s the simplest method: Just send in whatever you feel like sending in!

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.) Unless you pledge electronically, I will even send a pre-addressed and stamped envelope—that’s about as easy as it gets.

Thank you for supporting Nygaard Notes!

Nygaard Notes Year in Review

It’s a tradition at Nygaard Notes to periodically reflect on what I have published in the preceding year. Pledge Drives are good times to do this. For regular readers it’s a chance to think again about some of the things worth thinking about, and for new readers it offers a glimpse of what you’re in for! So let me cast my mind back a year and see what has appeared in these pages…

It was back last April that I documented what should be a well-known fact: That increased immigration does NOT lead to increased crime. Did anyone even know that the Food Stamp (SNAP) program was under threat from the far right? My report and call to action was published in issue #624.

In May I published “Trump and Our Collective Disorientation” in which I explained why, to a Systems thinker, Trump is the symptom of a crisis, not the crisis itself. And I stressed that, in this age of information overload, it’s important to develop the ability to set our own agenda and not simply respond to whatever comes over our news feed.

I repeated my “Historian of the Future” approach in which we look back on the present day from some point in the future (as a historian/activist of the future) and imagine that I’m writing a book about the present time. One of the chapters, I said last June, would have to do with how we were dealing with Inequality and Resource Allocation. I suggested that we need to keep a few questions in mind that focus on radical, revolutionary change that will strike at the roots of inequality. Such questions, I said, might include these:

1. What cultural changes are needed to create the conditions for greater equality?

2. What is happening in the culture that is helping or hindering needed cultural change?

3. Who is working on this level, and how are they working?

But if we ask such questions, where to find answers? I discussed just that in Number 626. For example, Nygaard Notes readers are familiar with the World Inequality Report and The ALICE Project. Most USAmericans have never heard of either of these.

In July I focused on the theme of the Decline of the U.S. Empire, another major chapter in our book about the age in which we live. I started with the question: Is There a U.S. Empire? Well, there was an Empire, but the Pentagon says there no longer is. I suggested that not too many people have considered how our lives might change if the global system were to shift away from a system dominated by the United States to… some other kind of system. It won’t be pleasant, I stated, as it will involve “A Serious Decline in the Standard of Living of U.S. Citizens.” I concluded by saying “As we read the papers and scroll through our news feeds, we will be wise to look at many of the stories in the context of declining U.S. power in the world.”

NN #627 was a good one, if I do say so myself!

Later in July I talked about photos in the news and what to do when we see them. Photos are worth quite a bit more than a thousand words, as it turns out.

In August I wrote about Iran. Again I quoted the Pentagon, which says that “Iran’s military doctrine is primarily defensive.” I explained the meaning of this in my piece called The Threat of Deterrence. As I often do, I reminded readers that this is not a Trump thing, nor a Republican thing, but a bipartisan white supremacy thing. I concluded by saying, “It won’t be long before ‘white’ people are no longer the majority in the United States, and it won’t be long until the United States is no longer the acknowledged leader among the nations of the world. There will be much struggle and much suffering as the old order gives way to the new.”

(Where else do you read stuff like this?)

Later in August I discussed the relative threats to democracy from Russian meddling (on the one hand) and from systematic voter suppression (on the other). One gets the headlines while the other does the dirty work, as I explained.

In September I said that “The biggest threat to the well-being of the overwhelming majority of people in the United States is unaccountable power held by a wealthy few, a few who do everything in their considerable power to preserve the system that secures that power.” It’s not the Russians, y’see.

In October, sensing the importance of the upcoming mid-term election, I began my re-working of a piece I ran in 2004 called “Seven Steps to Better Elections.” It ran for several issues, but the 2018 version was made up of only six steps, which were: Limit the Length of Campaigns; Ban Paid Political Advertising; Institute Ranked Choice Voting; Pass the Fair Representation Act; Provide Free Media Access for Candidates, and; Pass the Right-To-Vote Amendment. After the election I published “Breaking Out of the Thought System,” in which I said that “Long-term, structural change requires that large numbers of people come to accept new sets of ideas. Ideas are important.” Why would I say such a thing? You’ll have to go back and read NN#634.

That was all in 2018! So far this year I’ve mourned historian William Blum, celebrated the passage of Amendment 4 in Florida, explored white fear of the coming “majority minority” United States, and discussed the meaning of Racial Justice in a Dualistic Culture. The last issue before the current Pledge Drive began had me returning to one of my favorite subjects, Social Security. As we face a retirement crisis in this country, calls to expand and strengthen Social Security are becoming louder and louder. A point of light in dark times.

I thought about listing a few of the things I plan to publish in the coming months, but honestly I don’t know yet. But wherever I go, the Pledges of support from people like YOU will be responsible. As I’ve said a thousand times: I couldn’t do it without you.