Exactly a month ago today I got some unsolicited advice from a former newspaper reporter turned blogger on the other side of the political spectrum.
…What you’ve got to get through your young head is that the bureaucratic ways of the Managerial Class are not synonymous with “capitalism.” And the problems of “capitalism” are actually a function of the Corporatist State, the corrupt political analog of the Managerial Class culture in the workplace. Yet there is hope to escape this, although not for “Society,” but only for Rugged Individuals who are willing to tell Society to go straight to hell.The Information Age has destroyed the managerial elite’s monopolistic control of the means of intellectual production, so that genuinely skilled information technologists (a class that includes journalists) can call their own shots, eliminate the middleman, and take an entrepreneurial approach to their careers. Affluence enables mobility, so that people can cheaply go wherever their skills are most in demand, and high-tech communications enables the vending of information-related skills to a worldwide market
Can you strike it rich this way? Maybe or maybe not, but…as long as you’ve got a good Internet connection and cell-phone coverage, you can live anywhere, [and] if an editor wants you to cover a story anywhere in the world, you haggle over travel expenses.
Hell’s bells, I covered nearly the entire GOP primary campaign — traveling to Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Michigan, Ohio, Louisiana — on reader contributions to my PayPal account! That is raw capitalism in action, and the Internet has turned journalism into a sort of Wild West Frontier…Be your own Nick Denton, is what I’m trying to say.
And this morning I woke up, took a shower, fed the cats, fed my last 434 pennies—well, they weren’t formally “mine” for the most part but they were, you know, pennies—into a Coinstar machine at the local Pathmark, spent 365 of them on an egg and cheese sandwich, and decided to finally take the plunge into the terrifying abyss of raw capitalism.
As of today, I am no longer a decommissioned wage slave of the obsolete managerial elite, I am a mendicant entrepreneur, a Web 2.0 Panhandlr, the star of my own millennial Wild Western, and the devoted full-time employee of You!
Here’s how it works:
You donate money to Das Krap because you feel sorry for me. And there are so many reasons, even amidst the broader landscape of pervasive suffering in America, that you might find it within yourself to pity me. It is inconceivable, for one, that anyone else in America was ever dumped by a bigger or more diabolical asshole than the dude who recently dumped me. Then there are more quotidian reasons: the annualized interest rate on my last three overdraft fees, factoring in the $15 monthly “maintenance fee” Wells Fargo added to my checking account as a result of the negative balance, was, for example, $6,942%. I ran out of coffee filters and am currently using old newspaper in lieu of toilet paper. My only asset of any value just got water damage that will cost a minimum of $600 to fix. Promising projects keep falling through at the very last possible moment for no apparent reason. I was recently informed that someone had put a hex on me. But whatever, this is boring.
You donate money to Das Krap because Tim Geithner is still the fucking Treasury Secretary. And because there are zero persons of east Asian descent running corporations in the Fortune 500, and Larry Summers says only losers bother learning languages or going to class at all, and Colbert brings home a third of Stewart’s salary while the New Yorker falls all over itself to beat out the New York Review of Books for the already rather over-subscribed talents of Ezra Klein.
You pay money to Das Krap because you want to secure my services for a 24-hour period, for a sliding scale flat fee between $150 and $250. The goal of Das Krap is to post at least one “feature” of moderate substance per day, and depending who you are we might be able to explore synergies that enable me to perform a legitimate service for you whilst maintaining my commitment to my readers. For example:
- You are a website editor who has commissioned/considered commissioning pieces from me in the past. Under the Das Krap structure, you simply pay me some flat fee ahead of time via PayPal, and agree to post the result of the effort—or allow me to post something for Das Krap readers—within 12 hours of receiving it from me. This enables you to potentially get my writing at a discount to the usual fee you might offer me—and I in turn will agree to transfer the difference to your PayPal account once I get formally paid by your accounting department—and saves us both the anguish/inconvenience of the increasingly desperate/irritating email exchanges in the inevitable event that said payment is somehow delayed. What’s more, you’ll be assured to have my undivided attention for the twenty four hours after you give me an “assignment”, meaning a timelier, more succinct product and a happier readership for all of us.
- You are a writer working on a book or long-term feature that falls generally within my realm(s) of expertise. Perhaps you are one of those established writers who has called me up in an “on background” capacity for insight on one of the many financial scandals/political sagas/courtroom battles/important but migraine-inducingly detail-rich media events about which I happen to have at some point accumulated an inordinate amount of superfluous expertise. You might have even thought about retaining my services as an exclusive researcher/ghostwriter—take it from Vicky Ward, I know what I’m talking about!—but let’s be honest, neither of us really wants that kind of commitment. Why not retain my services for 24 hours? Whether you’re at the beginning of an assignment and you’re just trying to get a comprehensive briefing on “whatever the latest is on mortgage modifications/austerity measures/Nicki Minaj/Bradley Manning/outrageously overvalued mobile app startups” happens to be, or in the middle of a book and you just want someone a little less bored of the subject than you to explain as enthusiastically as possible “what the Savings & Loan crisis was, again” or “what the basic gist of that book I can’t bother reading was”, this is the kind of masochistic crap I was put on this earth to do for you.
- You want me to write about something in which you have a personal financial/emotional stake. Hey, why not? Assuming you understand that I’m constitutionally incapable of dishonesty about that kind of thing, you might as well take your chances. If you’re not repping Tucker Max or L. Paul Bremer or Fareed Zakraria, I might not completely hate whatever it is. In fact, I often find myself liking things everyone else despises—for instance, this forgotten but much hyped anonymous novel about the Obama White House was pretty dead-on w/r/t the utter vacuity of that enterprise, and I think 50 Shades of Grey has gotten a bad (and also, suspiciously inaccurate rap) in the media, not that E.L. James needs any help from me. I’m also good at covering events.
- You pay me to write about something you think could make a blockbuster bestseller. Does your cat have what it takes to be the cat lovers’ Marley and Me? If you want to pay me $150-200 to write your pet’s life story and some sort of book deal ensues, I’ll give you 10% of everything ever in perpetuity, no questions asked.
You donate money to Das Krap because you don’t feel sorry for me. Or care if I write about anything ever again, for that matter. Maybe you hate me, maybe you just feel sorry for my friends, but whatever the case you believe with every fiber of your being that in the long term I ought to be working for Starbucks or Bloomberg or Wackenhut or Kaplan Test Prep, or joining the military or somesuch. But in the short term, I still don’t have enough money to get on the subway. If enough people donate $2.25, I promise to be so distraught and dejected I will quit the business forever. And go into sales.