Dispatches | October 11, 2008

Good news this week for transparency, which is poised to make a huge comeback in the wake of global economic apocalypse.

This is one of those weird moments in history right after the words, Oh, busted! echo through the collective human consciousness, when it’s still unclear just how much deception there’s been, but all parties tentatively resolve to sit down and try to work it out (for the kids’ sake? Spotted: Henry Paulson on one knee, begging in public to Nancy Pelosi — ancient history by now, but telling, nonetheless).

Enter a new age of caution, where yesterday’s faith in basic honesty comes off as an eagerness to be misled. Say goodbye to NINA loans, political debates sans on-site fact-checkers, and nights out with buddies that don’t involve minute-to-minute significant other text message updates.

Re-enter transparency, the hottest quality/condition of Fall 2008. It’s a lot like faith, but without all the hassle of not knowing for sure. And while investors and American voters are scrambling to get a piece of the transparency action, they aren’t alone — Cycling champ Greg Lemond wants it. Australia’s Labor party wants it. College students who use Facebook want it.  

I’m willing to bet TMR readers want it, too.

As Marketplace listeners are now reminded almost daily, this is a worldwide crisis of trust we’re in. It therefore would be sort of understandable if many of our readers found themselves thinking, The essays, poems, stories, found texts, and interviews in The Missouri Review are too good to be legit. What is TMR up to?  How can it remain uncorrupted without regulation and oversight?

Good questions. Yes, we’re legit. The things we publish are Just. That. Good.

Luckily, that’s due to the talent of our contributors, so our own integrity doesn’t really come into play. We deal in manuscripts, and for us, business is good. If it weren’t, who knows whether we’d have attempted to apply the reckless economic policies that ravaged the national economy to our publishing enterprise … gathering up subprime submissions, tranching them together, and reclassifying them to give them higher ratings. Or making imprudent offers of publication to writers bankrupt of insight. Or encouraging those same talentless writers to take out equity lines of publication against the value of the story we imprudently published in the first place …. Oh, busted?

No. Not here, anyway. The plain, transparent systems analysis of our operation is this: We read submissions, send back the many that need more work, and publish the few that don’t. 

So in the unlikely event Henry Paulson shows up at our offices and gets down on one knee, we’ll know in our case that’s just his special way of saying thanks.