10 Things Everyone Should Know About White Supremacy

In the age of Obama, the phrase «white supremacy» is used in political discussions like an imprecise shotgun blast.

The use of the phrase “white supremacy” is ubiquitous in American political discourse. This is a result of many factors. Primarily, the election of Barack Obama and the United States’ changing racial demographics have created a reactionary backlash from white conservatives.

White supremacy is referenced in relation to specific news events as well. For example, the murder rampage by the neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller, the recent weeks-long debate between pundits Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait about “black pathology”; birtherism; stand-your-ground laws; and the open embrace of the symbols and rhetoric of the old slave-holding Confederacy by the Republican Party have been framed and discussed in terms of white supremacy.

Conservatives and progressive often use the phrase “white supremacy” in divergent ways. Conservatives use the phrase in the service of a dishonest “colorblind” agenda, evoking extreme images of KKK members and Nazis as the exclusive and only examples of white racism in American life and politics. Conservatives use extreme caricatures of white supremacy in order to deflect and protect themselves from charges that the contemporary Republican Party is a white identity organization fueled by white racial resentment.

Liberals, progressives and anti-racists use the phrase “white supremacy” to describe the overt and subtle racist practices of movement conservatism in the post-Civil Rights era, and how American society is still structured around maintaining and protecting white privilege.

This analysis is largely correct: however, it often conflates concepts such as racism, white privilege, and white supremacy with one another. Language does political work.

In the age of Obama, the phrase “white supremacy” is often used in political discussions like an imprecise shotgun blast or a blockbuster bomb. If the Common Good and American democracy are to be protected—countering how the right wing has used the politics of white racial resentment, racial manipulation, and hate to mobilize its voters in support of a plutocratic agenda—a more precise weapon is needed. A necessary first step in that direction requires the development of a more detailed and transparent exploration of the concept known as «white supremacy.»

What is white supremacy?

1. White supremacy is a complex social phenomenon. It is also a relatively new invention that was created to make Europe’s efforts to colonize and conquer the world seem like a “natural” process wherein “superior” white races would dominate “inferior” non-whites.

The Transatlantic slave trade was pivotal for the invention of race by creating a sense of group stigma and a belief in the concrete biological differences between white Europeans and Africans.

In the United States, a white supremacist racial order was birthed by a revolt in 17th-century Virginia, when black and white indentured servants allied together to fight for their freedom and rights. White elites defeated their rebellion and instituted a system of racial classification in which white indentured servants would be given land and guns after their service was complete while blacks would be made into a permanent class of slaves.

2. White supremacy is comprised of habits, actions and beliefs. It is not necessarily reliant on the specific intentions of its actors, practitioners or beneficiaries. Of course, there are “active” racists whose intentions, words, and deeds are meant to advance a racist agenda. However, implicit and subconscious bias, as well as taken for granted stereotypes and “common sense,” can also serve a white supremacist order. Ultimately, intent is secondary to the unequal outcomes across the colorline that individuals benefit from and perpetuate.

White supremacy also has the power to reorient and reimagine empirical reality for those who have consciously and/or subconsciously internalized and learned its principals and assumptions. White privilege is central here: those people considered “white” are also judged to be “normal”; the experiences of white people are taken to be universal and a baseline for how others are to be evaluated; African-Americans are judged en masse as having “bad culture” while whites are de facto viewed as having “good culture.”

White people are viewed as individuals where the bad behavior of one white person does not reflect at all on the merits of the group. By comparison, African Americans and other people of color are not afforded that freedom. Ultimately, for white supremacy one’s “Americanness” is naturally linked to one’s whiteness, while the loyalty, and sense of civic belonging assigned to people of color, is contingent until proven otherwise.

3. Images of terrorist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis serve as outlier caricatures of racism in the post-Civil Rights era. These cartoon versions of white racism do the work of white supremacy as a social and political force because they present virulent white racism as an anachronism or the habit of somehow damaged and defective white people who should be ejected from the public square. In colorblind America, «polite» and «respectable» white supremacy is far more dangerous to the life chances and safety of people of color than the overt racism of the Ku Klux Klan or other racially chauvinistic organizations.

4. In the most basic sense, white supremacy is a philosophical, material, ethical, economic, scientific, religious, and political system that works to maintain the dominant and relative superior group position of those identified as «white» (and their allies) over those marked as «non-white.»

Thus, white supremacy is the philosophical and systemic umbrella for white racism.

5. Racism and prejudice are not the same things. Racism is prejudice plus power. Racism is also the ability of one group of people to systematically impact the life chances and freedom of others who are deemed to be the Other.

Although it is convenient and easy to believe that all groups in the United States are equally “racist,” such a claim is empirically unfounded. Moreover, such a fiction sustains white supremacy by ignoring the vast amounts of historical and contemporary evidence detailing how American society is politically, economically, and socially structured to the advantage of white people.

In the United States, white people are the dominant racial group. Of course, there are white individuals who commit active and intentionally racist acts. But, the most powerful manifestation of white supremacy as a type of group power is how individual white people in American society can still passively benefit from white racism and the psychological, material and political advantages it brings to their group.

6. White supremacy is an evolving political project. While America’s laws and practices along the colorline have certainly changed, the relative superior group position of whites over non-whites remains a relative constant.

This is one of the primary fruits of the white supremacist project.

7. White supremacy works on an institutional and inter-personal level. Its ultimate goal is securing more resources, power, opportunities, and privileges—material, psychological or otherwise—for the in-group over the out-group.

8. White supremacy is a racial ideology that works to maintain class inequality. White people as a group receive a disproportionate amount of public aid and support. However, conservatives can focus on the black and brown poor, using stereotyped images such as the “welfare queen” or “illegal immigrants,” to both legitimate cutting the social safety net and advance an agenda which hurts the working and middle class. Here, white supremacy can be used to manipulate white people such that they act against their own material self-interests.

The racial logic and commonsense of white supremacy (and a white racist society) is sustained by not asking about first principles.

For example, what public policy decisions led to white Americans having at least 20 times the wealth of black Americans? Why are urban black and brown communities economically disadvantaged, and white communities (i.e. the suburbs), have been materially advantaged by comparison? Whose interests are served by a criminal justice system that disproportionately and unfairly punishes people of color?

9. Colorblind racism is the most recent iteration in a white supremacist order where it is possible to have «racism without racists,» and a black American president, while social and institutional systems still privilege whites over African Americans and other people of color.

White racial innocence, and a sincere belief by many white folks that they do not hold racist attitudes, or benefit personally or collectively from systemic white racism, is an example of how white supremacy has evolved to make itself relatively invisible (to willfully ignorant white people) as a dominant social force in American life.

Consequently, one of the deep tensions and challenges surrounding racial discourse in post-Civil Rights America is how to locate a given white person’s relationship to a broader system of institutional racism.

10. Austerity, neoliberalism, globalization, and the culture of cruelty are some of the most powerful social forces in post-Civil Rights America. White supremacy does not exist separate or apart from those ideologies and practices.

The destruction of the social safety net and the siphoning of resources from the middle and working classes to the very rich are legitimated through a language which focuses on punishing the “lazy” and “unproductive” poor, i.e. people of color, in the service of “efficiency” and “fairness.”

The gutting of the public sector, deindustrialization and the wholesale elimination of jobs which pay a living wage, has had a disproportionate impact on black and brown communities. In many ways, the onerous assault on the (white) American middle class by the forces of Austerity and “privatization” was tested and pioneered on inner-city, working-class, black and brown communities.

The militarization of police departments, the excessive use of police force against innocent people, and the surveillance society was first applied to black and brown communities in America’s central cities. These policies met with little complaint from white people who felt that they were being “protected” from “black crime.” Those forces are now being unleashed on the white middle-class to their surprise and shock.

White supremacy involves, both in the present and historically, the systematic transfer of wealth, income, and other resources from non-whites to whites as a general group, and a white elite, in particular. There are many examples of this phenomenon.

White Americans have at least 20 times the wealth of blacks and Latinos. The Homestead Act, the New Deal and the GI Bill, were all examples of wealth creation opportunities and an inter-generational transfer of resources within the white community that African Americans and other people of color were specifically denied access to. The extreme levels of wealth and income inequality in the United States is a story of how race and class work together to structure life outcomes.

Chauncey DeVega, a pseudony

Has Capitalism Seen Its Day?

May 9th, 2014 | No responses

Citibank mirrors HSBC © Jay Aremac | Flickr

There is a widespread sense today that capitalism is in critical condition, and more so than ever since the end of the Second World War. Looking back, the crash of 2008 was only the latest in a long sequence of political and economic disorders that began with the end of postwar prosperity in the mid-1970s. Successive crises turned out to be ever more severe, spreading more widely and rapidly through an increasingly interconnected global economy. Global inflation in the 1970s was followed by rising public debt in the 1980s, and fiscal consolidation in the 1990s was accompanied by a steep increase in private sector indebtedness (Streeck 2011; 2013a). For four decades now, disequilibrium has more or less been the normal condition of OECD capitalism, both at the national and the global levels. In fact, with time, the crises of postwar capitalism have become so pervasive that they are increasingly perceived as more than just economic in nature, in a rediscovery of the older notion of a capitalist society: of capitalism as a social order and way of life, vitally dependent on uninterrupted progress of private capital accumulation.

Crisis symptoms are many, among them three long-term trends in the trajectories of rich, “advanced,” highly industrialized — or better, increasingly deindustrialized — capitalist economies. The first is a persistent decline in the rate of economic growth, recently aggravated by the events of 2008 (Figure I). The second, and associated with the first, is an equally persistent increase in overall indebtedness among leading capitalist economies, where governments, private households and non-financial as well as financial firms have,over four decades,piled up financial obligations with no end in sight (for the U.S., see Figure II). And third, economic inequality, of both income and wealth, has been on the rise for several decades now (Figure III), alongside rising debt and declining growth.

FIGURE 1 Source: OECD Economic Outlook: Statistics and Projections

FIGURE II -- Source: OECD National Accounts

FIGURE III -- Source: OECD Income Distribution Database

Steady growth, sound money and a modicum of social equity, spreading some of the benefits of capitalism to those without capital, were long considered prerequisites for a capitalist political economy commanding the legitimacy it needs. What must be most alarming from this perspective is that the three critical trends I have mentioned may be mutually reinforcing. There is mounting evidence that increasing inequality may be one of the causes of declining growth, as inequality both impedes improvements in productivity and weakens demand. Low growth, in turn, reinforces inequality (OECD 2013) by intensifying distributional conflict, making concessions to the poor more costly for the rich, and making the rich insist more than before on strict observance of the St. Matthew principle governing free markets: “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath” (Matthew 25:29, King James Version).[1] Also, rising debt, while failing to halt the decline of economic growth, adds to inequality through the structural changes associated with financialization. Financialization, in turn, helped compensate wage earners and consumers for the growing income inequality caused by stagnant wages and cutbacks in public services (Crouch 2009; Streeck 2011; 2013a).

Can what appears to be a vicious circle of downward trends continue forever? Are there counterforces that might break it up — and what will happen if they fail to materialize, as they have for almost four decades now? Historians inform us that crises are nothing new under capitalism, and may in fact be required for its longer-term good health. But what they are talking about are cyclical movements or random shocks after which capitalist economies can move into a new equilibrium, at least temporarily. What we are seeing today as we look back, however, is a continuous process of gradual decay, protracted but apparently all the more inexorable. Recovery from the occasional Reinigungskrise is one thing; breaking a concatenation of intertwined long-term trends quite another. Assuming that ever-lower growth, ever-higher inequality and ever-rising debt are not indefinitely sustainable and may together issue in a crisis that is systemic in nature — one we have difficulty imagining what it would be like — can we see signs of an impending reversal?

Here the news is not good. Five years have passed since 2008, the culmination so far of the postwar crisis sequence. When memory of the abyss was still fresh, demands and blueprints for “reform” to protect the world from a replay abounded. International conferences and summit meetings of all kinds chased one another, but half a decade later hardly anything has come out of them (Mayntz 2012; Admati and Hellwig 2013). In the meantime, the financial industry, where the disaster originated, has had a full recovery: profits, dividends, salaries and bonuses are back where they were, while re-regulation got stuck in international negotiations and domestic lobbying. Governments, first and foremost that of the United States, have remained firmly in the grip of the money-making industries. These, in turn, are being generously provided with cheap cash, created out of thin air on their behalf by their friends in the central banks — prominent among them the former Goldman Sachs man Mario Draghi at the helm of the European Central Bank — money that they sit on or invest in government debt. Half a decade after Lehman, growth remains anemic, as do labor markets; unprecedented liquidity fails to jump-start the economy; and inequality reaches ever more astonishing heights as the little growth is appropriated by the top one percent of income earners — and its lion’s share by a small fraction of them (Saez 2012; Alvaredo et al. 2013).

Little reason indeed to be optimistic. For some time now, OECD capitalism was kept going by liberal injections of fiat money, under a policy of monetary expansion of which its architects know better than anyone else that it cannot forever continue. In fact, several attempts were made in 2013 to get off the tiger, in Japan as well as in the U.S., but when stock prices plunged in response, “tapering,” as it came to be called, was postponed for the time being. In mid-June, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, the mother of all central banks, declared “quantitative easing” to have to come to an end. In its Annual Report, the Bank pointed out that central banks had, in reaction to the crisis and the slow recovery, expanded their balance sheets, “which are now collectively at roughly three times their pre-crisis level — and rising” (Bank for International Settlements 2013, 5). While this had been necessary to “prevent financial collapse,” now the goal had to be “to return still-sluggish economies to strong and sustainable growth.” This, however, was beyond the capacities of central banks which

… cannot enact the structural economic and financial reforms needed to return economies to the real growth paths authorities and their publics both want and expect. What central bank accommodation has done during the recovery is to borrow time… But the time has not been well used, as continued low interest rates and unconventional policies have made it easy for the private sector to postpone deleveraging, easy for the government to finance deficits, and easy for the authorities to delay needed reforms in the real economy and in the financial system. After all, cheap money makes it easier to borrow than to save, easier to spend than to tax, easier to remain the same than to change (ibid.).

Apparently this view was shared even by the Federal Reserve under Bernanke. By the end of the summer, it once more seemed to be signaling that the time of easy money was coming to an end. In September, however, the expected return to higher interest rates was again put off. The reason given was that “the economy” looked less “strong” than hoped for. Immediately, global stock prices went up. The real reason, of course, why a return to more conventional monetary policies is so difficult is one that an international institution like BIS is freer to spell out than a — still — more politically exposed national central bank. This is that as things stand, the only alternative to sustaining capitalism by means of an unlimited money supply is trying to revive it through neoliberal economic reform, as summarily characterized in the second subtitle of the BIS’s Annual Report: “Enhancing flexibility: a key to growth” (Bank for International Settlements 2013, 6) — the bitter medicine for the many, combined with higher incentives for the few.[2]

A problem with democracy

It is here at the latest that discussion of the crisis and the future of modern capitalism must turn to democratic politics. Capitalism and democracy had long been considered adversaries, until the postwar settlement seemed to have accomplished their reconciliation. Well into the twentieth century,owners of capital had been afraid of democratic majorities abolishing private property, while workers and their organizations expected capitalists to finance a return to authoritarian rule in defense of their privileges. Only in the Cold War world after 1945 did capitalism and democracy seem to be birds of the same feather (Lipset 1963 [1960]), as economic progress made it possible for working-class majorities to accept a free-market, private-property regime, in turn making it appear that democratic freedom was inseparable from and indeed depended on the freedom of markets and profit-making. Today, however, doubts about the compatibility of a capitalist economy with a democratic polity have powerfully returned. Among ordinary people, there is now a pervasive sense that politics can no longer make a difference in their lives, as reflected in common perceptions of deadlock, incompetence and corruption among what seems an increasingly self-contained and self-serving political class united in their claim that “there is no alternative” to them and their policies. One result is declining electoral turnout together with high voter volatility, growing electoral fragmentation due to the rise of “populist” protest parties, and pervasive government instability.[3]

The legitimacy of postwar democracy was based on the premise that states had a capacity to intervene in markets and correct their outcomes in the interest of citizens. Decades of rising inequality have cast doubt on this, as has the impotence of governments before, during and after the crisis of 2008. In response to their growing irrelevance in a global market economy, governments and political parties in OECD democracies more or less happily looked on as the “democratic class struggle” (Korpi 1983) turned into post-democratic politainment (Crouch 2004). In the meantime,the transformation of the capitalist political economy from postwar Keynesianism to neoliberal Hayekianism progressed smoothly (Streeck 2013a): from a political formula for economic growth through redistribution from the top to the bottom, to one expecting growth from redistribution from the bottom to the top. Egalitarian democracy, regarded under Keynesianism as economically productive, is considered a drag on efficiency under contemporary Hayekianism, where growth is to derive from insulation of markets and of the cumulative advantage they entail, against redistributive political distortion.

A central topic of current anti-democratic rhetoric is the fiscal crisis of the contemporary state, as reflected in the astonishing increase in public debt since the 1970s (Figure IV). Growing public indebtedness is attributed to electoral majorities living beyond their means by exploiting their societies’ “common pool,” and to opportunistic politicians buying the support of myopic voters with money that they do not have.[4] However,that the fiscal crisis was unlikely to have been caused by an excess of redistributive democracy can be seen from the fact that the buildup of government debt coincided with a decline in electoral participation, especially at the lower end of the income distribution, with shrinking unionization, the disappearance of strikes, welfare state cutbacks and, as noted, exploding income inequality (Streeck 2013b). What the deterioration of public finances was related to was declining overall levels of taxation (Figure V) and tax systems becoming less progressive, as a result of “reforms” of top income and corporate tax rates (Figure VI). In fact, by replacing tax revenue with debt, governments contributed further to inequality as they offered secure investment opportunities to those whose money they would or could no longer confiscate and had to borrow instead. Unlike taxpayers, buyers of government bonds continue to own what they pay to the state and in fact collect interest on it, typically paid out of increasingly less progressive taxation; they also can pass it on to their children. Moreover, rising public debt can be and is being utilized politically to argue for cutbacks in state spending and privatization of public services, further restraining redistributive democratic intervention in the capitalist economy.

FIGURE IV -- Source: OECD Economic Outlook: Statistics and Projections

FIGURE V -- Source: OECD Tax Revenue Database

FIGURE VI -- Source: Alvaredo et al. (2013)

Institutional protection of the capitalist market economy from democratic interference has advanced greatly in recent decades.[5] Trade unions are on the decline everywhere and have in many countries been rooted out, above all in the United States. Economic policy has widely been turned over to independent — i.e., democratically unaccountable — central banks concerned above all with the health and goodwill of financial markets.[6] In Europe, national economic policies, including wage-setting and budget-making, are increasingly governed by supranational agencies like the European Commission and the European Central Bank that are beyond the reach of popular democracy. Effectively this de-democratizes European capitalism without, of course, de-politicizing it.

Still, doubts continue among the profit-dependent classes as to whether democracy will, even in its emasculated, post-democratic version, allow for the neoliberal “structural reforms” necessary for their regime to recover. Like ordinary citizens, although for the opposite reasons, elites are losing faith in democratic government and its suitability for rebuilding societies in line with market pressures for unimpeded technocratic decision-making and unlimited adaptability of social structures and ways of life. Public Choice’s disparaging view of democratic politics as corruption of market justice in the service of opportunistic politicians and their clientele has become common sense among elite publics, as has the belief that market capitalism cleansed of democratic politics will not only be more efficient but also virtuous and responsible.[7] Countries like China are complimented for their authoritarian political systems being so much better equipped than majoritarian democracy with its egalitarian bent to deal with what are claimed to be the challenges of “globalization” (Bell 2006; Berggruen and Gardels 2012) — a rhetoric that is beginning conspicuously to resemble the celebration among capitalist elites during the interwar years of German and Italian fascism and even Stalinist communism for their apparently superior economic governance.

For the time being, the neoliberal mainstream’s political utopia is a “market-conforming democracy,”[8] devoid of market-correcting powers and supportive of “incentive-compatible” redistribution from the bottom to the top. Although that project is already far advanced in both Western Europe and the United States, its promoters continue to worry that the political institutions inherited from the postwar compromise may at some point be repossessed by popular majorities, in a last-minute effort to block progress toward a neoliberal solution of the crisis. Elite pressures for economic neutralization of egalitarian democracy therefore continue unabated, in Europe in the form of a continuing relocation of political-economic decision-making to supranational institutions such as the European Central Bank and summit meetings of government leaders.

Based on a lecture presented in the course “Rethinking Capitalism.”


[1] The “Matthew effect” was discovered as a social mechanism by Robert K. Merton (1968). The
technical term is cumulative advantage. On cumulative advantage in free markets see also Piketty (2014).

[2] And even that may be less than promising in countries like the United States and Britain, where it is hard to see what neoliberal “reforms” could
still be implemented.

[3] See several chapters in Schäfer and Streeck (2013).

[4] This is the Public Choice view of the fiscal crisis, as powerfully put forward by James Buchanan and his school (see for example Buchanan and Tullock 1962).

[5] A practical demonstration that capitalism can do better — i.e., be more capitalist — without democracy was initiated in 1973 by Henry Kissinger and
the CIA, in cooperation with the local financial elite, when they removed the elected socialist President of Chile from office in order to clear the
way for a successful field experiment in Chicago economics. The coup inaugurated the neoliberal revolutions during the subsequent era of

[6] One often forgets that most central banks, including the Bank for International Settlements, have long been or still are in part under private
ownership. For example, the Bank of England and the Bank of France were nationalized only after 1945. Central bank “independence,” as introduced by
many countries in the 1990s, may be seen as a form of re-privatization under public ownership.

[7] Of course, as Colin Crouch (2011) has pointed out, neoliberalism in its really existing form is
a politically deeply entrenched oligarchy of giant multinational firms.

[8] The expression is from Angela Merkel.


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America’s Class System Across The Life Cycle

Posted by Matt Bruenig on March 25, 2014

I am not usually one for a long charticle, but occasionally it’s worthwhile to step back and summarize what we know. Here, I tackle America’s class system, across the life cycle.

1. Poverty Spikes Stress in Children

It starts in the womb. It never lets up.

2. Income Inequality Means Enrichment Inequality

More money, more activities.

3. Rapid Schooling Divergence

Although there is essentially no observed class-based difference in the cognitive abilities of children in their first year of life, that ends quickly.

4. Logical Consequence of Divergence: Drop Outs

Little to no enrichment activities, cognitive abilities stunted by poverty-related stress, and years of falling behind does what you would think it does.

5. Further Behind Than Ever Come College Time

These figures probably understate the severity of the gap as well because those on the low end who’d score the worst probably never bother to take the SAT anyways.

6. Traditional College Students: Rich Kids

The richer your parents are, the more likely you are to be in college at 19.

There is severe inequality in who attends college and equally severe inequality in where those who do attend go.

This inequality is most severe at the top, with the top 147 colleges having a rich-to-poor ratio of 25-to-1.

7. Getting In Doesn’t Mean Finishing

Fifty-four percent of rich kids get a four-year degree by age 25, six times the percentage of poor kids who do so.

8. Surprise: Poor Kids = Poor Adults

Obviously there are exceptions, but the overall trend is clear: the richer your parents are, the richer you are.

9. Even The Strivers Don’t Do As Well

Poor kids who push through all of the stuff above and get through to college are still less likely to wind up on top than rich kids who never even got a college degree. Rich kids without college are 2.5x more likely to wind up in the richest fifth than poor kids with college.

10. Inheritance Flows In

If that wasn’t enough, rich adults get some extra help, usually mid-life, in the form of inheritance and other wealth transfers from their rich parents. The wealthiest 1 percent (in the SCF survey, which is less wealthy than the real 1 percent no doubt) have inherited an average of $2.7 million, 447 times more than the least wealthy group of adults.

11. An Adulthood of Serious Inequality

The fact that class is transmitted down generations might not be so bad if differences between classes were pretty minor. But they aren’t. We are a remarkably unequal country compared to those at similar levels of development.

Even after taxes, the richest fifth captures nearly half the national income, while the poorest fifth captures barely 6 percent of it.

The bottom half own basically nothing, while the top 10 percent own nearly three-fourths of the things.

12. And Then You Die Early

First graph is men. Second graph is women.


Class haunts people from womb to grave, limiting their ability to flourish and pursue the good life as they define it. Confronted with the reality of our society’s entrenched class system, our national politics in its present state offers three responses. The first response is to deny reality altogether, usually in favor of an anecdote or two. The second is to accept that it exists, but pretend there is nothing you can do about it because those on the bottom are inferior (see Murray, Ryan). And the last response is to note it exists and offer lukewarm solutions that nibble around the margins of the problem without ever doing anything that might actually even things out.


The World’s 10 Deadliest Countries for Children and What You Can Do About It

Posted: 05/01/2014 11:47 am EDT Updated: 05/01/2014 3:59 pm EDT


The World Health Organization defines child mortality as the death of a child under five years old. In 2012, the worldwide number of these deaths was estimated at around 6.6 million annually. That’s 18,000 children per day, four-years-old or younger. The vast majority of these deaths are preventable and result from extreme poverty conditions in the world’s poorest countries.

This gruesome but informative death rate is a key global poverty indicator and has actually been reduced by almost 50 percent in the last 20 years thanks to critical investments made by the global community in health and development. Of course, this doesn’t mean the remaining half of these deaths will continue to be eliminated without further financial investment and intervention. Increased funding for such efforts should be highly prioritized if we want to have the most significant impact possible with our charitable giving and help save children’s lives.

If you want to fight the most brutal forms of extreme poverty, and child mortality specifically, you need to know where it’s taking place. It is helpful to point out which countries have the highest child mortality levels as a percentage of their population. Here are the 10 most dangerous countries to be born in, as of 2012. Spoiler alert — they’re all in Africa. In total, these ten countries bear the burden of approximately 1.8 million child deaths per year, or more than 27 percent of the world’s child deaths. Nearly 5,000 deaths occur each day in these places alone, and that’s just the kids under five. It’s enormous and tragic and mostly preventable.

(frame of reference: United States child mortality rate = 0.7%)

1) Sierra Leone: 18 percent child mortality rate. That’s more than one in six. In the U.S. it’s one in 142. In some European countries it’s less than one in 400. You are literally more than 2,500 percent more likely to die as a child in Sierra Leone than in the United States. Approximately 39,000 child deaths occur each year in Sierra Leone.

2) Angola: 16 percent child mortality rate — 148,000 child deaths per year. Angola’s population is about the same size as New York state, yet they experience more than 100 times more child deaths.

3) Chad: 15 percent child mortality rate — 82,000 child deaths per year. Chad’s population is about the same as the state of Ohio but has nearly 70 times more child deaths.

4) Somalia: 15 percent child mortality rate — 65,000 child deaths per year.

5) Democratic Republic of the Congo: 15 percent child mortality rate — 391,000 child deaths per year. This is six percent of the world’s child mortality in a single country. DRC’s population is similar to that of France but they suffer more than 130 times more child deaths each year.

6) Guinea-Bissau: 13 percent child mortality rate — 8,000 child deaths per year.

7) Central African Republic: 13 percent child mortality rate — 19,000 child deaths per year.

8) Mali: 13 percent child mortality rate — 83,000 child deaths per year.

9) Nigeria: 12 percent child morality rate — 827,000 child deaths per year. This devastating figure represents 12.5 percent of the world’s child mortality.

10) Niger: 11 percent child mortality rate — 91,000 child deaths per year.

(Mortality figures sourced from WHO and population stats from the CIA)

Of course this list is not comprehensive and will continually change as factors like war, famine, trade and development alter conditions around the world. In real time we know that other countries such as South Sudan will be on this list when data is next released. Each of these nations have different political and economic factors that further exacerbate their already poverty-disposed geographical locations, and their specific health and development challenges vary accordingly. At the very least, a list like this can point us to the locations where health conditions are at their absolute worst and most widespread in a given population.

So now that we know how severe the crises are in these epicenters of child mortality, what can the average person do about it? Is it even our responsibility? The latter question is up to each of us to decide on our own. The former is entirely answerable. Almost half (43%) of child deaths result from premature birth, birth-related complications and other neonatal conditions. For children who make it past their first month, half of the remaining child deaths are attributed to Pneumonia, Diarrhea or Malaria. Investments made in maternal and child health with a focus on obstetric care, midwife training, nutrition, food security, clean water, sanitation, hygiene, vaccination and malaria prevention are a clear necessity in order for progress to continue. There are qualified NGOs working in these same countries, addressing these very needs, and they need more funds to help more people.

The latest data on charitable giving indicates that worldwide just $5 billion is contributed annually from private sources for humanitarian assistance of any kind. To put this in perspective, the U.S. private sector alone donates over $300 billion to other causes each year. It can confidently be estimated that only a fraction of one percent of charitable giving by individuals in the United States supports work that fights extreme poverty, let alone child mortality. At 1% for Humanity, we want to help donors make a difference in the places where poverty and injustice are at their worst. This is why we’ve carefully selected nonprofit partners that work in many of the very countries listed above. For more on the relevance and efficacy of foreign aid, please see my previous post, «The Top 5 Lame Excuses Not to Support Extreme-Poverty Alleviation Work.»

Addressing and alleviating child mortality in the world’s poorest communities is one of the most significant challenges and moral obligations we face as a global society. Instead of just waiting for governments to pledge more of their budgets to fight extreme poverty, individuals and businesses in the private sector should step up and support these efforts with more of their charitable giving. We can’t ignore such tragedy and we can’t get so distracted by all the other good causes out there that we neglect the opportunity to help save millions of lives.

Follow Nick Pearson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/1pctForHumanity


How the rich stole our money — and made us think they were doing us a favor

Pushing people toward stocks, real estate and credit cards have all come at a cost — and with one goal in mind

How the rich stole our money -- and made us think they were doing us a favor Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, Lloyd Blankfein (Credit: lev radin via Shutterstock/Reuters/Steve Marcus/Jim Young/Salon)

If you’ve paid attention to the economy over the last few years, you’ve doubtless seen the charts and figures showing the decline of the American middle class in concert with the explosion of wealth for the super-rich. Wages have stagnated over the last 40 years even as productivity has increased, which is another way of saying that Americans are working harder but getting paid less. Unemployment remains stubbornly high even though corporate profits and the stock market are at or near record highs. Passive assets in the form of stocks and real estate, in other words, are doing very well. Wages for working people are not. Unfortunately for the middle class, however, the top 1 percent of incomes own almost 50 percent of asset wealth, and the top 10 percent own over 85 percent of it. When assets do well but wages don’t, the middle class suffers.

This ominous trend is particularly prominent in the United States. That shouldn’t surprise us: study after study shows that American policymakers operate almost purely on behalf of wealthy interests. Recent polling also proves that the American rich want policies that encourage the growth of asset values while lowering their own tax rates, and are especially keen on outcomes that favor themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class. 

So why isn’t the 99 percent in open revolt? The answer lies in part because the top 1 percent have done an excellent job disguising the upward transfer of wealth by making the rest of us feel better off than we actually are while enriching themselves in the process. 

To understand how they accomplished this, we have to realize that the peculiarities of American politics and culture do not tell the whole story. The trend toward greater hoarding of wealth by economic elites and shrinking middle-class incomes is not limited to the United States. It is present to one degree or another throughout the industrialized world. The self-interested preferences and self-serving ideology of the super-rich surely have influence, of course, but it also seems clear that a broader range of factors and economic policy decisions come into play. And indeed they do. The current inequality crisis has its roots in a series of decisions made in response to the inflation shocks of the 1970s and to the growing threat of globalization and workforce mechanization. 

Simply put, starting in the 1980s policymaking elites in the Western world were scared to death of oil shortages, inflationary spirals and the impact of jobs being shipped to lower-wage nations or made obsolete by increasingly powerful machines and computers. Something had to be done. Even as foreign policy became explicitly focused on securing access to oil, domestic policy became focused on quashing inflation while disguising wage stagnation. Either countries needed to move sharply to the left through increased worker protections and redistribution of incomes, or to the right by substituting an asset-based economy for the old wage-based economy. Most chose to go right — an understandable move at the time given that state Communism was still a threat to capitalist economies, but also a spent and discredited ideology. Ronald Reagan best made the case for the new economic model in a speech from 1975: 

Roughly 94 percent of the people in capitalist America make their living from wage or salary. Only 6 percent are true capitalists in the sense of deriving income from ownership of the means of production …We can win the argument once and for all by simply making more of our people Capitalists.

One of the chief ways that American and British policymakers put this vision into reality was by crippling organized labor. But while that certainly placed downward pressure on wages in the U.S. and Britain, labor was not so similarly affected in most of the rest of the developed world. Organized labor remains a powerful force throughout most of Europe, yet growing wealth inequality and a declining middle class are present trends there as well. The health of organized labor abroad has helped stem the tide, but has not managed to stop it. The less noticed but potentially more consequential way that policymakers across the industrialized world set about accomplishing this goal was to push their middle classes to invest their wealth into assets, especially stocks and real estate, then use the levers of public policy to inflate the values of those assets in order to disguise the inevitable declines in wages. There was also a concerted effort to hide wage losses by lowering the prices of non-perishable goods — even if doing so meant domestic job losses. These goals were accomplished in several ways:

1) Push people away from defined-benefit pensions and into stocks and 401(k)s. Believe it or not, there used to be a time when the Dow Jones and S&P 500 indices were little-noticed figures in the business section of the newspaper. That’s because most people’s retirements weren’t tied to the stock market. The switch from pensions to market-based 401(k)s helped change all that. Moving employees into 401(k)s did more than just reduce the obligated burden on corporate bottom lines. It also helped goose the growth of the financial sector upon which the ultra-wealthy depend for their passive incomes. This was not an accident. Combined with the Reagan-era excesses and the explosion of the tech bubble, suddenly Wall Street was hot popular culture, and the nation watched breathlessly as the health of the Dow Jones was commonly equated with the health of the overall economy. The share of GDP taken by the financial sector grew from 2.8 percent in 1950 to 8.4 percent and rising as of 2006, and financial sector profits account for nearly a third of all corporate profits in America. As a broader sector of Americans watched their meager stock portfolios rise, they weren’t as concerned with the slow growth of their regular wages. Only lately has the damage done to retirement security by moving from defined benefits to uncertain stock markets started to become more widely known.

2) Push more people into buying real estate, and increase home prices by all means possible. Rates of homeownership increased most dramatically in the 1940s to 1960s, creating the first major bump in housing prices. However, the period between 1960 and 1975 saw home prices decline slightly when adjusted for inflation. The government used the levers of public policy to encourage greater homeownership and reduce interest rates. Big business and wealthy interests pushed through Wall Street deregulation during the Reagan and Clinton eras, which not only boosted the stock market but also allowed large banks to make unprecedented money off of home loans. The end result was that wealthy landlords and asset owners got much richer while rents increased and wages declined, but most Americans didn’t feel the pinch because rising home values made them feel rich on paper until the Great Recession. After the financial crisis, policymakers have done everything in their power to boost both stock and home prices through quantitative easing, 0 percent interest rates, and increased homeowner incentive programs. 

3) Democratize consumer debt, especially through credit cards. Americans born after 1975 don’t remember a world before the widespread use of credit cards. But it used to be that if a regular member of the public couldn’t pay his or her bills, debt wasn’t usually an option.  But that wasn’t usually a huge problem, either: Because jobs were plentiful and wages had more buying power against the cost of living, most Americans didn’t need credit cards. Revolving credit used to be the province of capitalists, not of wage earners. 

Though Diner’s Club cards originated in the 1950s, the charge cards as we know them today were truly born and popularized in the mid-1970s and early 1980s – not coincidentally the same time as Wall Street deregulation, 401(k) transitions and the birth pangs of the real estate boom. The boom in popular credit had two major effects: to enrich the same financial services companies whose success disproportionately benefits the wealthy, and to disguise and soften the effects of stagnant wages. 

4) Reduce the cost of goods through free trade policies. The same decades that produced the previous trends also saw the implementation of free trade agreements like NAFTA. It is commonly understood today that these treaties benefit wealthy stockholders while reducing jobs in developed nations. But their less-discussed effect was also to reduce the price of many consumer goods made overseas, which in turn helped to disguise wage stagnation. 

All of these moves toward increasing the value of assets do directly benefit the wealthy. But more important, they have served to create a more purely capitalist society, hide the decline of the middle class and mitigate public discontent over stagnant wages. There are many problems with this, of course. The first is that the vast preponderance of wealth will accrue to the very top incomes in an economy where assets inflate while wages deflate. The second is that a purely asset-based economy is bubble-prone, deeply unstable and given to sharp and painful boom-bust cycles. The story of the last half-decade is in part the removal of the blindfold that has been hiding wage losses over the last half-century. Housing prices have skyrocketed beyond the ability of most people under 40 to afford, even as household debt nears record highs. Nearly half of Americans have no retirement savings at all, while much of the rest of the developed world faces a pension obligation crisis. 

The tools policymakers have used to distract the public from the raw deal of low wages are no longer working. And that may more than anything else help usher in a new era of populist progressivism in the U.S. — if, that is, the Democratic Party can shift itself away from reinforcing the asset-based economy toward rebuilding a sustainable model that encourages wage growth and a strong labor market.

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Banksters Pretend that Prosecuting Wall Street Crime Will Blow Up the Economy


Wall Street Criminals Threaten that Economy Will Blow Up If They’re Prosecuted

The Department of Justice is “considering” initiating criminal charges against 2 banks.

In response, the normal cast of characters is saying – as they have for years – that prosecuting banks will cause a meltdown of the economy.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York recently mocked the silly claims of gloom and doom:

Companies, especially financial institutions, will do almost anything to avoid a tough enforcement action and therefore have a natural and powerful incentive to make prosecutors believe that death or dire consequences await,” he said. “I have heard assertions made with great force and passion that if we take any criminal action, the skies will darken; the oceans will rise; nuclear winter will be upon us; and the world as we know it will end.”

As we’ve repeatedly noted, this is wholly untrue.

Indeed, prosecuting the individual Wall Street executives who knowingly committed criminal fraud won’t harm the economy.  After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law. And numerous Nobel prize winning economists have said that prosecuting Wall Street white collar is necessary for a prosperous economy.

Proof that prosecuting criminal fraud doesn’t hurt the economy  comes from Iceland:

[The U.S. and Europe have thwarted white collar fraud investigations … let alone prosecutions.] On the other hand, Iceland has prosecuted the fraudster bank heads (and here and here) and their former prime minister, and their economy is recovering nicely … because trust is being restored in the financial system.

In response to the sky-is-falling spouting banking apologists, professor of law and economics – and chief S&L prosecutor – William Black  explains:

First, no banker is “too big to jail.” They are easily replaceable and removing a fraudulent bank CEO from power is the single most productive act that regulators and prosecutors can accomplish. [The Department of Justice’s chief of criminal prosecutions] Breuer and Attorney General Eric Holder were involved in a con when they claimed that their failure to prosecute the senior bank officers leading the frauds was in any way related to “too big to fail.” Hilariously, they even applied the “rationale” for non-prosecution to former bank officers – as if a bank would fail “because” its former officers were prosecuted. It is a testament to the weakness of the reportage that this claim was not treated with ridicule.

Second, valid fraud prosecutions do not “cause” a business to fail. The fraud causes them to fail. They should fail when their “profits” arise from fraud. In particular, they should fail in the case of accounting control fraud because their “profits” are the fictional product of accounting fraud. The markets and the economy are greatly improved when fraudulent enterprises are destroyed. ***

Third, very little is actually “destroyed,” when we place a fraudulent bank in receivership, fire the crooked CEO, and sell the bank to an acquirer of integrity and competence. The new bank will, net, be greatly improved because it has been freed from control by the fraudulent leadership that was “looting” the bank (George Akerlof and Paul Romer, 1993, “Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit”).

Fourth, there is rarely a need to prosecute a bank. In virtually every case in which the bank’s frauds cause serious harm senior officers of the bank will have led the fraud and profited from it. Everyone in law enforcement realizes that any effective deterrence will come from prosecuting those officers and not only removing their fraud proceeds but also imposing fines that will leave the officers bankrupt.

Fifth, the bank’s controlling officers are in an immense conflict of interest when their frauds are detected. They control the bank and its resources. Their first priority is to prevent their own prosecution. Their second priority is to prevent any substantial “claw back” of their compensation. Their third and fourth priorities are to do the same for less senior officers. This isn’t altruism (though it certainly has an aspect of class-based affinity). Fraudulent CEOs realize that it is risky to allow the prosecutors to gain any leverage over more junior officers who may “flip” and testify against the CEO. The fraudulent officers controlling the bank, therefore, will gladly trade seemingly huge fines in exchange for obtaining their top four priorities.

[Finally, the government’s policy of not prosecuting Wall Street criminals] produces what Akerlof and Romer warned was the “sure thing” of CEO “looting” through accounting control fraud plus the assurance that the CEO will not be prosecuted, forced to surrender his fraud proceeds, or forced to pay fines that bankrupt him.Unsurprisingly, the result has been unprecedented accounting control fraud by elite banksters.***

None of this explains why they don’t prosecute bankers (much less ex bankers)

Indeed, the whole if-y0u-prosecute-the-economy-dies scam is like the 2008 bailouts. As we wrote at the time:

Congressmen Brad Sherman and Paul Kanjorski and Senator James Inhofe all say that the government warned of martial law if Tarp wasn’t passed.


As Karl Denninger wrote yesterday:

[S]ounds like “Bail me out or I will crash everything.”

Isn’t that analagous to walking into a bank, opening one’s coat to reveal an explosives-laced belt, and saying “gimme all the money or everyone dies!”

I noted in November:

In the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, Cleavon Little plays the new sheriff in an old Western town. The sheriff is African-American, and when he rides into town for the first time, the [racist] townspeople pull out their guns and are about to shoot him.

But he quickly puts a gun to his own head, pretends he’s scared of his own gun, and says “BACK OFF OR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN GUY GETS IT!!!” The townspeople are dumb and fall for it, suddenly terrified that he’ll kill himself. Here’s the scene.

That’s what Wall Street is doing with the bailout.

The fat cats on Wall Street are saying “give us a lot of money, and buy all of our bad debt for a lot more than its worth, or Wall Street will get it and we’ll go into a depression!”

Are Americans stupid enough to fall for it?

In a recent interview, William K. Black uses the exact same Blazing Saddles sheriff-bank analogy.


Any way you look at it, the too big to fails are not needed and they are dragging our economy into a black hole. Like the sheriff in Blazing Saddles … they are playing us for fools.

[Yves Smith] shared another analogy with me: a man with 15lbs. of Semtex strapped to his waist. She says “any surprise people in the vicinity are very attentive to his desires?”

Indeed, it’s the old protection racket

Public sector outsourcing and class warfare Public sector outsourcing and class warfare

Public sector outsourcing and class warfare

An investigation into the ways in which outsourcing and the threat of outsourcing is used as a weapon of class warfare and labour discipline in the public sector, as well as possible tactics for fighting back.

The outsourcing of public services has become major news in recent years. The UK is now the second largest market for outsourced public services in the world and with the combination of ongoing budget cuts and the neoliberal demands for ‘efficiency’ and private provision outsourcing is a major consideration across the public sector. However a focus simply on numbers and statistics can overlook the impact of the threat of outsourcing as a weapon of class warfare and labour discipline.

My own experience of this comes from being an admin worker in an NHS department that went through a lengthy outsourcing review before being given a last minute reprieve a couple of months ago. Whilst not wanting to generalise too much from one experience, I thought it would be worthwhile sharing some of my conclusions about the effects of this process, it’s effectiveness as a form of class warfare and possible ways in which we may be able to fight back.

Outsourcing, job security and labour discipline
In an era of increasingly casualised and precarious working conditions most public sector organisations retain a degree of job stability that gives workers a degree of industrial strength. Permanent rather than fixed term contracts generally remain the norm whilst disciplinary processes follow a formalised format, with opportunities for challenge and appeal by the workers involved. Furthermore, whilst the major public sector unions have long retreated from pushing much in the way of workplace action in their role of ‘labour side representation’ they do play a role in ensuring processes are followed and limiting the arbitrary power managers are able to exert. As a result with the exception of major misconduct cases public sector employers lack the ability to hire and fire at will, giving greater power to workers to resist demands for ever greater workrates, longer hours, etc in the workplace.

Outsourcing and the threat of outsourcing undermines this job security. Public sector employees involved in an outsourcing may find themselves ‘TUPE’ transferred to the private company taking over the contract, transferred formally on the same contract and with the same protections as before for the first 12 months, but at high risk of having their terms and conditions challenged or being forced out in favour of workers on the new companies own terms and conditions (which are generally significantly worse). Alternatively, even TUPE transfer may not be an option; in my own case the outsourcing plan was to move the department to a centralised national location hundreds of miles away, with me and my co-workers offered possible redeployment to another department or, if that failed, being made redundant.

This means that consideration of outsourcing creates uncertainty for what were previously fairly secure jobs. As a result workers in departments being reviewed for redundancy are put in the position of being effectively forced to beg their employers for their jobs. Employers usually expect workers to show a willingness to ‘be reasonable’, to capitulate to their demands if they want to have any hope of remaining in their posts.

Monitoring, statistics gathering and the quantification of services
As part of a review the department is likely to come under intense and sustained monitoring to judge whether it is succeeding or failing, i.e. whether the department is meeting a serious of quantifiable targets to be measured against some aspects of its work deemed to be important. Such a process is contentious; most public sector departments’ work involve a variety of activities, and in order to quantify in such a manner an assessment has to be made as to the relative importance of these activities and the parameters within which these are defined which usually downplays or excludes aspects of the job. Furthermore, it leads to a concentration of all efforts on the areas of work being measured, investing all efforts into making the numbers look good and all but ignoring anything not on the sheet of targets.

As a result as part of the review a vast amount of time and energy can be spent on creating monitorable targets and on collating quantifiable data so that judgements can be made based on these. For example as part of the outsourcing review of my service we were obliged to spend many hours inputting information on our work into unintuitive programmes so that statistics and graphs on our work rate could be produced for the monthly report.

Unfortunately a consequence of building these sets of numbers, in theory to make the case for not outsourcing, is that it creates exactly the kinds of measurable outcomes which are necessary for outsourcing companies to seek to undercut and outbid. Outsourcing has most commonly taken place in areas where there are clear rates of output, clear targets which provide a template basic service which the company can then seek to provide as cheaply as possible. Where the work of the department is more complex, where a department carries out a variety of activities that it is harder to catalogue and measure it makes it difficult to frame their work in terms of a baseline service that an outsourcing company can look to provide as cheaply as possible. Thus outsourcing becomes harder for private companies to make a profit from and more difficult to tender, reducing its attractiveness.

There is therefore a paradox in that the creation of data and targets on service provision, one of the tasks that workers often spend many hours on as part of the outsourcing review and their attempts to keep departments in house is also key to making outsourcing a feasible option.

The threat of outsourcing as the ‘new normal’
Even where the decision eventually goes against outsourcing this decision is never final. Deciding not to outsource at this time, to this specific provider leaves the door open that at a later point, when a better bid is offered or when managers are once again dissatisfied the issue of outsourcing will be raised again, something that employers are often only too happy to point out. In my own case it was made clear that, whilst the decision had been made not to outsource this time it would definitely be reconsidered should the desired improvements in the numbers not be shown. Indeed, a team we work closely with whose own outsourcing review had only ended a few months prior were told the week after we were cleared that they were once again up for review.

This means that the disciplinary effects of an outsourcing review, which many workers and indeed the main unions are often willing to accept as a one off process, becomes an ongoing force creating ever present job insecurity. Demands for higher pay, better conditions and particularly every day demands for a less intensive and more pleasurable working life come up against the danger of outsourcing, the implicit threat by management that if you don’t play ball they can sell off the department to someone who will. Thus outsourcing either as an actual process or as a threat becomes a key part of undermining public sector work security and disciplining public sector workers.

Resisting outsourcing
The question therefore arises of how best to resist these forces. In my own personal case I do not feel I was particularly successful in this regard; in my department there was some open unrest, demands to see managers, etc but by and large we went along with the process. That we were not outsourced was in my case down more to luck than through our active resistance. Nevertheless I did see potential for resistance. For example such a collective threat acts to engender a sense of solidarity and collective interests, whilst direct managers who are also facing the threat of outsourcing cannot always be relied on by the hierarchy to effectively dampen workplace dissent.

One source that sadly cannot be relied upon for resistance is the mainstream unions. In line with their labour side representation role, the national policy of the big unions towards outsourcing is generally one of token opposition alongside activity around ensuring the outsourcing is properly carried out, i.e. that all the boxes are ticked before the outsourcing finally takes place. A common experience is for unions to come up with a series of excuses for not taking action – union density isn’t high enough, the moment isn’t right, we need to act professionally to prevent outsourcing, etc – before eventually stating that it’s too late and there’s little they can do. For example, during the recent campaign against outsourcing at Sussex University the UNISON branch offered token opposition to outsourcing whilst fighting tooth and nail against attempts at active resistance by workers (such as the pop up union set up for the purpose of taking strike action) before eventually announcing that the university had consulted with them to their satisfaction and they were no longer opposing the outsourcing. Thus whilst there are undoubtedly many good militants resisting outsourcing within unions their approach on a national scale is generally at best ineffective and at worst openly hostile to resisting outsourcing.

In terms of active resistance something worth considering is the ways in which workers are required to create the tools through which their work can be monitored and measured and how we could look to prevent the creation of the statistics and quantifiable units that outsourcing relies upon. Collective attempts to subvert, sabotage and neglect the collation of data necessary for outsourcing, to insist on doing the job rather than creating numbers regarding it and undermine attempts to package departments as something outsourced companies can run at a profit could be an important way to make outsourcing unviable.

There is room to play on the fact that, although a growing force, outsourcing remains highly unpopular. Whilst some outsourcing evangelists may close ranks in the face of vocalised hostility (for example the Vice Chancellor of the University of Sussex stating that he would outsource even if everyone on campus opposed him) many public bodies considering outsourcing are highly sensitive to negative responses and would like to do it as quietly as possible. In these situations publicity and a vocal campaign against outsourcing can be effective in convincing managers that it is not worth the hassle it creates,

More generally there is a need to recognise outsourcing as an ongoing issue people in the public sector are going to face and thus that we cannot simply kowtow to managers in the hope that it will go away. Building collective relations and resistance both by those in the public sector and, importantly, by those who have been outsourced is important if we want to counter the use of outsourcing as a tool of labour discipline and the class offensive it represents.