Alert – CCSF Board of Trustees to vote today on layoffs and program cuts (from Adrienne Fong)

This is from the Gray Panthers regarding CCSF – for today – Board of Trustees meeting at 4:00pm. Am sending this to a few of you.

“Prowl & Growl” with the SF Gray


Actions and Events for May 10:

This is a crucial couple of days for the future of City College. As Merilee Hearn of HEAT said, “We have only a few days until the CCSF Trustees vote on May 10 to try to convince Trustees that a vote for layoffs is a vote for  devastation of [this] institution” and cuts of at least 50%. Read more.  We need everyone–faculty, students, and community allies – standing strong.  Please sign this letter to the Trustees.

City College Allies: Actions for Monday, May 10, in advance of Board of Trustees meeting to vote on the massive layoffs and program cuts.

 1) Call and phone Mayor Breed and Supervisors, demand:

* Prioritize preserving and funding CCSF as a community college.

 * Do not allow cuts to take place which eliminate faculty and programs and strip CCSF down to a junior college.

 * Use your leadership to facilitate an agreement to resolve any problems in funding CCSF at the level it needs to avoid the proposed cuts. 

 * Tell them elected officials of San Francisco have many substantial legal rights and responsibilities in the governing of CCSF that no other California Community Colleges have.  Read more about that here


 Mayor London Breed (415) 554-6141 and leave a message;  

email her at: <>;

 SF Board of Supervisors phone numbers and email addresses

are available at:

2)  Make public comment at the CCSF Board of Trustees Special Meeting, Monday, May 10 at 4 PM. Zoom link

Call-in info for public comment: 415 762 9988 or 669 900 6833 ID: 9316 7138 535 Requests to make public comment must be submitted in advance, no  later than 30 minutes before the start of the meeting, via email to: or via phone to: 669.444.1266. (They will call you when it’s your time to speak.)  More info here, click on “Monday, May 10, 2012”

Please submit the following information:

1. Name

2. Meeting Name and Date

3. Agenda Item Number

4. Phone number if participating by phone

More actions re CCSF this week

Thursday, May 13, 5-6:30 pm, online panel:  “The Fight for City College and Education for All”.  Panel discussion on the corporate agenda behind the attacks on CCSF and lessons from the 2012-17 organizing campaign.  Panelists:  Marcy Rein, Mickey Ellinger, and Vicki Legion, co-authors of “Free City!”; Jason Ferreira, SFSU; EK, CCSF Collective; and Beatriz Herrera, AFT 2121. Co-sponsors: Center for Political Education (CPE) & PM Press. Register at Join it on FB:

Saturday, May 15, 11 AM, CCSF HEAT panel on what’s happening to our Community Colleges.  Zoom link here

Read more about City College and fighting the attacks on City College here at the SF Gray Panthers website.

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McDonald’s Workers Will Strike for $15 an Hour in 15 Cities

Striking cashiers and cooks say there’s an easy solution to McDonald’s labor shortage: a $15 minimum wage.

Lauren Kaori Gurley

By Lauren Kaori Gurley

May 7, 2021, 8:57am (

On the Clock

McDonald’s cashiers and cooks in 15 U.S. cities will strike on May 19—a day before the fast-food behemoth’s annual shareholder meeting—to demand McDonald’s pay all of its workers at least $15 an hour amid a national labor shortage in the fast food industry. 

In recent months, McDonald’s stores have become desperate for employees, offering workers bonuses and incentives to sign up for a job. One store in Fayetteville, North Carolina is offering a $500 sign on bonus, according to a poster viewed by Motherboard. An owner of 60 McDonald’s franchises in Florida is paying job applicants $50 just to show up for an interview. In one recent viral TikTok, a McDonald’s customer rolled up at a drive thru to find a sign that read, “We are short-staffed. Please be patient with the staff that did show up. No one wants to work anymore.” Republican lawmakers are blaming the labor shortage on the Coronavirus relief bill and generous unemployment benefits. 

Striking workers around the country, who are part of the Fight For $15 movement, say McDonald’s has an easy solution to this labor shortage: it can simply raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour at all of their stores. The company’s sales are booming, thanks to demand for faster drive-thru orders. McDonald’s recently announced that it earned $5 billion in profits in 2020, and paid shareholders nearly $4 billion in dividends.

“We know McDonald’s is gathering for its shareholders meeting to discuss what straws we use, what bags we use, how much we get paid,” Terrence Wise, a McDonald’s department manager in Kansas City, Missouri, who has worked in the fast food industry for 22 years told Motherboard.  

“The one thing that’s missing is our voice” he continued. “We made them that $5 billion in profit last year. There wouldn’t be shares to divide if we weren’t making burgers and McFlurries. Our message to shareholders on May 19 is you don’t have to wait on legislation. You can pay us $15 an hour now, that should be the floor.” 

On the day of the strike, workers will be walking off the job in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Chicago, Detroit, Flint, Kansas City, St Louis, Houston, Milwaukee and other cities. McDonald’s workers have been organizing for $15 an hour minimum wage legislation since 2012, when they launched the Fight for $15 movement. 

“Our first responsibility is to hardworking restaurant crew, and we respect and appreciate their dedication to serve millions of customers daily,” a statement from McDonald’s USA said. “It’s the responsibility of federal and local government to set minimum wage, and we’re open to dialogue so that any changes meet the needs of thousands of hardworking restaurant employees and the 2,000 McDonald’s independent owner/operators who run small businesses.”

In late April, on an earnings call, McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski and president Joseph Erlinger suggested that a McDonald’s wage increase could be coming soon, in response to a question about labor shortages.

“I think one of the things that we are thinking about…is in our company-owned restaurants, how do we think about what the pay and benefits package need to look like for us to make sure that we’re able to get the people that we need,” Kempczinski said. 

“We’re working through what some changes in our company-owned restaurants might look like from a wages and compensation perspective,” Erlinger added.  

Earlier this year, a Motherboard investigation revealed that McDonald’s has a secret intel team that has spied on its workers in the Fight for $15 campaign for years using social media monitoring tools, labelling the group at a security threat. In response, the Fight for $15 movement, which is backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), filed federal charges against McDonald’s, for “unlawful surveillance of workers and union organizers participating in the Fight for $15 campaign, using tactics including extensive monitoring of social media activity.” An investigation is ongoing. 

Earlier this year, progressive Democrats tried to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by including the wage hike in the federal coronavirus relief bill, but Republicans and moderate Democrats stood in the way. 

Despite decades of experience, Wise, the Kansas City McDonald’s worker, earns $15.75 an hour and receives no health care benefits or paid sick days as a McDonald’s manager, and says it’s barely enough to scrape by and support his three teenage daughters in Kansas City. 

“Our stores are making record profits during the pandemic and we’re short-staffed,” Wise continued. “We’re pissed off. McDonald’s has had the opportunity to do what’s right.” 

On May 19, striking workers will also demand that McDonald’s withdraw its membership from the National Restaurant Association (NRA) and the International Franchise Association (IRA), which have spent more than $3.2 million lobbying Congress against the federal minimum wage increase since 2019, according to federal lobbying reports.

In 2019, McDonald’s promised to stop lobbying against local, state, and federal minimum wage increases, but has continued to play a part in these efforts by retaining its membership to these two powerful business associations.

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Articles ~ Actions / Petitions ~ Events for Saturday, May 8 – Wednesday, May 12 (from Adrienne Fong)

Periodic posting

*** ASL interpretation – Let me know if your event needs this service .***

Please include Accessibility and ASL info in your events! And if your action is ‘child friendly’

Please post your actions on Indybay:

 See Indybay  for many other listings of events.

Site for other Bay Area Events


A. United States Withdraws From Afghanistan? Not Really – May 7, 2021

United States Withdraws From Afghanistan? Not Really –

B. White Helmets corruption scandal deepens: Dutch gov’t investigated parent org for fraud, but covered it up  – May 7, 2021

White Helmets corruption scandal deepens: Dutch gov’t investigated parent org for fraud, but covered it up | The Grayzone

C. (VIDEO) Exclusive Investigation: Separating rumor from fact on Covid-19’s origin – May 7, 2021

(VIDEO) Exclusive Investigation: Separating rumor from fact on Covid-19’s origin | Sharyl Attkisson

D. Chevron’s ‘Unjust Legal Assault’ on Steven Donziger – May 6, 2021

E. The Kids Are Not All Right: Concerns for Mental Health Mount as Schools Reopen – May 6, 2021

The Kids Are Not All Right: Concerns for Mental Health Mount as Schools Reopen (

F. $152 Trillion. That’s How Much Wealthy Countries ‘Drained’ From the Global South Since 1960 – May 6, 2021

$152 Trillion. That’s How Much Wealthy Countries ‘Drained’ From the Global South Since 1960 | Common Dreams News

G. Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Jailed Ahead of Sentencing  – May 5, 2021

Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Jailed Ahead of Sentencing (

  See event # 3

H. Vital soil organisms being harmed by pesticides, study shows – May 4, 2021

Vital soil organisms being harmed by pesticides, study shows | Soil | The Guardian

I. Op-ed: How the Pandemic Made it Harder For Immigrants to Access Food – April 29, 2021

Op-ed: How the Pandemic Made it Harder For Immigrants to Access Food | Civil Eats


1. Mark Zuckerberg: leave our kids alone

  SIGN: Mark Zuckerberg: leave our kids alone! (

2. Stop U.S. funding for ESMAD and the executioners of the Colombian people!

  SIGN: ¡Colombia está matando a los suyos! ¡Detén la masacre AHORA! Colombia is killing its own! Stop the massacre NOW! (

  See event # 4

3.Demand the Department of Justice act to hold all law enforcement accountable!


4. Mayor Breed and Board of Supervisors: Use Prop I Money for Rent Relief and Affordable Housing

  SIGN: Mayor Breed and Board of Supervisors: Use Prop I Money for Rent Relief and Affordable Housing – Action Network

5. Fight Back Against PBF and Chevron: Urge the Air District to Finally Adopt the Refinery Pollution Rule!

  SIGN: Fight Back Against PBF and Chevron: Urge the Air District to Finally Adopt the Refinery Pollution Rule! (


Saturday, May 8 – Wednesday, May 12

Saturday, May 8

1. Saturday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm, BIPOC- Centered Healing Discussion around Police Brutality

UC Berkeley Campus
Life Sciences Building (Meet on grass facing Northside of campus

If you need help with directions call: (805) 832-8800

This event will be a space for community members to discuss the recent police shootings, mourn collectively, and find solidarity in unity. You can share ideas and feelings with people about the police killings and anything else happening in the country, world, or your personal life. You can share your thoughts, or just listen*, exchange contact info, and find peace in community.

Info: BIPOC-Centered Healing Discussion around Police Brutality : Indybay  &  Celeste on Instagram: “This event will be a space for community members to discuss the recent police shootings, mourn collectively, and find solidarity in unity.…”

2. Saturday, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, Defunding the Police and Budget Advocacy in San Francisco

Tickets:  Defunding the Police and Budget Advocacy in San Francisco – Action Network

See event # 9

Join SURJ SF and organizers from Defund SFPD NowNo New SF Jail Coalition, and the Budget Justice Coalition for a political education event to learn more about what the movement to defund the police looks like in San Francisco and how you can play a more active role in advocating for redistribution of the city’s budget to better benefit communities of color.

During this event, the speakers plan to address –

·       What it means to “defund the police” and explain how this movement relates to abolitionist principles

·       The history of policing and defund efforts in San Francisco

·       Where funds could be redistributed to better serve communities

·       What services and care structures really keep us safe

·       Current advocacy efforts in San Francisco and how you can plug into local organizing

Timed to coincide with the May 12th “law enforcement” budget hearing of the SF Board of Supervisors Budget & Appropriations Committee, where San Franciscans will have an opportunity to provide public comment, we hope that you’ll leave this event inspired and energized to join in the movement to advocate for a more just budget.

Host: SURJ – SF

Sunday, May 9

3. Sunday, 12 Noon – 2:00pm, CODEPINK –Demand Peace on Mother’s Day – Golden Gate Bridge

RSVP: San Francisco: Demand Peace on Mother’s Day on Our GG BRIDGE! – CODEPINK – Women for Peace

Noon-1:00 pm:   Vigil in the “Welcome Center” Plaza, on S.F. side.  

            To include: Reading of the Mother’s Day Proclamation.

1:00-2:00 pm:  (Optional). Peace Walk to the middle of bridge and back to S.F. side.

Mask / social distancing

CODEPINK will gather, calling on all our sisters and brothers around the world to work toward the abolition of war.  

We will fill up the plaza area with many peace banners and signs….to make a huge showing for peace.  We need lots of hands!  We already have lots of visuals, signs, very large banners, including:




          -END ENDLESS WAR

Other signs we need volunteers to make, please:



BIDEN:  We Expect More.  NO WAR!

Info: CODEPINK Mother’s Day Peace Rally : Indybay

Monday, May 10

4. Monday, 9:00am – 2:00pm, Colombia Rising ~ Colombia Se Levanta

456 Montgomery St.

On April 28, 2021 multiple sectors of Colombia’s civil society called for a general country wide strike and day of action to protest the proposal of a tax reform, a health care reform and a complete mismanagement of the pandemic and vaccine roll out.

This is on top of the complete disregard of the peace accords of 2016, the systematic killing of social and environmental leaders and a crippling corrupt state. While Colombia is suffering a 3rd peak of Covid, all the mobilizations happened massively as the people of Colombia recognize the Uribista government of Ivan Duque and a much deathlier sickness. Since the original strike, ex convict and ex president Alvaro Uribe called for police repression of protesters. This has lead to a countrywide massacre of civilians that as of today has left 37 death, 10 victims of sexual assault, 22 people with injuries to their eyes, 110 cases of fire arm shootings and over 1708 cases of police brutality.

We denounce the corrupt leadership of Colombia and demand justice. We demand accountability for the violence enacted on all Colombians by the Uribista regime. We demand that Ivan Duque stand down as president of Colombia and that the violent police force in Colombia is dismantled. We demand the enactment of the Leahy Law. This law prevents funding from the United States to foreign countries who are obviously committing gross human rights violations, including torture, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, and rape.

We ask all allies of Colombia, Colombian culture, food and people to stand with us on behalf of all our lives and the lives of those who have been killed.

We ask for you to write to your representatives and the State Commission and Department of Defense expressing the importance of remaining strong against human rights violations. People are being slaughtered in the streets. Please come stand with us.

Host: By the People

Info: (1) Colombia Rising ~ Colombia Se Levanta | Facebook

5. Monday, 4:00pm – 6:00pm, One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, a conversation with Dr. Yaba Blay

Tune in at 4pm to

Dr. Yaba Blay will present her new book, followed by a conversation with writer Damon Young and RB host Carl Dix.

* What exactly is Blackness and what does it mean to be Black?
* Is Blackness a matter of biology or consciousness?
* Who determines who is Black and who is not?
* Who’s Black, who’s not, and who cares?

In the United States, a Black person has come to be defined as any person with any known Black ancestry. Statutorily referred to as “the rule of hypodescent,” this definition of Blackness is more popularly known as the “one-drop rule,” meaning that a person with any trace of Black ancestry, however small or (in)visible, cannot be considered White. This method of social order began almost immediately after the arrival of enslaved Africans in America. By 1910, it was the law in almost all southern states. At a time when the one-drop rule functioned to protect and preserve White racial purity, Blackness was both a matter of biology and the law. One was either Black or White. Period. Has the social and political landscape changed 100 years later?

One-Drop features essays by 60 contributors representing 25 countries and combining candid narratives with striking portraits. The book provides living testimony to the diversity of Blackness.

Dr. Yaba Blay is a scholar-activist and cultural creative whose work centers the lived experiences of Black women and girls. She has launched viral campaigns including #PrettyPeriod and #ProfessionalBlackGirl and has appeared on CNN, BET, MSNBC, and NPR. Dr. Blay’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Ebony, Essence, and The Root.

Host: Revolution Books

Info: One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race, a conversation with Dr. Yaba Blay : Indybay

Tuesday, May 11

6. Tuesday, 3:00pm – 4:00pm, The Madness-Speakout At SF Japanese Consulate Against Olympics In Japan In Middle of Pandemic

SF Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St. (California St.)

It is time to STOP the Tokyo Olympic Games!

Despite a full blown world pandemic the International Olympics Committee IOC, the Japanese Suga government and the US along with the G7 are going ahead with the Olympics this coming July in Japan.

The torch bearers have been contaminated with the virus and the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, Susumu Morita, said the pandemic should take priority.

“We must stop the proposal to send nurses who are engaged in the fight against a serious coronavirus pandemic to volunteer at the Olympics,” 

In the midst of the pandemic the government is demanding that 500 nurses be assigned to protecting the participants in the Olympics. Hospitals are already overloaded

with Covid patients and the Olympics in Japan could lead to a catastrophic disaster for the the athletes, the people of Japan and the world. There are also no plans to 

protect the 78,000 volunteers who also will not be vaccinated. According to a report they are “being offered little more than a couple of masks, some hand sanitizer and social-distancing guidance that may be hard to abide by.”

The government is also moving to release over 1 million tons of radioactive water into the Pacifica ocean from the broken Fukushima nuclear power plants.

Host: No Nukes Action Committee

Info: STOP The Madness-Speakout At Japanese Consulate Against Olympics In Japan During Pandemic : Indybay

7. Tuesday, 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Tenants Together Collective Support & Tenant Clinic/ Clínica de Apoyo Colectivo y Derechos de Inquilinas/os

Register Here:

Join if are a tenant and/or a tenant advocate with questions about your rights and to learn about what is happening regarding our #CancelRent campaign!

EVERY other TUESDAY from 5:30pm – 7:30pm

What to expect:
* Share updates on local, regional, state and national policies
* We will answer questions and concerns
* It will be space for sharing stories and popular education
* Collectively strategize to #CancelRent

Host: Tenants Together

Info: (1) Tenants Together Collective Support & Tenant Clinic/ Clínica de Apoyo Colectivo y Derechos de Inquilinas/os | Facebook

Wednesday, May 12

8. Wednesday, 9:00am (PT); 12Noon (ET), How sanctions impact civil society and changemakers in Iran and how you can help.

Online register: Webinar Registration – Zoom

Despite immense challenges there are a multitude of individuals and organizations trying to create change in Iran in a variety of different ways. This conversation aims to explore the impact the unprecedented sanctions are having on Iranian civil society and changemakers, why it’s been so hard to achieve meaningful sanctions relief, and how we can help be allies to Iranian civil society and activists.

Speakers: Mani Mostofi, Director of Miaan Group; Sussan Tahmasebi, Executive Director of FEMENA; Moderator, Sara Haghdoosti, Deputy Director of Win Without War.

Host: Win Without War

9. Wednesday, 11:30am, Invest in our community NOT cops, cages or surveillance! SF Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Appropriations Meeting

Public comment:

RSVP at:  RSVP form for Public comment on 05/12/2021 (

Time of meeting might change

If you’re unable to dial in, you can send a written comment via email to . 

The SF Board of Supes Budget Committee will hold a hearing on Jailing, Policing, & Criminalization.

Want to live in a San Francisco that prioritizes the health and well-being of our communities over punishment, profit, and oppression?

Please CALL IN to give public comment during this hearing!

From No New SF Jail Call-in & talking points info will be added Monday at: 5.12.2021 SF Budget, Jailing & Policing Talking Points – Google Docs


Info:  or  Public Comment: May 12 SF Budget Hearing | Facebook

10. Wednesday, 3:00pm – 7:00pm: Food Not Bombs, Mission Food Sharing (Every Wednesday)

Food Not Bombs in the Mission is open to volunteers from 3PM to 7PM every Wednesday – email beforehand to be sure someone will welcome you-


Cookhouse:  St. John The Evangelist Church, 110 Julian Avenue (at 15th).

Food Pickups: 110 Julian Avenue-3:00PM to 4:00PM–Help Needed!

Cooking:  110 Julian Avenue–4:00 PM to 6:30 PM–Help Needed!

Sharing: 16th and Mission BART Plaza–6:30 PM–Help Needed!

Cleaning Up:  110 Julian Avenue–after Cooking–6:30 PM – 7:30 PM–Help Needed!

Info: Serving Info | San Francisco Food Not Bombs (

11. Wednesday 5:00pm – 6:00pm, #24: The Story of Shayne Sutherland | Killed by StocktonPD

Free – Online

The Story of The Story of Shayne Sutherland | Killed by Stockton PD
Guests: Karen Sutherland (Mother)
Host: Marissa Barrera

Shayne was murdered by officers of the Stockton PD while he was unarmed & in handcuffs.

He was suffocated to death by officers Ron Zalunardo & John Afanasiey after he called 911 for help.

A detective lied to his mother when they called to tell her that her that her son had died, saying “he stood up & collapsed, & stopped breathing”.

They denied having ANY physical altercation but the body cam tells a different story.

 Police edited body cam video
*Trigger warning:

Marissa does a weekly program highlighting different families who have lost loved ones to police terror

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Football, by far the most popular sport in the world, occupies a strange but interesting place in how we understand contemporary capitalism.

On the one hand, the growth of an urbanised working class in the late nineteenth century and the commercialisation of the sport marched hand in hand. It’s no accident that most of our football clubs and their leagues date from the 1880s and 90s.

Yet the emotions football generates transcend the game’s capitalist origins. Clubs matter to their supporters in a way unmatched by other commercial products. Now, the assertion of “fan power” against football club owners’ greed to maximise their profit has proved a heartening conclusion to the recent controversy that swept European football.

Not many proposed capitalist ventures in history created such vehement and precipitous hostility as the European Super League (ESL). Barely two days after the elites of European football announced earlier this month that they were entering a breakaway super league, the project was in tatters.

The scheme fell apart following intense campaigning that involved fans publicly burning football shirts; managers pronouncing their dismay in irate interviews; “Shame on You” banners hung on the gates of football clubs, and other acts of defiant insurgence.

No sooner had the continent-wide contempt reached full throttle than the ill-fated project collapsed and its founding members, desperate to placate the angry mob, issued repentant statements in a bid to win back public support.

Even Boris Johnson got in on the mass hysteria, spinning the yarn that likens him to a freedom-loving libertarian, as he promised to use a “legislative bomb” to scupper the breakaway competition if football authorities failed to thwart the move on their own. 

Fortunately, Johnson’s bomb wasn’t detonated, saving the PM from committing his latest act of hypocrisy after his own government voted last month in favour of new laws aimed at cracking down on our most basic freedom: the right to protest.

Examples of capitalist ventures overthrown by objectors are few and far between. The planned High Speed 2 (HS2) railway across Britain has created a wave of high-profile opposition on environmental and economic grounds. But despite campaigners regularly pinning themselves to trees in protest, earlier this year the government gave the HS2 project the green light and construction work is now underway.

Compared to the European Super League, opposition to the HS2 railway was fated to lose from the offset for one primary reason: it wasn’t football.

The outpouring of anger towards the proposed Super League – which would have seen a group of 12 clubs from across Europe’s biggest leagues given a permanent spot in the competition, stifling the soul of football elsewhere – confirmed that when it comes to the “People’s Game” of entrenched working-class communities, fans weren’t prepared to let capitalists have another stab at transforming the sport for the worse.

The sport has been transmuting under capitalism for years. As the most successful football clubs owned by billionaires grow richer, long-established community clubs are slowly diminishing in their shadows.

In the North West of England, the wealth divide between the richest and most successful clubs, and a series of community clubs that have struggled to make ends meet, is stark. At the top of the Premier League is Manchester City and Manchester United. Worth $4.2 billion, Manchester United is the world’s fourth richest football club. With a fortune of $4 billion, Manchester City is the sixth richest. 

Meanwhile, neighbouring clubs are facing financial turmoil. Following a decade of monetary upheaval that ended in administration, Bolton Wanderers, a once mainstay of the Premier League, was relegated to League Two. Stockport County flew high in the 1990s, reaching the League Cup semi-finals before nose-diving into financial tatters, going into administration in 2009, and dropping into lower league obscurity ever since.

At the heart of free-market capitalism is competition. By stifling competition, namely thwarting the opportunity for promotion and relegation, it could be easy to deduce that the ESL would have gone against the grain of free-market capitalism. It wasn’t, however, quite like that. It was based on the ills of free-market capitalism.

One such ill is that a competitive environment creates a survival of the fittest atmosphere. Another is that when wealth is not distributed equally, a small percentage of society acquires the wealth while the majority scrabble to get by. Such ills could be attributed to football, where the survival of clubs is seemingly dependent on their wealth.

With the free-market model, the economy is decided by “fair” competition – as long as you are one of a handful of people – or in the case of the European Super League, one of a handful of clubs – who are allowed to compete.

Writing in the Independent, Mark Steel noted how the participating ESL club owners were merely applying the rules of business they have earned to football.

“In business, a company is bought by investors who have little interest in the product, only the share price. In fairness, the football owners have tried to follow this rule,” Steel wrote. “For example, one creator of the Super League was Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, who said football must change the length of the game, as ‘90 minutes is too long.’”

In the case of the ESL debacle, the power of the genuine football supporter seemed to be grossly underestimated by the greed in the upper ranks of the game. The scale and breadth of the outpouring of opposition literally brought the venture to its knees.

My two football-mad sons were among the huge fraternity of multi-generational supporters threatening to abandon their club and love of the sport if the competition had gone ahead. Contemplating losing long-established, multi-generational support for Manchester United – nearly inconceivable given that their grandfather had played for the Manchester United Junior Athletic Club (MUJAC) in the 1950s – could not have been easy for my 12- and 14-year-olds, especially as youngsters who are finally getting back into playing grassroots football after a catastrophic year of disruption.

The right wing magazine The Spectator, which seems to be among the minority of publications in support of the European Super League, may speculate that football’s billionaires will win in the end.

But given my sons’ very real threat to give up the sport and club they love, and the outpouring of anger from fans around the world, I beg to differ. Football is one thing even the fattest of fat-cat billionaires can’t completely control.

At the same time, we should not be too carried away. The self-same owners will surely be back soon with more schemes to wring further profit from their investments. I can’t see the talk of introducing a “German” system of fans having a 51 percent stake in clubs being anything more than talk.

At a still deeper level, wouldn’t it be something if people translated their passions around football toward making progress in other institutions that impact our lives? “Give us back our energy companies, our post office, our schools.” Perhaps we’ll have to wait a while longer before we hear those cries demanding – and achieving – change.

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WED, 5/5/2021 – BY CARL GIBSON  (   

According to his first 100 days joint address to Congress, it’s fair to say President Joe Biden is recognizing the severity of the current moment. This new, more progressive Joe Biden declared an end to trickle-down economics, uttered the phrase “white supremacy is terrorism” from the Speaker’s dais, and proposed sweeping new programs that would invest trillions of dollars in revitalizing American infrastructure. It’s no secret that Biden is trying to cast himself as the 21st century version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But for all of his talk of massive public programs, Biden is still constraining himself with outdated economic thinking.

President Biden promised he would “pay for” his new jobs programs “without increasing the deficit” by increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While taxing the rich is certainly a good way to reduce economic inequality and curb the influence the wealthy have on democracy, it’s not necessary to fund government spending. In her bestselling book The Deficit Myth, former Senate Budget Committee chief economist Stephanie Kelton – one of the foremost proponents of the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) school of economics – pointed out that today, federal taxes don’t actually fund federal spending, and that government deficits are actually a sign of a healthy economy.

“There’s only one way to fund anything. Congress authorizes the funding, and the Fed changes the numbers in the bank account,” Kelton said in a phone interview.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon blew up the Bretton Woods Agreement – in which foreign governments could exchange US dollars for gold – and established the US dollar as a fiat currency. In layman’s terms, this meant the US government could increase the money supply without having to worry about also increasing the supply of gold. While Nixon’s presidency is rightfully remembered as one rife with corruption and hubris, his monetary policy proved historic – and could actually be what gets us out of the Covid recession.

In her book, Kelton describes the US as one of the few countries that has “monetary sovereignty.” Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress has the sole authority “to coin money,” meaning nobody can issue US currency other than the US government. In a nutshell, this means it’s actually healthy for a currency issuer like the US to run deficits – especially since Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last year that “there’s no limit” to how much stimulus Congress should pursue, and that interest rates would remain near frozen until at least 2023.

“Trade deficits work like a vacuum. The trade deficit means the rest of the world is selling us more than they’re buying from us and as a consequence, dollars go out of the US economy. A government deficit does exactly the opposite. It works like a blower,” Kelton explained. “When the government puts $100 into the economy and only taxes $90 back out, government deficits make a financial contribution to our economy. A trade deficit sucks dollars out, a government deficit blows them onto balance sheets – it adds them.”

“A government deficit should never be something we try to eliminate,” she continued. “It’s just a matter of calibrating the flows, so the private sector, when it’s prepared to take the lead and consumers are optimistic and consumer sentiment is strong and wages are growing and households are spending a lot of money, that will crank the wheel of the economy and it will lead to economic growth and job creation because businesses will be swamped with customers. And when they’re swamped with customers, they respond by hiring and investing more. They’ll build more factories. They’ll buy more capital equipment.”

Supporters of the Green New Deal – which the youth-led Sunrise Movement describes as a massive new jobs plan that would “mobilize every aspect of American society to 100 percent clean and renewable energy” – argue that Biden’s proposed $4 trillion infrastructure package is not ambitious enough. A United Nations climate panel warned in 2018 that unless global carbon emissions were cut by 45 percent by 2030, the global temperature would increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius, causing irreparable damage to the biodiversity that maintains food chains and ecosystems. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has called on Biden to put forth a plan that would spend at least $10 trillion over ten years.

“Millions of people in the United States are unemployed,” Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said last month. “We have a truly crippled healthcare system and a planetary crisis on our hands, and we’re the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. So we can do $10 trillion.”

The prospect of injecting trillions of new dollars has conservatives worried about hyperinflation. Should Congress rely solely on printing money, they argue, it could make the value of the dollar worthless, raise the price of consumer goods, and force the Fed to raise interest rates. But Kelton is skeptical about inflation becoming a problem down the road.

“If we did something really wild and juiced aggregate demand to the point that we got a full employment economy before 2023, and the economy was so strong that the Fed was in a position to hike [interest rates], then yes, it would impact interest-sensitive sectors like housing and automobiles,” Kelton said. “But that’s a pretty hard point to get to.”

In a New York Times essay, Kelton proposed several policies to curb inflation should the economy begin to overheat. This includes relaxing limits on immgration to allow for more workers to take open jobs that otherwise wouldn’t be filled, repealing trade tariffs to make it easier for businesses to import raw materials from overseas and to incentivize consumers to buy imported goods, and passing new taxes to discourage corporations from outsourcing labor overseas, among others. Ultimately, Kelton believes there can be a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sectors, which would ultimately be driven by the deficit.

“The private sector can drive expansion until it can’t. At some point, something will happen. That’s why we have business cycles. If there’s a decline in spending, we get a contraction,” Kelton told me. “It’s not that the government’s deficit ever disappeared. It just got too small.”

“Capitalism runs on sales. That’s the bottom line,” she added. “And when sales falter, goods don’t get sold and businesses lay off workers. Because you don’t need workers if the demand is not there.”

Should Biden wish to be remembered as the next iteration of FDR, he’ll need to do more than simply build new roads and bridges – he’ll have to reject old ways of thinking about spending, embrace Modern Monetary Theory, and put forth a plan that’s just as, if not more ambitious than, the original New Deal. We may only get one shot at this – we owe it to future generations to get it right this time.

Carl Gibson is a freelance journalist whose work has been published in CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Barron’s, Business Insider, The Independent and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs.

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This Week on Just the Right Book Podcast with Roxanne Coady

By Just the Right Book 

May 6, 2021 (

In this episode of Just the Right Book with Roxanne Coady, Tim Wu joins Roxanne to discuss his book, The Curse of Bigness, out now in paperback.

From the episode: 

Tim Wu: Neither a nationalist or fascist leader really wants accountability. The one doesn’t want competition and the other doesn’t want voters. But they are in some sense similar. The danger of a return to fascism is the fear that the monopolies and the leader realize that their interests are in common. That’s what happened in Germany, Japan, and Spain pre-WWII, and that’s what we need to watch for. Antitrust law is like a safeguard. It has an incredibly important constitutional role of limiting private power.

Subscribe now on iTunesSpotifyStitcher, or wherever else you find your podcasts!


Tim Wu is a policy advocate, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. He is best known for coining the phrase net neutrality. He worked on competition policy in the Obama White House and the Federal Trade Commission, served as senior enforcement counsel at the New York Office of the Attorney General, and worked at the Supreme Court for Justice Stephen Breyer. His previous books are The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires and The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside our Heads.

Roxanne Coady is owner of R.J. Julia, one of the leading independent booksellers in the United States, which—since 1990—has been a community resource not only for books, but for the exchange of ideas. In 1998, Coady founded Read To Grow, which provides books for newborns and children and encourages parents to read to their children from birth. RTG has distributed over 1.5 million books.

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Our Changing Climate Why does Capitalism cause climate change? Support this channel directly by becoming a Patreon backer:…​ In this Our Changing Climate climate change video essay, I look at why capitalism is killing us (and the planet) by causing climate change. Specifically, I look at how capitalism’s multinationals like ExxonMobil and BP are responsible for increased emissions and ultimately the climate crisis we are living through today. Capitalism’s growth-at-all-costs paradigm runs counter to the material realities of the Earth we live on. In addition to causing climate change, capitalists have found insidious ways to profit off of and engrain free market, neoliberal ideas into the global economy in the wake of climate change-fueled disasters. This is called disaster capitalism and will only get worse as the climate crisis causes more and more chaos. Flying in the face of this capitalist destruction are countless revolutionary movements and ideas that are working to dismantle the profit and growth economy and lift up the people instead. Eco-socialism moving into communism, degrowth, buen vivir, and food sovereignty are just a few philosophical tactics that are being championed by the masses as a means of countering the destructive tendencies of capitalism. Check out Second Thought’s video on why capitalism can’t handle climate change here:…​ Help me make more videos like this via Patreon:…​ Email List: https://ourchangingclimateocc.substac…​ Twitter:​ Facebook:​ Instagram:​ Reddit: Paths Toward the Future: La Via Campesina:​ Brazil’s Landless Worker’s Movement:…​ The Red Black Green New Deal:​ Organización Boricuá de Agricultura Ecológica:​ Check out other Climate YouTubers: Climate in Colour:…​ zentouro:​ Climate Adam:​ Kurtis Baute:…​ Levi Hildebrand:​ Simon Clark:…​ Sarah Karver:…​ Sweet Soul Whisper ASMR:…​ ClimateTown:…​ Jack Harries:​ Beckisphere:…​ All About Climate:…​ Aime Maggie:…​ Just Have a Think:…​ Timestamps: 0:00​ – Intro 0:49​ – Capitalism’s Plunder 2:09​ – The Long Reach of Capitalism 3:53​ – Greenwashing Capitalism 6:02​ – Disaster Capitalism in the Climate Crisis 9:43​ – Paths Towards the Future 12:24​ – Go Watch Second Thought’s Video 12:41​ – Support OCC on Patreon I use Epidemic Sound for some of my music:​ Some images and videos provided by Getty Images _______________________ Further Reading and Resources:…

(Contributed by Gwyllm Llwydd)

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‘A Transformative, Hopeful Event’: Under Pressure, Biden Backs Covid-19 Vaccine Patent Waiver

May 05, 2021 by Common Dreams

“This has a real potential to help save lives, strengthen the economy, improve international relations, and eventually end this awful pandemic.” 

by Jessica Corbett, staff writer


Demonstrators hold a rally to "Free the Vaccine," calling on the U.S. to commit to a global coronavirus plan that includes sharing formulas with the world to help ensure that every nation has access to a vaccine, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on May 5, 2021. Shortly after the rally kicked off, the Biden administration announced its support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, and said it will negotiate the terms at the World Trade Organization. (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP

Demonstrators hold a rally to “Free the Vaccine,” calling on the U.S. to commit to a global coronavirus plan that includes sharing formulas with the world to help ensure that every nation has access to a vaccine, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on May 5, 2021. Shortly after the rally kicked off, the Biden administration announced its support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines, and said it will negotiate the terms at the World Trade Organization. (Photo: Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images)

In the face of mounting international pressure, the Biden administration on Wednesday announced support for waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines—which campaigners welcomed as “a transformative, hopeful event” that has the potential to save lives around the world, especially in the Global South.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced the move as activists gathered in Washington, D.C. for a Rally for a People’s Vaccine urging President Joe Biden to back a Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO) proposed by India and South Africa.

Members of the WTO met earlier Wednesday to continue discussions about waiving intellectual property protections for much-needed vaccines. Biden’s support for the waiver is a major policy shift; up until now, the U.S. government was a key opponent of the proposal, introduced when his predecessor was still in office. 

“This is a global health crisis, and the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic call for extraordinary measures,” Tai said in a statement. “The administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for Covid-19 vaccines.”

Tai added that the Biden administration will engage in negotiations at the WTO that “will take time given the consensus-based nature of the institution and the complexity of the issues involved” while emphasizing that the ultimate “aim is to get as many safe and effective vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.”

“The Biden administration’s decision to support waiving intellectual property restrictions on Covid-19 vaccines is a genuinely transformative event, one which reinforces that there is real reason to hope for a better future when the right people are in place in the federal government,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project. “This one choice may save millions of lives.”

Sanders Statement on Biden Backing COVID-19 Vaccine Waiver

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday issued the following statement after the Biden Administration announced it supports efforts to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines: 
“I applaud President Biden and his administration for taking this bold step in response to the world’s most urgent crisis. Our vaccination efforts here at home will only be successful if vaccination efforts in the developing world happen simultaneously. Supporting this waiver, and putting people over profits, will help us to do that by speeding up the production and availability of vaccines. This is exactly the kind of leadership the world needs right now.

“I also recognize the dedicated work done by activists in communities around the world to put this issue on the global agenda. We are all in this together.”

Sen. Sanders last month led a letter to President Biden calling for the administration to back the waiver effort.

Hauser particularly praised Tai “for handling the first big political conflict of her tenure with grace and professionalism, as the administration ultimately worked toward the right call.” He added that her “ability to face down the well-funded and powerful pharmaceutical interests fighting against this waiver without fear shows that she was a perfect choice for this crucial job.”

“Again, appointments matter. Personnel is policy,” Hauser said. “We will closely watch the inevitable conflicts during the text-based negotiations at the World Trade Organization. But this initial decision is one which Americans and onlookers around the world should celebrate.”

The announcement did spark celebrations worldwide.

“Biden’s support for the TRIPS waiver is unquestionably the right thing to do for the world and the nation,” declared Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of the Citizens Trade Campaign, which helped organize a 431-group letter in support of the waiver earlier this year. “More work is needed to make sure the waiver moves forward as effectively as possible, but this has a real potential to help save lives, strengthen the economy, improve international relations, and eventually end this awful pandemic.”

“Covid vaccines were developed with broad public support, and everyone worldwide deserves access to them,” Stamoulis added, expressing hope for speedy WTO negotiations. “Biden’s willingness to support the waiver is a testament not only his character, but to the excellent work of the hundreds of organizations and millions of individuals who urged this to happen.”

Tobita Chow, director of Justice is Global, a project of People’s Action, also emphasized the vital role of public pressure in the development.

“We thank the tireless effort of grassroots organizers here in the U.S. and across the globe who rallied at the homes and offices of elected officials, held people’s shareholder meetings in front of pharmaceutical companies, and took to the streets in support of global vaccine justice,” Chow said.

“This result is a testament to the power of global solidarity,” he added. “When people in the U.S. recognize our shared destiny with people across borders and oceans, we can work together to take on some of the most powerful corporate lobbies in the world and win.”

Biden and Tai “recognized that Pharma’s ‘business as usual’ is killing us,” said Oxfam America president and CEO Abby Maxman, applauding “their willingness to pursue a new path that prioritizes public health over private profits.”

Maxman agreed that the shift “is a testament to the widespread public movement calling for an end to vaccine monopolies. It is also a testament to an administration that listens and is willing to do whatever it takes to defeat Covid-19.”

The U.K.-based group advocacy group Global Justice Now tweeted that “THIS IS HUGE,” and said that “there can be no more excuses. The U.K., E.U., and all governments blocking a #TRIPSwaiver must change course. It’s time for a #PeoplesVaccine.”

U.S. lawmakers including Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also welcomed the news.

Along with praising the administration’s move, Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, explained why the waiver is so necessary.

“Vaccine distribution is deeply inequitable at home, but even more so abroad,” he said. “One in four people in high income countries have received a vaccine dose; but just one in 500 people in lower income countries have received a dose. This extremely slow and inequitable distribution has dire consequences for billions of people around the world.”

Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, also commended Biden for reversing the prior administration’s position on the waiver and making clear “that the U.S. prioritizes people’s lives over pharmaceutical company profits,” while also urging the president to go even further to save lives.

Specifically, he called for promoting multilateral efforts to scale up production of health products through the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool “to lead the global fight to eradicate the pandemic and to ensure that all people, regardless of where they live, are given their fair shot at access to the vaccine.”

“Now let’s make sure U.S. support includes waiving IP on equipment and inputs needed for vaccines, and waiving IP on diagnostics and medicines, as well as on copyrights on N95 masks, ventilators, etc., for resolving the heinous pandemic of Covid-19,” said Deborah James, the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s director of international programs and coordinator of the Our World Is Not For Sale Network.

Public Citizen called on the U.S. government to invest $25 billion in vaccine production for low- and middle-income countries.

“It will be critical that U.S. engagement in WTO negotiations leads to the fastest possible agreement on a waiver text that encompasses Covid-19 vaccines and diagnostic tests to prevent virus spread and treatments to save the lives,” added Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, in a statement.

“By fighting for the rest of the world to have access to vaccines as we have in the U.S.,” she said, “the Biden administration is recognizing that ‘no one is safe until we are all vaccinated’ is more than a slogan, given Covid-19 outbreaks anyplace could hatch vaccine-resistant variants that sweep the world.”

While highlighting that the waiver decision “has the potential to help save countless lives and end this crisis on a global scale,” Chow of Justice is Global said that “we look forward to further action to scale up vaccine production and distribution as quickly as possible to ensure that countries around the world, and especially those in the Global South, have equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.”Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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Far from being profoundly destructive, we humans have deep capacities for sharing resources with generosity and foresight

Locals at the Marienfluss Conservancy in Namibia meet to discuss conservation. Photo courtesy of NACSO/WWF Namibia

Michelle Nijhuis is a project editor at The Atlantic and the author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction (2021).

Edited by Pam Weintraub

Aeon for Friends

4 May 2021 (

In December 1968, the ecologist and biologist Garrett Hardin had an essay published in the journal Science called ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’. His proposition was simple and unsparing: humans, when left to their own devices, compete with one another for resources until the resources run out. ‘Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest,’ he wrote. ‘Freedom in a commons brings ruin to all.’ Hardin’s argument made intuitive sense, and provided a temptingly simple explanation for catastrophes of all kinds – traffic jams, dirty public toilets, species extinction. His essay, widely read and accepted, would become one of the most-cited scientific papers of all time.

Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate in Economics photographed in 2011. Photo by Raveendran/AFP/Getty.

Even before Hardin’s ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ was published, however, the young political scientist Elinor Ostrom had proven him wrong. While Hardin speculated that the tragedy of the commons could be avoided only through total privatisation or total government control, Ostrom had witnessed groundwater users near her native Los Angeles hammer out a system for sharing their coveted resource. Over the next several decades, as a professor at Indiana University Bloomington, she studied collaborative management systems developed by cattle herders in Switzerland, forest dwellers in Japan, and irrigators in the Philippines. These communities had found ways of both preserving a shared resource – pasture, trees, water – and providing their members with a living. Some had been deftly avoiding the tragedy of the commons for centuries; Ostrom was simply one of the first scientists to pay close attention to their traditions, and analyse how and why they worked.

The features of successful systems, Ostrom and her colleagues found, include clear boundaries (the ‘community’ doing the managing must be well-defined); reliable monitoring of the shared resource; a reasonable balance of costs and benefits for participants; a predictable process for the fast and fair resolution of conflicts; an escalating series of punishments for cheaters; and good relationships between the community and other layers of authority, from household heads to international institutions.

A parliamentary study tour of the conservancies in 2005. Photo courtesy NACSO/WWF Namibia

When it came to humans and their appetites, Hardin assumed that all was predestined. Ostrom showed that all was possible, but nothing was guaranteed. ‘We are neither trapped in inexorable tragedies nor free of moral responsibility,’ she told an audience of fellow political scientists in 1997.

What Hardin had portrayed as a tragedy was, in fact, more like a comedy. While its human participants might be foolish or mistaken, they are rarely evil, and while some choices lead to disaster, others lead to happier outcomes. The story is far less predictable than Hardin thought, and its twists and turns can lead to uncomfortable places. But in those surprises lie the possibilities that Hardin never saw.

You might think that scientists, and the public, would eagerly trade Hardin’s dark speculations about human nature for Ostrom’s sunnier findings about our capabilities. But as I learned while researching and writing my book Beloved Beasts (2021), a history of the modern conservation movement, Ostrom’s conclusions have faced stubborn resistance. During the early years of her career, colleagues criticised her for spending too much time studying the differences among systems and too little time looking for a unifying theory. ‘When someone told you that your work was “too complex”, that was meant as an insult,’ she recalled.

Ostrom insisted that complexity was as important to social science as it was to ecology, and that institutional diversity needed to be protected along with biological diversity. ‘I still get asked, “What is the way of doing something?” There are many, many ways of doing things that work in different environments,’ she told an audience in Nepal in 2010. ‘We have got to get to the point that we can understand complexity, and harness it, and not reject it.’

Her research gained global prominence in 2009, when, aged 76, Ostrom became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. But for a variety of reasons – perhaps because she was a woman in a male-dominated field, or perhaps because her sophisticated work didn’t lend itself to a catchy name – her carefully collected data hasn’t dislodged Hardin’s metaphor from the public imagination.

When Ostrom died in 2012, she was celebrated by her colleagues for her pioneering work, her plainspoken humility, and her steady resistance to what she called ‘panaceas’. She knew from experience how corrosive simple stories could be. Hardin, for his part, seemed bent on making his own ideas as repugnant as possible. Among his proposed solutions to the tragedy of the commons was coercive population control: ‘Freedom to breed is intolerable,’ he wrote in his 1968 essay, and should be countered with ‘mutual coercion, mutually agreed upon’. He feared not only runaway human population growth but the runaway growth of certain populations. What if, he asked in his essay, a religion, race or class ‘adopts overbreeding as a policy to secure its own aggrandisement’? Several years after the publication of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, he discouraged the provision of food aid to poorer countries: ‘The less provident and less able will multiply at the expense of the abler and more provident, bringing eventual ruin upon all who share in the commons,’ he predicted. He compared wealthy nations to lifeboats that couldn’t accept more passengers without sinking.

Hardin compared wealthy nations to lifeboats that couldn’t accept more passengers without sinking.

In his later years, Hardin’s racism became more explicit. ‘My position is that this idea of a multiethnic society is a disaster,’ he told an interviewer in 1997. ‘A multiethnic society is insanity. I think we should restrict immigration for that reason.’ Hardin died in 2003, but the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, alert to the longevity of his ideas, maintains his profile in its ‘extremist files’ and classifies him as a white nationalist.

Still, many of those who abhor Hardin’s racist ideas – or would if they were aware of them – are seduced by the simplicity of his tragedy. If academic citation indexes are any guide, the tragedy of the commons remains far better known to scholars than any of Ostrom’s findings. It continues to be taught, uncritically, to high-school students in environmental science courses. It’s used as a justification by those who support severe restrictions on human immigration and reproduction. Even more frequently, it’s casually invoked as an explanation for human failures: even the eminent biologist E O Wilson, in his book Half-Earth (2016), describes the weakness of international climate-change agreements and the ongoing depletion of ocean resources as tragedies of the commons, without making clear that such tragedies can be averted.

Despite the evidence gathered by Ostrom and her colleagues, it seems, many are still all too willing to believe the worst of their fellow humans – to the detriment of conservation efforts worldwide. Like Hardin, many conservationists assume that humans can only be destructive, not constructive, and that meaningful conservation can be achieved only through total privatisation or total government control. Those assumptions, whether conscious or unconscious, close off an entire universe of alternatives.

While Ostrom’s ideas are not yet familiar maxims, they haven’t been ignored. In southern Africa in the 1980s, some conservationists recognised that parks and reserves, many created by colonial governments, had divided subsistence hunters and farmers from much of the wildlife that had long sustained them – and which, in some cases, they’d managed as a commons for generations. The resulting lack of local support meant that even the best-patrolled park boundaries were vulnerable to incursions by human neighbours, people unlikely to tolerate – much less protect – the large, sometimes troublesome species that ranged beyond even the largest reserves.

A local warden at the Wuparo Conservancy in Namibia. Photo courtesy NACSO/WWF Namibia

In response, new initiatives attempted to redistribute the burdens and benefits of conservation: the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) project in Zimbabwe directed revenue from hunting and tourism on communal lands to district councils, incentivising those councils and their communities to control illegal hunting. In neighbouring Zambia, the Administrative Management Design (ADMADE) programme trained local people as wildlife rangers, then transferred some wildlife management responsibilities, and benefits, from the national government to community boards. These and similar efforts became known as community-based conservation.

In 1987, when the South African conservationist Garth Owen-Smith attended a conference on community-based conservation in Zimbabwe, a comment by Harry Chabwela, the director of Zambia’s national parks, left a lasting impression. ‘At this conference we have talked a lot about giving local people this and giving them that, but what has been forgotten is that they also want power,’ Chabwela said. ‘They want a say over the resources that affect their lives. That is more important than money.’

Owen-Smith had already spent years living in Namibia, which was controlled by South Africa and known as South West Africa. When severe drought and an epidemic of illegal hunting threatened livelihoods and wildlife in the territory’s northwestern desert in the early 1980s, Owen-Smith had supported the creation of a system of community game guards. The unarmed guards – many of whom were hunters themselves – were so effective at tracking illegal hunters that, after a few years, the killing of elephants and rhinos in the region stopped completely. Antelope numbers improved so much that Owen-Smith was able to persuade the national conservation department to reopen limited game hunting in the area – a development much appreciated by locals.

Local wardens conduct a game count in Caprivi, Northeastern Namibia. Photo courtesy NACSO/WWF Namibia

Chabwela’s comment about power motivated Owen-Smith to think bigger. When he returned home, he and his partner Margaret Jacobsohn began to talk with community leaders and members about ways of restoring some local authority over wildlife. After Namibia won independence from South Africa in 1990, the new government recruited Jacobsohn and Owen-Smith to survey rural attitudes toward conservation, and the survey confirmed what the two had by then been hearing for years: most people didn’t want the occasionally dangerous species they lived with to be killed or removed – but they did, as Chabwela had suggested, want a say in their management. In 1996, the Namibian National Assembly passed a law that allowed groups of people living on communal land to establish institutions called conservancies. Conservancies would be governed by elected committees, and all members would share the benefits of any tourism or commercial hunting within conservancy boundaries.

Trophy hunters are sometimes directed toward lions and elephants who have become aggressive toward people.

The first conservancies on communal land were formalised in 1998, and there are now more than 80 of them in Namibia. They cover more than 40 million acres of land, and stretch from the northwestern desert to the humid, densely populated Zambezi Region in the northeast. They earn revenue from lodges, campgrounds and guide services, both as partners in joint ventures and as solo operators. They participate in annual surveys of game and wildlife populations and, in cooperation with the national conservation ministry, set quotas for both subsistence and commercial hunting within their boundaries. They employ their own game guards, who are currently fending off a continent-wide wave of rhino poaching driven by Asian demand for powdered rhino horn (a discredited traditional medicine). And, every year, the members of each conservancy assemble to call their governing committees to account.

Detailed recods are made of local wildlife. Photo courtesy NACSO/WWF Namibia
Local hunting quotas are agreed upon. Photo courtesy NACSO/WWF Namibia

In August 2019, I attended the general meeting of Orupembe Conservancy, held in an open-air pavilion on the outskirts of Onjuva, a tiny town hundreds of miles from the nearest gas station, and even further from a paved road. Most of the people at the meeting were semi-nomadic herders, many of whom had travelled long distances from even more isolated corners of the conservancy. (I was present thanks to the expert off-road driving skills of the guide Edison Kasupi, who grew up in nearby Purros Conservancy.) When the Onjuva committee called the meeting to order, there were 95 people seated inside the pavilion, about half of the conservancy members and just enough for a quorum. The chairman Henry Tjambiru commented that the current drought had forced many people to take their herds further afield, preventing them from attending.

Orupembe Conservancy has several sources of income, all relatively modest: a campsite, a small lodge that it co-owns with two other conservancies, and contracts with a handful of hunting guides. (Some conservancies have very little income, and fund their operations with donations from international conservation groups; others, such as the neighbouring Marienfluss Conservancy, have joint venture agreements with upscale lodges that can net more than $100,000 a year in salaries and fees.)

After a review of the year’s earnings, the committee distributed a list of local species and the current hunting quotas for each. Because the drought had worsened since the quotas were set, conservancy members had voluntarily left most of them unfilled. While wildlife surveys earlier in the year had suggested that 75 oryx could be killed without harming the population, for example, only three had been shot so far. The meat from two of those was currently boiling in a nearby row of pots, about to be served for lunch.

The meeting, which lasted several hours, was disrupted by procedural inefficiencies, lively sideline arguments and, at one point, an accusation of petty corruption. But as the sun sank and the meeting came to a ragged end, I realised with surprise that I was exhilarated. During an exceptionally difficult year, these conservancy members had taken the trouble to travel to the meeting, consider the long-term future of other species, and recommit themselves to ensuring it.

In reviving the commons, the Namibian conservancies have revived the relationships between people and wildlife – and the results, as Ostrom would be unsurprised to learn, are complex. Where parks and reserves separate land into clearly defined categories, community-based conservation proposes that land can be simultaneously protected and utilised – through the cooperative efforts of the people who live on it. It’s a profound challenge to Hardin’s assumptions, and while some of its outcomes are easy to applaud – the recovery of elephants and rhinos, the arrival of new jobs – others make outsiders squirm.

A vulnerable rhino is relocated. Photo courtesy NACSO/WWF Namibia

John Kasaona, who grew up in northwestern Namibia and, as a boy, watched Owen-Smith and his father set out on game-guard patrols, is now the executive director of Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, a nonprofit organisation that provides technical support to the conservancies. When he travels overseas to talk about the accomplishments of the Namibian conservancy system, he mentions only briefly, if at all, that its success depends in part on income from trophy hunters – tourists who pay for the privilege of shooting an animal for sport, and who in some cases keep hides or horns for display. For many conservancies, trophy hunting is not only a source of income but a tool for preserving the peace between humans and other species, since trophy hunters are sometimes directed toward individual lions or elephants who have become aggressive toward people.

Kasaona is well aware of the images that trophy hunting conjures in his listeners’ minds: Theodore Roosevelt standing next to a fallen elephant, dwarfed by the carcass and its upturned tusks; Eric Trump grinning as he hefts the limp body of a leopard, his brother Don Jr beside him; the Zimbabwean lion named Cecil, whose illegal killing by a dentist from Minnesota during a guided hunt in 2015 caused a global outcry. For some in North America and Europe, trophy hunting in Africa has come to symbolise human sins against other species.

In 2017, after Kasaona spoke at a Smithsonian Institution conference in Washington, DC, a young woman stood to speak at the audience microphone. ‘I think that some pieces were missing from the presentation,’ she began. Kasaona had not shown images of the animals slain by trophy hunters, she said. He had neglected to mention that the lion or elephant spotted by a visiting family on safari might be killed the next day. Kasaona, at the podium, acknowledged the international controversy over trophy hunting, but said that regulated commercial hunts remained an important source of revenue for the Namibian conservancies. There was more to say, but the session was over, and any further discussion was washed away by chatter.

Even in the darkest times, Ostrom’s work reminds us that the future is unpredictable and full of opportunity.

More than two years later, I met up with Kasaona in the town of Swakopmund, about halfway down the Namibian coast. We talked over generous plates of springbok curry at the colonial-era Hansa Hotel, where German is spoken more frequently than English, and both are far more common than any of Namibia’s 20-plus Indigenous languages and dialects.

I asked Kasaona to finish answering his questioner at the Smithsonian conference. ‘People say: “I don’t like what they’re doing to animals,” but most of them wouldn’t want to live next to a lion that could harm their family,’ he said. The majority of tourists who hunt for sport in Namibia pursue more common species such as springbok, whose hunting is permitted through the conservancy quota system. In the case of globally threatened species, the number of animals (if any) that can be shot each year is set by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In 2004, the parties to the convention approved applications by Namibia and South Africa to allow limited hunting of black rhinos, determining that the population had recovered to the point that five male rhinos could be shot in each country each year. In Namibia, the national conservation ministry chooses which rhinos will be hunted – usually older animals that have become aggressive or territorial – and issues permits for the hunts. The permit fee is deposited in a national conservation trust fund, and in one recent case a hunter paid $400,000 to shoot a single male rhino, far more than most conservancies earn in a year.

The trophy-hunting system in Namibia isn’t perfect, Kasaona acknowledges – there are cases where hunters have killed the wrong animal – but over the long term, he said, it benefits both the conservancies and the species in question by reducing conflicts between people and wildlife. When international conservation groups promise to regulate and censure trophy hunting out of existence, Kasaona hears what he calls ‘another kind of colonisation’ – a violation of the local authority that he and others have spent decades building up, and a threat to the revenue it depends on. ‘What do they say to the people whose livelihood depends on what they are trying to ban?’ he says.

Global restrictions on trophy hunting, Kasaona argues, are a simplistic response to a complex situation – what Ostrom might call a panacea. Not all countries are alike; not all conservancies are alike; not all conservancy members are alike; not even all trophy hunters are alike. And a few individual lions and elephants are far more dangerous than others, as those who have lost loved ones and livelihoods to rogue animals can attest.

While those viral images of trophy hunters with carcasses might all seem to say the same thing, they don’t. Some, surely, are symbols of corruption or needless violence. But, in the best cases, they’re examples of sustainable utilisation: colonial nostalgia, harnessed by the formerly colonised to further multispecies survival.

Ostrom’s principles of commons management now underlie not only the Namibian conservancy system but hundreds of similar efforts throughout the world. Many have revived and adapted conservation practices developed centuries ago, developing new rules suited to current circumstances. Their creators cooperate in the management of coral reefs in Fiji, highland forests in Cameroon, fisheries in Bangladesh, oyster farms in Brazil, community gardens in Germany, elephants in Cambodia, and wetlands in Madagascar. They operate in thinly populated deserts, crowded river valleys, and abandoned urban spaces.

While conservation almost always carries at least some short-term costs, researchers have found that many community-based conservation projects reduce those costs and, over time, deliver significant benefits to their human participants, tangible and intangible alike. And while community-based conservation began as a reaction to top-down conservation strategies, it can operate in parallel with large parks and reserves – and even foster their creation. In northwestern Namibia, two neighbouring conservancies have proposed to establish a ‘people’s park’ where livestock would be excluded and tourist numbers would be limited by a permit system, allowing lions and other large predators to more easily avoid conflicts with humans. Should the national legislature approve the conservancies’ proposal, the region could serve as a core habitat from which large carnivores can range in relative safety – since the region’s biological diversity is now protected not only by law, but by supportive human neighbours.

Community-based conservation can’t solve everything, and it doesn’t always succeed in protecting the commons. In many cases, national governments don’t recognise the longstanding land claims of Indigenous and other rural communities, creating uncertainty that interferes with community efforts to manage for the long term. Even well-established systems are vulnerable to internal conflict, and to external pressures ranging from drought to war to global market forces. As Ostrom often reminded her audiences, any strategy can succeed or fail. Community-based conservation is distinctive because many societies have only begun to understand – or remember – its potential. ‘What we have ignored is what citizens can do,’ she said.

At Indiana, Ostrom and her husband Vincent, also a political scientist, founded the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis, affectionately known as ‘The Workshop’ to the researchers who continue to gather there. Current students of commons management struggle, as Ostrom did, with the difficulty of managing large-scale resource problems such as air pollution at the community level. They wrestle with the implications of her findings for the digital landscape, where the veneration of open access often collides with Ostrom’s definition of the commons as a boundaried, regulated space. And despite what one researcher in 2011 dubbed ‘Ostrom’s Law’ – that whatever works in practice can work in theory – even Ostrom’s admirers sometimes echo her earliest critics, lamenting that the field lacks an overarching theory.

The challenge of understanding the complexity of all species continues, as does the challenge of seeing possibility in what so often looks like a collective tragedy. But even in the darkest times, Ostrom’s work can remind us that the future is deliciously unpredictable, and full of opportunities for us to stumble away from the edge.

This original essay draws on the book ‘Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction’ (2021) by Michelle Nijhuis, published by W W Norton & Co.

History of ideasEnvironmental historyThe environment

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