This contrasts the ways capitalist countries (primarily the US) mismanage epidemics and the changes communism would make. Part 1 discussed the prevention of epidemics.
Part 2 – Pandemic Management Under Capitalism = Social Murder
As described in Part 1, capitalists operate to make profit off the backs of workers. Whether they pay low or high wages, they ultimately exploit their employees by paying them less than the value they produce. Corporate boards cut benefits, increase productivity, establish factories in low wage, non-union countries, and avoid taxes to increase their wealth. This leaves low wage and unemployed workers destitute and vulnerable to disease.
Furthermore, in the interests of short term gains, they don’t plan for future needs or stockpile emergency equipment. While no country would ever have sufficient beds lying around in case of a pandemic, capitalists don’t invest sufficiently in prevention, health care, or medical research that would decrease the death rate of contagious diseases. Over the last decade, the US Congress has stripped funds from the CDC that cut over 700 employees and from public health budgets, leaving state and local health departments unable to conduct contact tracing, deploy enough outreach workers to educate the public, or pay for protective body wear.
In the richest country, we have regular people sewing gowns and printing 3D masks for healthcare workers. We have nurses, Instacart shoppers, and Amazon warehouse workers striking for protective gear and hazard pay. In Taiwan, factories produced millions of masks per day; the US has already depleted its stockpile and recommends that people make their own. The US had actually contracted with a company that could make inexpensive ventilators, but when the medical device industry objected, the government cancelled the contract. Currently, major hospitals will run out of ventilators this month (April 2020). This neglect amounts to social murder.
Here are some of the ways US capitalism sets up people for the kill.
Part 1 contrasts epidemic prevention under capitalism and communism
Part 2 will contrast management and control of epidemics (coming soon)
By Karyn Pomerantz, March 28, 2020
Like Hurricane Katrina, the coronavirus pandemic has stripped bare all the extreme inequities of capitalism. With millions at risk, it is the working class around the world, especially its poorest, black, and brown members, who suffer the most. As higher income people stay at home, low wage workers hold down jobs that endanger their health. Added to this are lifetimes without quality health care, education, food, and housing, and often the stress of racism and marginalization.
On March 27th, Black Agenda Report nailed it when it wrote:
“The United States is a global vector of suffering and death, through the policies of its corporate party tag-team. When deadly diseases are set in motion, the crime becomes mass murder-suicide.”
There is broad interest in the United States over policing and imprisonment as a racist attack directed primarily against black and Latin workers. The US leads the world in imprisonment with over two million people in prison and more under the control of the criminal “justice” system. Detention centers for immigrants add to the toll with approximately 50,000 people held in custody every day (AP, 2019) and thousands of children isolated in camps apart from their parents, a strategy to deter and terrorize immigrants fleeing even more terrifying situations in their home countries.
Reformers call for adjusting sentencing and parole for crimes, reducing overcrowding, supporting rehabilitation and reentry, releasing older and sicker prisoners, decreasing the number of black and brown men being arrested and incarcerated, ending solitary confinement, and improving prison health and access to educational programs. Juvenile justice proponents argue for the presence of lawyers during questioning and alternatives to prison.
This article argues that reforms do not achieve sustainable improvements because incarceration and legal processes (bail, plea deals, inadequate legal aid) serve to control rebellion and dissent. Replacing capitalism with an egalitarian social system can alter the environment that causes crime and transform offenders through restorative justice and other alternatives to policing and prison.
For decades of recessions and depressions, millions of workers have been sent to an early grave as a direct result of being laid off, probably rivaling any mass killing anywhere on the planet. A 1976 Congressional study linked a 1.4 percent rise in the unemployment rate to 30,000 deaths from strokes, heart and kidney ailments, suicides homicides and cirrhosis of the liver in the five years following those layoffs.
Communities besieged by humiliating, oppressive, abusive, and outright brutal treatment at the hands of law enforcement often call for civilian oversight of police misconduct complaints. They reason that public scrutiny is essential to justice, which is invariably denied by the obscure workings of internal affairs and by prosecutors whose cozy relationships with police officers leave them reluctant to press charges, even for the most horrific offenses. What activists fail to realize, however, is that civilian review boards (CRBs) are inherently flawed—and purposefully so—engineered by the political elite to preserve the status quo. On the one hand, CRBs are typically starved of the resources, authority, and autonomy needed to hold officers and departments accountable, while on the other, their veneer of citizen participation acts as a safety valve to release outrage that might otherwise explode into a full-on rebellion. It’s a lose-lose situation for the people, a win-win for the police state.
There have been several egregious and widely publicized anti-Semitic attacks in the US in recent months, Although horrifying, it is not surprising given the general increase in hate crimes in this profoundly racist nation, which includes reported crimes against 2423 blacks, 670 Latinos, and 954 Jews in 2018 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2018/topic-pages/victims), with the largest percentage increases against Jews and Latinos. It must also be kept in mind that reporting of such incidents is entirely voluntary, even by law enforcement, and is thus a gross underestimate.
On October 24, 130 mechanics and bus and garage workers at the Cinder Bed Road Metro garage in Lorton, Virginia walked out to demand equitable pay and benefits. Like auto and food industry workers, they receive lower wages and higher health insurance costs than other Metro employees performing the same jobs who are part of the same union.
WMATA, or Metro, is the publicly funded transportation system of bus and subway routes serving the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689 represents the 8,000 workers who operate out of bus garages, offices, and subway stations. Members earn relatively high wages, health benefits, and pensions compared to other jobs that don’t require advanced education.