Unemployment under Covid Capitalism: A Preventable Epidemic

Karyn Pomerantz, June 6, 2020

Introduction

There are millions of useful jobs that could improve our quality of life. The Covid pandemic requires the mobilization of millions to provide healthcare, food, outreach, and the production and distribution of protective gear. The US and other countries also need infrastructure overhauls to prevent collapsing bridges and further climate devastation. There are great deficits in education, transportation, housing, and health care that need to be addressed. Unemployment plagues workers, especially black, Latin, and young people. Why is there so much unemployment when our needs are so great?!

This post reports on unemployment, why it exists, how communism can prevent it, and the ways US activists fought it during the Depression in the 1930s.

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Public Health in Times of Epidemics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

By Karyn Pomerantz, May 7, 2020

The corona crisis, on top of so many others, shows how lethal capitalism is. Poverty and racism are the pre-existing conditions that inflate the rates of death and disability. For billions of people around the world, this disaster continues the misery at the hands of the 1%. It hopefully wakes up other people to the inequalities, negligence, and outright murder of global capitalism. 

How has public health responded to such inequities and pandemics? What can we learn from previous infectious disease outbreaks caused by smallpox, TB,  and cholera? When public health is good, it is very good, but when it is bad, many people die. When public health gets ugly, it destroys our lives and future security and aspirations. 

Public health today operationalizes the prevailing political ideology: personal responsibility, the philosophy that individuals make decisions about what to eat, where to live, how to work, or  whether to graduate, and then pay the consequences. Public health has blamed the individual for poor health habits and focused on educating people rather than dealing with systemic issues. Even now, when many talk about social determinants of disease, such as housing, racist police violence, immigration policy, and employment, actual interventions still focus on individual behavior.

This article identifies some of the qualities of successful and failed attempts to control epidemics with examples from selected countries since the late 19th Century.

Continue reading “Public Health in Times of Epidemics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

A Different Kind of COVID-19 Protest

by Nick Pemberton, 5-4-2020; originally published on CounterPunch on 4-29-2020

This article addresses the return to work advocates and the left’s response to them and the pandemic. Capitalism has always sacrificed workers’ lives. Instead of providing the food and income necessary to stay safe, the bosses and their government are pushing people to work in dangerous conditions (and dumping crops and animals that are also extraneous to them). It’s a system that requires people to make choices that lead to death: work and risk dying or shelter and risk starving. Nick rightly calls for a communist solution based on love for fellow workers. His other writings can be found on Counterpunch.org

Amidst a deadly pandemic set to kill millions of people it is hard not to become reactionary and short-sighted. The coronavirus for all intents and purposes is the new Trump for the libs. On the one hand a force that remains criminally underrated in its capacity for destruction despite its overwhelming popularity and attention from the bourgeoisie. On the other hand a noise that is so loud that it erases all rationality and perspective.

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A Better World is Possible: Pandemic Management Under Capitalism and Communism

by Karyn Pomerantz, 4-3-2020

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.

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A Better World Needs to be Born -Preventing and Controlling Pandemics, Part 1

by Karyn Pomerantz, 3-29-2020

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.”

Continue reading “A Better World Needs to be Born -Preventing and Controlling Pandemics, Part 1”