We Can See Clearly Now
Fifty thousand hospital workers are facing layoffs, and others are suffering pay cuts amid a pandemic! Elective surgeries are postponed, profits lost, and many workers are losing their jobs. Hundreds of hospitals could go bankrupt and close. The cost of the N95 mask has risen from 38 cents to $5.75, and the cost of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has increased more than 1,000 percent.
Crises are devastating. They are tragic and deadly. They are also eye-openers. They unmask, unveil, demythologize, and illuminate in stark reality what has been in front of us all along. The current crisis, triggered by the onslaught of COVID-19, is no exception.
What is being revealed for all to see is a broken health care system that doesn’t work, and there is no fixing it. It is the problem that has set the table for the crisis upon us to have its devastating effects. The health care system that prevails in the U.S. is a private, for-profit system that is governed by the laws of the marketplace. It is based in and is a reflection of the capitalist system itself. The almighty dollar is more important than people’s lives. Capitalism is literally killing us.
The corporations have merged with the government and are operating in the interests of the corporations, defending the private property system itself. Because everything defaults to the laws of the marketplace, the government’s efforts to manage the crisis is constrained. The result is chaos, the anarchy of production, where everyone is competing with everyone else for a shrinking supply of what is needed. Governors, mayors, hospitals, and clinics are all thrown into an international bidding war to obtain everything from ventilators to masks to PPE to tests.
President Trump, head of the government, who on the one hand declared himself to have “absolute authority,” has also deferred everything to the states, and now says the government is a “last resort.” The situation demands a concerted, unified strategic plan directed by the government to organize production according to need and to get everything that is needed where it is required. Instead, have a system that protects only the interests of the corporations. What we need is for the government to operate in the interests of the public.
St. John Parish near New Orleans in southern Louisiana has the highest death rate from the coronavirus than any locale in the country. Why is that? For one thing, it is one of the poorest counties or parishes in the U.S. It also is in the shadow of Cancer Alley, where oil and chemical companies have been poisoning the water and air for decades. In an area where 33 percent of the population is African American and poor, 72 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 there are African American.
The entrenched poverty and the concentration of corporations in areas that not only exploit the most impoverished but put their lives at risk is the condition in which a pandemic can have the most devastating consequences. What it reveals is that the spread of the virus has the deadliest impact on the most poverty-stricken and health insecure of our working class. High blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, heart, and lung disease are the diseases of the impoverished, and they are the underlying conditions that place those affected most at risk to the coronavirus.
It is clear that the current system does not work and is downright immoral. If it can’t meet the demands of those that are most affected by this crisis, then we have to look elsewhere. Going back to “normal” cannot mean continuing with a health care system that works only for those who are wealthy enough to afford it and fails to deliver for those most in need.
What we need is a government that operates in the interests of the people of the most impoverished and exploited that can guarantee that everyone can get what they need. The coronavirus crisis may unmask the fundamental flaws and failures of the current health care system, but it also clears the way for us to see where we have to go and what we have to do.
There is a word for that: Nationalization. Until now, that has been an abstract term that is little understood. But today, nationalizing the health care industry means mobilizing the government to organize and construct a health care system that operates in the interests of the people and of society as a whole. It means making private property public property. To be sure, the fight for nationalization is a battleground. There are already forces underway to nationalize in the interests of the corporations. So we should be crystal clear here: the fight we are making is for a health care system that honestly operates in the interests of the working class, the vast majority of society. It points the way to a cooperative society based upon distribution according to need.
We can see clearly now.
The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011