An indictment of modern capitalism – a WW editorial – Workers World

Just imagine if Joe Biden’s administration and Congress had agreed to spend $54 billion to advance health care in the United States as variants of COVID-19 continued to claim more lives. Instead of a drop in life expectancy for the second consecutive year, more lives would have been saved.

This $54 billion wouldn’t cover the cost of a national health care system, but it would be a start. Instead, the Biden administration allocated that money to purchase weapons systems to expand the war in Ukraine. Another $813 billion was spent on the Pentagon. Funding and expanding the permanent war economy, with more threats from Russia and China, has been Biden’s top priority since taking office.

Now the average life expectancy in the United States, based on 2021 data, is just 76.1 years – the lowest since 1996. This is the biggest drop – 2.7 years in total – in almost 100 years, since the start of the so-called “Spanish Flu” in 1918 – which actually began with the gathering of American soldiers in Kansas for the First World War.

For people of color, the numbers are more dire. For blacks, the average life expectancy has dropped to 75.4 years. Since 2019, Indigenous Peoples and Alaska Natives have experienced a drop in life expectancy from 71.8 to 65.2 years.

There are long lines as families search for food banks across the United States, here in Phoenix, Arizona on June 29.

Deaths from COVID-19 and the growing number of people dying from overdoses are recognized as the main causes of the decline. Fatalities due to accidents and unintentional deaths are an important factor; many stemmed from drug overdoses, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

On September 2, the Biden administration stopped providing the $15 billion needed for the free COVID-19 home testing program, increasing the risk of a wider spread of COVID-19 and the financial burden of testing on the poor and the working people.

For the capitalist country considered the most developed in the world, this is quite an indictment. The United States remains the only major capitalist country that does not provide health care to the masses – millions of whom are uninsured.

Measures of a society’s ability to provide a fair standard of living include provisions for health care, housing, employment with decent wages, nutritious food, education and environmental safety. Even before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, America’s capitalist economy was falling short on all of these measures.

Plunging Math and Reading Scores

The minimum wage has stagnated since the early 1980s. Efforts to secure a national health care system have repeatedly failed. Now, national measures of student performance in reading and math have fallen dramatically, according to research published last week. The National Assessment of School Progress which tests 9-year-old pupils has found scores have fallen more than they have in 30 years.

Again, the COVID-19 pandemic, which made in-person learning impossible for most students in 2020 and 2021, may be to blame. But other factors are contributing to America’s education crisis, including a historic shortage of qualified teachers ready to return to the classroom after their experiences during the pandemic.

It is estimated that one in four teachers have left the system, creating a catastrophic shortage of teachers. In many school districts, hundreds or even thousands of teaching positions remained vacant when schools recently opened. Several school districts say they cannot open classrooms. In Philadelphia, two charter schools announced they would close just as the new school year began, leaving hundreds of families struggling.

In addition to pandemic-induced teacher burnout, low salaries, and inadequate school funding, many districts face a growing political culture war, as state politicians and local school boards enact policies restricting what teachers can say about history, race, racism, gender and sexual orientation, and LGBTQ+ issues. Many teachers quit their jobs because they refuse to comply with these white supremacist guidelines.

The link between declining life expectancy and declining student test scores is more complicated than the simple COVID-19 pandemicmicrophone. The American capitalist system continues to value profits above human life and maintains its historic stranglehold on workers and oppressed peoples through systemic white supremacy. It must be smashed and replaced with a socialist system based on human needs where health care, housing, education and decent wages come first. The future of humanity depends on it.

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