The U.S. government, the most powerful imperialist power on the planet, like every other capitalist power around the world, is far from prepared for the spread of coronavirus. The virus is new, no one is immune, and it will take time to develop an antidote.
The rulers in China and Iran tried to pretend things weren’t so bad and working people are paying for it. The administration in Washington tells us they’ve got everything in hand and complain the media is trying to make coronavirus “look as bad as possible.”
The deadly impact of the virus will fall overwhelmingly on working people in the U.S., as it does elsewhere, exacerbating the broader social, economic and moral crisis of capitalism bearing down on us.
Millions of workers already confront the declining availability of health care. Hospitals have been closing in rural areas and working-class neighborhoods, where the owners decide they aren’t making enough profit. The system of health insurance in the U.S. — whether it’s “Obamacare,” private health insurance or the Medicare-for-all insurance schemes promoted by a wing of the Democrats — is designed to guarantee a profit for hospital bosses and drug and insurance companies, not to provide the health care working people need and deserve.
If we can’t afford to pay the rising costs they charge for premiums, deductibles or copays, we have to go without something that should be a basic human right.
The capitalist rulers consider the provision of health care to workers a nonproductive expense. Hospital bosses are notorious for transporting homeless people seeking care out of the city and dumping them. The capitalist rulers seek to impose the responsibility for medical care onto individual workers and our families. And if you don’t change your lifestyle — quit smoking, lose weight, etc. — they want to make you pay more. You’re on your own.
Health care is social right
Health care is a social question. The working class and our unions need to fight for government-funded cradle-to-grave health care for all. Our labor produces all the wealth, more than enough to provide care for all, for a lifetime. The problem is the employers expropriate that wealth for themselves. So they don’t have to worry about the costs of getting treatment.
Health care as a social right can only be won by class struggle, including breaking from all the capitalists’ parties, which insist that the health insurance racket is untouchable. It will take massive struggles by workers and our allies to take the hospitals and drug companies out of the hands of the capitalists who run them for profit and organize to run them under workers control in the interest of all. But it can be done.
Revolutionary Cuba is the one country in the world where health care is not a commodity, where the surplus workers and farmers produce is used to provide lifelong, preventative health care for every person. And where thousands of volunteer medical workers provide much needed care throughout the world, treating all they look after with dignity and respect. A vivid account is provided in the recently published Red Zone: Cuba and the Battle Against Ebola in West Africa. The volunteers’ internationalism, author Enrique Ubieta writes, “is an expression of their revolutionary humanism.”
As Che Guevara said, to be a revolutionary doctor you have to make a revolution.
Revolution transformed working people in Cuba
This is only possible because Cuban workers and farmers made a revolution and the government today is in their hands. Making that revolution transformed working people. They simply look at the problems they confront — from the U.S. rulers’ economic war against them to the threat of coronavirus — as the responsibility of the whole people.
Whatever they face — a hurricane, a threat of disease, or anything else — they prepare, mobilize the whole people and resources of their government, and take it on.
The Socialist Workers Party campaign is grounded in the conviction that it is possible to emulate that example. We can mobilize in our millions to overthrow the dictatorship of the capitalist class here, take power into our own hands and open the door to working people running society. Join us in campaigning for Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett, the working-class alternative in 2020!