No capitalist government on earth, including Washington, has made the preparations necessary to deal effectively with the spread of coronavirus. The capitalist class — and the parties and governments that protect their class rule and their “right” to wrest profits from our labor power — always consider it a waste to put resources toward the care of working people.
The government’s own 2005 report on preparing for a sizable outbreak urged stockpiling 740,000 ventilators, but today they stock less than 10% of that number. Health care is available only to those who can afford it.
Our unions should demand the government allocate the funds needed to provide ventilators and other diagnostic and medical equipment needed to treat those with the virus, at no cost. Medical workers should be organized to service more rural areas and working-class neighborhoods where for-profit hospitals have been closing. Guarantee that health checks for all who need them are widely and freely available along with treatment for those diagnosed with the disease.
But no capitalist government looks to the voluntary and disciplined mobilization of the working class to solve pressing social problems and advance the protection of humanity, whether in response to the impact of hurricanes or the outbreak of new diseases.
There is a government that does — revolutionary Cuba. Today the Cuban government has mobilized the resources necessary to offer medical attention to anyone who gets the disease. Everyone entering the country, visitor or resident, is asked if they have symptoms of the virus on arrival, and they’re contacted by health care providers wherever they’re staying.
The mosquito-born Zika virus struck Cuba in 2016. The revolutionary government mobilized soldiers, health workers and student volunteers to educate people on their doorsteps and convince them to do what was necessary to prevent the disease. It prepares beforehand for the impact of hurricanes that hit the island, sets aside sufficient reserve materials and then mobilizes volunteers to rebuild what has been destroyed. And when the Cuban government asked for volunteer medical workers to go to West Africa in 2014 to fight the spread of Ebola, 12,000 stepped forward.
Such measures are possible because workers and farmers are in power in Cuba, with a different set of values than the capitalist exploiters who rule in the U.S., for whom the only morality is the dollar.
There have been tremendous scientific and medical advances since influenza killed over 50 million people worldwide in 1918. The question is whether working people have a government that will use them for all.
A course of revolutionary struggle to bring workers and farmers to power is presented by the Socialist Workers Party. Join the SWP campaigning for Alyson Kennedy and Malcolm Jarrett in 2020!