U.S. and World Politics

A Pox on the House of Profit

Wage earners can change the world

By Dr. Nayvin Gordon

Syphilis, a preventable sexually transmitted disease (STD) has been increasing nearly every year since 2001, with a massive 71 percent increase between the years 2014-2016. Congenital syphilis reached a twenty-year high in 2017.1

From 2014 through 2019 the STD chlamydia rose 19 percent, the STD gonorrhea rose 56 percent, syphilis rose 74 percent and congenital syphilis rose a massive 279 percent due to “reduced screening and testing opportunities.” (American Family Physician, April 2022)

Between 1990 and 2021, the U.S. experienced dramatic increases in obesity, diabetes, drug addiction, opioid deaths, and alcoholism. Since 2019 America has suffered well over one million preventable deaths from COVID-19, the virus that is still killing some 150,000 people yearly (12,000 per month) as of this moment.

Monkey Pox, another preventable disease, is rapidly spreading, and the U.S. now has the most cases of any country. There is a shortage of vaccines and testing capabilities combined with totally inadequate testing, contact tracing and isolation of infected individuals.

What is the main cause of this public health catastrophic collapse?

In 1980 the World Bank published a new healthcare sector policy advocating reducing public health infrastructure and opening the door to rampant privatization of health services and pharmaceutical supply.2

This policy was adopted by the U.S. government. The Federal Government’s share of public health expenditures plummeted from 60 percent in 1968 to ten percent in 1983, where it has remained for forty years. This silent war on our Public Health Infrastructure carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations has drained hundreds-of-billions of dollars from our Public Health Services, jeopardizing the health, safety, and welfare of the population. Since 2009 alone, some $150 Billion has been defunded, along with the loss of some 60,000 jobs.3

What are the government’s priorities?

It looks like guns not butter, war not health, profits not people. How do we turn this situation around?? Wage earners can take matters into their own hands.

Do we have to wait for politicians and judges to pass laws that protect our health and safety? Or do we unite with our fellow workers and build rank-and-file, democratically controlled, unions, and use our strength to strike for safer working conditions, more staff, and better healthcare as nurses have done?4

Do we wait for politicians who, for over ten years, have promised to raise the poverty level minimum wage set at $7.25 in 2009? Or do we build and organize strikes and use our power to fight for higher wages and a limit on work hours as teachers, healthcare workers, doctors, transit workers, mineworkers, and others across the country have done?

Workers are striking all over the world for their social needs. From pilots in Germany to healthcare workers in Canada and Turkey, from rail workers and Amazon workers in England to shipyard workers in South Korea, and from teachers, miners, and auto workers in the U.S. to the Indian General Strike of 250 million workers.

A strike movement has the potential to spread nationally and internationally while expanding demands from the economic to the political. A general strike could demand:

  • Safe work sites and free public health care for all
  • A minimum wage of $30 an hour
  • Equal rights for all
  • Freedom to control one’s own body
  • Soldiers could strike to demand an end to war and refuse to fight.

Without wage earners, the economy grinds to a halt, and the profits stop flowing. Workers have vast potential power to change the world and create a healthy, egalitarian society.

—August 11, 2022