By Ryan CO
In 2022, the social consequences of capitalism are front and center in the United States. With rising food costs, housing, transportation, and wages lagging behind decades of inflation, many Americans are facing uncertainty as the federal government has largely abandoned them. Identifying key issues the population faces and how to agitate for their needs is necessary to overcome political stagnation.
Even before the global crisis of COVID-19, lack of healthcare was a major crisis in the United States. The Urban Institute estimated that 22,000 people died from lack of healthcare in the United States in 2006.1 In 2020, businesses shut down and people were laid off. As people were laid off and lost their jobs because of the global pandemic, more and more folks, including myself, lost healthcare coverage as it was tied to our jobs. High deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses can price people with health coverage out of medical procedures, even if they pay the high monthly fees to maintain health insurance. These high fees do not change the fact that the United States nevertheless spends more than any other country on healthcare.2 Healthcare operates based on profit models instead of saving lives, and consequently it is a death sentence for many.
The commodification of housing is an ever-growing crisis. Roughly 13,000 homeless people die in the US every year, the life expectancy of a person experiencing housing challenges is only 50 years, and 20% of those facing housing challenges are children. Over 15 million renting households are considered “cost-burdened” and the number will continue to rise as wages stagnate further behind the cost of goods.3 Poverty is attributed to 4.5% of US deaths4 while profits soar for the capitalist class.
With the recent military operation in Ukraine by Russia, the ruling classes of the United States are passing the economic consequences onto consumers which will create hardships for the most vulnerable.5 President Biden has stated that “Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has driven up gas prices and food prices all over the world.”6 The corporate media has been pushing the narrative that living with the repercussions of increased scarcity after Russian sanctions is our patriotic duty. For example, Stephen Colbert said on his show that “a clean conscience is worth a buck or two [in gas prices].”7 Many in the working class have already been struggling without additional costs for necessities. We’re not multimillionaires like Colbert, and we feel it. To add insult to injury, US taxpayers have bought over $4B in security assistance for Ukraine since 2021 and pay for an ever-increasing military budget.8 Inflation is at the highest rate since May 1981, but this has been becoming an issue long before the Russian military operation. US inflation has been over 6% for the last 6 months.9 “The Putin Price Hike” is simply blaming an enemy of the US imperialists instead of placing the blame on the flaws of capitalism where it belongs.
Our representatives that have invested in military contractors10 and for-profit healthcare11 will continue to prioritize their investments over the lives of those that they are expected to represent. This is neither democratic nor representative, and it is killing us. It isn’t enough to attempt to remove ourselves from these vulnerable positions. We must have the solidarity to imagine ourselves in the situations of others and fight the capitalist death machine. We can and must transition to an economy based on needs over profit.
- https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2021/august/over-one-third-of-congressional-members-held-significant-health-care-related-financial-assets // https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0253624