Category Archives: Environment

How Capitalist Medicine Is Dangerous to Your Health: Three Case Histories


Good health care depends on how services are organized, facilities staffed and the attitudes of the people who provide care. “Serve the people” was the slogan of the Chinese Communists. In the first 25 years following the 1949 communist revolution, Chinese medical and public health workers brought about the most dramatic increase in life expectancy, and the steepest decline in death rates ever seen in any population in history. This stemmed from a revolution in attitudes and distribution of limited resources according to need, not because of high-tech hospitals.

In capitalist China, infant death rates among infants are rising again, now that free services have been eliminated. The following cases are from a major U.S. “public” hospital, but they could be from ANY major U.S. “public” hospital.

Case #1: Diabetes + Capitalism = Coma

A 60-year-old man was admitted with a new diagnosis of diabetes. His doctor prescribed insulin and a new diet. Ordinarily, the “Diabetic Teaching Team” (DTT) would then have seen him. The DTT is a group of nurses who go floor to floor, instructing new diabetics how to give themselves the proper dose of insulin, draw their own blood and check their own sugar level. The patient then understands how to manage the disease. But the administration eliminated the DTT two years ago, saying the floor nurses could perform this task. But the floor nurses were already overworked with other new responsibilities, all in the name of cost-cutting and “efficiency.”

After only 24 hours, the patient was sent home where he lived alone. He gave himself insulin as he thought he’d been instructed by the floor nurses. Two days later, his daughter broke into his apartment and found him unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital and into intensive care, diagnosed with dangerously low blood sugar from insulin overdose. He remained in a “persistent vegetative state” (coma) and was sent to a special hospital for long-term care.

Case #2: Staff Cuts Nearly Kill Baby

A young woman having her first baby did well in labor but had a hard time pushing the baby out. After about 2_ hours, her doctors called for a Cesarean Section, but there were no nurses because a reduced staff was busy handling trauma cases. She pushed for another two hours. When the baby was delivered, it was almost dead and had to be resuscitated. Only time will tell if there was permanent brain damage.

Case #3: Early Discharge Can Cause AIDS

A woman was admitted to the maternity unit for evaluation. An HIV test was requested. The special team handling HIV had more patients than it could handle. Her blood was drawn even though the counselors had not spoken to her. She went into labor and delivered her baby. The early discharge program sent her home before doctors discovered she was HIV-positive. She wasn’t notified until she had been home breast-feeding her baby for a week. The risk of her baby being infected with HIV, during delivery or through breast-feeding, and dying of AIDS is over three times what it would have been had the HIV result been known before delivery.

“Serve the People”

Honest self-criticism, anti-elitism and serving the working class are communist ideas. They reached a pinnacle in Chinese hospitals during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. These ideas inspired health care workers around the world.

As fascism develops in the U.S., we see the opposite. Mistakes are covered up. Decisions once made with collective input from nurses, therapists and interns, are now made in a dictatorial style by head doctors. Hospital budgets are cut to the bone and selfish attitudes are pushed.

We must fight hospital bosses who want to remove life-saving services from our patients. We must struggle against the insidious growth of anti-patient and anti-worker attitudes among health professionals. But none of those fights will lead anywhere unless they are connected to the overall fight for working class power. When the workers hold power, “Serve the People” will be the order of the day.

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Quake Exposes Capitalism’s Failures

On March 11, a massive 9.0-magnitude quake hit Northeast Japan on the east coast of Honshu, the country’s largest island, which, combined with the 33-foot waves of the tsunami it created, killed 2,800 people and ignited hundreds of fires. In the disaster’s wake, entire villages, ports and even schools vanished. Some were evacuation sites for local residents situated on the coasts.

The tsunami hit Miyagi and Iwate prefectures the hardest, obliterating everything in its path, causing the highest death tolls, which could exceed 10,000. The quake’s magnitude has led to frequent aftershocks, including a 6.0 quake on March 15 that hit Shizuoka, extending over the entire Kantou (Eastern) region.

Additionally, the quake disabled the cooling mechanisms of Japan’s oldest nuclear power plant, sparking a meltdown that has forced the evacuation of thousands surrounding the area and causing widespread fear that is being spread by the mainstream media on a 24-hour basis.

While there has been some criticism of the warning systems that gave residents little time to evacuate, most mainstream media sources in the U.S. and elsewhere emphasized Japan’s preparedness for such disasters and have praised the rapidity of rescues, evacuations and recovery efforts. As the world’s third largest economy, Japan has taken significant steps to safeguard its vulnerability against such disasters through fortification in infrastructure and the training, beginning in kindergarten, on how to react to earthquakes and other disasters. Workers in all areas hold weekly practice drills.

Workers Most Vulnerable, Suffer the Most

The protection and preparedness against such disasters, however, is more evident in the capitalist centers like Tokyo or Sendai (the largest city in the Northeastern region, which suffered significant damage), but become lax moving toward the outer regions where the damage and loss of life was the most substantial.  This is because most of the residents of these areas — like the small village of Saito in Miyagi prefecture which was totally wiped out — are predominantly working-class families: factory workers, farmers and fishermen/women, and the elderly who built homes there which are the most vulnerable to such catastrophic events. Moreover, tens of thousands of jobs will disappear, further intensifying the exploitation of the working class.

This factor connects the loss of life here to the earthquake in Haiti, or to the 2004 tsunami, which killed hundreds of thousands of local residents on the coastal regions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, among other areas, where they are forced to live in conditions unprotected by disasters.

Without overlooking the responsibility and culpability of the national governments in such catastrophes, their responsibility is inherently part of the overall picture of capitalism’s failure to plan for social need globally, which in this case works on a number of levels.

Firstly, while loss of life in Japan’s catastrophe is horrific, it is minimal when compared to Haiti’s quake, where the death toll exceeded 200,000, or in the 2004 tsunami, with over 300,000 deaths. Thus, under capitalism some populations are “worth” more than others, according to the hierarchy of profit: as the world’s third largest economy, Japan has a vested interest in protecting itself and its workers from such events, albeit minimally, while in “unprofitable” places like Haiti, Sri Lanka, or even the 9th Ward of New Orleans, there is no room for such planning.

This also reveals the inherent racist dimension of capitalist planning: as a “developed” capitalist country, there is much less racism directed at Japan, emphasized on CNN and other mainstream outlets in their current coverage. Furthermore, most of the discussion on NHK (Nippon Housou Koukai), the largest Japanese news broadcasting system, and on international news is the threat of a nuclear disaster, which is unfolding by the minute.

NHK has been broadcasting the levels of radiations that may leak, with some emphasis on directing the blame both at Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s administration and at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) which owns the Fukushima plant. The latter has been cited continuously for violations and is outdated in terms of equipment and meltdown-controlling mechanisms.

Corporate Profits vs. Communist Planning

The meltdown is symbolic of how corporate interests are the priority under capitalism (TEPCO being one of he most profitable corporations, according to the Nikkei stock index), and how planning and the running of such facilities is done poorly. Under communism such events could be minimized or done away, since workers would have a social and critical awareness of how to operate nuclear plants properly, for the benefit of the social need, rather than according to the drive for maximum profits.

Finally, the disaster is already being played out through the lens of inter-imperialist rivalry.  Obama reacted to the crisis by pledging “support” for Japan, including a significant aid package that most likely will entail the re-evaluation of Japanese-U.S. political and economic relations. U.S. rulers want to use Japan as a buffer against the rise of China This means increasing the pre-existing tensions between Japan and China over control of the undeveloped gas fields in the South China Sea, as well as the power to exploit the mineral-rich islands that have sparked recent disputes, resulting in the emergence of pro-nationalist protests in both countries.

Additionally, with Japan’s ongoing economic woes deepening as a result of the current crisis, there has been discussion of the “disaster capitalism” model, which would allow multi-national corporations to privatize the disaster areas and rebuild according to the priority of profit, as is occurring in New Orleans, Argentina and elsewhere.

Capitalism, Liberal Reformists, Phony ‘Communists’ No Saviors

Capitalism ALWAYS works to the detriment of workers everywhere.  Workers in Japan, who have been brainwashed by anti-communism, need to recognize that capitalism will not save them from such disasters, nor will the false hopes of the reformist parties like the Democratic Party of Japan, or fake leftists like the Japanese “Communist” Party, which are the most vocally critical of the recent catastrophe.

ALL workers need to recognize that a system based on profit will ultimately fail to provide the necessary means to rebuild the world, and in fact has been the systemic cause of the devastation and after-effects of environmental disasters. We must unite to build the internationalism and solidarity of communism, creating a global community of workers who can run the world without capitalist bosses!

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Earthquake & Aftermath in Japan Reveals Capitalism’s Failures

On March 11th, 2011, a massive 9.0 -magnitude quake hit Northeast Japan on Friday, causing thousands of deaths, hundreds of fires, and a 10-meter (33-ft) tsunami along parts of the country’s coastline, predominantly in the Northeastern (Touhoku) region.  The destruction left in the wake of the earthquake is extensive, including the vanishing of entire villages, ports, and even schools that were used for evacuation sites by local residents that had been situated on the coasts.  Miyagi and Iwate prefectures were hit the hardest by the tsunami and have the highest death tolls, which in total could reach over 10,000 in total.  Aftershocks as a result of the magnitude of the quake are frequent, including a 6.0 quake that hit Shizuoka and extending the entire Kantou (Eastern) region the morning of 3/15.  Additionally, the quake disabled the cooling mechanisms of one of the main nuclear plants in the Northeast region in Fukushima prefecture (Fukushima Dai-ichi), the oldest nuclear power plant in Japan, sparking a meltdown that has forced the evacuation of thousands surrounding the area and causing widespread fear that is being spread by the mainstream media on an almost 24-hour basis.

While there has been some criticism of the warning systems that gave residents little time to evacuate, most mainstream media sources in the US and elsewhere emphasized Japan’s preparedness for such disasters and have praised the rapidity to which rescues, evacuations, and recovery efforts have taken place.  As one of the largest economies in the world, Japan has taken significant steps to safeguard its vulnerability against such disasters through the fortification in infrastructure, the training, beginning in kindergarten, on how to react to earthquakes and other disasters, which workers in all areas also practice on a weekly basis through drills.

The protection and preparedness against such disasters, however, is more evident in the capitalist centers like Tokyo or Sendai (the largest city in the Northeastern region, which suffered significant damage), but become lax as it moves to the outer regions where the damage and loss of life was the most substantial.  This is due to the fact that most of the residents of these areas, like the small village of Saito in Miyagi prefecture which was totally obliterated, are predominantly working-class families, such as factory workers, farmers, and fishermen/women, and the elderly who built homes in areas which are the most vulnerable to such catastrophic events.  This is what connects the loss of life in the recent disaster in Japan to the earthquake in Haiti, or to the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which killed hundreds of thousands of local residents on the coastal regions of Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, among other areas, who are forced to live in conditions that are both unprotected by disasters.

Without overlooking the responsibility and culpability of the national governments in such catastrophes, their responsibility is inherently part of the larger continuum of capitalism’s failure to plan for social need globally, which in this case works on a number of varying levels.

Firstly, while loss of life in Japan’s recent catastrophe is horrific, it is minimal when compared to what happened in Haiti, where the death toll reached over 200,000, or in the Boxing Day tsunami, where over 300,000 died.  In other words, under capitalism, some populations are “worth” more than others, according to the hierarchy of profit: as the third largest economy in the world, Japan has a vested interest in protecting itself and its workers from such events, albeit minimally, while in “unprofitable” places like Haiti, Sri Lanka, or even the 9th Ward of New Orleans, there is no room for such planning.  This also reveals the inherent racist dimension of capitalist planning: as a “developed” capitalist country, there is much less racism directed at Japan, which is emphasized through CNN and other mainstream outlets in their coverage of the current situation.

Additionally, most of the discussion on NHK (Nippon Housou Koukai), the largest Japanese news broadcasting system, and international news is the threat of a nuclear disaster, which is unfolding by the minute.  NHK has been broadcasting the levels of radiations that may leak, with some emphasis on the blame being directed both at the current administration under Prime Minister Naoto Kan, and at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) which owns the Fukushima plant, including the fact that the plant has been cited continuously for violations and is outdated, in terms of equipment and meltdown controlling mechanisms.  The meltdown is symbolic of how corporate interests are the priority under capitalism (TEPCO being one of he most profitable corporations, according to the Nikkei index), how planning and the running of such facilities is done poorly, and the extent to which such events could be minimized or done away with under communism, where workers would have a social and critical awareness of how to operate nuclear plants properly, for the benefit of the social need, rather than according to the logic of profitability.

Finally, the disaster is already being played out through the lens of inter-imperialist rivalry.  Obama reacted to the crisis by pledging “support” for Japan, including a significant aid package that most likely will entail the re-evaluation of Japanese-US political and economic relations.  The US interest in the region is to use Japan as a buffer against the rise of China, which means increasing the pre-existing tensions between Japan and China over control of the undeveloped gas fields in the South China Sea, as well as the power to exploit the mineral-rich islands that have sparked recent disputes, resulting in the emergence of pro-nationalist protests in both Japan and China.  Additionally, with Japan’s ongoing economic woes deepening as a result of the current crisis, there has been discussion of the “disaster capitalism” model, which would allow multinational corporations to privatize the disaster areas and rebuild according to the logic of profit, as we see occurring in New Orleans, Argentina, and elsewhere.

In summary, capitalism ALWAYS works to the detriment of workers everywhere.  Workers in Japan, who have been brainwashed by anti-communism, need to recognize that capitalism will not save them from such disasters, nor will the false hopes of the reformist parties like the Democratic Party of Japan, or fake leftists like the Japanese Communist Party, who are the most vocally critical of the recent catastrophe.  ALL workers need to recognize that a system based on profit will ultimately fail to provide the necessary means to rebuild the world, and in fact has been the systemic cause of the devastation and after-effects of environmental disasters.  The time is now to unite, to build the internationalism and solidarity to create a global community of workers who can run the world without capitalist bosses!

 

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Ethanol Hoax ‘Sustains’ Bosses’ Profits, Oil Wars

The push for “sustainable energy” and “alternative fuels” is increasing. Politicians and companies appear united in calling for changes in how society is fueled. It appears that the ruling class is concerned about the environment. Communist analysis, however, reveals the essence of this “green” movement. First, the bosses are creating part of the ideology to support a potential future war against their imperialist rivals. Economic and political threats from China, for example, continue to present problems for U.S. rulers. As the rivalry intensifies, they’re caught in a bind. They must seize control of Mid-East energy reserves in order to cut their rivals’ access to it. They must also win the working class to support future wars against these rivals in order to maintain their world position. The promotion of ethanol as an “alternative fuel” is part of this plan.

Secondly, and more importantly, they’re winning workers to think that individuals, not capitalism, causes environmental destruction. They say a better environment can only be achieved by buying “green” products and consuming our way to a healthier world. In reality, only by destroying capitalism and replacing it with communism can the conditions that poison the enviroment be eradicated.


Focus on China and Ethanol Hides Imperialist Plans in Mid-East

Led by liberals like Al Gore, the capitalists are ramping up anti-Chinese rhetoric, namely by pointing to environmental issues such as contaminated products, air pollution and the catastrophe at the Three Gorges Hydroelectric Dam (where 1.4 million workers were displaced, and environmental destruction is occurring upstream from the dam). They need to convince workers that the Chinese are a direct threat to them and to a healthy Earth.

This is blatant hypocrisy, however, because for hundreds of years U.S. bosses have been killing the very workers they’re trying to win by polluting the places in which we live and work, along with the environment. (See box) Suddenly, when imperialism demands it, they’ve become interested in “protecting workers and ‘our’ environment.”

The ethanol campaign is also being used to disguise the absolute necessity for the U.S. ruling class to control Mid-East oil through imperialist war. They say ethanol will “achieve energy security, reduce oil imports, and decrease our dependency on Middle-Eastern oil.” Actually, of the top 15 countries from which the U.S. imports oil for consumption, only three, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait are from the Mid-East. Canada is by far the largest exporter of oil to the U.S. (Energy Information Administration, 2/15/08) The oil bosses don’t want control of Mid-East oil to power our SUVs but rather to control their rivals’ access to this life-blood of capitalism. The top oil companies like BP, ExxonMobil-Chevron are even putting hundreds of millions of dollars (a tiny amount compared to their profits) into researching “sustainable energy sources” as a way to mask their deadly designs on Mid-East oil.


Top Agri-business and Al GoreBehind Anti-working-class Ethanol Sham

Because it grows well in many climates, corn is used to make ethanol in the U.S. Currently, the federal government shells out $8 to $10 billion annually to Midwest corn growers. These subsidies are often framed as protecting America’s “ma and pa farmers.” In reality, large corporate farmers such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill receive about 80% of these subsidies. Also, seed suppliers like Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont) and Monsanto are making a killing with the inflated corn markets created by the ethanol craze. Pioneer’s profits increased 13% over the past year. Al Gore, the darling of the liberal environmental movement, has recently joined the board of a venture capitalist firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, who have more than $76 million invested in “green” technology. He is also a high-ranking official at Generation Asset Management, which invests in “solutions to climate change.”

Meanwhile, the increased demand for corn for ethanol has led to even greater suffering for the working class. Agreements like NAFTA allow subsidized U.S. corn to under-cut local production in Mexico, causing corn tortilla prices there to soar 60%, triggering workers’ protests nation-wide. Workers are starving, yet the same amount of corn needed to fill an SUV tank with ethanol once would feed a worker for an entire year.
Making fuel from corn makes no sense for the environment either. If all the inputs are calculated (the cost, in energy terms, of getting and planting the seed, growing the corn, harvesting it, transporting it to the ethanol plant, etc.), there is a net energy loss! The environmental damage from this capitalist charade is also clear if the increased conversion of forest into farmland and the increased use of fertilizers (which, incidentally, are made from fossil fuels) and pesticides are considered. This is the reality of this “green consciousness” they want to win us to — business as usual under capitalism where profits come before scientific common sense and the well-being of our class and our environment.

Workers Will Be Stewards of Environment

Finally, there’s one truth the capitalists ignore. Workers have always been, and will always be, the best caretakers of the land and environment. Organic farming, where workers understand the land, respond to its needs, and replenish it for the future, was the norm during early communal agricultural societies. Capitalism, which makes food into a commodity to be bought and sold, replaced this mode with food production for profit. Modern communism, in turn, will discard the commodity nature of food, while retaining any technological advances.

As workers, we have no interest in profit-making disguised as “green living,” nor in preserving the power of the U.S. ruling class (or any ruling class for that matter) through patriotism and war in the name of environmentalism. Our interests lie in maintaining and preserving the environment because we work its land, we breathe its air, and we enjoy its beauty.

Ultimately, only the working class can create a better and healthier world. With scientific reason, dialectical analysis, and revolutionary ideology, the working class must begin the process of building workers’ power. Communism is the embodiment of that power. Together, as a class, we can counteract the damage of capitalism.

Who really pollutes the environment?

Companies like Monsanto, Occidental Petroleum, Chevron, and others have created over 40,000 “Superfund” sites. These are “uncontrolled or abandoned places where hazardous waste is located, possible affecting local ecosystems or people.” Twenty-five million people live within 10 miles of 114 of these sites.
Between 1936 and 1950 Firestone Tire, General Motors, Standard Oil and Phillips Petroleum bought and dismantled over 100 streetcar systems in 45 cities. This forced millions of workers into private automobiles, leading to enormous pollution levels.
In 2004, war-maker DuPont settled a $340 million lawsuit involving water contamination in Ohio and West Virginia from a chemical used to produce Teflon.
Exelon Corporation, operator of 1/6 of the country’s nuclear power plants, recently tried to cover up a leak at an Illinois plant that released radioactive water into the Kankakee River.

Want to ‘live green?’ Join PLP!

The green movement constantly talks about “saving the environment.” Many workers support this movement from an earnest desire to see an end to the the destruction of natural habitats around the world. But the green movement is financed by the ruling class (see editorial) and has no interest in ending the most environmentally destructive force in the world: capitalism. They push a one-sided, individualistic ideology that claims that “the environment” can be saved without ending capitalism and that it is “our” fault for having wasted natural resources. The desire for greater and greater profit has been the cause of the greatest destruction. In the name of profit 20% of the tropical rain forests were cut down in the last 30 years of the 20th century and 50 million acres of forest (an area equal to the state of Washington) are cut down every year in the U.S.
Industrial bosses dump pollutants and toxins into oceans and rivers. Down the line, these poisons cause disease in workers forced to live near these habitats. This relationship between organisms and their surroundings is called “mutual determination” and is very important for understanding how humans live within the world as part of their environment.
Ending the destruction of our environment not only requires understanding the complex ways in which we relate to our surroundings, but also ending the reason for the destruction: capitalism. The best way to “live green” is to join the PLP and fight for communism.

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