Wealthy investors and their political stooges kill as many Americans in a month as were killed in the terrorist attacks on 9 /11. This outrageous crime against humanity must be named for what it is.
The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centres have steered foreign policy toward more violence and more war. Violence in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan continues to grab top news spots. The subtext is; 'there are enemies out there and they are everywhere'. They leave us with a clear impression of who the enemy is. Although 2,977 people were murdered on September 11, 2001 by terrorists, an equal number (more or less) of Americans die each month because they lack health care.
The fact that these deaths are caused, that they are the result of calculations aimed at maximizing profit, makes them murder. Victims that are dying every 20 minutes die because some very wealthy people want to become even wealthier. Terrorists that kill through acts of terror are rightly called murderers. Those that kill for investment opportunities are not thought of as murderers but that is what they are. We need to look at this ugly reality directly. The situation promises to get much worse.
American Deaths Due to Health Care Profits
Families USA released a report (June 2012) entitled 'Dying for Coverage: The Deadly Consequences of Being Uninsured'. The report indicates:
- Across the nation, 26,100 people between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage in 2010 (Table 1). That works out to:
- 2,175 people who died prematurely every month;
- 502 people who died prematurely every week;
- 72 people who died prematurely every day; or
- Three every hour. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of people who died prematurely each year due to a lack of health coverage rose from 20,350 to 26,100.
- Between 2005 and 2010, the total number of people who died prematurely due to a lack of health coverage was 134,120.
- Each and every state sees residents die prematurely due to a lack of health insurance. In 2010, the number of premature deaths due to a lack of health coverage ranged from 28 in Vermont to 3,164 in California.
- The five states with the most premature deaths due to uninsurance in 2010 were California (3,164 deaths), Texas (2,955 deaths), Florida (2,272 deaths), New York (1,247 deaths), and Georgia (1,161 deaths).
Not a single Canadian dies because he or she can't afford health care. This is true of most developed nations and it drives home the point that these deaths are a result of decisions made by politicians. They are responsible.
Across the developed world austerity measures are stripping individuals and nations of their spending power. The strategy is to secure wealth at the upper echelons and to make the poor and the middle classes pay for the excessive financial abuses of the ultra wealthy. As Mainstreet suffers, the politicians focus is almost exclusively on the health of the private sector, the stock markets. And in that spirit, austerity measures grind the poor to their deaths to make sure that the world is safe for investors.
The absurdity of industrial plants rusting while millions are unemployed, of homes being emptied by large banks while thousands are homeless should catch our attention. Something is seriously wrong.
According to the Nation Alliance to End Homelessness:
- There are 643,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
- Of that number, 238,110 are people in families, and
- 404,957 are individuals
- 17 percent of the homeless population is considered "chronically homeless," and
- 12 percent of the homeless population - 67,000 - are veterans.
"These numbers come from point-in-time counts, which are conducted, community by community, on a single night in January every other year. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to submit this data every other year in order to qualify for federal homeless assistance funds. Many communities conduct counts more regularly."
The capitalist world is on a one track austerity mission and human needs are beside the point. Protection of profit is all that counts. When human needs are routinely ignored and when mounting evidence suggests that this is a zero sum game; that the more they get the less we get, it is time that the meek claim our inheritance.
It may be argued that vital needs define human needs and apart from that, you could switch much of what are called 'needs' to the ‘wants’ category. This crude definition of needs is not sufficient however. Wheelchairs for those that need them may not be vital in any strict sense, but they are needs nonetheless.
People in Toronto need heat in the winter. They also need telephones and transportation. As technology and social structures change, people’s needs change. Kids in Toronto also need a myriad of items and services that hunter gatherer kids in the Amazon do not need. These may not be vital needs but they are not simply 'wants'; they are real needs. When a society slips beyond providing those needs it will pay an ugly price. When a society does not even provide what people need to survive, and a person dies from a lack of medicine, the price has already been paid.
To rise above barbarism, we have to move beyond providing food and shelter and hoping for the best. For people to develop and grow to their potential, obstacles to growth must be removed. If we don't provide these apparently non-vital needs, social problems grow exponentially.
Apparent non-vital needs may be ignored and the price of that ignorance is increased numbers of children growing up in high stressed environments resulting in attachment problems, pathologies resulting from living in violent homes, pathologies resulting from living in addicted homes etc. which in turn results in far more addictions, attachment disorders, and violence in the future. And in the future costs associated with jails, rehabilitation programs, and mental health will not only cost in monetary terms, the problems will reduce our collective quality of life and standard of living. By being austere on the front end, we spend much more on the other end. Silent violence has very strange and very ugly, expensive karma.
Most are a single accident away from reliance on social services to provide for them. An accident may result in a physical or mental disability. Very few people are immune from having to potentially rely on the state or community for vital and other basic needs. People that have this misfortune and are not covered by insurance or if their insurance company finds a way out of paying the bills may be shocked to find out how barbaric and cold social welfare systems can be. And they are on a downward trajectory.
Western nations have long held that freedom is the ultimate goal, the single most important issue worth fighting and dying for. This concern along with ‘national security’ concerns has driven many young men and women to their deaths - for profit. The key pre-requisite to freedom however is security. In real terms, freedom is predicated on economic and social security.
Society must take care of its material production needs. This includes production, processes of exchange, distribution and so on. We need to produce before we can consume. We also need to distribute adequately for everybody to consume adequately.
As the spectacle of the Republican debates for Presidential candidate revealed for the world to see, the candidates agreed, including Ron Paul that people that need wheelchairs or food should fend for themselves or rely on the whims of philanthropy. This is another way of saying that the needs of the poor and disadvantaged are not our collective responsibility.
This extreme of selfishness and callous individualism has become the mantra of the extreme right which is parroted by mind numbing corporate media shills. From there an Orwellian group-think download indoctrinates citizens that only want to keep up with what's happening in the world. The result is those that are exposed to American media learn to think in a certain way. The less exposure, the more we get to keep some semblance of elemental morality. As a result, statements that are jaw dropping over most of the world have become a bizarre and macabre 'normal' in the USA.
Outside the cult of monopoly capitalism, we understand the need to build and maintain a public commons that satisfies the vital needs of each and every individual. No human being should die due to his or her financial status. The fact that this is promoted and encouraged by elected politicians is unforgivable.
MWC news, Counterpunch, Global Research and alternative media in general are quite limited in persuading masses of people to notice what may appear to be obvious to you (a reader of MWC news). The bulk consume mainstream news and this is key to maintaining corporate callous indifference to human suffering. In fact, we all need to do a better job. This enemy is far worse than the terrorists and all the foreign threats they can't stop talking about. This enemy is very real and it is pretending to be your friend.
That is the very worst kind.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|