Coronavirus, epidemics and capitalism:
Governments around the globe have had since December to prepare for the novel coronavirus. And while some countries have done better than others with their response, here in the U.S. the for-profit medical industry is practically ensuring that more people catch the virus and more die from it. As with other disasters and emergencies, capitalism makes things worse. Now is the time to mobilize our unions and community organizations, along with small businesses to insist on immediate and effective action to protect public health.
Like other epidemics before it, coronavirus is a threat compounded by capitalist greed and callousness. As disease ecologist Peter Daszak recently put it, “Unprecedented road-building, deforestation, land clearing and agricultural development, as well as globalized travel and trade” make pandemics likelier than ever, especially when “between outbreaks, the will to spend money on prevention wanes.” Global warming and nuclear proliferation have shown that capitalists will always trade tomorrow’s welfare for today’s dollar if we let them.
To address this crisis, the Freedom Socialist Party raises these demands:
- A universal, free, nonprofit, nationalized medical industry, including pharmaceuticals, managed by healthcare workers and patients
- Free testing, treatment and vaccines
- International cooperation on the virus treatment and vaccine research; outlaw profit-making from the crisis
- Unlimited paid sick leave for all workers, with government assistance as necessary plus full compensation for lost wages due to closures or quarantines
- Free laptops and Wi-Fi at home and free lunch programs for all students when schools close; free childcare for parents who have to work
- Emergency financial assistance for small businesses hurt by the epidemic, including subsidies for paid sick leave
- Increase public and private staffing levels to perform the intensified cleaning required
- Train all at-risk workers and provide proper protective equipment
- Stop the racist scapegoating of Chinese and all Asian and immigrant communities
- No abridgement of civil liberties
- Redirect military spending and border wall funding to coronavirus response, prevention and cure
This is an excerpt from the statement issued by the Seattle/Puget Sound Freedom Socialist Party. Read the full statement and related articles about the situation locally at https://socialism.com/freedom-socialist-newspaper