Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Lesser Evil

The sickening -- or deadly -- effect of poverty among minorities is manifested in numerous ways. The very poor breathe dirtier air; they are less likely to have health insurance; they are three times more likely to be victimized by crime; they suffer stress loads that make it much more difficult to work themselves out of poverty; in Detroit, where payments to Wall Street are approaching a half billion dollars, thousands of black residents aren't even getting water. Racism recreates itself in the same capitalist system whether is was 100 years ago, 50 years ago, or now. Racism may no longer be displayed in overt signs but the signs continue to exist.

For every $100 of median wealth owned by white households in 1984, black households owned $9. In 2011 they were down to $7. Hispanic workers, who in 1979 made 81 cents for every dollar made by white workers, are now down to 69 cents . After the recession they lost two-thirds of their household wealth because of plummeting home prices and foreclosures.

Over half of the black college graduates of recent years were underemployed in 2013, working in occupations that typically do not require a four-year college degree. Along with their sub-living-wage jobs, they have an average of almost $30,000 in student loan debt.  A 2003 study found that white job applicants with criminal records received more favorable treatment than blacks without criminal records.

The infant mortality rate for African-Americans is double the national average in a country that is already near the bottom of the world’s industrialized countries. If the newborns get past infancy, they start life in an America in which almost half of black children under the age of six are living in poverty. When black children in America finally get to school, they enter classrooms that are more segregated than in 1970, and in which two-thirds of their classmates are low-income.

 In the explosion of the prison population for drug offenses, with blacks and Hispanics the main targets even though they use drugs at about the same -- or lesser -- rate as white Americans. Each inmate in a modern-day private prison, according to Chris Hedges, "can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year." Private prisons sell inmate labor to corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM. Nearly a million prisoners work in factories and call centers for as little as 17 cents an hour.

It is clear that nothing short of a total change in our economic and political system will correct this problem. This is not a problem that will be corrected by reform. We can't tweak the current system at the edges and hope to reverse this. We must wrest control of the levers of power from corporate interests and the wealthy and alter the system in such a way that they cannot hope to regain that control. We do not accept that violent revolution is either possible or likely to be productive, and the kind of massive non-violent protest or general strike that would be necessary to engender any kind of response from government is not likely either and may not result in positive change. Any attempt at revolution, violent or not, would be met with harsh reprisals. A general strike would cause some trouble, but in a few weeks, the strikers would be quickly starved into submission or replaced. What is required is the hard slow slog of education, agitation and organisation. If only so many workers did not suffer the illusion that the Democrats or the Labour Party will save us from the Republicans or the Tories. They are both in fact corrupt puppets hired to deceive us into being obedient wage-slaves.

Adapted from here

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