U.S. workers far behind other countries
Published Oct 29, 2010 7:25 PM
The Central Intelligence Agency, a ruthless enforcer of Wall Street’s
drive for profits, publishes “The World Factbook.” It gives updated
statistics for every country, some of which measure quality of life and
societal health, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy,
unemployment and industrial production. In this last of a series, some
surprising facts are revealed, all using the CIA’s own
Proponents of U.S. capitalism call it the richest country in the world and use
this to drum up patriotism and chauvinism. While it is true that there is more
wealth in the U.S., it is mostly in the hands of a few and does not bring
prosperity to the majority.
Even compared to most other imperialist countries, which also got rich from
exploiting the labor and resources of much of the rest of the world, the U.S.
is far behind in terms of life expectancy, literacy and infant mortality.
In France, Britain, Germany and other countries in the West, vast working class
movements, often led by socialists and communists, won the use of some of the
wealth for the people’s benefit. This was even truer when competition
with the socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the USSR forced the rulers
in the West to make concessions to the workers.
In Western Europe, mass movements after World War II won the implementation of
national health care systems, free education from pre-school to college, long
paid vacations, early retirement, and higher rates of union representation and
workplace benefits. These came under attack once the USSR was dismantled. Yet
even during the present economic crisis, when European governments are slashing
social services and workers’ benefits, they are still at a much higher
level than in the U.S.
The U.S. leads the way in promoting private health care, is trying to privatize
public schools, and has a low minimum wage. As a result, the average person is
less healthy and educated — and the statistics show it.
Canada, France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Norway, Britain, Ireland and Germany have
a higher life expectancy than the United States. This country is not
“number one,” as many are led to believe, but is 49th in the
Even in relatively poor Greece, whose workers have been holding multiple
general strikes to defend the reforms they had won, the average life expectancy
is two years higher than in the United States. In Canada, people live 81.29
years on average compared to 78.24 years in the U.S.
According to the CIA Factbook, infant mortality in the U.S. averages 6.22
infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. (All figures given here are
estimates for 2010.) All the West European countries with nationalized health
care or single-payer insurance have fewer than five deaths per 1,000 live
births. In France, where the workers take to the streets in militant
demonstrations and sometimes lock up their bosses in defense of their jobs,
there are 3.33 infant deaths per 1,000 live births — about half the
infant death rate here.
The CIA has to admit that socialist Cuba, with 5.82 deaths per 1,000 live
births, also has a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S., even though it
started its socialist construction with an economy distorted by centuries of
colonial and imperialist oppression.
It is clear that the “free market” policies of U.S. capitalists
have been a disaster for the working class. If U.S. workers want a longer life
expectancy and a lower infant mortality rate, both of which are signs of basic
societal health, it is clear that they need to fight for their interests as a
class. The capitalist propaganda that says demanding government action is
“disrespectful” or “un-American” has clearly harmed the
health of the people in this country.
In the current economic crisis, the U.S. capitalist government is seeking to
cut back the minimal social programs that do exist. Only mass movements of the
people can force concessions from the bosses and the government so life can get
better, not worse, for working people.
As U.S. communists who organized workers during the Great Depression
proclaimed, the workers need to understand that their choice is simple:
“Fight or starve!”
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