Workers World EDITORIAL
Disaster has a name: capitalism
Published Oct 13, 2005 2:27 AM

None of it can be hidden any more, not after Katrina. Not the blatant racism, not the failure of the richest county in the world to have a plan to save people in a major disaster, not the feeding frenzy of big corporations when they smell blood in the water.

And not the mounting dangers facing the whole world from global warming. Even cautious earth scientists are warning that warmer sea temperatures are fueling the intensity of hurricanes and also contributing to heavy rain, flooding and landslides.

After Hurricane Katrina came Hurricane Rita, which hit Southern states along the Atlantic coast. Then came Hurricane Stan, which caused such severe flooding and mudslides in Central America that over a thousand people were buried alive. In Asia, too, typhoons have recently hit China and Vietnam with unusual intensity.

Where does global warming come from? A huge buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is trapping the Earth’s heat. These gases come from a tremendous increase in the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Scientists predict the “natural” disasters will get much worse over this century.

None of this can be solved or even dealt with on an individual basis. It takes social planning to organize relief and evacuation when disaster hits. It takes social planning to figure out how people can have adequate housing, heat, cooling and transportation without degrading the environment—and to implement those findings.

The U.S. government plans many things. It plans wars—often on the other side of the world, like in Iraq and Afghanistan. It plans tax cuts for the wealthy. It is now planning a trip to the moon.

Big corporations plan. They have plans to expand their sales, to open factories where wages are cheaper. They plan expensive advertising campaigns to convince people to buy more. Big business works out its plans jointly with political insiders, so that the laws and policies of this country will promote its interests.

But both the corporations and the government, which belongs to the super-rich despite all its talk of democracy, are dead-set against any planning that could give priority to people’s needs over profits.

In fact, they are incapable of it. They are of, by and for capitalism, and the drive of the capitalists for profits influences everything they do.

Why don’t most areas of the U.S. have adequate public transportation systems? Because the auto, tire and oil companies decided more than half a century ago to gut them so workers would have to buy automobiles—a major source of global warming.

There was no public transportation to get the poor out of New Orleans, or out of Houston a few weeks later when Rita hit. If you didn’t have a car, you were sunk—literally. And even if you did have a car in Texas, you couldn’t get anywhere on the clogged highways.

These multiplying disasters call out for planning—socialist planning, the only real kind. The kind Cuba has, where hundreds of thousands are evacuated from the coastal areas every time a hurricane hits that Caribbean nation. Its disaster management plan has been cited as a model by the United Nations. Everyone is part of the preparation, from school children to medical personnel to bus and truck drivers. No one falls through the cracks.

Big corporations have no power in Cuba. The land, the factories, the farms, the hotels—everything belongs to the whole Cuban people, not to a white elite. This so enrages the wealthy in the U.S.—who used to love playing with their money in Cuba’s casinos before the 1959 revolution—that they’ve tried for 45 years to destroy the Cuban Revolution and bring capitalism back. But they haven’t succeeded.

What future is there for the world’s people without planning based on justice and equality? But capitalism will never bring either one. This profit system has created an unimaginable gap between rich and poor, on a global scale. It promotes racism to justify inequality along with sexism and LGBT oppression. Yet poverty doesn’t have to be. Every reasonable need can easily be satisfied with today’s level of science and technology. And there still could be a profound reorganization of economic life to once again live and work in harmony with nature and its laws.

The capitalist class can’t do it—they’ve proved that. Workers’ organizations need to lay out the agenda for profound social change. Most of all, this has to happen in the United States, where the reactionary, racist, super-rich few are holding back the revolutionary changes needed by all the peoples of the world.

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