On the morning of October 3, I read the following banner headline in the Philadelphia Inquirer: Massacre—Gunman kills 59 in worst U.S. mass shooting in modern times. Clearly the murder of 59 people was an unimaginably horrific event. People who were no doubt, enjoying themselves, suddenly became targets of a mass murder.
However, we can question why the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Associated Press framed their story as, “worst U.S. mass shooting in modern times”? The answer is clear. There was a mass murder in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1920. There was another mass murder in Rosewood, Florida that was made into a Hollywood movie. These and other mass murders were racist invasions of the Black communities. The perpetrators were not arrested or prosecuted by the government.
Then, we can look at the massacres at Wounded Knee and Sand Creek that were carried out by U.S. government armed forces. These massacres reflected one more chapter in the 100 year war against the original inhabitants of the nation that calls itself the United States of America. So, the government of this country did not consider the worst shootings in our history to be crimes.
However, when we talk about unnecessary deaths, we need to take a look at what happens in the world every day. According to a United Nations report issued in the year 2005, 30,000 children die of preventable diseases every day. Why are so many children dying?
Many of these children have no shoes. Parasites enter the feet of these children and they develop bloated stomachs and diarrhea. If these children do not receive simple antibiotics, they can die of dehydration. We should also consider that a child’s immunological system is not fully developed until the age of five.
Children also die because there are hundreds of millions of people in the world that don’t have enough food to eat. When mothers are malnourished they aren’t able to supply their children with a sufficient amount of breast milk. Since one out of every four people in the world don’t have direct access to electricity, there is no way to refrigerate milk.
The television news commentary 60 minutes reported that a peanut butter supplement called Plumpynut has been used to begin to deal with this problem. Plumpynut is highly nutritious but needs no refrigeration. While plumpynut may aid many children as well as adults, no one is arguing that this supplement will solve the enormous problem of unnecessary deaths of children.
They say there is no money
Those people who have political power in the capitalist world argue that there are no funds to deal with this enormous problem. In the United States, Democratic and Republican politicians are agreed that funding the military to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars is perfectly acceptable.
However, the funding of the military is small potatoes compared to the financial speculation that is a routine part of the system. Anyone who reads this blog can Google the question: How much money is invested in derivatives? The answer to this question is $1.2 quadrillion. That is one-thousand-two-hundred trillion dollars.
We should keep in mind another number that might give us some perspective. The Gross National Product is the total value of goods and services of a nation in a given year. If we add the GNP of all the nations in the world, we come up with a number of about $60 trillion. So, the value of the amount of money invested in derivatives is equivalent to the international GNP for about 20 years.
What are derivatives? These are extremely complex bets that the future of the economy will be all right. As we might imagine, sooner or later this bubble of derivatives will break, and the world will be plunged into an international depression.
Bernie Madoff and others have gone to prison for violating laws regulating the sales of bonds. Derivatives are unregulated by the government.
Understanding this reality, we can state clearly that the resources are available to eliminate poverty in the world. Yes, resources do exist to save the lives of the 30,000 children who die unnecessarily every day.
So when the press reports on the mass murders in Las Vegas as well as on September 11, 2001, we should not forget about those 30,000 children who perished on those same days. While the press talks endlessly about how to prevent these mass murders, we need to understand that the resources have been available to save the lives of the 30,000 dying children for the last 100 years.
Instead of investing in saving the lives of these children, massive amounts of money have been invested in killing machines, as well as financial derivatives that in reality have no value at all.
For more than half a century the United States government has a trade embargo against Cuba. While Cuba has a tiny fraction of the wealth of the United States, their priorities are completely different.
After the Cuban Revolution the new government organized to bring electricity to every part of the island. This is just one reason why Cuba was able to respond to hurricanes that we have seen recently.
Every Cuban goes through training, so they will be prepared for what needs to be done before and after a hurricane strikes. The Cuban people understand that this might mean that one million or more people might be evacuated to avoid a hurricane. Every Cuban knows where they will stay if they need to be evacuated.
These measures have meant that there have been only about 45 deaths due to about seventeen hurricanes that struck Cuba. I believe about 1,833 people died in the single hurricane Katrina in the United States.
The Cuban Constitution says that all children on the island have a right to milk. Every Cuban also has the right to health care and education.
One of the most important ways of dealing with poverty is to provide education to women. So, when there are problems in Cuba, the Cuban people find creative ways of dealing with them.
In my opinion, the lesson here is that humanity has the potential to eliminate poverty. In Cuba people mobilize to deal with their problems. In the United States politics and economics are organized on the capitalist model. This means that while one out of every six people in this country doesn’t have enough food to eat, the number one priority is to maximize profits for the most affluent people in the world.