The Social Crisis in America

The coal slurry disaster of 2000

The story behind the water crisis in Martin County, Kentucky

By Carlos Delgado, 19 February 2018

The water crisis in eastern Kentucky can be traced back to the bursting of a coal slurry dam owned by Massey Energy in 2000.

Funerals begin in Florida as details emerge of prior warnings about school shooter

By Patrick Martin, 17 February 2018

The FBI admitted that it had received two separate warnings about the Nikolas Cruz, the second, only six weeks ago, suggesting he was likely to target a school.

Trump budget proposes massive cuts in food stamps and other social programs

By Shelley Connor, 17 February 2018

The proposed cuts would mean starvation for large numbers of poor Americans.

Trump war budget calls for sweeping cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps

By Patrick Martin, 13 February 2018

The White House urged congressional Republicans to proceed with the military spending proposed in a bipartisan budget deal last week, but renege on promises to increase spending on domestic social programs.

Kentucky residents face water shutoffs as UK study exposes health dangers from leaking pipes

By Warren Duzak, 13 February 2018

After losing service due to collapsing infrastructure, Martin County residents now face shutoffs and a 50 percent rate hike for contaminated water.

Puerto Rico blackout exposes the precarious state of the island’s electrical grid

By Matthew Taylor, 13 February 2018

An explosion ripped through the Monacillo power plant outside of San Juan Sunday night, leaving 175,000 residents without power for several hours.

Studies connect Medicaid work requirements to poor health

By Shelley Connor, 12 February 2018

While the Trump administration heralds Medicaid work requirements as a path towards better health and prosperity for America’s poor, recent studies reveal the opposite.

US: Food insecurity may be twice as common as previously estimated

By Mark Ferretti, 10 February 2018

A clear class division separates those who can buy healthy food easily from those who cannot.

Falling US life expectancy: The product of a deliberate ruling class policy

By Kate Randall, 9 February 2018

The US is wracked by record social inequality, a catastrophic health crisis, and a government health policy aimed at deliberately lowering life expectancy while catering to corporate profit.

New York City limousine driver kills himself in protest over poverty wages

By Sandy English, 8 February 2018

Schifter’s suicide note blamed corporations and Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo and former Mayor Bloomberg for destroying his livelihood.

Notes from Puerto Rico

Thousands of workers in Puerto Rico continue to live without running water

By Antonio Castro, 8 February 2018

This is the second in a series of updates from a local Puerto Rican worker on the unfolding crisis on the island in the wake of Hurricane María.

San Diego mayor outlines impending crackdown on homeless

By Meenakshi Jagadeesan, 30 January 2018

Mayor Kevin Faulconer combined praise of the city’s meager response to the recent hepatitis A outbreak with a thinly veiled threat that homelessness would no longer be tolerated.

“This could be anyone tomorrow”

Anaheim, California: Homeless encampment residents speak on their conditions

By Adam Mclean, Kevin Martinez and Kimie Saito, 29 January 2018

Rather than offering assistance to those living on the riverbed, the city has started a “slow and methodical” drive to shut down the encampment.

Federal shutdown ends as Democrats cave in to Trump

By Patrick Martin, 23 January 2018

Hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients still face possible deportation in six weeks as the supposed “resistance” to Trump by Senate Democrats lasted less than three days.

Officials begin clearing out homeless encampment in Anaheim, California

By Kevin Martinez, 23 January 2018

The estimated 1,000 people living in tents along the Santa Ana riverbed will be cleared out by Orange County sheriffs. The vast majority have no place to go and authorities have no plans to house them.

“The water is milky white and smells like bleach”

Kentucky residents told it may take a decade to get clean, safe water

By Jerry White, 22 January 2018

Working class residents of the former coal mining area have had no water or only intermittent service for weeks.

US house fires kill 320 since Christmas, up 50 percent from last year

By Steve Filips and Matthew Richter, 20 January 2018

The total of fire deaths in the US due to intense winter weather has increased dramatically since Christmas.

As US government shutdown looms, Democrats push punitive immigration deal

By Barry Grey, 18 January 2018

The latest version of the bipartisan plan proposes even more billions to militarize the US-Mexico border, including funds earmarked for Trump’s border wall with Mexico.

Kentucky becomes first state to impose Medicaid work requirements

By Shelley Connor, 18 January 2018

Within five years, state officials estimate, the new initiative will result in 100,000 fewer Medicaid enrollments in Kentucky, saving the state $2.4 billion.

Twelve arrested outside San Diego for feeding the homeless

By Meenakshi Jagadeesan, 18 January 2018

On January 14, 12 members of the activist group “Break the Ban” were arrested in the city of El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, California, for providing food to a homeless community.

Cost of hookworm treatment beyond reach of many Alabama residents

By Warren Duzak, 17 January 2018

Working class and poor residents in the southern US state face an outbreak of the hookworm parasite due to unsanitary conditions.

Cold-related deaths in Wisconsin expose abysmal social conditions

By Christopher Davion and Matthew Verhoven, 15 January 2018

Nine people died in Wisconsin due to exposure to freezing temperatures that began in the final week of 2017.

Rental costs rising beyond reach in Nashville

By Warren Duzak, 11 January 2018

Hedge funds and other big investors are transforming private homes into rental properties, driving housing costs beyond the reach of working class and lower-middle class families.

Deadly influenza outbreak spreads throughout US, most severe in California

By Dan Conway, 9 January 2018

Over the past few weeks, cases of influenza and influenza-related illnesses have skyrocketed, reaching near epidemic level proportions.

San Diego homelessness crisis remains after hepatitis A outbreak

By Emanuele Saccarelli, 9 January 2018

Official reports indicate that more than 9,000 homeless people live on the streets of San Diego, with over a thousand of them being concentrated in the downtown area.

Rising rents put low income US renters in severe jeopardy

By Debra Watson, 8 January 2018

Rent burdens have increased in the US over the past 15 years, putting workers at the lower end of the pay scale in severe housing jeopardy.

Over 20 dead in winter storm as US cold wave continues

By Kathleen Martin, 6 January 2018

While media reports are conflicting, the winter storm emerging from the ‘bomb cyclone’ on the eastern coast of the US has directly claimed at least 22 lives, with the number expected to rise over the weekend.

America’s poor and homeless freeze in winter storm

By Kate Randall, 5 January 2018

As in all weather-related disasters, society’s most vulnerable are the worst affected, with the poor and homeless bearing the brunt.

Deaths continue to mount amid freezing temperatures across much of the US

By Trévon Austin, 4 January 2018

The rising number of deaths from cold at the beginning of this year has exposed the severity of the affordable housing crisis in the United States.

Record low temperatures kill at least nine people in US

By Trévon Austin, 3 January 2018

The wave of cold weather has exposed the disastrous state of social conditions in the US, affecting the most vulnerable: the homeless, impoverished elderly and youth.

Second Bronx fire in less than a week injures 23

By Philip Guelpa, 3 January 2018

New York City officials have tried to obscure inadequate fire prevention measures by blaming the victims.

More low-income Michigan workers set to lose food assistance

By Debra Watson, 3 January 2018

Some 16,000 Michigan food stamp recipients could lose benefits this year due to the imposition of work requirements.

Deadly Bronx fire: A tragic product of inequality and social crisis in America

By Fred Mazelis and A. Woodson, 30 December 2017

In every sphere of life, New York remains what newly reelected Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio hypocritically promised to change four years ago: two worlds in one city.

Cold wave, house fires prove lethal for US homeless, poor

By Patrick Martin, 29 December 2017

The current bout of severe weather has created conditions for an upsurge in fatal house fires, accidents and deaths due to exposure.

No decline in Michigan poverty since the Great Recession

By Debra Watson, 28 December 2017

Despite a drastic fall in the official unemployment rate since the Great Recession, the same percentage of households in Michigan are living below the poverty line.

Health care threatened for nine million low-income US children

By Patrick Martin, 27 December 2017

The temporary “fix” to the Children’s Health Insurance Program, applied by Congress in legislation passed December 21, could actually speed the program’s collapse.

Nashville, Tennessee: Homelessness at record levels despite pledges from politicians and business leaders

By Warren Duzak, 23 December 2017

On an average night in January 2015 there were 2,365 homeless in Nashville, with 1,124 in emergency shelters, 560 in transitional housing and 470 living on the street.

US fire death toll in 2017 reaches 2,152

By Steve Filips, 23 December 2017

A heart wrenching increase in the deaths of children in fatal house fires highlights the substandard housing conditions and poverty widespread within the US.

Drug deaths drive down US life expectancy for second year

By Eric London, 22 December 2017

The fall in US life expectancy reflects the social devastation wrought on the lives of millions of people by decades of bipartisan policies aimed at enriching the wealthy.

Alabama announces freeze on children’s health program

By Shelley Connor, 21 December 2017

On Monday, Alabama became the first state to announce an enrollment freeze for its Children’s Health Insurance Program, as well as plans to end the program altogether by February 1.

US Congress set for Wednesday passage of multi-trillion-dollar tax cut for the rich

By Barry Grey, 20 December 2017

Legislation that will transfer trillions of dollars from the working class to the richest 10 percent of the population will be made the law of the land within less than two months of its initial release and without a single congressional hearing.

Hepatitis A outbreaks hit Southeast Michigan and San Diego

By Benjamin Mateus, 19 December 2017

San Diego, with the fourth largest community of homeless in the US, has seen 567 cases of Hepatitis A, with 382 hospitalizations and 20 deaths.

Homeless man found dead in donation bin in San Diego, California

By Kevin Martinez, 19 December 2017

The bin where the man was discovered was located in a shopping center parking lot one block away from the San Diego Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter.

UN rapporteur “shocked” by deep poverty in US

By Eric London, 18 December 2017

A statement by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston details the nightmarish conditions faced by tens of millions of impoverished Americans and condemns the US government for human rights abuses.

The United States of Inequality

By Andre Damon, 18 December 2017

As Congress rushes to pass a tax bill that will transfer trillions of dollars to the financial oligarchy, it is becoming impossible to overlook the all-pervasive scale of social inequality in the United States.

West Virginia governor orders National Guard to Huntington after drug-related killings

By Naomi Spencer, 16 December 2017

After three homicides in the span of as many hours Thursday night, the city at the heart of West Virginia’s heroin epidemic stands on the verge of military occupation.

After ten days, largest of Southern California wildfires continues to rage

By Dan Conway, 15 December 2017

As the massive wildfires that engulf Southern California continue, a fire that consumed portions of Los Angeles’ wealthiest neighborhood is being blamed on the city’s homeless.

UN special rapporteur on poverty visits LA’s Skid Row

By Adam Mclean, 15 December 2017

Alston spent his time in the impoverished LA neighborhood notorious for homelessness, drug abuse and police brutality.

Portland billionaire attacks city’s homeless

By Hector Cordon, 14 December 2017

An effort has begun to shift the city’s response toward the homeless crisis to a more open policy of criminalization.

UN rapporteur reports extreme poverty “unseen in the first world” in Alabama

By Shelley Connor, 13 December 2017

Residents of Alabama’s Black Belt region are suffering in social conditions most frequently encountered in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

US homeless total increases for the first time in seven years

By Trévon Austin, 8 December 2017

Nearly 115,000 children under 18 are homeless, including nearly 9,000 living on the streets.

The US Senate tax bill: The financial oligarchy on the rampage

By Patrick Martin, 2 December 2017

There is an element of desperation in the frenzy in Washington to engineer one more transfusion of financial resources from working people into the sclerotic veins of the Wall Street addicts.

Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: From Hollywood’s American dream to social nightmare

By Marc Wells, 24 November 2017

Los Angeles community colleges report that one in five students is homeless, while two-thirds cannot afford proper nutrition.

A health statistics system in shambles

The real maternal mortality rate in the United States

By Benjamin Mateus, 24 November 2017

The true scope of maternal mortality rate in the US remains uncertain due to inconsistent and under-reporting on death certificates.

Trump administration ends temporary residency for 60,000 Haitian nationals

By Trévon Austin, 22 November 2017

Under TPS, Haitians who sought refuge after 2010 Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 have been allowed to live and work in the United States. They now have until July 2019 to leave the country.

Twelve-year-old boy dies in Detroit area fire

By Jerry White, 22 November 2017

While the fire is still under investigation, authorities are looking at a space heater as the cause of the fatal blaze.

Recall election fails to oust Flint, Michigan mayor

By Sheila Brehm, 11 November 2017

Last Tuesday’s mayoral election in Flint was marked by mass abstention after three-and-a-half years of an ongoing lead water crisis.

New government data show 64,000 Americans died due to drug overdose in 2016

By Tom Hall, 7 November 2017

The sharp increase is driven by a combination of social misery and the flooding by pharmaceutical companies of poor communities with highly addictive opioid drugs.

Memorial in Detroit for young autoworker who died in Ford plant

By Jerry White, 28 October 2017

The alleged suicide of Jacoby Hennings at Ford’s Woodhaven Stamping plant has generated widespread sympathy along with anger over the cruel conditions facing young workers.

Some Detroit-area residents left homeless after eviction from condemned low-income motel

By Debra Watson, 27 October 2017

The deplorable conditions faced by low-income renters in the Detroit area highlight the crisis of affordable housing in the United States.

The American oligarchy prepares a new tax windfall for the rich

By Barry Grey, 25 October 2017

Trump’s tax plan raises to a new level the plundering of society’s resources by the ruling class that has been underway for nearly four decades.

New reports document declining life expectancy and worsening health of US workers

By Jerry White, 24 October 2017

Middle-age workers are being forced to retire later, even as they confront poorer health and a lower life expectancy than their older peers.

Weeks after hurricanes in Texas and Florida: Government aid scarce, tens of thousands still displaced

By Tom Hall, 24 October 2017

Residents in both states attempting to piece their lives back together confront indifference and neglect from the federal government.

Detroit area Ford worker dies in apparent suicide at stamping factory

By Shannon Jones, 21 October 2017

A young part-time temporary worker at Ford’s Woodhaven Stamping Plant who was facing disciplinary charges apparently took his own life Friday.

Merchants of Death: The pharmaceuticals, Congress and the US opioid epidemic

By Genevieve Leigh, 19 October 2017

A recent investigation by the Washington Post and “60 Minutes” has exposed the complicity of the pharmaceutical giants and the Democratic and Republican parties in the worst drug epidemic in US history.

African American man attacked by white supremacists in Charlottesville charged with felony

By Shelley Connor, 12 October 2017

A magistrate issued an arrest warrant on Monday charging DeAndre Harris with unlawfully wounding one of his attackers during the “Unite the Right” rally in August.

For one in four US women: Nearest abortion facility over 30 miles away

By Zaida Green, 6 October 2017

In many counties, women must travel dozens or hundreds of miles to reach an abortion facility and are often forced to travel to another state.

The Las Vegas massacre the day after

By David Walsh, 4 October 2017

US politicians and the American media are displaying their usual obtuseness and ignorance in the face of this terrible tragedy, that has ruined hundreds, if not thousands of lives.

More than 52 million Americans live in economically distressed communities

By Sandy English, 28 September 2017

Census data shows the so-called economic recovery under Obama was an unmitigated catastrophe for the 20 percent of the population that live in the poorest areas of the US.

The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills

The “disease” of social inequality sends thousands to a premature death

By Benjamin Mateus and George Marlowe, 25 September 2017

A new book by Chicago doctor David Ansell reveals the profound ways in which social inequality in the US creates “death gaps” and disparities in life expectancies.

Rural New York schools grapple with declining population, increasing poverty

By Jason Melanovski, 20 September 2017

A new report documents the crisis of rural school districts.

Alleged Nashville shooting brings social relations into relief

By Warren Duzak, 19 September 2017

Gerald Melton, was shot August 26 after he allegedly objected to the sound of loud music and exhaust fumes coming from a Porsche driven by Katie Quackenbush, 26.

Two million in Florida still without power nearly a week after Hurricane Irma

By Trévon Austin, 16 September 2017

In Highlands County in south Florida, an area with a 19.4 percent poverty rate, nearly three-quarters of residents were still without power Friday.

New York governor postures at bridge dedication while transportation infrastructure crumbles

By Philip Guelpa, 16 September 2017

The ostentatious opening of the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement is being used to obscure decades of neglect.

Small median income gain offset by debt and living costs

US Census report shows increasing social inequality

By Eric London, 15 September 2017

While the New York Times claims the Census data shows “a brighter picture” for the working class, nothing could be further from the truth.

New details highlight criminal neglect in death of Florida nursing home residents

By Niles Niemuth, 15 September 2017

The deaths in Hollywood, Florida have exposed the incompetence and indifference of the American ruling class, which bears ultimate responsibility for this social crime.

A social crime: Eight elderly dead in Florida nursing home after days without air conditioning

By Niles Niemuth, 14 September 2017

Police evacuated 115 remaining residents from a nursing home north of Miami after they spent days in suffocating heat after the power was knocked out by Hurricane Irma.

From hurricanes to tax cuts: The ruling class gets down to business

By Joseph Kishore, 13 September 2017

Even as the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is still being tallied, the US political establishment is moving rapidly to push through a massive handout for the corporate and financial elite.

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey: Natural disaster and political breakdown

By Patrick Martin, 9 September 2017

In its response to Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and other natural disasters, American capitalism has demonstrated its bankruptcy as a social system.

Why aren’t trains evacuating people from the path of Hurricane Irma?

By Jeff Lusanne, 9 September 2017

Hundreds of thousands need to flee the path of Hurricane Irma. Instead of fleets of trains carrying them away, residents are left to fend for themselves in their own cars on congested roads.

Long-term threats to public health follow in Hurricane Harvey’s wake

By Gary Joad, 7 September 2017

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina points to the long-term threats to public health which will follow in Hurricane Harvey’s wake in the greater Houston area and throughout southeast Texas.

Study highlights health epidemic: More than one in four US adults is obese

By Kayla Costa, 6 September 2017

Adult obesity rates for 2016 hit over 30 percent in 25 US states, and, in five states, topped 35 percent, the highest levels in the world.

Media and political establishment begin to move on as Houston residents return to devastated city

By Tom Hall, 5 September 2017

As the floodwaters begin to recede, the ruling class is moving to bury the social disaster that has only begun to unfold in Southeast Texas.

The Houston flood, the anarchy of the capitalist market and the case for socialist planning

By Niles Niemuth, 30 August 2017

Twelve years after Katrina, nothing has been done to strengthen flood control systems and build up the social infrastructure to limit the impact of major storms.

Nurses lack knowledge of postpartum health risks

US maternal mortality highest among industrialized nations

By Trévon Austin, 25 August 2017

An estimated 700 to 900 women die in the US every year from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes, the highest rate among industrialized nations.

New York Mayor De Blasio makes token gesture against evictions

By Philip Guelpa, 21 August 2017

The Democratic mayor is making token moves in response to a mounting housing crisis and growth of homelessness.

Study documents sharp increase in alcohol abuse in the US

By Trévon Austin, 14 August 2017

A recent study published by JAMA Psychiatry found a large increase in diagnosed alcohol use disorders and abuse since 2001, with one in eight Americans now suffering from alcohol abuse.

As Americans die younger, corporations to reap billions in pension costs

By Kate Randall, 11 August 2017

Shortened life expectancy is the result of deteriorating conditions of life, exacerbated by the deliberate policy of both big business parties to restrict access to affordable health care.

US health catastrophe: Drug overdose deaths approach 60,000 a year

By E.P. Milligan, 10 August 2017

More Americans have died from drug overdoses since 2000 than in all the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries combined.

Thousands attend free health care event in Detroit

By a WSWS reporting team, 10 August 2017

Like other free clinics throughout the US, the Motor City Medical Mission revealed the deep health care crisis in America.

Devastating toll of hunger on US school children

By Patrick Martin, 8 August 2017

A new report finds that as many as 13 million children go to school hungry in the United States.

Manhattan couple commit suicide due to “financial spiral”

By Isaac Finn, 31 July 2017

Glenn Scarpelli and Patricia Colant jumped to their deaths from a building in mid-town Manhattan on Friday. In their suicide notes, the couple explain they “cannot live with” their “financial reality.”

Study on food stamp distribution and theft underscores hunger crisis in Illinois

By Jessica Goldstein, 28 July 2017

The study, published earlier this month, points to widespread desperation among those struggling to survive on meager state assistance.

American nightmare: Nine immigrants suffocate to death in trailer left in Texas parking lot

By Eric London, 24 July 2017

The 30 survivors of the horrific tragedy will likely be thrown into detention centers and promptly deported without the right to appear before a judge.

US: Growing danger of children overdosing from opioids

By Kathleen Martin, 24 July 2017

Accidental contact with fentanyl, heroin or carfentanil—difficult to trace in small amounts—is exposing another dangerous aspect of the opioid epidemic in the US.

Fifty years since the Detroit rebellion

Part three: Liberal promises and capitalist reality in “New Detroit”

By Barry Grey, 24 July 2017

The WSWS is posting a three-part series originally published in July of 1987 under the title “Twenty years since the Detroit rebellion.” This is the third and final part. Part one was published on July 21, part two on July 22.

New York and New Jersey transit woes mount

By Alan Whyte, 21 July 2017

A series of incidents in the last number of days and weeks have revealed a deepening crisis in transit in the New York and New Jersey area.

The opioid epidemic in the US: A national health emergency

By Genevieve Leigh, 18 July 2017

The drug epidemic is a symptom of a diseased social system, the product of nearly four decades of social counterrevolution overseen by the ruling class and its political representatives, Democratic and Republican.

Michigan researchers investigate connection between Flint water crisis and high infant mortality rate

By Carlos Delgado, 18 July 2017

The city of Flint saw a significant increase in rate of infants who died before their first birthday in 2015, when the lead-in-water crisis was at its height.

One month since the UK Grenfell Fire:

Three die in Honolulu high-rise without sprinkler system

By Andre Damon, 17 July 2017

The disaster in Honolulu makes clear that the London fire was no aberration. All over the world, the lives of working people are treated as expendable in the pursuit of wealth and profits by the financial elite.