The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The Heavy Toll of California Mudslides

Feb 5, 2018

The January 9 mudslides in Montecito, California killed at least 20 people, injured dozens and damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes. Nearly a third of those killed were from immigrant families working in service jobs. “Among them was 30-year-old Pinit Sutthithepa from Thailand who worked at a Toyota dealership in Santa Barbara and sent money to his wife and two children for years before being able to bring them to the United States in 2016. The mudslides killed him, his 6-year-old son and his 79-year-old stepfather. Crews are still searching for Sutthithepa's 2-year-old daughter,” reported the Los Angeles Times.

After the mudslides, many workers could not get to work because of the freeway closure, or they couldn’t find work since the city is heavily damaged. Out of work, these families don't know how they are going to pay rent or buy groceries.

Meanwhile, the richer layers of the society, including stars like Oprah Winfrey and Rob Lowe, came through the disaster in better form. The median home price in Montecito is more than $4 million. The wealthy are able to get help and relocate in a way that the workers who serve them and their estates are not.

This natural disaster took its heaviest toll on workers. Capitalism, the social order under which we live, turned the mudslides into a social disaster for the workers.