The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Two Americas:
One Where Babies Die

Apr 23, 2001

In April, the Department of Health announced a rise in infant mortality rates in Washington, D.C. The number of infants who died before their first birthday was 15 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to 1999 statistics.

And for black infants, who are the majority of newborns in Washington, the rate was 18½ per 1,000. In one of the city’s poorest districts, the rate was even higher: deaths of infants averaged 27½ per 1,000 live births.

This makes the number of infant deaths in Washington comparable to the death rates for infants in Panama (18 per 1000) or South Korea (18 per 1000) or Sri Lanka (21 per 1000).

The world’s richest country, which spends the most on health care of any place, nonetheless cannot prevent babies in the nation’s capital from dying at the same rate as poor babies in underdeveloped countries.

Washington D.C. is one of the showplaces for tourists from all over the country and from every place in the world. On their way to the beautiful buildings, free museums and government offices of downtown D.C., visitors pass streets of boarded up, broken down houses and apartments, full of the despairing unemployed poor. The capitalists are so happy with their system–which benefits them so well–they don’t even bother to hide what it does to a large part of the people.