The Spark

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

Asthma on the rise:
Third-world conditions in the heart of the capitalist superpower

Apr 28, 2003

A recent New York study found that more than 25% of the children in a 24-block area of Harlem have asthma. This is more than two and a half times what was expected.

This upsurge of asthma is not limited to Harlem or New York. Since 1980, the number of asthma cases has doubled in the U.S.

This dramatic rise of asthma reflects the continuous deterioration of living conditions for the working class in this country. Asthma is an inflammation of the airways that makes it difficult to breathe. Environmental factors such as air pollution, dust, animal dander, mold and mildew increase the occurrence of asthma. These are conditions which can be controlled through widespread sanitation.

But that's exactly what's lacking in inner-city neighborhoods where many working class families are forced to live. Such areas are not only plagued by heavy vehicle traffic and air pollution; the buildings there are old, loaded with mold and mildew, infested with insects and rodents, and literally falling apart. In addition, many families have no health insurance and can't afford frequent doctor visits and medication – which, of course, aggravates the disease.

In this, the wealthiest country in the world, an ever larger part of the working class lives in conditions not different than those in many third world countries – and getting worse by the day. For the American bosses, times have hardly ever been better.