Apr 6, 2009
“Economic turmoil (e.g., increased unemployment, foreclosures, loss of investments and other financial distress) can result in a whole host of negative health effects — both physical and mental,” said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on its Web site in a recent article entitled, “Getting Through Tough Economic Times.”
The fact is that many don’t get through “tough times.” For every one% increase in the unemployment rate (1.5 million people), 47,000 additional people die. These include 26,000 deaths from heart attacks, 1,200 from suicide, 831 murders, and 635 deaths related to alcohol consumption, according to studies by Dr. Harvey Brenner, a public health expert at Johns Hopkins University.
Of those who do survive, many are scarred for life. For example, a 2004 study by the National Institute of Justice found that the rate of domestic violence against women and children doubles and then triples as unemployment increases.
The impact of rising unemployment and other “economic turmoil” on workers is little different than post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) of soldiers and civilians caught in the middle of wars.
“Try to keep things in perspective,” so advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In other words, calm down.
No – don’t calm down! Throughout history, workers have used collective action, that is mass strikes, demonstrations and movements, to force the capitalists and political bosses to come up with the kinds of jobs and pay that reduce not only suffering and despair, but also open up new perspectives for all of humanity.