The Spark

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

Tuberculosis in Los Angeles

Mar 18, 2013

In February, the Los Angeles Times reported that there is a tuberculosis outbreak in downtown Los Angeles. The public health workers are now searching for more than 4,500 people who may have been exposed to the disease.

This was not news for health officials. Since 2007, health workers have identified 80 tuberculosis cases and 11 people have died. But it appears that the Times just figured out that the rich are not immune to diseases that start among the poor!

As one downtown resident explained, conditions that ignited this outbreak were exposure, inadequate healthcare, mental illness and financial instability. In sum, the cause was poverty. But, the poor people, not the social conditions, were blamed for the outbreak.

One medical doctor said in a recent public meeting: “People say, ‘Those are just homeless people. They’re nasty, they don’t take care of themselves.’ But tuberculosis is not a homeless disease. The bacteria don’t discriminate. The host is any human in this room. Anyone can be at risk if they are in the presence of someone and they come in contact with a pathogen.”

The prevalent homelessness and an outbreak of a very contagious deadly disease are happening in a very wealthy modern city. All of the required resources – money, hospitals and health workers – are out there and available to resolve the poverty that brought about this epidemic. But, this capitalist society is run for the interests of the rich, so nothing is done until a crisis reaches epidemic proportions.