The Social Crisis in America

Wealth of world’s billionaires soars amid stock market surge

By Shannon Jones, 22 March 2017

In 2016 the combined wealth of the world’s richest individuals rose 18 percent to a staggering $7.67 trillion.

New York mayor’s shelter plan will not reduce the city’s growing homeless population

By Philip Guelpa, 21 March 2017

Bill de Blasio’s latest housing proposal would merely shift homeless people from one form of temporary and thoroughly inadequate shelter to another.

Chicago schools and water infrastructure plagued by lead contamination

By our reporter, 16 March 2017

Chicago schools and the city’s water infrastructure contains lead piping that expose the population to the danger of lead poisoning.

The Michigan power outages and the case for the nationalization of the utility industries

By Jerry White, 15 March 2017

At its peak last week, more than a million homes, schools and businesses in the metropolitan Detroit area and outstate areas had no electricity.

US ruling elite moves to repeal the 1960s

By Patrick Martin, 14 March 2017

With only token opposition from the Democrats, the Trump administration and congressional Republicans are eviscerating what remains of the gains of the working class dating from the last period of social reform.

One-third of San Diego residents without basic needs

By Norisa Diaz and Renae Cassimeda, 8 March 2017

WSWS reporters recently spoke with homeless residents on the difficulties of getting by in one of the nation’s most expensive cities.

Trump proposes huge hike in military and police spending

By Patrick Martin, 28 February 2017

A budget outline presented by the White House Monday calls for a $54 billion increase in military and police spending, offset by an equal cut in domestic social spending.

Capitalism and America’s addiction epidemic

By Andre Damon, 25 February 2017

The precipitous rise in drug overdoses is among the sharpest expressions of the profound social crisis gripping the United States.

Tenants of Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center subject to mass eviction

By Kathleen Martin, 23 February 2017

Artist tenants at the century-old Russell Industrial Center are scrambling to find new work and gallery spaces due to a last-minute eviction notice from the city of Detroit.

Ohio couple arrested after eight-year-old son overdoses on heroin

By Naomi Spencer, 22 February 2017

The genuinely tragic outcomes of so many children caught up in the drug crisis are compounded by official indifference.

Federal reserve report reveals exploding levels of US household debt

By Tom Hall, 20 February 2017

Total US household debt is expected to surpass levels reached just prior to the subprime mortgage crisis that triggered the 2008 Recession.

Indiana governor declares disaster in East Chicago over lead contamination

By Jessica Goldstein, 20 February 2017

Although lead contamination in the area has been known of for decades, no substantial efforts were made to address the toxin until recently.

Woman forced to give birth on floor of Macomb County, Michigan jail cell

By Nick Rodriguez, 17 February 2017

The disturbing incident, which took place last year but was only recently made public, sheds a stark light on the harsh realities of life confronting the working class.

Heroin overdoses spike in Louisville, Kentucky

By Naomi Spencer, 17 February 2017

Last week, Louisville reported 151 overdoses over four days, 52 of them within a 32-hour period.

Evacuees return home beneath Oroville dam in California as new storm approaches

By Zac Corrigan and Ben McGrath, 15 February 2017

Several days of rain are forecast to begin this evening, meaning residents must be prepared to evacuate again at a moment’s notice.

Documents reveal that Oakland officials were aware of illegal housing prior to Ghost Ship fire

By Evan Blake, 15 February 2017

Over 600 pages of redacted reports by local police officers, firefighters and building inspectors detail dozens of visits to the Ghost Ship warehouse in recent years.

Forty-three percent of US children live in low-income families

By Shelley Connor, 11 February 2017

The number of children living in families with incomes below twice the federal poverty level has increased one percentage point since 2009, the official start of the “economic recovery.”

Budapest Festival Orchestra in New York

Classical music performers take a stand against Trump’s travel ban

By Fred Mazelis, 11 February 2017

Symphony orchestras in major US cities (and many smaller cities as well) have large and growing numbers of immigrants in their ranks, and the music they perform is international in scope and history.

UAW agrees to sweetheart settlement in Michigan “robo-fraud” scandal

By Debra Watson, 8 February 2017

A US District Court judge has agreed to an out of court settlement in the Michigan “robo-fraud” scandal that lets state officials off the hook and leaves thousands of claimants out in the cold.

Dakota Access pipeline construction to proceed

By Shelley Connor, 8 February 2017

The Army Corps of Engineers has given Energy Transfer Partners the final go-ahead needed to tunnel under Lake Oahe and complete the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

Officials declare Pittsburgh’s water unsafe to drink

By Samuel Davidson, 6 February 2017

More than 100,000 Pittsburgh residents were advised to boil their water before drinking or using it for other needs.

Pittsburgh community college students and staff speak on hunger

By Evan Winters, 4 February 2017

Food banks have proliferated across college and university campuses, with cuts to food assistance in 22 states in 2016 exacerbating the problem, particularly for part-time students.

Drug distributors fined for failing to report suspicious orders of opioids

By Brad Dixon, 1 February 2017

Drug distributors have repeatedly failed to report “suspicious orders” of opioids, while industry lobbying has curtailed enforcement of the law by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Trump threatens to “send in the Feds” to Chicago

By Kristina Betinis, 27 January 2017

Trump’s threats to intervene in Chicago to promote “law and order” reveal his plans for urban areas across the nation.

Iowa worker killed in partial mine collapse

By Matt Rigel and Marcus Day, 27 January 2017

In the first US mining fatality of 2017, a truck operator died after a partial collapse at Linwood Mining and Mineral in eastern Iowa.

Report reveals deepening poverty in West Virginia

By Joe McGee, 25 January 2017

“Why is West Virginia so poor?” a new report asks. Some answers are to be found in the history of coal mining in the state as well as the severe impact of the 2008 financial crisis.

J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: Right-wing propaganda in the guise of personal memoir

By Henry Seward, 25 January 2017

The 2016 best-selling memoir by a lawyer at a Silicon Valley investment firm is a rehash of reactionary attacks on the working class in Appalachia and the Midwest.

NYPD to take over security at New York City homeless shelters

By Christopher Tiberio, 20 January 2017

With an explosion of the city’s homeless population, the NYPD has taken control of security in the shelters as a way to monitor and terrorize their temporary residents.

US Millennials face higher unemployment, lower income than parents’ generation

By Shelley Connor, 16 January 2017

While the media glowingly reviews Obama’s legacy over the last eight years, sobering reports point to significant declines in living standards among young people.

Six children dead in Baltimore house fire

By Shelley Connor, 13 January 2017

Firefighters arrived at the scene quickly, but the three-storey, 107-year-old home was already completely engulfed in flames.

Outpouring of anger at Flint town hall meeting

By James Brewer, 13 January 2017

An overflow crowd of anxious and angry residents wasn’t buying the rosy scenario presented by officials on the Flint water crisis.

Child abuse and neglect soar in US military families

By Shelley Connor, 9 January 2017

For years, the Pentagon has maintained that child abuse is less common and less severe in military homes than it is among the civilian population.

“Opioid orphans”: Foster care systems in US buckle under weight of drug epidemic

By Naomi Spencer, 29 December 2016

Social services and foster care programs across the US are overwhelmed by the influx of children from families shattered by the opioid epidemic.

Panic at America’s malls: Class tensions at the breaking point

By Eric London, 28 December 2016

There were scenes of panic across the US on Monday as thousands of shoppers, fearing mass shootings, fled shopping malls, revealing an acute level of social tensions as 2016 comes to a close.

Rural America registers spike in babies born with opioid withdrawal

By Naomi Spencer, 28 December 2016

The increase coincides with the deepening of poverty and an explosion of painkiller and heroin use in the United States.

The United States of Inequality

By Andre Damon, 20 December 2016

A new study by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman gives the most complete picture to date of social inequality in America.

Michigan officials defraud workers of jobless benefits

By Shannon Jones, 20 December 2016

A review reluctantly and belatedly conducted by the state shows that 93 percent of claims flagged for fraud between 2013 and 2015 were in fact legitimate.

US deaths from synthetic opioids surge by 72 percent

By Kate Randall, 19 December 2016

CDC research shows that heroin overdose deaths in the US have reached epidemic proportions, surpassing 30,000 in one year for the first time in recent history.

Thousands suffer as dangerous cold blankets US Midwest

By our reporters, 19 December 2016

Reporting teams from the WSWS spoke to those escaping from deadly cold temperatures at warming centers in Detroit and Chicago.

Congressional Republican leader introduces plan to slash Social Security

By Kevin Martinez, 13 December 2016

The legislation, which will raise the retirement age and cut benefits, exposes Donald Trump’s fraudulent campaign promise not to touch the government program for the elderly and disabled.

Bay Area workers speak on Oakland Ghost Ship fire

By our reporters, 13 December 2016

WSWS reporters spoke with workers who came to see the site of the fire that killed 36.

$50 million more cut from West Virginia public employees health care

By Naomi Spencer, 13 December 2016

It is the latest in a series of devastating attacks on benefits for one of the lowest-paid public sector workforces in the country.

Study on pay for young adults highlights plunge in US living standards

By Niles Niemuth, 12 December 2016

It is the social catastrophe, rooted in the decline of American capitalism, that underlies the political crisis of both big-business parties and will lead to immense social convulsions.

Heroin epidemic in the US reaches historic proportions

By Genevieve Leigh, 12 December 2016

The year 2015 marks the first in recent history in which more people died from heroin-related causes than from gun homicides.

New reports show social inequality is deepening in US

By Gabriel Black, 12 December 2016

The average top percentile income earner makes double in a year what an average worker in the bottom half of society makes working their entire life.

New York City homeless crisis results in deaths of two toddlers

By Steve Light, 10 December 2016

Lack of affordable housing and overcrowding of the homeless shelter system results in tragedies, the most recent being the death of two young sisters by radiator steam burns.

US life expectancy falls for first time since 1993

By Jerry White, 9 December 2016

The decline is a product of decades of deindustrialization and social retrogression, and is a devastating verdict on the eight years of the Obama administration.

The Oakland fire tragedy and the housing crisis in America

By Kate Randall, 7 December 2016

At the root of the tragedy lies the dysfunctional character of American capitalism, including a housing crisis born of poverty, social inequality and years of neglect by government authorities.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee fire death toll rises to 13

By Shelley Connor, 3 December 2016

The fatalities caused by wildfires in Sevier County, Tennessee are expected to rise as search efforts continue.

Dramatic rise in New York City home foreclosures

By Philip Guelpa, 3 December 2016

The spike in the rate of home foreclosures reflects the combination of growing income inequality and rampant real estate speculation.

Virginia declares opioid addiction a public health emergency

By Brad Dixon, 29 November 2016

The pharmaceutical industry, which has contributed to the opioid epidemic, is now hiking the price of naloxone, the treatment for opioid overdoses.

Republican Congress, Trump plan assault on Medicare

By Kate Randall, 26 November 2016

The attack on Medicare will be a centerpiece of the drive by the Trump administration to destroy all that remains of the social reforms of the past century.

Thanksgiving in Los Angeles: Widespread hunger and homelessness

By Marc Wells, 26 November 2016

An examination of social conditions in Los Angeles, America’s second largest city, reveals the intense hardship facing wide layers of the population.

“There are a lot of struggling people in the Detroit Metro area”

Hard-pressed Detroit area families face bleak holiday

By Shannon Jones, 25 November 2016

As we enter the holiday season, residents of Detroit and surrounding suburbs face continued high levels of unemployment, food insecurity and homelessness.

Thanksgiving 2016 and the social crisis in America

By Andre Damon, 24 November 2016

For millions of American families, the Thanksgiving holiday will only underscore the economic insecurity and social misery they confront.

Detroit housing crisis deepens with county tax foreclosure auction

By Debra Watson, 23 November 2016

Following the rejection of a lawsuit on a moratorium, thousands of Wayne County, Michigan residents may soon face eviction as officials seize properties for back taxes.

Insurance fund for US pensions could be insolvent by 2025, agency director warns

By Gabriel Black, 22 November 2016

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s annual report points to the growing danger of a general collapse in the US pension system.

Massachusetts: Public transportation infrastructure in advanced state of decay

By John Marion, 22 November 2016

While raising fares and privatizing jobs since the 2015 snowstorm crisis, the Baker administration has not provided adequate resources to assure basic safety for subway riders.

Flint residents threatened with water shutoffs

By Carlos Delgado, 21 November 2016

The shutoff notices come as the state challenges a federal order to begin door-to-door water delivery.

Surgeon general’s report: One in seven Americans face substance addiction

By Kate Randall, 19 November 2016

One in seven people in the US will become addicted to drugs or alcohol in their lifetimes, but only 10 percent of them will ever receive any treatment.

Suicides up sharply among US middle school children

By Tom Eley, 5 November 2016

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that American children from 10 through 14 are now more likely to die from suicide than from car accidents.

West Virginia: OxyContin maker dashes efforts to address opioid epidemic

By Brad Dixon, 1 November 2016

Recently unsealed court records shed light on the measures taken by Purdue Pharma to defeat efforts by state officials in West Virginia to limit the sale of OxyContin.

Another apologia for Obamacare from the New York Times’ Paul Krugman

By Kate Randall, 31 October 2016

The columnist downplays the impact of skyrocketing premiums, deductibles and co-pays to tout the pro-corporate health care “reform” as a brilliant success.

Obamacare: The reality hits home

By Andre Damon, 27 October 2016

On Monday, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that premiums for health insurance plans sold under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will increase on average by 25 percent in 2017, raising health care costs of millions of working people by thousands of dollars.

US Social Security Administration announces effective cut in benefits

By Fred Mazelis, 20 October 2016

A 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment in monthly checks will be completely eaten up by increased Medicare premiums.

Six-week-old baby girl dies in Brooklyn elevator tragedy

By Philip Guelpa, 17 October 2016

Chronically poor maintenance by the private landlord, facilitated by the city, creates dangerous and deadly conditions for working class tenants.

One year since the exposure of the Flint water crisis

By Carlos Delgado and James Brewer, 6 October 2016

October 1 marked the anniversary of the first acknowledgement by the governor of Michigan of the Flint water crisis, which poisoned an entire city.

Michigan attorney general asserts right to close dozens of Detroit schools

By Nancy Hanover, 1 October 2016

On Wednesday Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette ruled that dozens of “failing” public schools in Detroit could face closure at the end of the school year.

Research team hikes estimate: At least half of Flint, Michigan homes have lead pipes

By James Brewer, 1 October 2016

The unserious efforts being made in replacing lead service lines in Flint are further discredited by the revelation that even more homes have them.

Pittsburgh residents demand their water be tested for lead

By Samuel Davidson and James Brewer, 29 September 2016

Belated lead-in-water testing by Pittsburgh authorities showed dangerously high levels of lead in 43 percent of homes.

Puerto Rico hit by nationwide blackout

By Kevin Martinez, 24 September 2016

After a breakdown of a plant that had not been maintained for decades, authorities are trading blame for the failure to maintain the island’s outdated infrastructure.

Michigan governor secretly abolished Flint’s right to sue

By James Brewer, 22 September 2016

Six months ago, unbeknown to the public, a resolution from the governor’s office was passed, effectively preventing the city from suing the state over the water crisis.

Further considerations on the household income report: Poverty and inequality in America

By Patrick Martin, 15 September 2016

The Obama administration and the Democratic Party have seized on the latest Census Bureau report as support for their bogus claims of a genuine economic recovery.

Despite increase in 2015, US household income still lags behind pre-recession levels

By Kate Randall, 14 September 2016

Median household income is still 1.6 percent lower than the previous peak of $57,423 in 2007, before the economy sank into recession.

Hunger and the social catastrophe facing America’s youth

By Kate Randall, 13 September 2016

As two new reports document the shocking consequences of food insecurity, the social disaster in America is being ignored in the elections and the contest between Clinton and Trump.

Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

By Debra Watson, 13 September 2016

During the Great Depression of the 1930’s evictions in major American cities like Milwaukee were a fraction of what they are today. Meanwhile, in the US, post-2008 rental housing market rates continue to rise as working class incomes stagnate and even fall.

Zika virus spreads in Puerto Rico and Florida

By Julio Patron and David Brown, 12 September 2016

The spread of Zika in Puerto Rico and the mainland United States is driven by poverty and will impact the area for years to come.

Lead poisoning in Milwaukee provokes political crisis

By James Brewer, 10 September 2016

The mayor of Milwaukee has declared that all residents in older homes should use certified filters to remove lead from their drinking water.

Notes on the housing crisis

New York City surpasses London, Tokyo for highest rents

By Philip Guelpa, 10 September 2016

Extreme economic inequality in New York City is creating conditions that are unlivable for much of the city’s population.

ITT Tech shuts down after federal government withholds student funding

By Nick Barrickman, 8 September 2016

The closure of the for-profit school’s 130 US-based campuses came after an investigation questioned the institution’s organizational integrity, financial viability and academic standards.

Private security forces attack Native American protesters with dogs, pepper spray

By Janel Flechsig, 5 September 2016

Hundreds of members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been peacefully protesting the construction of an oil pipeline that traverses burial grounds they regard as sacred.

SEP West Virginia candidate Naomi Spencer speaks on heroin epidemic

By Naomi Spencer, 5 September 2016

Overdoses, alcoholism and suicide are leading causes of death for young and middle-aged workers nationwide. Appalachia and the “rustbelt” of the Midwest are among the worst hit regions.

Hurricane Hermine causes massive flooding and power outages in Florida

By Matthew MacEgan and Kristina Betinis, 3 September 2016

Early Friday morning, a category 1 hurricane named Hermine made landfall in northwestern Florida, marking the first time in 11 years that the state has had such a storm.

Kafkaesque conditions facing homeless families in New York City

By Fred Mazelis, 1 September 2016

A major cause of the deepening homeless crisis is the lack of decent-paying jobs, combined with the even more dramatic decline of affordable housing.

Detroit professor advances “structural racism” theory of Flint water crisis

By James Brewer, 1 September 2016

A report submitted as evidence that the Flint water crisis was the result of racism is aimed at concealing the class issues and diverting popular outrage into establishment channels.

Millennium Tower: Boston’s latest playground for the filthy rich

By Mike Ingram, 31 August 2016

The Millennium Tower in Boston's downtown provides a playground in the sky for the wealthy, overlooking an increasingly polarized city.

EpiPen price gouging: Capitalism and the US health care crisis

By Kate Randall, 31 August 2016

The EpiPen scandal has become a focal point of anger over the subordination of health care to huge corporations driven by an insatiable quest for profit.

Indiana study finds high rate of opiate addiction in newborns

By Jessica Goldstein, 26 August 2016

The disturbing findings of the Indiana study point to the impact of the economic crisis on working people.

Mass water shutoffs continue in Detroit, Michigan

By Shannon Jones, 25 August 2016

Water shutoffs affecting 150 customers per day have proceeded without letup during the summer months.

As federal emergency funding ends:

Flint residents describe conditions of ongoing water crisis

By Carlos Delgado, 25 August 2016

Two residents recount their personal experiences in Flint and express their outrage at the system.

Obama offers pittance to flood victims in Louisiana

By David Brown, 24 August 2016

In perfunctory remarks in Louisiana, Obama told victims to look to private charities and volunteers.

“I don’t expect the government to do a damn thing”

Louisiana flood victims speak out

By Aaron Asa and Tom Hall, 24 August 2016

WSWS reporters traveled to Livingston Parish, Louisiana and spoke to flood victims who are stranded at an emergency shelter after historic floods destroyed more than 40,000 homes.

Twenty years since the Clintons gutted the federal welfare system

By Shelley Connor, 24 August 2016

The embrace of “ending welfare as we know it” marked a fundamental shift to the right in the Democratic Party and capitalist politics as a whole.

Majority of New York City residents cannot afford to buy their own homes

By Philip Guelpa, 23 August 2016

The rising price of homes coupled with stagnant or declining wages in the wealthiest city in the country means that only those with the highest incomes can afford to own their homes.

Twenty years since Clinton’s welfare “reform”

By Jerry White, 23 August 2016

The Clintons’ welfare bill marked the complete abandonment by the Democratic Party of the policy of liberal reform associated with Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s and Johnson’s War on Poverty in the mid-1960s.

Government indifference in the midst of historic Louisiana flooding

By Tom Hall, 20 August 2016

The federal government has promised only paltry sums to compensate flood victims, while Obama has delayed any visit until after his lavish vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

Huntington, West Virginia sees 26 heroin overdoses in four hours

By Naomi Spencer, 18 August 2016

Emergency responders revived 26 people Monday afternoon after an adulterated batch of heroin hit Huntington, West Virginia.

Motive unclear after arrest in killing of imam and assistant in New York

By Fred Mazelis, 18 August 2016

Muslims and others alarmed over growing scapegoating of immigrants see the murders as a threat to their own safety.

Affordable housing shortage in Detroit creates dire conditions for seniors

By a WSWS reporting team, 18 August 2016

WSWS reporters uncovered landlord neglect at a government-subsidized retirement building in Southwest Detroit.

The Louisiana flooding—a failure of American capitalism

By Patrick Martin, 17 August 2016

Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina, the social infrastructure and the US political system are no more prepared for a natural disaster.