The Social Crisis in America

Two charged with 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in Oakland Ghost Ship fire

By Evan Blake, 9 June 2017

While the two men clearly bear responsibility, their prosecution is meant to deflect blame from equally culpable city officials and others responsible for creating the housing crisis in the Bay Area.

Homelessness sharply increases in Los Angeles County

By Thomas Gaist and Marc Wells, 9 June 2017

The number of homeless living in Los Angeles County grew by 23 percent over the last year, rising to 58,000.

Deaths from drug overdoses see largest increase in US history

By Genevieve Leigh, 7 June 2017

New data analyzed by the New York Times reveals that the number of people killed by drug overdoses increased by 19 percent in 2016, largely due to the growing opioid epidemic.

Fired worker, an army veteran, kills five in workplace rampage in Orlando, Florida

By Kate Randall, 7 June 2017

Monday’s deadly attack came a week before the city marks one year since the Pulse nightclub massacre, when a lone gunman shot and killed 49 people and wounded 53 others.

Indebted New York City Housing Authority plans to lease public housing land to private developers

By Katy Kinner, 5 June 2017

Plans for luxury housing to be built on NYCHA property in Manhattan will leave hundreds of prospective low-income tenants in “affordable” units without sunlight.

One third of American households cannot afford water bills

Mass water shutoffs continue for Detroit households

By Kathleen Martin, 29 May 2017

Recent reports show major sustainability issues, with rising costs of water and affordability for millions of US households.

Trump calls for $1.7 trillion in social cuts

By Kate Randall, 23 May 2017

The budget proposal marks a new stage in the bipartisan assault on what remains of programs to fight poverty and hunger and provide health care for millions of workers.

“We’re being punished for not being able to pay the city for the poison”

Flint residents speak out on water crisis

By Jerry White, 19 May 2017

With popular anger reaching a boiling point, city officials passed a temporary moratorium of foreclosure threats against residents not paying for the poisoned water.

Flint workers denounce foreclosure threat over water bills

By Jerry White, 18 May 2017

Angry workers on Wednesday confronted the Flint City Council, which voted to temporarily halt plans to put tax liens on homes with unpaid water bills.

The working class must intervene with its own program in the political crisis in Washington

By Joseph Kishore, 17 May 2017

A conflict is unfolding across the United States of a very different character than the crisis gripping Washington—a conflict between the working class and the capitalist class.

Water bill deadline looms for 8,000 Flint households

By James Brewer, 17 May 2017

Despite the fact that the water is still not safe to drink three years after the city began pumping foul, improperly treated water from the Flint River into homes, authorities are forcing residents to pay up or face eviction.

Trump administration seizes on Aetna pullout from ACA to push Republicans’ health plan

By Shelley Connor, 16 May 2017

If insurers are unable to make an adequate profit under Obamacare, they either hike their prices or pull out of the insurance market.

US hepatitis C infections triple amid opioid epidemic

By Brad Dixon, 15 May 2017

According to new reports, the rate of new hepatitis C infections in the United States nearly tripled between 2010 and 2015, largely due to the ongoing opioid epidemic.

Detroit water shutoff crisis intensifies under bill repayment scheme

By Kathleen Martin, 10 May 2017

One in six residential units in the city of Detroit are facing immediate shutoffs while national projections estimate that one third of the US will not be able to pay their water bills by 2020.

Three years after the lead poisoning of Flint, residents face water shutoffs, home foreclosures

By Jerry White, 10 May 2017

Three years after the decision to switch Flint’s water supply to the polluted Flint River, nothing has been done to address the catastrophic health consequences of the lead poisoning of tens of thousands of working-class residents.

One of eight people in US is food insecure

New report documents pervasive hunger in America

By Shelley Connor, 6 May 2017

A report by Feeding America issued on Thursday documents the pervasive scale of hunger in America and a growing “food budget gap” for millions of working people.

“After compromising our health, they want to kick us out of our homes”

8,000 Flint residents face foreclosure for failing to pay for poisoned water

By Jerry White, 5 May 2017

Letters sent out by the city said outstanding bills would have to be paid by May 19 or tax liens would be put on homes that could result in residents losing them next year.

New study details correlation between tornado deaths and social inequality

By Eric London, 4 May 2017

Though storms do not select their victims, capitalism does. A new report shows a close correlation between poverty, inequality, mobile home residency and tornado fatalities across the US.

Death toll rises to 18 as floods and tornadoes devastate impoverished US South

By Trévon Austin, 2 May 2017

That storms could wreak such havoc on largely impoverished sections of the United States exposes the catastrophic divide separating rich and poor in the world’s richest country.

Floods, tornadoes kill 13 across US South as Trump plans major cuts to disaster relief

By Eric London, 1 May 2017

Entirely preventable, this weekend’s tragic deaths were caused by the lack of public infrastructure, planning and spending on disaster relief.

Poverty among Michigan children greater in 2015 than during “Great Recession”

By Debra Watson, 1 May 2017

Michigan had an official poverty rate of 22.2 percent in 2015, more than at the end of the first full year of the 2008 recession.

“The politicians in Flint, Lansing and Washington—they’re all for capitalism”

Retired GM worker speaks on three years of the Flint water crisis

By Lawrence Porter, 27 April 2017

A retired autoworker reflects on three years of the Flint water crisis.

“What they did to this city is criminal”

Flint residents march on third anniversary of lead poisoning

By Larry Porter, 26 April 2017

Hundreds of Flint residents marched to City Hall Tuesday to protest the failure of federal, state and local officials to address the disaster they all had a hand in creating.

Life expectancy on the rise in US, but only for the rich

By Kathleen Martin, 26 April 2017

A recent study shows the growing gap between life expectancies for the rich and poor is 12.7 years difference on average.

Backdrop to Trump’s speech: The social disaster in Kenosha, Wisconsin

By Christopher Davion, 19 April 2017

President Trump chose Kenosha for the location for his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order

Suspect in Cleveland Facebook murder kills himself as police close in

By Patrick Martin, 19 April 2017

Steven Stephens died in Erie County, Pennsylvania less than 48 hours after posting a video on Facebook of the killing of a 74-year-old stranger, Robert Godwin.

Three dead in San Bernardino, California school shooting

By Ben McGrath, 11 April 2017

The poverty and declining social conditions found in cities like San Bernardino are major contributing factors in now routine outbursts of mass violence.

Super-rich in America live 15 years longer than the poorest 1 percent

By Kate Randall, 11 April 2017

Income-based disparities in US life expectancy are worsened by the for-profit US health care system.

East Chicago mayor refuses to reveal plan for lead-poisoned housing complex

By Jessica Goldstein and Benjamin Mateus, 10 April 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency determined that the relocation of West Calumet residents was unnecessary.

Civil engineers’ report details decrepit state of US infrastructure

By Matthew Taylor, 5 April 2017

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the US a D- in its latest report card on the state of the nation’s schools, bridges, roads, water systems and other critical infrastructure.

Children in California show elevated lead levels at rates higher than Flint, Michigan

By Glenn Mulwray, 3 April 2017

A recent report revealed that children in working class neighborhoods across California have tested for elevated lead levels as high or higher than children in Flint.

More than 52,000 in the US died from drug overdoses in 2015

By E.P. Milligan, 1 April 2017

Drug overdoses now account for more deaths than from guns or car accidents; 63 percent of overdoses were due to opioids.

Flint, Michigan begins water shutoffs

By James Brewer, 25 March 2017

:Residents suspect that the announcement that lead levels have improved is now being used by authorities to sweep the water crisis under the carpet.

Rising death rate for middle-aged US workers driven by “deaths of despair”

By Niles Niemuth, 24 March 2017

The latest research by economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton provides new insights into the social crisis which has devastated the American working class since the year 2000.

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.