The Social Crisis in America

“They’ve taken us back to the dark ages”

Outraged Flint residents protest water contamination

By Zac Corrigan and Shannon Jones, 12 January 2016

At a recent demonstration residents described the horrific conditions they are facing and demanded that state officials be held accountable for the man-made disaster.

The lottery and social despair in America

By Andre Damon, 9 January 2016

For millions of people, the dream of winning the lottery has replaced the “American Dream” of living a decent life.

“They just want to score some points with this incident and then leave us.”

Residents speak on social crisis in San Bernardino, California following mass shooting in December

By our reporters, 7 January 2016

Despite constant coverage of the recent San Bernardino shootings in the mainstream media, little attention has been given to the city’s widespread poverty and social distress.

CDC report: Worsening drug abuse epidemic across US

By Douglas Lyons, 6 January 2016

2014 has eclipsed all other recorded years as the most deadly, with nearly 48,000 drug overdose deaths.

America’s richest 400 households paid a 16.7 percent tax rate in 2012

By Tom Eley, 4 January 2016

America’s super-rich and giant corporations hide trillions of dollars in order to avoid paying taxes on their earnings.

Winter storms kill dozens across US South and Midwest

By Shannon Jones, 29 December 2015

As usual in such disasters, hardest hit were working class communities where less well constructed homes as well as trailers were flattened by unusual December tornadoes.

No “peace on Earth” in 2015

By Andre Damon, 24 December 2015

The official promotion of the “Christmas spirit” collides against the reality of ever-expanding war, violence and social misery that dominate capitalist society.

Idaho food service worker fired for giving hungry student free food worth $1.70

By George Gallanis, 24 December 2015

Following the incident, Dalene Bowden was placed on unpaid leave and then received a letter days later issuing the termination of her position.

State of emergency declared in Flint, Michigan over poisoned water supply

By Matthew Brennan and Lawrence Porter, 16 December 2015

Behind the declaration by the newly-elected mayor is a deep-going political crisis over the poisoning of nearly 100,000 residents.

The fate of Zuckerberg’s “gift” to Newark schools

By Fred Mazelis, 14 December 2015

A new book provides a case study on the nature of the “school reform” movement and the attacks on public education.

Social inequality and the disintegration of the American middle class

By David Walsh, 12 December 2015

The decline of the middle classes in America has profound and revolutionary implications.

The hourglass society: Middle-income households no longer the majority in the US

By Andre Damon, 11 December 2015

A study published Wednesday by the Pew Research Center called the collapse of middle-income households in the US “a demographic shift that could signal a tipping point.”

Mark Zuckerberg, philanthrocapitalism and parasitism

By Nancy Hanover, 8 December 2015

A closer look at the billionaire’s announcement that he and his wife are donating 99 percent of their Facebook shares reveals that the charitable emperor “has no clothes”—and says a lot about the financial elite, the media and the state of America.

Deadly fire destroys three apartments in Lynn, Massachusetts

By John Marion, 7 December 2015

The fire moved so quickly in the overcrowded building that four people, including a pregnant woman, were unable to get out alive.

Behind the struggle for affordable housing in New York City

By Philip Guelpa, 4 December 2015

A current museum exhibit looks at the history of housing for the working class, and leaves much unsaid or distorted.

Thousands laid off as employment crisis deepens in Appalachia

Ashland, Kentucky steel furnace idled

By Naomi Spencer, 26 November 2015

In Ashland, Kentucky, 1,100 employees of AK Steel received notice that they would be laid off in mid-December, just before Christmas.

More than 500,000 homeless in the US

By Kate Randall, 21 November 2015

In January 2015, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development counted 564,708 homeless in the US, a quarter of them children.

Liberal propagandists in US agitate for total war in Syria and Iraq

By Niles Williamson, 17 November 2015

Among the chief warmongers are the New York Times’ Roger Cohen and the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen, who jumped at the opportunity to call for the massive expansion of US-led military intervention.

Low-income housing complex in Jacksonville, Florida under investigation

By Matthew Taylor, 14 November 2015

Global Ministries Foundation has come under federal investigation for the deplorable living conditions at its Eureka Gardens housing complex.

Eight-year-old Alabama boy charged with murder

By David Brown, 13 November 2015

Increasingly, children in the United States are being charged and incarcerated for serious crimes they have no competency to commit.

Michigan political crisis over lead poisoning in Flint

By James Brewer, 11 November 2015

State and local officials ignored health warnings in regard to the water supply.

The ominous backdrop of California’s End of Life Option Act

By Norisa Diaz, 9 November 2015

The enthusiasm of the Brown administration for the legislation is based not solely on the autonomy and compassion it can grant the terminally ill, but on its cost-saving potential.

“Positive” US jobs report belied by mass layoffs

By Josh Varlin, 7 November 2015

While the US economy added more jobs in October than in previous months, the great majority of new jobs were in low-wage sectors of the economy.

Number of people killed by police this year in US surpasses 1,000

By Andre Damon, 5 November 2015

Police murders have continued unabated, as has the defense of killer cops by the political establishment, from local prosecutors to the Obama administration.

Capitalism and mortality: Death rate soars for middle-aged US workers

By Joseph Kishore, 4 November 2015

The mortality figures reflect a catastrophic decline in the social position of the working class resulting from the protracted decay of American capitalism.

Half of US workers make less than $30,000 per year

By David Brown, 29 October 2015

The decades-long stagnation of wages in the US has left millions of workers unable to start a family or buy a house.

West Virginia counties, school districts make drastic cuts as coal industry contracts

By Naomi Spencer, 27 October 2015

Local governments and schools across West Virginia are making deep reductions as the coal industry continues to contract and the state imposes a fresh round of cuts.

New York City mayor falsely hails sale of Stuyvesant Town complex as advance for affordable housing

By Fred Mazelis, 26 October 2015

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s concept of affordability applies, at best, only to the top 10 percent of the city’s population.

Collapse of West Virginia coal industry spurs growing inequality

By Naomi Spencer, 26 October 2015

As the coal industry has hemorrhaged jobs, state and local social services have been slashed and inequality has soared.

Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part four

A legacy of poverty and austerity in New Orleans

By Tom Hall, 26 October 2015

The “rebuilding” process in New Orleans has left the city’s working class more impoverished than ever before.

Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part three

The privatization of New Orleans schools

By Tom Hall, 24 October 2015

Charter school plans that were already well advanced were quickly acted upon in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part two

Destruction of public housing and forced exodus of workers

By E.P. Bannon, 23 October 2015

New Orleans had a pre-hurricane population of 484,700. Today, it is 384,300, a 21 percent decline.

Ten years since Hurricane Katrina: Part one

The catastrophe unfolds

By E.P. Bannon, 22 October 2015

Thousands of survivors remained trapped inside the flood-ravaged city without access to food, water or clothing.

Michigan governor belatedly orders change in Flint’s water supply

By James Brewer, 10 October 2015

The action by the state of Michigan is a tacit admission that the city’s population has been subjected to lead poisoning for 17 months.

New study documents California’s “Hidden Poor”

By Jill Lux, 10 October 2015

A new UCLA study reveals that more than 772,000 older Californians fall into the category of the “hidden poor.”

New York mayor promotes gentrification of Brooklyn neighborhood

By Philip Guelpa, 8 October 2015

Democratic mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a housing program that will benefit developers and lead to the displacement of working class residents.

Wealth of America’s super-rich grows to $2.34 trillion

By Nick Barrickman, 3 October 2015

The total net worth for the multi-billionaires on the list set new records, displacing last year’s all-time high of $2.29 trillion.

Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom Wolf proposes deeper cuts to pensions

By Douglas Lyons, 30 September 2015

Wolf proposes to eliminate pensions for workers making over $75,000 yearly.

Los Angeles officials declare “state of emergency” over homelessness

By Kevin Martinez, 28 September 2015

The city has pledged a paltry $100 million toward reducing homelessness, most of which will go to the police to drive out homeless encampments.

Flint, Michigan residents fight lead poisoning of water supply

By James Brewer and Lawrence Porter, 26 September 2015

The head of the Virginia Tech university team that conducted a survey of Flint’s water toxicity warned residents not to trust the government's claims that city water is safe to drink.

New York housing crisis impacts Brooklyn building workers and tenants

By Steve Light and Allen Whyte, 24 September 2015

Workers and tenants in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood are confronting a determined effort to drive them out of their building so it can be transformed into high-rent apartments.

GM ignition defect settlement: A wrist-slap for corporate criminals

By Shannon Jones, 18 September 2015

The settlement announced Thursday in the GM ignition recall scandal is a travesty that allows the company to get off virtually scot-free for the criminal cover-up of a deadly safety defect.

Family of GM accident victim speaks

“I believe GM murdered my daughter”

By Shannon Jones, 18 September 2015

The World Socialist Web Site spoke with Leo and Mary Ruddy, parents of Kelly Erin Ruddy who died in the crash of her Cobalt in January 2010

Minimum-wage workers cannot afford apartments in New York City

By Isaac Finn, 16 September 2015

According to a recent report, it is impossible for a worker making New York’s minimum wage to find an affordable apartment in any New York City neighborhood.

Major US cities report increased murder rates after years of decline

By Kevin Martinez and Fred Mazelis, 12 September 2015

Poverty and hopelessness are the main contributors to increases in violent crime.

New York Mayor de Blasio’s tale of two cities: Homeless routed out of encampments

By Clare Hurley, 9 September 2015

The Democratic mayor is taking more aggressive measures to close down homeless encampments.

Interviews with residents of Pamoja House Homeless Shelter in Brooklyn

By Clare Hurley, 9 September 2015

The WSWS spoke with several residents of Pamoja House Next Step Shelter, a 200-bed men’s shelter in Brooklyn.

Baltimore to pay family of Freddie Gray $6.4 million to avoid civil lawsuit

By Evan Blake, 9 September 2015

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, keenly aware that the city would lose a civil trial brought by the Gray family, is seeking to mitigate further exposures of the corrupt Baltimore Police Department.

After Detroit bankruptcy: Tax foreclosures threaten 30,000 residents

By Nick Rodriguez and J. Cooper, 7 September 2015

Nearly 30,000 homes will go to auction in the nation’s largest municipal property tax foreclosure.

Water shutoff moratorium in Flint as water crisis continues

By Shannon Jones, 1 September 2015

Residents of the Michigan city describe a continuing nightmare caused by astronomical water rates combined with foul smelling, discolored drinking water.

Report documents pervasive shortcomings in US mental health insurance

By Trent Novak, 29 August 2015

Individuals seeking mental health treatment are twice as likely to have their claims denied by insurers than patients filing claims related to traditional medical procedures.

A portrait of life in America’s Rust Belt: Part Three

Part Three

By Eric London, 29 August 2015

The following is an on-the-spot report on social conditions in working-class areas hit hard by deindustrialization in the US state of Indiana.

Ten years since Hurricane Katrina

By Joseph Kishore, 27 August 2015

The tragedy that struck the city of New Orleans, along with coastal areas from Florida to Texas, was not simply a natural disaster, but a social and political crime.

Half a million California children are homeless

By Adam Mclean, 27 August 2015

About one in 20 children in California, home to over 100 billionaires, is homeless.

The New York City housing crisis and the $100 million penthouse

By Philip Guelpa, 26 August 2015

The acute shortage of affordable housing in New York City continues to worsen while the prices of luxury residences for the city’s elite rise to unprecedented heights.

Nearly 14 million Americans live in neighborhoods of extreme poverty

By Evan Blake, 24 August 2015

The growth of extreme poverty is rooted in decades of deindustrialization in America’s former manufacturing hubs.

Escalating heroin epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia

By Naomi Spencer, 21 August 2015

Central Appalachia’s largest city has seen at least 520 drug overdoses since the beginning of the year, and 34 people have died.

Amazon office workers subjected to brutal exploitation

By Gabriel Black, 20 August 2015

Amazon’s white-collar employees are routinely expected to work 80 hour workweeks and are penalized for any lost productivity, including from pregnancy or serious illness.

Need for food assistance rising in US despite claims of recovery

By Shannon Jones, 20 August 2015

Food banks and food pantries report that millions of families are still making difficult choices between eating and paying for other necessities

Chicago Public Schools announces hundreds of teacher layoffs, spending and pension cuts

By Kristina Betinis, 14 August 2015

The nation’s third largest school district has released an annual budget slashing jobs and spending, and demanding concessions from teachers.

Kids Count report: 22 percent of US children live in poverty

By Tom Hall, 22 July 2015

Three million more American children were in poverty in 2013 than at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.

US heroin deaths triple in four years

By Gabriel Black, 21 July 2015

The enormous growth in heroin use, particularly among young people, reflects the depth of the social crisis in America.

“People deserve respect whether they can pay their bills or not”

Life without water in Detroit

By Seraphine Collins, 8 July 2015

In this video, Mamie Brown, a Detroit preschool teacher, describes the experience of having her water shut off.

Manhattan real estate prices hit record high

By Sandy English, 6 July 2015

The average sale price of an apartment in the New York City borough of Manhattan, the home of Wall Street, is now $1.87 million.

Top bankers’ pay rose 17 percent in 2014

By Andre Damon, 4 July 2015

The vast sums of money pocketed by bank executives are bound up with activities that range from borderline legal to flagrantly illegal.

American CEOs paid 300 times more than workers

By David Brown, 29 June 2015

While the average worker made the same in 2014 as they did in 2009, CEO compensation at top companies rose by 54.3 percent.

Legislative deal means further deepening of New York’s housing crisis

By Philip Guelpa, 29 June 2015

Democrats and Republicans agreed to a deal which leaves essentially unchanged existing rent regulations and tax breaks that favor landlords and developers.

With appointment of Kenneth Feinberg to oversee cuts

White House steps up assault on pensions

By Andre Damon, 20 June 2015

The White House said Wednesday that it will grant long-time Washington fixer Kenneth Feinberg the power to unilaterally slash the benefits of retirees in multiemployer pension funds.

The mass killing in Charleston, South Carolina

By David Walsh, 19 June 2015

The impact of endless war and militarism on backward layers of the population in the US is a central driving force behind horrific episodes like the Charleston bloodbath.

Berkeley, California balcony collapse kills six

By David Brown, 17 June 2015

Several observers have pointed to signs of dry rot in the wooden support beams exposed by the collapse, possibly due to inadequate waterproofing.

US Army simulates gun battles, sets off explosives in Flint, Michigan

By Thomas Gaist, 12 June 2015

The military drills come as US special operations forces prepare to conduct “Realistic Military Training” in American cities, towns and rural areas throughout the South and West.

The death of Kalief Browder

By Andre Damon, 10 June 2015

The young man’s imprisonment and torture stand as an indictment of America’s criminal “justice” system.

Social inequality and American politics

By Andre Damon, 8 June 2015

Despite polls showing overwhelming popular opposition to social inequality, these sentiments find no genuine expression in official US politics.

Police brutality and social inequality in Baltimore: An indictment of the Democratic Party

By Nick Barrickman and Trent Novak, 4 June 2015

The desperate conditions in Baltimore are the product of decades of pro-business policies pursued by the Democrats at every level of government.

Record storms, flooding continue to ravage Texas and Oklahoma

By Charles Abelard, 30 May 2015

The response of state and federal authorities has thus far been minimal, leaving thousands of the displaced to fend for themselves.

New York mayor de Blasio’s housing plan: An assault on the working class

By Philip Guelpa, 23 May 2015

Bill de Blasio’s housing proposal opens the door to privatizing public housing while squeezing more money from low-income residents.

New details undermine police account of deadly shootout in Waco, Texas

By Tom Hall, 21 May 2015

Questions are mounting over police claims that biker gangs were solely responsible for the gunfight that killed nine people.

The deindustrialization of Baltimore

By Nick Barrickman, 20 May 2015

While the police murder of Freddie Gray was the trigger, the scope of the social anger that erupted in Baltimore was fueled by decades of economic decay in the once booming industrial port city.

Nine killed, 170 arrested in Texas biker gang shootout

By Tom Carter, 19 May 2015

The bloody shootout between rival biker gangs and police in Waco, Texas on May 17 is a symptom of an unhealthy society.

The Baltimore upheaval: On race and class in America

By Jerry White, 12 May 2015

The relentless fixation on race is aimed at preventing any serious examination of the deep class divisions in American society, which are at the root of police violence.

York, Pennsylvania: Social service and education cuts hit workers and students

By Douglas Lyons and Samuel Davidson, 6 May 2015

Millions of dollars in state funding cuts to York schools have translated to over $1,000 lost per student, resulting in teacher layoffs and cuts to classes and programs.

Six years into “economic recovery”

York, Pennsylvania: Mass unemployment and temporary jobs

By Douglas Lyons and Samuel Davidson, 4 May 2015

Like many cities its size in the US state of Pennsylvania, York is mired in unemployment, low-paying jobs and poverty.

Majority of US public aid recipients are from working families

By Zaida Green, 25 April 2015

Some 73 percent of people enrolled in public welfare programs, including food assistance, come from families with at least one member who is employed.

Workers must mobilize to stop water shutoffs in Detroit!

By Jerry White, 21 April 2015

Detroit officials are getting ready to cut off water to as many as 73,000 households.

Two dead children found inside Detroit freezer

By Lawrence Porter, 21 April 2015

An impoverished single mother of four on Detroit’s east side was arrested after two of her children were found dead inside a freezer.

Kids Count director: Rising poverty and mental health cuts spawn child abuse and neglect

By Lawrence Porter, 21 April 2015

The Michigan Kids Count project director spoke to the WSWS about the devastating growth of child poverty throughout the state in the wake of the 2008 economic crash.

Eight dead in Maryland following utility shutoff

By Jerry White, 8 April 2015

Rodney Todd and his children were the apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator they were using after the local utility company cut off power to the financially struggling family.

Detroit arts projects highlight brutal US prison system

By Seraphine Collins, 8 April 2015

Recent exhibitions and ongoing projects examine human rights abuses throughout the US prison system, focusing on the sentencing of juveniles to life in prison without parole.

Rising inequality, poverty in Ann Arbor, Michigan

By Naomi Spencer, 3 April 2015

Washtenaw County, Michigan is held up as a “knowledge economy” model for recovery in the state, but a new study finds 37 percent of residents cannot make ends meet.

Washington, DC homelessness rises to record levels

By Trent Novak, 25 March 2015

With the winter “hypothermia season” not set to officially end until April, the number of families requiring shelter has already exceeded official expectations.

Detroit’s water shutoffs and the aristocratic principle

By Andre Damon, 23 March 2015

In few places anywhere on the globe is the systematized, ruthless cruelty of the ruling class—facilitated by all factions of the political establishment—so flagrantly on display as in Detroit.

Tucson, Arizona, officials considering banning homeless from downtown park

By Kevin Martinez, 23 March 2015

After removing tents and shelters from the park, authorities also want to ban sleeping in boxes, tents and pods on city streets.

Detroit to resume mass water shutoffs

By Andre Damon, 21 March 2015

As many as 28,000 households in America’s poorest large city face having their water service shut off.

Alabama food stamp use doubles since 2007

By Shelley Connor, 17 March 2015

The surge in food stamp use coincides with a sharp decline in the percentage of people working full-time.

Report shows low-cost private housing in Washington, DC virtually eliminated

By Nick Barrickman, 16 March 2015

Without subsidies, the typical family of four in the bottom fifth tier of households spends 80 percent of its yearly earnings on housing.

US heroin overdose death rates nearly quadrupled since 2000

By Evan Blake, 10 March 2015

The findings of a new report serve as a barometer of the current conditions of life in America, and expose one of the many symptoms of the decay of capitalist society.

Record cold weather in the US leads to spate of deadly house fires

By Evan Blake, 21 February 2015

There have been 576 fatalities from house fires so far this year, often caused by the use of unsafe heating methods to reduce costs amidst record cold weather.

Freezing temperatures spell misery and danger to America’s poor

By Jeff Lusanne and Evan Blake, 20 February 2015

A record cold spell across the Eastern half of the United States has caused dozens of deaths among the most vulnerable sections of society: the homeless, the poor, and the elderly.

ACLU report documents horror of solitary confinement in US prisons

By Kevin Martinez, 20 February 2015

Over 80,000 people languish in solitary confinement in the country’s penitentiaries, sometimes for years or decades at a time.

House fire in Hamtramck, Michigan kills four, including two children

By Khara Sikhan, 19 February 2015

The source of the fire is not yet known, though house fires are often caused by space heaters or other unsafe heating devices.