by Sylvia Weinstein
What would we do if we were shipwrecked on an island that had no population but ourselves? And if we wanted to survive until rescued?
Understand that among those shipwrecked with us are older people and children, as well as healthy adults, male and female. What do we do to survive?
First, we would have a division of labor. Some would go search for drinkable water, others to look for food, and others to find some sort of shelter for all of us. If they can’t find shelter we would have to build something to protect us from the elements. But first of all we would assign people to care for the children and for those who are old or ill and in need of medical care.
Most important would be the care of the children because the parents could not join in the work while leaving their children in danger or unsupervised.
Making these decisions would be democratic by necessity. Without the agreement of all we would not be able to have a division of labor, nor would we survive for very long. Leadership would have to be earned by work ethics-not by fiat.
It would be difficult. Tools would have to be made, food would have to be gathered or hunted, local plants would have to be tested for medical use, clothing would have to be created from whatever is useful, and fire building would become a necessity. All of these actions would require talent and inventiveness-which all humans have the ability to develop and expand.
It does not take an Einstein to develop the basic knowledge needed to survive. Nor to organize a society to provide care to those who need it, especially the children. But unfortunately, we live in a system that values people the least and private property and profits the most.
Capitalism needs profits above all else. If a profit cannot be made, then nothing has a right to exist.
That’s why the capitalist class is working overtime to destroy public schools and turn them into profitable enterprises, starting with the voucher system. The voucher system promises better schooling, but like Firestone tires they will explode once our public schools are in private hands.
Then it will be the parents who will be bilked out of every penny in order to have schooling for their children. Just as a college education costs thousands of dollars today, so will education in the private elementary and middle schools.
Even prisons are not neglected by the profit-hungry capitalists. In fact, 1.5 million children in the United States have a parent in jail. This is because of the massive jump in the prison population. The U.S. has more people in prison than China, Russia, or any other industrialized nation. Since 1991, this country’s prison population grew by 62 percent to 1,284,894 in 1999.
Capitalism is not good for children or their parents; it is only good for the profits of the few and the misery of the many. What kind of society puts profits first and children last?