The fact that there is such a thing as homelessness in America is a shameful national crime. Every winter, countless homeless people die from exposure to the cold. While the homeless starve, 21 cities in America now have laws making it a crime to feed the homeless. The homeless are harassed, brutalized and killed by police as they simply sit, lie down or sleep, trying to survive another day. Homelessness is the most glaring example of workers pushed out of jobs by the capitalist economy into permanent unemployment. Is this the only future that a generation of children can look forward to?
“A staggering 2.5 million children are now homeless each year in America. This historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States. Child homelessness increased in 31 states and the District of Columbia from 2012 to 2013. Children are homeless in every city, county and state.” These sobering facts are from a report entitled America’s Youngest Outcasts: A Report Card on Child Homelessness. (2014). Waltham, MA: The National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research.
The top three major causes of child homelessness cited in the report are the nation’s high poverty rate, lack of affordable housing and the continued impact of the Great Recession. These causes are structural, an effect of the labor replacing economic revolution and the capitalist market economy. The electronics revolution is throwing workers permanently out of the job market and therefore permanently out of the housing market on to America’s streets. Whether it is the job market, the housing market or any other market, they operate to guarantee maximum profits for the capitalists as a class, not for the benefit of society as a whole.
Fierce competition among capitalists requires that more profitable, more productive innovations introduced by one, must be adopted by all (or they will be forced out of the market.) Automation in the form of robots brings short-term profits, but kills jobs forever and hence the ability of workers to buy. What begins as an attempt to corner the market ends in a collapse of markets. Why? It is so a relative few can maintain a dying system that makes them billionaires.
Sooner or later, the growing numbers of cold bodies, empty stomachs and children with no future will force society to the realization that production without workers in a world of abundance demands distribution of goods based on something other than money. That something is human need. If a society has 320 million people, all 320 million need food, clothing, homes, health care and education. Under a planned economy, where the public rather than private interests own the means of producing our necessities, production could be planned and distribution would be by need, not money. Every member of society can then contribute to society based on his or her talents and skills, according to a national plan.
While the electronic revolution makes a planned, cooperative economy both possible and necessary, it is only conscious people who can make it happen. The role of revolutionaries is to bring that consciousness to the people so that society can go forward. This is the revolutionary content of our time.