THE POHOTTUWA GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA Part 2 C2
Posted on November 9th, 2020

KAMALIKA PIERIS

There is violence in the USA. This is well known. There are about 50,000 gun deaths per year. There were at least   18 school shootings by February 2018. School children are now equipped with bullet proof backpacks, bullet proof hoodies. Classrooms have bullet proof windows and curved walls, said TIME in 2019.

There was a shootout at Pulse night club, Orlando, in 2016   and people died. Families of those who died sued the owner of the night club, as well as Google, Face book, Twitter in separate lawsuits. They sued the parents of one killer saying the parents knew the son was dangerous but did not keep weapons away from him.  The Orlando police officer handling the matter was first praised and then sued.

But no one sued the makers of the guns. Gun manufacturers are protected by the Protection of lawful Arms Act. Owning a gun is a constitutional right. The National Rifle Association has a powerful lobby in Washington. The NRA helps in campaign spending for the Presidential election. It has its own media, its own news company, and says a person gains confidence through shooting.

There are legal misadventures. This is not confined to USA, but according to the publicity given, it seems to be most evident in USA. Three Baltimore men spent 36 years in prison accused of murder of a teenage boy in 1983. They were exonerated in 2019. These three men were convicted, as children. The police and the prosecution were guilty of misconduct, said the state attorney. The three were formally exonerated by court and released from prison.

The Boy Scouts movement was very popular in USA. In 1972 the movement was at its peak, families were eager to enroll their sons, but all was not well. Thousands of men say they were sexually abused as boy scouts. It has been called a century long cover up.  Sex abuse cases against the Boy Scouts movement in USA were made in 2019.    12,254 had complained.  Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February 2020.  

USA does not have a free state health service like in Sri Lanka and the NHS in Britain. In USA medicine is a profit making private enterprise. Medical treatment is purchased through health insurance provided by insurance companies. They are also profit making concerns. Those who can afford it, buy health insurance.  Also companies provide health insurance to its employees.

USA said it was not ready anywhere in the country for the current Corona virus onslaught. US only has a fraction of the medical facilities   equipment, supplies and staff needed for this kind of surge. It has insufficient ventilators, or personal protective equipment like gowns, masks gloves, eye protection, said TIME . USA also has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.

Barrack Obama when President tried to improve the health services. He introduced the Affordable Care Act. This was done amidst much opposition. Persons profiting from the private insurance scheme   opposed it. Obamacare had  positives and negatives. Premiums shot up, many insurers left.

 The middle income group  fell between two stools. They did not qualify for  Obamacare and  could not afford to buy health insurance.   But  20 million people gained health coverage and health standards rose. The poor were given subsidies to help them afford expensive insurance plans. The uninsured rate dropped among blacks and Hispanics, said TIME.

US industries are protected, regardless of the human cost. Courts allow Corporations to challenge regulations related to consumer protection, such as product labeling. A law to protect workers from a deadly chemical would be challenged and delayed for more than a decade, with lawyers contesting the meaning of every word.  A major alcohol study by the National Institute of Health  was closed down, after an investigation  found that officials  solicited money from the alcohol industry.

A  WHO resolution of 2018, to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily in the WHO but USA opposed it. The $70 billion baby food industry is dominated by American and European companies. American officials sought to water down the resolution .When that failed, they turned to threats. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was told bluntly, that If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would  employ punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government gave in. So did a dozen other countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, citing fears of retaliation. Russia introduced the resolution. USA  did not threaten Russia.

 US Companies have mandatory arbitration agreements. Employee contracts have clauses that prevent them from suing their employers in court for any reason including sexual harassment. Some 60 million American have signed these, said TIME in 2017.

 Here is a   miscellany on work in the USA . Women get paid less than men for the same work.Labor laws were routinely violated by employers, said TIME in 2018. Unions continued to dwindle. Supreme Court ruled that employers had the right to deny insurance cover for birth control. USA is the only industrialized nation without guaranteed paid parental leave, declared TIME. USAis also  probably the only country, where  customers are asked by the management,  to  tip the employees.

US is the world’s largest producer of oil, but  the US economy, on the whole, is not doing well. General Motors closed down  5 plants in USA and Canada In 2018. US Postal service is teetering on the brink of insolvency.  Public services are  declining. Public schools are  short of money. Classes in school are getting larger and the teachers pay is now inadequate to live said TIME in 2018.

UN Special Rapporteur on Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston reported in 2018 that 18.5 million Americans live in extreme poverty with another 5.3 million living in absolute poverty. The top 1% in USA is living well and those at the bottom are struggling, said TIME in 2018.

The  economically vulnerable  population in USA  is finding it  difficult today, continued TIME. There are food stamps  and  some sort of monthly welfare payment but not  much, said critics. There is no rent control. Pensions are  inadequate. Begging is a punishable offence.   Going through garbage bins is also an offence. 

The younger  generation,  the Millennials , are not able to live as well as their parents did, said TIME in 2010. They are more likely to have debts,  less likely to own a car or house, compared with the generation  before them.  Millennials have greater  student debt than their parents. Only a third of the  Millennials thought US was the greatest country in the world, concluded TIME.

More than 560,000 Americans were homeless in  US in  2019.. They  could be found in New York City, Washington and Los Angeles too said TIME. There are so many homeless people in Los Angeles that relief organizations have started to build small wooden huts to provide them with a roof over their heads.

The homeless are thrown out if they cannot pay the rent or their mortgage. The landlord can evict if the rent is late by five days. The eviction is done by the police. YouTube showed them entering the home with guns raised. Homeless people  then ended up living in their cars or in the streets. The number of homeless children has  risen dramatically, reaching 1.5 million.

These people do not seem to  have any safety net at all. No social assistance  or social security. They  use up their savings, said a DW  documentary about the  poor in the United States  . Deutsche Welle posted  this documentary on Youtube  in November 2019. The comments section was closed because there were too many offensive comments. ( continued)

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