Don’t Blame the Victim, Blame the System

This article is reprinted from the Speak Out Now healthcare newsletter at Kaiser and Highland Hospitals in Oakland, CA.

Here in Oakland, at Highland Hospital, our doors are open and we provide care for those who have been pushed to the brink of society (the unemployed, the unhoused, the uninsured).

We have chosen to work at our public hospital that serves the highest need people in our community. While we are compassionate and dedicated to this cause, sometimes seeing the same patients discharged one day to then check back into the hospital the next can make us feel hopeless, or worse can cause us to play the blame game.

So who is really to blame for those pushed to the edge of our society? The capitalist system! Here in the Bay Area the average annual salary is $50,117. Yet in the Bay Area, a minimum income of $339,864 is needed to comfortably afford a mortgage on a house! On top of that, only 60% of Californians are covered by health insurance.

So let’s not blame the victim for turning to drugs or alcohol as a relief from a society that has turned its back on the unhoused, the most needy and vulnerable. Let’s remember who’s responsible. We live in a country where the 3 million people who make up the wealthiest 1% of Americans are collectively worth more than the 291 million people that make up the bottom 90%. This should not be tolerated. We need to tear down this system, and build a world that cares and provides for the collective good of all.