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In 2013, WPSR adopted a strategic priority around reducing income inequality and promoting livable wages. Extreme disparities in wealth, such as the growing gap between the richest and poorest in the U.S., have a negative impact on health outcomes. WPSR board member Dr. Stephen Bezruchka wrote “Inequality Kills”, a chapter in Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality, pointing out that health indicators are worse than they were a generation ago. Compared to other rich nations, the U.S. has higher rates of deaths from heart attacks, motor-vehicle crashes, violence, and AIDS than the thirty other most developed countries. We also rank among the worst in terms of infant mortality. Economic inequality may be an ultimate cause of a third of the deaths in the US.
Recognizing the impact of inequality on these poor health outcomes that disproportionately affect our nation’s poorest people, WPSR supported the $15 minimum wage legislation recently approved by Seattle City Council. We believe that ensuring people have livable wages is one key to improving public health.
This historic vote to raise the minimum wage in Seattle follows closely on the heels of a WPSR-sponsored presentation by David Cay Johnston, editor of Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality. David spoke at Town Hall in Seattle on April 26th. This talk was broadcast on Alternative Radio in May.