Inequality Kills Us All
In the 1950s the United States had among the lowest mortality rates and highest life expectancy in the world. Today, other rich nations and quite a number of poor ones have better health outcomes than Americans. Why? How can the U.S., probably the wealthiest country in history do so poorly? Starting with Reagan in the 1980s and the fervent embrace of neoliberal economics by the ruling class we’ve seen an overall decline in health and life expectancy along with huge gaps in income. The causes of our inequality and subsequent poor health indices are political, thus remedies must also be political. As Dr. Bezruchka says, “Our future work needs to focus on exposing ways in which rampant social injustice affects not just our economic well-being but also our prospects for a healthy life. Inequality,” he says, “kills!”
Dr. Stephen Bezruchka is on the faculty of the Department of Health Systems and Population Health at the University of Washington. He worked for many years as an emergency physician in Seattle. He worked in Nepal for more than a decade where he helped set up a community health project a week’s walk from the road. He also established a remote district hospital for training Nepali doctors whom he supervised. He is the author of Inequality Kills Us All: COVID-19’s Health Lessons for the World.