Zach Silk is the President of Civic Ventures, a Seattle-based political strategist group. He joined us for this edition of Wire Insider to talk about disparities in wealth, social cohesion, homelessness, and the increasing need to develop solutions on the state level.
The thing I worry most about is we’ve been trapped in a cycle of flat wages for a really long time both here in Washington State and across the country. While we’ve had a lot of prosperity and growth, it has mostly been at the top. The top ten percent have been doing really well, but really the bulk of people have had wages that have been flat while the cost of living has been climbing. And that’s part of the reason I think our politics are so angry and disjointed right now. When people are feeling that sense of scarcity it brings out the worst in them. So, our social cohesion is starting to tear apart and I worry that what you’re seeing coming out of the federal government, no one’s proposing solutions to these problems. In fact, much of what they’re proposing will make these matters much worse. And ultimately what that means is that it’s going to be left to the states to try to fix this problem. So, I hope our state legislature is up to the task of really trying to address these kitchen table, economic issues for people.
The things that we’re working on a lot are homelessness and housing affordability. I do think It’s an under told story about how pressing this problem is across the state of Washington. We think of it as a King County or Seattle problem, but actually this problem is playing itself out in Spokane, Yakima, and the Tri-cities. Basically, the housing prices are being bid up everywhere. And as it gets bid up, the cost of rent goes up with it and wages aren’t keeping up. So, for every community, even though it’s more acute here in Seattle and King County, it’s happening all over the state and I think this is going to ultimately need some state solutions in order to address this problem.