REALITY CHECK: “BASIC INCOME” TO THE RESCUE?
Written by Charles Ellison on March 9, 2020
WURD’s midday host praises the boldness of City Council’s poverty proposal, with caveats
Philadelphia’s poverty rate is much like a “test tube baby”—borrowing from a rather crude but legendary phrase from the late comedian Robin Harris. We know it’s there. We know it’s very high. But we continue to marvel, study and poke at it like uncaring researchers in white lab coats.
It is the exhausted lab rat spinning tirelessly on experimental wheels, its condition still treated like a mystery and showered with endless reams of data and research. Whole institutions, agencies, budgets and initiatives are spawned from it. We call this activity response—but, it’s not really. Poverty still exists and persists near 25 percent.
Now comes City Council’s “Philadelphia Poverty Action Plan,” rolled out last week, with an ambitious goal of reducing poverty by 100,000 residents. The detailed 14-page action plan that aims to cut the nearly 25-percent poverty by about … well, 25 percent, lays out a number of strategies, some fresh and some simply old wine in a new bottle.
One of the more aggressive strategies highlighted by Council in the plan is the idea of “basic income.”