Philadelphia Launching Basic Income Study

The idea of providing a basic income to people continues to grow. Philadelphia launches their effort to examine basic income next month. Like other research efforts into basic income it will likely show it’s better for people and cheaper than neoliberal solutions to helping low income individuals. It’s a fools game to make predictions but in the case for systems like basic income they’re easy to make.

One thing that really irks me in the conversation about basic income are the arguments that we ought to burden people with an obligation to fill out red tape. When we give money (or tax rebates) to businesses we often don’t ask them to jump through as many hurdles as we do people. Let’s change the conversation so that we support people just as easily as we support profit margins, err, businesses.

As early as March, Philadelphia will start giving up to 60 people $500 a month, for at least 12 months. Recipients will be selected from a pool of 1,100 people who have received federal support through TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, for five years. A total of $322,000 will cover the costs, drawing from existing TANF funds.

The key distinction from traditional social programs, such as TANF, said Dr. Nikia Owens, Philadelphia’s deputy executive director of family supports & basic needs, is “they don’t have to do anything extra for this money.”

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It’s Time to Talk About Wage Theft

Interview

Over at Popular Information they juxtapose two crimes that happened last year: the stealing of retail goods by one person valued between $200-$950 and the other crime by one corporation was the stealing of people’s money valued at $4,500,000. One got a lot of news coverage while the other did not. Walgreens kept their worker’s money by committing wage theft, a crime an employer can commit by not paying overtime, having workers work “off the clock”, misclassifying employee pay scales, or through other means.

We should be more concerned with the stealing of wages than the petty from of stealing consumer goods. In the USA alone wage theft is a 15 billion dollar problem (yes you read that right), and according to the FBI it’s more than the value of all stolen goods in property crimes.

A good way to not be a victim of wage theft is simply to talk to your coworkers about how much you earn for the work you do.

Just a few months earlier, in November 2020, Walgreens paid a $4.5 million settlement to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging that it stole wages from thousands of its employees in California between 2010 and 2017. The lawsuit alleged that Walgreens “rounded down employees’ hours on their timecards, required employees to pass through security checks before and after their shift without compensating them for time worked, and failed to pay premium wages to employees who were denied legally required meal breaks.”

Walgreens’ settlement includes attorney’s fees and other penalties, but $2,830,000 went to Walgreens employees to compensate them for the wages that the company had stolen. And, because it is a settlement, that amount represents a small fraction of the total liability. According to the order approving the settlement, it represents “approximately 22% of the potential damages.”

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Basic Income Program In California Improved Lives and Livelihoods

happy workers in a factory

Universal basic income (UBI) is a simple idea: give people a small amount of money so they can at least survive. This isn’t a radical idea yet it keeps getting blocked by governments who despise….government. The argument for UBI keeps growing as more and more studies point out that it greatly improves recipient’s mental wellbeing and their employment opportunities. What’s more is that supporting people before they need to access welfare programs governments save money.

This is what California found in their recent UBI study.

Here in Ontario we started a basic income research study which was swiftly cut by the Conservative government. Hopefully smarter governments who actually work for people will pick up where Ontario failed and California found success.

Mental and physical well-being improved, with reductions in depression and anxiety recorded. Households were able to avoid or limit their exposure to financial ups and downs often experienced by low-income families, especially in the event of unexpected costs.

SEED found that those in the UBI trial “experienced clinically and statistically significant improvements in their mental health … moving from likely having a mild mental health disorder to likely mental wellness over the year-long intervention”.

But one of the most potentially significant findings was that people in receipt of the $500 UBI payments were more likely to find full-time employment.

At the start of the project, in February 2019, 28% of the UBI recipients were in full-time work. That had risen to 40% a year later. The SEED trial included a control group, not in receipt of the payments. In that control group, full-time employment increased by 5% over the same period.

Read more.

What you can do:

Search the internet to find local groups in your area supporting universal basic income. Email your elected officials supporting UBI programs.

South Korea’s Local Basic Income Experiment Demonstrates Success

Due to the economic fallout of COVID-19 a city in South Korea decided to create its own kind of universal basic income. Instead of just getting cash, the payouts are done on a special credit card that only works with local owned businesses, meaning you have to spend locally and help your local businesses survive the economic downturn. In the video above you can see how successful this program has been and that one federal politician is hoping to make the program national.

To stimulate its pandemic-hit economy, a province in South Korea has been experimenting with universal basic income programs by regularly giving out cash, no questions asked. Now, some politicians want to go national with the concept.

Low Income Housing Doesn’t Negatively Impact High Income Housing

housing

The graph above shows that the introduction of low income housing into a neighbourhood does not negatively impact the value of other homes. Real estate agents perpetuate a myth that social (or public) housing destroys local housing prices. Clearly this myth is based on no reality.

If you’re a homeowner that dislikes people who earn less than you please stop fighting efforts to house others. Hopefully the linked research provides more evidence for people working to bring affordable housing to cities around the world.

In the nation’s 20 least affordable markets, our analysis of 3,083 low-income housing projects from 1996 to 2006 found no significant effect on home values located near a low-income housing project, with a few exceptions

There is no statistically significant difference in price per square foot when comparing properties near a low-income housing project and those farther away when examining projects across all 20 metros. Likewise, at the metro level, the majority of markets yield no significant difference in prices between the inner and outer ring after a project is completed. However, a few housing markets revealed significant differences in price per square foot near low-income housing projects after they were placed into service.

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