Suppose you are Mayor of Philadelphia.  Your fiefdom is known for several “firsts”, unfortunately most notably “first” in poverty amongst the country’s ten largest cities. We have 1.5 million Philadelphians in Philadelphia, including four out of every ten children. Philadelphia’s principal congressional district has the most hunger of any district in the country, fat and happy Congressman Bob Brady notwithstanding.

Now a radical is coming to town who has said that capitalism “tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits” The problem is that this guy happens to be a Jesuit preacher turned Pope.  This Pope knows that the U.S is first when it comes to income inequality and lacks the social welfare programs prevalent in many other countries.

A family of four with an annual income of $20,000 or below is defined as living in poverty. A relatively new category is “deep poverty” which is $10,000.  According to statistics published by the Inquirer, 184,000 people, including 60,000 children, live in “deep poverty” in Philadelphia; that comes to 46,000 families.

Good God! This Pope might actually want to visit some of these folk in a setting other than an intimate luncheon at the Four Seasons. A presentation ceremony replete with the Philly Phanatic, soft pretzels and a replica of the liberty bell won’t cut it. This Pope wants results.

What’s a Mayor to do? Radical change calls for radical measures.

The only citizens on the public dole aren’t the poor. Take for example, COMCAST, which has enjoyed public subsidy.  This is hard to understand for a corporation which just announced that it has $4 billion to commit to an investment fund. When one takes into account the salaries of just five guys working there, its unconscionable.

Public filings for 2013 for annual pay show the following:

  • CEO Brian Roberts- $31.4 million
  • CFO Michael Angelakis- $19.2 million
  • NBC Universal President Steve Burke- $31.1 million
  • Cable Division President Neil Smith-$17.4 million
  • EVP lobbyist David Cohen- $14 million

Just one year’s total take for these guys comes to $113.1 million. Say hello to Philadelphia’s 1%.

What would happen if the Mayor could get them to forego their salaries for just one year? They’d hardly miss it. After all, Mr. Angelakis has $40 million of his own to put into the investment fund.

Doing the math, the $113.1 million this would come to almost $2500 for each of those 46,000 families or put another way, it would extricate 25% of those families from the “super poverty” category.

Given their positions, these five guys could effectuate a lot more.

  • For example, it probably costs at least $10,000 each way when one of the COMCAST jets heads for Martha’s Vineyard or the western ski slopes.  That one way trip is one way out of deep poverty for a family.
  • Lobbyist David Cohen has implored us to believe that public officials base their decisions on what constitutes good public policy, despite Cohen’s $40 million dollar a year “governmental affairs” operation” which has carpet bombed every conceivable target with cash.  Given the way the COMCAST Time Warner $250 million merger boondoggle has gone, he is right. One year off for Mr. Cohen’s lobbying is 4,000 more families out of deep poverty.
  • Finally what about that $4 billion investment fund?  Given the public subsidy it would be nice to see some social investment from COMCAST.  Committing a 1% annual return on that money, $40,000,000, is another 4,000 more families out of deep poverty.

The bucket list could go on and on.

Mayor…..  call those five guys.  And tell them to pay it forward before the Pope comes. They can afford it.


Photo by Tony Fischer Photography