‘This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.’
That’s Pope Francis showing support for an idea many countries are at least temporarily experimenting with amid the economic disruption sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization… The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard,” Pope Francis wrote in a letter. “Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time… and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable.”
The letter drew praise on Twitter
from Andrew Yang, who spent much of his failed campaign for the presidency pushing universal basic income:
Yang ran on the idea echoed in the letter that free cash for everyone would go a long way in helping to solve economic inequality by providing a financial safety net for all, including those, like stay-at-home moms and caregivers, who aren’t getting adequately compensated.
Beyond the call for considering a universal basic income, the pope also made the case for a lasting change in the global culture in post-coronavirus world.
“Our civilization — so competitive, so individualistic, with its frenetic rhythms of production and consumption, its extravagant luxuries, its disproportionate profits for just a few — needs to downshift, take stock, and renew itself,” he wrote.
Pope Francis on Sunday also delivered a speech for evening mass held at a mostly empty St. Peter’s Basilica, with Italy still on lockdown due to the coronavirus, which has now infected more than 1.8 million people around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.