On Easter Sunday, in a letter to prominent social leaders, the Pope suggested that it may be time to consider a Universal Basic Income. UBI, Universal Basic Income, is a theoretical practice that enacts an ongoing basic wage to any citizen paid by the government.
The theory is similar to welfare, in that, each citizen of said country would receive an income paid for by the governing authorities. Also, what the Pope suggested has already been tried in several countries and has proven failure. In Finland, the government gave two thousand unemployed persons a total amount of $634 per month for necessities to assist the persons in pursing employment. As a result, the individuals were no more likely to pursue jobs than those who were on the current welfare system.
Universal Basic Income, UBI, is a costly idea, and instead of encouraging persons to pursue employment, it discourages innovation while removing people from the workforce. During the Coronavirus pandemic, several countries across the world are pursuing the possibility of implementing such in response to the economic damage caused by the novel coronavirus.
“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out,” The Pope wrote in his letter. “It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.”
In his letter, Pope Francis also noted that some of the lowest-wage workers “have been excluded from the benefits of globalization” and often slip through the cracks of existing labor protections, writing that “street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers…you have no steady income to get you through this hard time…and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable.”
Establishing a permanent Universal Basic Income would cost taxpayers extensively and has proven to have little effect on stimulating the economy. In regards to the ongoing crisis, stimulus checks have taken weeks to be distributed to the citizens of the United States. Further, while temporarily, they will provide relief to a stalled economy, in the long run, regular stimulus checks with a thriving economy will encourage people to stay out of the workforce, as was proven by several tests conducted in smaller countries.