Pope calls for consideration of ‘universal basic wage’ for unprotected workers
By Vatican News - 12 April 2020Pope Francis writes a letter to Popular Movements and community organizations on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic response, calling for the consideration of a possible “Universal Basic Wage”.
In a letter dated Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Pope Francis has called for the consideration of a Universal Basic Wage “that would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.”
The letter is addressed to World Popular Movements, some of whom he recollects meeting with when in Bolivia during an Apostolic Visit in 2015 and in the Vatican the following year.
“Now, in the midst of this pandemic, I think of you in a special way and wish to express my closeness to you,” he writes.
The Pope’s message comes at a time in which the pandemic is devastating the health and lives of so many, and consequently putting millions of jobs on the line and undermining local – and world – economies. In it, he expresses encouragement and solidarity with those Movements who aim to bring change to global systems and structures that exclude a multitude of workers.
In these days of great anxiety and hardship, the Pope notes, “you are truly an invisible army, fighting in the most dangerous trenches; an army whose only weapons are solidarity, hope, and community spirit, all revitalizing at a time when no one can save themselves alone.”
He took the opportunity to thank the Popular Movements for the work they pursue. He acknowledges that work hardly ever receives the recognition it deserves, Pope Francis notes “You do not resign yourselves to complaining: you roll up your sleeves and keep working for your families, your communities, and the common good. Your resilience helps me, challenges me, and teaches me a great deal.”
A multitude of people suffering far from the limelight
He goes on to mention all those people suffering far from the eyes of the world:
The women, “who multiply loaves of bread in soup kitchens: two onions and a package of rice make up a delicious stew for hundreds of children.”
The sick and the elderly, “they never appear in the news,” he says, “nor do small farmers and their families who work hard to produce healthy food without destroying nature, without hoarding, without exploiting people’s needs.”
“I want you to know that our Heavenly Father watches over you, values you, appreciates you, and supports you in your commitment,” the Pope writes.
He highlights how difficult it is for those who live in poverty and for the homeless “to stay at home.” In addition, he mentions the difficulty “for migrants, those who are deprived of freedom, and those in rehabilitation from an addiction.”
People, life and dignity at the centre
Again, thanking the Popular Movements for being there to help them make things less difficult and less painful, the Pope expresses his hope this may prove to be a moment of change.
“My hope is that governments understand that technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis or the other great problems affecting humankind. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share,” the Pope writes.
He underscores how such a multitude of persons have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. They, he said, have been hit twice as hard from the harms produced by a society marked by the “superficial pleasures that anaesthetize so many consciences.”
“Street vendors, recyclers, carnival workers, small farmers, construction workers, seamstresses, 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. 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,” says Pope Francis.
The three Ts
He goes on to point to the need to reflect on “life after the pandemic”. Its grave consequences are already being felt. This calls for an integral human development that is based on “the central role and initiative of the people in all their diversity, as well as on universal access to those three Ts that you defend: Trabajo (work), Techo (housing), and Tierra (land and food)."
The Pope concludes with the hope that our sleepy consciences will be shaken, giving way to a “humanist and ecological conversion that puts an end to the idolatry of money and places human life and dignity at the centre.”
“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 says.
Finally, Pope Francis encourages the Popular Movements to stand firm in their struggle, caring for each other as brothers and sisters. He then assures them of his prayers and blessings.
Click here for article source at Vatican News.
Light a Flame for a Guaranteed Basic Income
The United Church of Canada - 18 September 2020
On Tuesday, September 22, at 12.30 p.m. on the eve of the Throne Speech, The United Church of Canada is asking Canadians across the country to light a candle in support of a guaranteed livable annual income, often referred to as the guaranteed basic income. Building on the positive experience of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), this is a unique opportunity to make an important policy change to ensure greater income security for all Canadians.
“COVID-19 has revealed for all of us the cracks in our economic situation in Canada. Many people cannot pay their rent and can scarcely afford food. Now is the time to make a systemic change in the system that will remove the stigma of being poor and encourage a more equitable society,” says the Very Rev. Lois Wilson, former Moderator and senator.
Light a candle, take a picture, and post it to social media (#UCCanlivableincome, #guaranteedlivableincome) Send it to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, your local MP, and news outlets.
A guaranteed livable income program would address the inequities that exist within the present wage and social benefit structures in our country. Such a program should be universally accessible, preserve human dignity rather than creating stigma, remove discriminatory barriers, not penalize people for the work they do, be available with a minimum of bureaucracy, and exist alongside other social supports, including health care, pharmacare, pension, and education supports. Particular attention should address the barriers experienced by Indigenous peoples in accessing relief programs related to COVID-19, recognizing that these are manifestations of a system that leaves Indigenous people out of decision-making and denies their rightful place in Canada’s economy.
We also know that low-income racialized communities have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and its economic impact. A livable guaranteed income would assist all, but especially those in our society who are economically disadvantaged by manifestations of systemic racism.
Support is growing for this fundamental social policy. In addition to the United Church Moderator the Right Rev. Richard Bott's public statement, leaders of The Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as well as 50 senators have written letters to the federal government to support implementing such a program. Many local, regional, and national organizations and networks are also expressing firm support for this fundamental social policy. An Angus-Reid poll in June 2020 showed that 59 percent of Canadians support the idea, a significant change from a similar poll four years ago, due to the impact of the pandemic.
To bring visibility to this event, the church is holding three small public vigils on September 22 at 12:30 p.m. local time: in Ottawa at the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill, in front of Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland’s constituency office in Toronto (344 Bloor Street West), and at Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson’s constituency office in North Vancouver (301 Esplanade East). Attendance is limited to the current provincial public health outdoor event limits. Please wear masks and follow social distance protocols.
Economic Justice and Universal Basic Income: Ethical and Religious Perspectives
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs - 1 September 2020
Interest in universal basic income (UBI) is surging in American popular and political discourse, as the United States continues to experience the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In general, UBI refers to periodic cash payments made to all, although the policy differs in theory and practice depending on national and political context. The policy, once considered as utopian in mainstream policy circles, is now the talk of high-profile politicians like Andrew Yang, who built his 2020 presidential campaign on UBI. Faith leaders are also part of the conversation to re-envision the role of government in providing for the common good. Take, for example, Pope Francis, who called for a salario universal (universal basic wage) at Easter. With ongoing debate in Congress on further government support following the March 2020 CARES Act, faith leaders and religious ethics can make important contributions to the ongoing conversation.
Historically, faith leaders and religious institutions have played key roles in on-the-ground activism on economic issues, contributing to broader debates on increasing inequality in the global economy. Not unrelated to the efforts of religious activists are the ethical principles informing advocacy in the field. Debates on UBI, for example, often intersect with a number of ethical issues, including the meaning and purpose of work; social justice and economic inequality; and the role of government, as exemplified by the principle of subsidiarity in Catholic social thought. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate inequality worldwide, examining religious and ethical perspectives on policies like UBI can provide critical direction on efforts to rebuild global society.
This week the Berkley Forum asks: "How might the normative teachings of various faith traditions contribute to debates on UBI and government welfare, more broadly? What are some of the ethical challenges and possibilities of a policy like UBI? How might religiously grounded understandings of the common good contribute to conversations on fiscal policy? What are some key ethical and religious principles policymakers should have in mind when addressing economic inequality in the wake of COVID-19? What role does religious activism play in broader debates on economic justice and universal basic income?"
*** Link to article is here.
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