Pope expresses support for 'universal basic wage' as COVID-19 harms global economy

Pope Francis talks as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.
Pope Francis talks as he leads the weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican. | Reuters

Pope Francis expressed support for a “universal basic wage” for workers of all countries in an open letter sent out on Easter Sunday.

In a letter addressed to “popular movements,” the head of the Roman Catholic Church said the coronavirus shutdowns appeared to economically harm the financially strapped more than most.

“The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard. Many of you live from day to day, without any type of legal guarantee to protect you,” wrote the pontiff.

“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.”

Adding that he believed the “the lockdowns are becoming unbearable” for lower-income individuals, Francis then expressed support for a minimum income supplied by governments to every citizen.

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out,” he continued.

“It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights.”

In closing, he told the representatives of social movements to “[s]tand firm in your struggle and care for each other as brothers and sisters.”

“I pray for you, I pray with you. I want to ask God our Father to bless you, to fill you with his love, and to defend you on this path, giving you the strength that keeps us standing tall and that never disappoints: hope,” concluded Francis.

Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that Spain was considering the implementation of a universal basic income in response to the coronavirus lockdowns, with the likelihood that it will remain permanent.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva was overseeing the project and it will be “in place as soon as possible,” Bloomberg reports.

Calvino also said the government hopes the basic income “stays forever” and will become “a structural instrument, a permanent instrument.”

Francis’ words came the same weekend that the Internal Revenue Service announced that the first of the $1,200 stimulus checks were being sent out to United States citizens.

“#IRS deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into taxpayers’ bank accounts today. We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can,” the IRS wrote on Twitter Saturday.

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