Letters to the Editor

In Support of Universal Basic Income

Dear Editor: I read with interest Diane Pagen’s thoughtful call to US Bishops to endorse Universal Basic Income based on Pope Francis’ recent letter to workers in popular movements and organizations (“Universal Basic Income and COVID-19,” Reader’s Forum, April 25).

This pandemic has accentuated the different experience of those individuals who have the types of employment that allow them to work remotely or through some other arrangement continue their full or nearly full income and the significant number of people who have lost jobs or who had worked in the “other economy” without a way to earn a living under the current lock-down situation.

These people are no different from us in their human needs and responsibilities and they are in a dire situation. We cannot claim the name “Christian” without first doing what we can personally to address their plight and recognizing that these, our brothers and sisters, need to be moved from the fringes to the center of the solutions our political systems are fashioning to ameliorate the pain inflicted by this pandemic.

Like so many fundamental issues, the Pope is correct to focus our gaze on the plight of people who are outside the current systemic solutions.

It would be most helpful if the Bishops, rather than endorsing particular phrases like “Universal Basic Income,” which can mean very different things to different activists and stakeholders, used their legislative influence to assure that sustainable governmental solutions, promulgated in our name, address the dire economic, housing, nutritional and employment needs of all who are in the margins or invisible in our society and are most at risk in the current crisis.

Edward J. Fitzpatrick

Bayside Hills, Queens

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