Pope Francis has advocated basic income in his new book, Let us Dream: The path to a better future, Simon and Schuster, 2020.
Pope Francis wrote this:
“Recognizing the value to society of the work of nonearners is a vital part of our rethinking in the post-Covid world. That’s why I believe it is time to explore concepts like the universal basic income (UBI), also known as ‘the negative income tax’: an unconditional flat payment to all citizens, which could be dispersed through the tax system.
The UBI could reshape relations in the labor market, guaranteeing people the dignity of refusing employment terms that trap them in poverty. It would give people the basic security they need, remove the stigma of welfarism, and make it easier to move between jobs as technology-driven labor patterns increasingly demand. Policies like the UBI can also help free people to combine earning wages with giving time to the community.” (pp. 131-132)
Our comment: Pope Francis, and his co-author Austen Ivereigh, show a good understanding of a Basic Income as an unconditional flat payment to all citizens.
(A negative income tax is different: That works like a means-tested benefit, and its administration would be a lot more complicated than that of a Basic Income. It is a negative income tax, and not a Basic Income, that would be administered through the tax system.)
Pope Francis and Austen Ivereigh also show a good grasp of some of the important effects of a Basic Income: that it would provide a secure financial platform on which to build; there would be no stigma attached to it; it would give to workers more power in the employment market; and it would enable people to make new decisions about paid employment, and to do vital work in their communities.
Pope Francis has made a most useful contribution to the Basic Income debate.