Jan 22, 2014

Pope to Davos elite. Could he be talking about a citizen dividend?

 “I ask you to ensure that humanity is served by wealth and not ruled by it,” the pontiff addressed a crowd of 2,500 people in Switzerland on Tuesday. His message was read out by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice. Pope Francis asked bankers and business leaders to stimulate inclusive prosperity.
“The growth of equality demands something more than economic growth, even though it presupposes it. It demands first of all 'a transcendent vision of the person,” Pope Francis said in the message.
“It also calls for decisions, mechanisms and processes directed to a better distribution of wealth, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality,” he added.
 What does the Pope really mean? Let me highlight two points.

1. Transcendent vision of the person.
Proposers for an unconditional basic income / citizen dividend want to delink personal survival from work. The current vision of a person is one who must exchange his/her muscle or brain or body for food. Work as laborer, teacher or model for food. No work, die. The basic income activists are asking for a transcendent vision of every person. A person must be given the dignity of surviving even when there is no work. You can justify that on many grounds, spiritual, moral, or country-ownership. I will focus on country-ownership. As owners of rich countries, people own the common wealth, which generates enough wealth to feed every citizen.

2. Goes beyond a simple welfare mentality
The unconditional basic income / citizen dividend goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. Everyone has an ownership right to the country's common wealth. This is not welfare, but it is better than welfare. Depending on the country, the citizen dividend can be much more than current welfare benefits.

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