Why writer Roxane Gay supports guaranteed income

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Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved what will be the largest basic income pilot program in the United States

Board member Curren Price proposed the BIG: LEAP program, which stands for Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot. It extends the initial $ 6 million to an investment of nearly $ 40 million.


What would you like to know

  • LA City Council unanimously approved what will be the largest basic income pilot program in the United States
  • Board member Curren Price proposed the BIG: LEAP program, which stands for Basic Income Guaranteed: Los Angeles Economic Assistance Pilot
  • Program expands initial $ 6 million to nearly $ 40 million investment
  • Writer Roxane Gay has teamed up with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income for a Guaranteed Income Essay Contest

As the idea of ​​guaranteed basic income policies gains momentum, writer Roxane Gay explained to Alex Cohen why she supports it.

“There are a lot of problems that arise when people don’t have a safety net. It’s something that unfortunately a lot of Americans don’t have, ”Gay said. “When something is wrong, when they have a crisis, they are immediately plunged into debt and they are forced to make impossible choices.”

There are 3,000 families in Los Angeles who live in poverty and have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who will receive $ 1,000 in unconditional direct cash payments as a result of the BIG: LEAP program.

The idea is not without criticism.

“The reality is that our government writes blank checks for all kinds of things, and they do it for billions and billions of dollars, so it’s always interesting to me that people think that giving 1,000 or 1,500 dollars a month is kind of a bridge too far, “” Bad Feminist and Hunger “bestselling author Cohen told Cohen.

In an unconventional attempt to win some of that criticism, Gay teamed up with Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a group founded by former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, for an essay contest.

Through its newsletter “The Audacity”. Gay asked the writers for submissions with a loose prompt, asking them simply to think about the questions, “What would life be like for you or people in your community with economic stability?” How would your lifestyle choices and priorities change? What sacrifices have you made without economic stability and how has this affected your prospects? What would the world be like if everyone had what they need? Who would we all be in a world where wealth is distributed rather than hoarded? “


When asked why she thinks the written word is the best way to talk about controversial politics, Gay said the essays make it possible to think of guaranteed income in human terms rather than in political terms.

“We are politicizing so much right now, especially in the current climate, and at the end of the day what these people are saying here is what a basic income could have done,” she said.

Gay added that she received more than 300 submissions but picked five to be featured in the newsletter.

The Essays for Guaranteed Income each tell different stories about writers’ experiences in dire economic circumstances. They include a single mom writing about her struggle to be a good parent while working long hours, a grocery store worker fearing COVID at work but unable to quit her job, and a woman whose friend is dying. couldn’t afford to be cremated.

“When you see this kind of testimony on the page without any political agenda, it allows people to overcome their prejudices and really listen to what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes,” Gay said.


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