Guaranteed basic income in a time of need

Kingston Whig-Standard

Last week, just as it was dawning on people that the COVID-19 crisis was shaping up to be monumental, I was in a downtown Kingston grocery store.

I noticed a fellow whose cart was groaning under the weight of water. He had five cases of 24 plastic bottles.

I suppose many have come to believe that tap water, treated at public expense, is not good enough. But, for me anyway, the sight of the water hoarder told a different story.


Because I asked Mr. Water why he was buying all that stuff.

“Lots of water in the tap?” I suggested.

“I hope so,” he replied anxiously.

This may be an extreme example of the way that the viral crisis is affecting the way so many feel these days. Yet there is an increasing sense of insecurity as the daily certainties to which we’re accustomed suddenly evaporate. Will there be enough food should stores run short? Can we still trust a bus trip with strangers? What about the safety of getting together with friends? Maybe they took the bus. We’re facing a stress pandemic.

By now we’re all familiar with one reaction — heading out to buy too much stuff. The bizarre compulsion to buy up toilet paper has been much discussed. The anxiety is that suddenly things seem out of control.

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