Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
The Argentine capital has a special fund for aging creative contributors.
Another installment of: Literary Laws that Will Never Exist in the United States. This week we turn to Buenos Aires, Argentina, home of the late Jorge Luis Borges (above), where aging novelists, poets and playwrights are eligible to receive government pensions.
The New York Times reported Sunday that the recently-established program is now distributing pensions of up to $900 a month to over 80 writers. One of those recipients, Alberto Laiesca, told Romero that “the program is magnificent, delivering some dignity to those of us who have toiled our entire life for literature.”
The requirements for the pension are strict, according to the Times and the Argentine news blog Occidentes: 15 years residence in the Argentine capital, a continuing commitment to the arts, and the publication of five works of literature, poetry, essays or theater, barring some other extended engagement with literature.
Supporters of the law have said that literary capital must be recognized for contributing to the cultural wealth of the nation. Elvio Vitali, the president of the Commission for Social Communication and one of the law’s proponents, said that culture forms the “vertebral column of society… defining its character, its originality.” Apparently many career writers, as a result of their freelance work, are not entitled to a social security pension.
It’s an expansion of a less generous law that has been around since 2006. Only about two-thirds of those who met the requirements and qualified were accepted to that assistance program, according to the BBC.
Top image: Revista Gente et la actualidad/Wikimedia Commons.