Increase in Minimum Wage Not Enough

By: Jason Carpenter

Presently in the Philippines, economists estimate that 1 in 5 people earn less than minimum wage.  In addition, 10% of the entire Philippines population leave the country to work overseas.  Recently, the governmental authorities in Manila decided to add a 22 peso* cost of living allowance to the current  minimum wage of 404 pesos per day (about 9 dollars a day).  This policy was instituted in hopes of addressing the overwhelming needs of the approximately 16 million people living in the overcrowded and impoverished city.   This move to increase the minimum wage is viewed by the governing authorities as a possible solution to these problems, however economists fear it could cause inflation and result in job losses.

 

Worldwide, these economic issues are common in third world cities like Manila.  The centralization of money, power, people and resources results in an environment where the strongest members of society prey upon the weakest. Any society that becomes disconnected from the land subsequently experiences a degradation of their moral fabric.

The prophet Micah understood this reality in Israel before the Assyrian exile.  He was able to observe the injustice practiced by the governmental powers in the capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem.  God helped Micah identify that the cause of their  unethical behavior was their disconnectedness from the land.  With the inspiration of God, Micah proposes his solution for the victims of the city: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid” (Micah 4:3-4).

Micah hoped for a reality where families are able to sustain themselves on their land rather than an insufficient wage.  What a powerful image when men can sit under their own fig trees and vines knowing where dinner for their family will come from that night!

In Micah's proposed reality, the poor people are no longer forced into dependence upon the inadequate infrastructure of a city.  Young men are no longer forced into war because of hunger.  No longer are men enslaved to jobs that pay less than minimum wage.  No longer are families dependent upon the solutions of governmental authorities, like the meager 22 pesos wage.

The increase in minimum wage by the authorities in Manila may offer some relief to poverty.  However, a solution to the plight of the over 16 million people does not rest in simplistic efforts like this one.  It rests in people who can envisage and actualize a reality where people are reconnected to the land and derive sustenance from it.  We as a movement at G.O.D. International approach the needs of the world with holistic perspectives that recognize the complexity of poverty's victims and perpetrators.  We, with God and Micah, are dreaming and working towards a new reality.

*(Filipino currency; 42 PHP = 1USD) **Bibliography: BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13555679.   “Wage Rise in the Philippines”, written May  25, 2011.  Accessed July 7, 2011.