How Much Is Enough?

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How much is enough?
by Raffy Gutierrez
February 19, 2014

Did you know that almost 20% of the Filipino people are poor, living right on the border of basic subsistence. 7.5% of the 20% live in extreme poverty which basically means that they probably starve on a daily basis.(1)

This abject poverty is the harsh and stark truth of Philippine society,  notwithstanding  the Philippines being one of the countries that is rich in natural resources (2), and  the third largest English speaking country in the world (3) (Although I am truly doubtful if being able to speak English has been a real advantage in terms of becoming a great economy.)

We begin to wonder how a country so rich in natural resources and a people that has little problem communicating is also plagued with such level of poverty.  That is truly a million dollar question.  What are the reasons why the Philippines seems to be one of the few SEA countries that have yet to become an economic tiger? Or perhaps, an even more important question to ask is what must be done so that the Philippines can finally emerge as an economic powerhouse?

One can imagine a huge number of possibilities to address the issue of poverty in our country.  Many of us can think of all sorts of solutions to address the wide range of issues that contribute to the worsening poverty. (4)  In this article I will go right to the heart of the cause of the problem.

How much is enough? 

For one person:  (single, no child, no spouse, lives on his own)

How much does it cost to eat three square meals a day?  About P100/day or ~$2.00 (or P3,000.00/month or ~$70.00/month)

How much does it cost to rent a bed in a low income level neighborhood?  About P1000/month or $20.00/month)

How much does it cost to travel to and from work traveling about 20 kilometers per day?  About P200/day or ~$4.00 (or P6,000.00/month or $135.00/month)

How much does it cost to purchase other basic groceries and commodities?  About P1000/week or $20.00 (or P4,000.00/month or $90/month)

How much does it cost to pay for utilities such as phone and internet connection, electricity and water?  About P1000/week or $20

Basic survival cost:  About P15,000.00/($340.00) month  (minimum wage is P13,500 ($306.00) before taxes, about P11,880 after taxes @ 12% ($270)
*there is already a deficiency of -P3120.00/month or about -$70.00/month.

I’m wondering if those involved in determining the cost of minimum wage even bothered to make this realistic computation. 

“The NSCB report points out that in 2012, a Filipino family of five needed PhP 5,513 to meet basic food needs every month and Php 7,890 to stay above the poverty threshold (basic food and non-food needs) every month. These respective amounts represent the food and poverty thresholds, which increased by 12.4 percent from 2009 to 2012. Such increases can be attributed to inflation of about 4.1% on the average per year between 2009 and 2012.” (5)
Is the NSCB smoking some kind of alien horse shit to have come out with such an insane statement?  How can a family of five live on 5,513 ($125.00) a month or  P125.00 (~$3.00)/day?  They’re probably eating some kind of cockroach or worm dish.  Seriously?  A family of five living on P125.00 or $4.00/day?   Something in the computation is seriously amiss or maybe the people doing the computation has no idea how much food costs these days.  (Stuck in the 1920s, perhaps?)  Math is not my expertise but hey I can compute better than you.

How much is enough?

Let’s take for an example the least wealthy of the top 50 Filipino Billionaires (6) who is worth $100,000,000 or about P4,400,000,000.00.  If he left his money even at 2%  interest in a savings account(6), he will still make $2,000,000.00/year or P88,000,000.00/year; or $167,000.00/month or P7,350,000/month; or  $5,560.00/day or P244,640/day.

The daily interest of this person alone can feed 44 families of 5 based on NSCB.  If we were to compute the interest of the richest Filipino the same way, he makes about P29,333,333/day or can feed about 5275 families of 5 per day.

How much is enough?

Philippine Congressmen/women receive P70,000,000.00/year ~$1,600,000.00/year
Philippine Senators receive P200,000,000.00/year ~$4,545,000.00/year
“The total amount of releases in 2012 of pork amounted to P24.2 billion, of which P20.1 billion went to the lower house and P4 billion to the Upper House. The average releases for each legislator (in million pesos) were: District congressman P70.5 million; Party-list congressman, P65.2 million; and senators, P179.5 million.”(8)
P24,000,000,000.00 (~$54,545,000.00).   This amount broken down per day can feed 12,228 families of 5 or 61140 people per day or 21,765,840 people per year.

Janet Lim Napoles stole 10,000,000.00 thanks to her conspirators in the Senate.  How many other Napoles’ are out there who are either already dead or are just too diabolical to admit the evil they have done.  I bet JNL was just really unfortunate she got caught because there are many more JNLs out there who are living way below or above the radar.

My cousin who manages a farm in an island south of Masbate said the P10,000,000,000.00 would be enough to finance 10,000 farmers to allow them to make a living off a 1,000 square meter land for an entire year.

How much is enough?

Why is our country still suffering from so much poverty?  Just looking at the simple computations provided above and you can see the extremely wide gap between the richest and the poorest.  You have about 20 million who are living on less than a dollar a day, and 20 people who are making P2,000,000/day on 2% interest per year.

You have government people stealing about P20B/year for the last 40 years or 800,000,000,000.00 money gone to the pockets of people we voted to serve our country.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  We are not yet including the trillions more that are being assigned to the other agencies, particularly the Executive Department.

It’s not at all rocket science to figure out why our nation is still in shambles almost 30 years after we’ve reclaimed our so-called Democracy from the Martial Law years. People reading this might demand more proof about how the public funds were misused or actually stolen.  The proof is all around us.  Even the greatest of fools can figure this one out.  But most of the Filipinos remind blind and oblivious to the truth.  The last 30 years have indicated that most of the money that was meant to rebuild this country clearly went somewhere else, and certainly not to the people.  That is indubitable.  Anyone who thinks otherwise has either gone insane or has benefited from the corrupt system.

How much is enough?

How long are we going to wait before it’s too late.  The time has come for us to unite as a people and instigate the reforms needed to end this madness.

Sources
(1,5) http://www.nscb.gov.ph/pressreleases/2013/NSCB-PR-20131213_povertypress.asp 

(2) http://www.philippine-history.org/about-philippines.htm

(3) http://www.mapsofworld.com/world-top-ten/countries-with-most-english-language-speaker-map.html

(4) http://bulatlat.com/main/2013/04/28/youths-hit-aquino-for-worsening-poverty-unemployment/

(6) http://www.forbes.com/philippines-billionaires/list/

(7) http://philratesandfees.blogspot.com/2012/02/peso-savings-account-interest-rates.html

(8) http://www.philstar.com/business/2013/09/04/1168741/pork-barrel-and-who-got-their-releases-2012

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