Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Would You Take This Job?

Your pay starts at 800,000 KSH ($10,500) per month.  That's your base salary.  If you actually come to work (because absconding from the job is the norm) you will receive a daily bonus called a "sitting fee".  On top of your generous salary you will receive keys to not one, but two brand new BMW cars.   Because you must continue to ride in style, we'll replace the Beamers with a brand new set each year.  And for your family full health care, a vacation allowance, and all private education from grade school to professional school will be paid.   A modest mansion awaits your family once you are hired.  The importance of your position dictates that you will not pay income tax.  If the new Beamers did not seal your decision, maybe this will.  A referendum is in place (you get to vote, not the public) to increase your monthly salary to 1.2 million KSH ($15,000 USD) per month (or $180,000 USD) per year.  Will you take the job?  

If you took job you just became a Kenyan MP (Member of Parliament), which there are about 200 in this country of 30 million people.  A Kenyan MP is the US equivalent of a Senator.  Being sympathetic to the MP's, you could argue that a US senators annual salary ($174,000) is equivalent to an MP.   But let's put it in perspective.  A US senator makes roughly 5 times that of an average joe American ($34,000 per year).  A Kenyan MP makes 574 times that of an average joe Kenyan ($314 per year).  If the salary raise referendum passes Kenya will shift its pay scale for MP's to second in the world, only lagging behind the UK.

Missionaries are encouraged to abstain from politics.  In one sense I have abstained.  I don't vote.  I don't have a voter card.  I don't campaign.  I don't wear political shirts. I don't have a sign in my front yard.  I haven't run for any offices here.  

But in the other sense politically, I can't be silent.  But it's their country, not mine.  So I asked a colleague of mine Michael, What do you think of this referendum?   

 "It's wrong.   They have BMW's, and we are grappling for peanuts.  The MP's trade free Mendazis (scones) for votes.   Our nation is struggling economically from the post election violence.  Even the educated can't find jobs.  It's a disgrace to see MP's get a raise, while the poor sit in IDP camps." 

Christians should react to disparity (a loaded term...but 5 times vs. 564 times?). We are called to be distinct from culture and engaged with culture.  We are distinct because our lives have been changed, turned upside down by a new covenant ushered in by Christ.  We engage culture because we recognize that sin has broken individuals (theft, drugs, abuse) but sin has also broken systems (greed, dishonesty).  We engage to show that Christ offered a better way.  And the better way is adorned if we are distinctly Christian.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said and I agree with you. Mom F