Kompas this weekend featured a special report on rural-urban migration. Two main arguments were presented in favor of this: the "no-alternative" argument, and the "rights-based" argument.
The "no-alternative" argument basically says that life in the villages sucks. Due to failure of rural livelihoods, some of the younger females had to become commercial sex workers, older males day laborers.
Marco Kusumawijaya, as proponent of the "rights-based" argument, said,
Wartiyah, like all migrants, including the Governor, came to Jakarta to look for a better life...However, two city governments (in Bandung and Makassar) complain about rural-urban migration. They say,
The job of cities is to respect this right, help them go through the process of becoming good urban dwellers, and as far as possible serve them as citizens who give governments a reason for being.
For those who come and work, it's no problem. But for those who can't find work and become homeless, they becomes a heavy burden for the government.What? You mean if they're unemployed in the village, it's not your burden? You're lucky Indonesia doesn't have to pay a stiped for the unemployed (like in some welfare states), and you're complaining that the people are taking care of their own lives, whereas the government has failed to do so?
To give more weight to the migration proponents, let me propose a third argument: that "urbanization is good" and should be prepared for with optimism. More labor in cities enable cheaper cost of everything, i.e. construction, food, domestic help, factory-based production. Low-income rural migrants keep cities competitive.
Imagine if you have to pay double for your food and triple for your babysitter (because it's so hard to find cheap labor). Then you'd probably demand more wage from your employer. If so, then the employer might think that your city is not competitive anymore, and they'll move their business to another city. What do you say now?
Why do we keep blaming the negative effects rural-urban migration to the low capacity of our migrants? Why don't we blame the entrepreneurs who are not ready to absorb such opportunity? Why don't we blame our education system that failed to prepare its citizens to become able workers? Why don't we thank the positive effects of having rural migrants in the city, such as the cheap food and services that we consume, and maybe our job too?