What's on

November 15, 2010
"laissez faire, laissez aller, laissez passer"

   Brazil’s last election showed once more that every presidential candidate and almost all the others, who run for a political job across the country, fear to call themselves a rightist.
   Pols with right-wing leanings, in their wisdom, think they cannot win an election if they strongly support ideas such as free market, privatization and less government. Therefore, they campaign making populist or even leftist promises.
   Once elected their old convictions suffer a tremendous shake. How not to be increasingly receptive to ideas that gave them a mandate?
   In a country with one of the widest social disparities, to help the poor through handouts became a political dogma that no one dares to defy. So that Brazilian government created the biggest social assistance scheme in the world.
   You could think that there is nothing wrong with it since someone has to help the poor and that that is the role of a government. However, it wouldn’t be just the excess of government the true cause of those disparities?
   Brazil ever had big governments, and the poorest is a country’s region the biggest is its government. Take, for instance, the northeast region, the one that has given now the widest margin of votes to the incumbent party, and you will verify a history of subsidies, assistance and great state apparatus.
   Whatever the amount of handouts that really reaches the needy a corruptible structure is formed always we create an assistance scheme. And it begins already in the first steps of any program – when the choices of who will execute the project and how it will be implemented should inevitably benefit someone.
   Obviously, that - how things are and must be in politics -, the king’s friends are ever the main beneficiaries. Loyalists, campaign funders and relatives of staffers will fight tooth and nail for a share of the scheme, and the more expensive it is the more beneficiaries and profits it embodies.
   Some left-wing Brazilians must disagree fiercely with us on whether we can consider the northeast warlord-esque administrations as examples of big governments. They would argue that throughout history corrupt populists, who bribe voters with porks, threaten opposition fiddling the law and even rig elections, have mostly ruled those states.
   The ideologues of the left believe to be possible to increase the size of a government without raising its corruption level. To them the governors of the northeast states are disguised rightists that work for the rich.
   But the case is not that they are rightists for working for the rich, you can be leftist and work for the rich too. To be leftist only means you favor a bigger government intervention in the economy, which ever ends up treating better a privileged few.
   Even in economies almost entirely based on public ownership, such as the former USSR and the seemingly endless dictatorship of Cuba, people are divided into classes. With a difference that those with more government resemble less a meritocracy.
   The stump speeches of the left emphasize mottos such as helping the poor, finishing the exploitation and giving equal opportunities. Nevertheless, when in power, a left-wing regime tends to create a hierarchical bureaucracy, whose high-ranking officers are picked mostly because their abasement to the government policies.
   Of course, this article intends to be only an appetizer to others that will come, but it shows up already that there are countless arguments to counter the overwhelming perception of most Brazilians that the left is good and the right is bad.


And our Tammany Society William M. Tweed
Brasilian president and the jobless
Can Lula carry a big stick for us?
Theodore Roosevelt a model to follow suit.
'Carring a big stick
The Brazilian financial pundits and The Economist magazine