Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon occasionally hears from U.S. sources that Brazil’s been taken over by communists. That’s not the case. Although Dilma’s a socialist at heart, there aren’t a dozen communists in the Brazilian legislature and Lula has always been a capitalist.
Brazil’s been taken over by a combination of populists and plutocrats, all of whom are out to feather their own nests, in other words, a Kleptocracy. The Kleptocracy promotes government ownership of “essential” industry not to plan people’s lives, but to create jobs and opportunities for corruption. The Kleptocracy actively supports cartels in heavy industry for the same reasons—jobs and corruption.
The Kleptocracy promotes outrageously ridiculous (not to mention environmentally harmful) mega-projects such as diverting the São Franciso River, huge power dams and even a road to the Pacific Ocean. Agribusiness is actively encouraged by the Agriculture Minister to plant more crops by chopping down forests.
One could argue that the Lula/Dilma regime has sought to create a form of fascist regime. The three fasces in the bundle are labor, capital and government, all working hand in hand to create prosperity. The labor unions saw jobs and wages increase; big business (banks, automobile, iron and steel, construction) saw profits increase. These are direct results of government fiscal and financial incentives, voted by Congresses heavily influenced by corporate “contributions”, licit and illicit.
The only branch of the Brazilian government that functions nowadays is the Judiciary, which has refused to kowtow to the executive or the legislative branches, unlike Brazil’s neighbors Venezuela and Argentina. Moreover, unlike those neighbors, freedoms of the press and assembly are still assured.
The Curmudgeon has predicted that Dilma will resign. She knows she’s incompetent, she knows she’s disliked by more than ninety percent of the country, and she hates austerity. If (when?) that happens, the Kleptocrats will officially take over and (eventually) stop the tax-and-spend policies that have stifled Brazil’s economy.
If (when?) that happens, the dollar will slide from R$4 to R$3 within a relatively short period of time, just as it did in 2002.
The Curmudgeon lives in hope but still writes dismal Smidgens.