Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Having already opined that “it’s not about the R$0,20” the Curmudgeon now realizes it’s mostly about getting “half price” on everything. Half price entry to cultural and sporting events is now available to all in Brazil under eighteen or over sixty, as long as they can show an ID. But last week the Brazilian Congress approved the “Estatuto da Juventude” which we will call the Statute of Youth.
“Youth” is defined in the eponymous Statute as being between the ages of fifteen and 29. What do “youths” get, when they go to the fountain under the Statute? The right to pay half price for entry to any and all cultural and sporting events, anywhere in Brazil, except (duh!) the 2014 World Cup football (soccer) matches and the 2016 Olympic Games events.
What else do they get? If the Statute of Youth is passed without any vetoes, any student who can show a valid student ID (more on that below) is entitled to ride free on “interstate transportation.” Unfortunately, the free ride is not conditioned upon your going to school. So, if you’re a wealthy student in Rio de Janeiro and fancy a long weekend in Iguaçu Falls, just hop a plane and pay only half the price the “non-students” pay! Whee!
How will we know someone’s really a student? ID cards should “preferentially” (meaning obligatorily) be “issued” (meaning sold) by those national student organizations — UNE, UBES — once famous for their left-wing political protests. They need the money to build their swanky new headquarters (designed by Oscar Niemeyer) on Rio’s Flamengo Beach Road and this monopoly is their payoff for having protested exactly nothing for the past ten years.
Purveyors of culture are another group heavily in favor of this measure, because for the first time the number of half price tickets available is to be limited. Cultural purveyors can charge only half price to the holders of the “Vale Cultura” (culture voucher) which employers provide their employees. Children and “Sêniores” [only Brazilians would inculcate into their language a misspelt English euphemism for “idoso” or elderly] are already entitled to enter at half price.
Producers of plays have to pay full price for lighting and sound equipment and set decorations, and they have to estimate how much revenue they will get. That’s been impossible up to now, as the numbers of youths claiming to be under age eighteen far exceeds the true number of under eighteen’s, given the widespread falsification of ID cards. The Statute stipulates that only forty percent of the available seats be reserved for students, which, according to the producers, means regular prices will now come down. The Curmudgeon will believe that when he sees it.
The Curmudgeon has one more complaint. In his view, those 29-year old perpetual students living the easy life sponging off their parents ought not to get tax benefits. For in case you were wondering, it is the taxpayers of Brazil who will pay for this populist measure — the Statute of Youth specifically provides for government subsidies to transportation companies and culture purveyors. That isn’t right, unless you’re one of the favored few.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)
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