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Who benefits?

Written By: - Date published: 9:19 am, June 21st, 2013 - 41 comments
Categories: activism, capitalism, democratic participation, Economy, education, Gerry Brownlee, health, housing, john key, local government, peak oil, poverty, privatisation, same old national, slippery, spin, sustainability - Tags:

Over the last week, Brazil and Turkey have seen the spontaneous uprisings of masses of people against their governments’ divisive and destabilising economic policies.  At the forefront of the protests in Brazil is the complaint that too much has been spent on expensive stadiums for international sports events, while not enough has been spent of public services such as those of education and health.

As we embark on The Long Descent of the post-peak-oil world, it was only a matter of time until the tide began to turn against the increasingly extravagant pissing-contests that international sports and other events have become.  Many on the left in NZ and other countries are watching Brazil’s current protests in order to see if it is part of an emerging international rebellion against the lords of the “neoliberal” age.

The reports indicate that the middle-classes are at the centre of the Brazil uprising, motivated by rising inflation with costs outstripping, what had seemed like, rising middle-class salaries.  An Associated Press report in yesterday’s  NZ Herald says:

A poll of protesters attending this week’s rallies in Sao Paulo shows they are solidly middle class. Three-quarters have a university degree, half are younger than 25 and more than 80 per cent say they don’t belong to any political party, according to the survey by the respected Datafolha group.

This article claims that there is a disconnect between the protests and reality with the current Workers Party government working more for the poorest sections of Brazil society, and having raised their incomes.  The article paints a picture of middle-classes that just make new demands as their insatiable desires are never satisfied by on-going improvements.

An article in France2 4 paints a different picture; one of a dysfunctional economy:

The absence of a quick fix can partly be explained by the nature of the protesters’ demands. The anger over the rise in the cost of bus tickets and the spending on preparations before the 2014 World Cup, which Brazil is set to host, has indeed shed light on the dysfunction of the country’s current economic model.

Underlying the apparent improvements in incomes for the poor and middle-classes, lies a high level of inequality and a dysfunctional economic model aiming to achieve growth in a post-growth world:

The rise in public transportation costs is part of a larger increase in the cost of living in Brazil. Prices of basic goods like tomatoes rose by as much as 90% in a year, for example. Rent has also been on the rise over the past several years, increasing by an average of 120% since 2008. “This inflation is essentially due to the increase in salaries,” Rifflart pointed out.

Consequently, the poorest Brazilians – those whose salaries have not risen – are getting poorer.

“Brazil remains one of the countries with the highest level of inequality when it comes to salary and access to social services,” noted Jérémie Gignoux, an economist at the Paris School of Economics.

If the Brazilian government succeeded in significantly lowering the poverty rate in the country, which went from 34% of the population in 2004 to 22% in 2009, authorities today are having a difficult time stopping the spiralling inflation.

The government is indeed stuck between two, somewhat conflicting priorities: the need to fight inflation and the need to stimulate the economy so that it is healthy again. Brazil’s economy, the seventh largest, grew “by only 0.9% in 2012, essentially because of low export levels,” Rifflart said – compared to an average annual growth rate of 3.6% over the past decade.

The focus on extravagant international sports events, highlights this dysfunctional economic model.  Simon Jenkins in Thursday’s Guardian provides the background to the over-expensive staging of many international events, and the growing discontent among people in the UK and elsewhere.

The World Cup is an ongoing scandal run by Fifa’s unsackable boss, Sepp Blatter, on the back of ticket and television sales and soccer hysteria. […]

The Olympics are likewise sold by the IOC to star-struck national leaders as offering glory for political gain. Their purpose-built stadiums, luxurious facilities, lunatic security and lavish hospitality are senseless, yet are backed by construction and security lobbies and a chorus of chauvinist public relations. If the cost is bankruptcy, as in Montreal and Athens, too bad. The golden caravan can move on to trap some new victim.

The World Cup and the Olympics are television events that could be held at much less expense and ballyhoo in one place. As it is, host nations are deluged with promises of “legacy return” that everyone knows are rubbish. Costs escalate to an extent that would see most managers in handcuffs, but gain bonuses and knighthoods for Olympic organisers.

Sport is not alone in this addiction to the jamboree. The London Olympics last year morphed into politics, as diplomacy, culture and trade were conflated in an outpouring of nonsensical rhetoric about £13bn in contracts. A summit used to be a meeting ad hoc to resolve a crisis in world affairs. It is now a Field of Cloth of Gold, a continuous round of hospitality, rest and recuperation, flattering the vanity of world leaders.

This week’s G8 shindig in Northern Ireland was pointless – a night and two days on a bleak Irish lough at a cost to taxpayer of £60m and a deployment of 1,000 policemen per delegate.

In New Zealand, we have seen Gerry Brownlee and John Key foregrounding the building of a new sports stadium, resulting in conflict between them and the city council over funding.  Key and Brownlee favour selling public assets to pay for it. Meanwhile, the urgent need to deal with inadequate housing, and the much needed rebuilding of homes, gets lower priority.

John Key’s government is one of weetbix and circuses: a way of diverting from inequalities an poverty, and a dysfunctional economic model.  And many in the MSM play along with inhumane circuses and distractions, as Queen of Thorns shows in her review of the Vote‘s poverty & parenting debate.


41 comments on “Who benefits?”

  1. Rich the other 1

    Aren’t the Nat’s just wanting to swap one lot of assets for another, that’s effectively what’s being proposed.

    Perhaps a better approach would be to sell assets to pay for housing repairs.
    Do you really think the locals would go for that, I doubt it.

    • AmaKiwi 1.1

      To paraphrase, “not all assets are created equal.”

      Most assets depreciate. A few appreciate.

      Assuming they are managed properly, manufacturing industries, farms, forests, and power stations steadily increase in value. They produce profits. Profits can be paid as dividends and/or used to increase efficiency and improve the asset’s value.

      Sports stadiums, roads, homes, public buildings, and your car steadily decrease in value. They are worth more on the day they are new than they will ever be worth again.

      Selling appreciating assets to buy depreciating assets is Nact economics. It’s logic: “f*ck the future.”

    • vto 1.2

      Rich, stadiums and convention centres are not assets they are liabilities.

      – its what they say

      so where is the user-pays? Now they want elderly ratepayer pays. Funny that. No cred.

    • millsy 1.3

      Power networks, airports, seaports, works and services companies, fibre networks and bus operators seem to me to be core council assets/functions as they relate to transport and infrastructure.

      Convention centres and stadia are not in the same category as the below and private investors should have no trouble in building them.

      • Colonial Viper 1.3.1

        Exactly. A sports stadium falls over, who gives a shit. Huntly goes down, the entire nation is going to know about it.

  2. Mr Interest 2

    Is it not interesting that in Brazil they will protest against fare increases and overpriced stadiums yet in NZ the kiwi is incrementally boiled into submission (assets sales to pay for stadiums/traders, accountants, fund manager’s free lunch).

    Here maybe is why?

    The Scarcity principle


    Toward a theory of Revolution by James C Davies
    Revolutions are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and social development is followed by a short period of sharp reversal. People then subjectively fear that ground gained with great effort will be quite lost; their mood becomes revolutionary. The evidence from Dorr’s Rebellion, the Russian Revolution, and the Egyptian Revolution supports this notion; tentatively, so do data on other civil disturbances.

    Here is also an interesting study on the Pedagogy of the Oppressed (by a Brazilian Paulo Freire Published: 1968


    In this landmark account, first published over twenty years ago, Paulo Freire argues that the ignorance and lethargy of the poor are the direct result of the whole situation of economic, social and political domination. By being kept in a situation in which critical awareness and response are practically impossible the disadvantaged are kept ‘submerged’. In some countries the oppressors use the system of education to maintain this ‘culture of silence’ while in others the advance of technology has condemned many people, particularly the less well off, to a rigid conformity. Through the right kind of education, avoiding authoritarian teacher-pupil models and based on the actual experiences of students and on continual shared investigation, every human being, no matter how impoverished or illiterate, can develop a new awareness of self which will free them to be more than passive objects responding to uncontrollable change. As Freire presents it, each individual wins back the right to say his or her own word, to name the world.

    The question to ask then is what has caused this uprising, is it a combination of the scarcity principle and improved awareness/education? Note that a high number of the protestors were students.

    How patronising was Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ‘proud’ of protests speech.

    Sounds like another mum and dad investors quote to me……. a John (or more aptly put… let them eat cake). Its all about hearts and minds ehhhh.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Through the right kind of education, avoiding authoritarian teacher-pupil models…

      And this government is putting in place authoritarian schooling. There is no doubt really, this government is out to increase the oppression of the poor.

  3. What has caused this uprising is capitalism in crisis trying to solve its falling profits by making the working class pay for the crisis.

    It is a mistake to call those who are standing up from Tahrir to Taksim to Rio and Sao Paulo, “middle class”. They are part of the precariat, the mainly youthful, relatively educated working class.

    These mobilisations are kicked off by the relatively young, workers or self-employed workers (like Mohamed Boussaid) trapped in poverty and/or the authoritarian institutions of capitalism which includes parliament and social democratic parties like the PT. When capitalism no longer delivers what it promises they rise up.

    There is nothing strange about this. Capitalism has created a massive rise in living standards over a couple of centuries. Increasing labour productivity has raised education levels in each generation.

    But not only the youthful precariate is on the move. Highly productive and organised workers are also rising up against increased exploitation. Where the impoverished masses are left behind this is only because capitalists actively deny them the wealth they produce by expropriating it as their private wealth. Witness Marikana.

    Capitalism in its terminal decline, destroying the huge wealth fund and democratic culture it has created. It is also destroying the ecological basis of human existence.

    We should be debating how these uprisings can be united globally and turned into a revolutionary force that does away with the capitalist ruling classes and puts in its place the democratic rule of the working people on every continent.

    • AmaKiwi 3.1

      Starting an uprising is the easy bit. Replacing it with something significantly better is extremely difficult, particularly when everyone is furious.

      That’s why I keep harping on the need for democratic reforms now. Democracy requires trust, a commodity in short supply after a popular uprising.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Yep. To paraphrase Eliot Spitzer: expressing popular anger feels good, but is not a form of governance.

  4. Nicolas 4


    The key source of discontent in Brazil, as indicated by the majority of people protesting, is not simply how much the World Cup is costing, or the fact that Brazil is guided by a flawed “economic system”. The real issue the protesters highlight is corruption, which lies at the root of all others.

    The reason why the World Cup has cost so much is because these official “costs” are fake. Much of the public money that should have gone towards building these new stadiums (which would have been outrageous even if no corruption existed, considering the living conditions of so many people in the country) has gone directly to individual pockets. The reason why things are not working in Brazil is not related to any one party’s “misguided economic policy”; it’s almost solely a result of the corruption that is widespread across ALL main political parties in the country.

    The NZ notion of “Right and Left” does not really exist in Brazil. Politicians wear their ideological masks to get into power, and be granted access to the money that belongs to the people of Brazil. Red Rattler’s idea that this is a result of “capitalism” is way too simplistic.

    That could be said to be the ultimate reason why these protests are happening. One thing that should be noticed is that the majority of protesters are not taking party flags out into the streets. They’re sick of them and I really hope radical change occurs. This isn’t simply a matter of getting rid of the corrupt “Worker’s” Party, and the protesters know that.

    • emergency mike 4.1

      I agree Nicolas, until we stop giving power to charismatic psychopaths, narcissists, career con-men and gravy train riders no protest, revolution, nor alternative system of government is going to fix our societal failings.

      Until the voting population understands and accepts that, as John Lennon said, “our society is run by insane people for insane objectives,” it will be meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

      “Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.” – John Lennon

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      The reason why things are not working in Brazil is not related to any one party’s “misguided economic policy”; it’s almost solely a result of the corruption that is widespread across ALL main political parties in the country.

      The corruption is part of the misguided economic policy. The people putting in place the policies and the participating in the corruption are the same people and so they must think that corruption is fine. Hell, they probably don’t even see it as that but just how business is done and I’ve seen (yes, anecdote) a lot of that in NZ.

    • Murray Olsen 4.3

      Ba, tchê. Militants of left parties and organisations such as PSTU, PCO, PSOL, and even MPL (the original organisers) have been bashed and expelled from marches, by people who have never been seen in any actions previously, under the reasoning that it’s a movement of the people, not parties. Buildings have been vandalised by people who are not known to the other protestors, giving the Police an excuse to attack. A city building in São Paulo was vandalised by a guy whose father owns one of the bus companies. Morons in designer jeans and R$300 haircuts are proudly burning PT flags in the street. They don’t even catch the bus. Pffft.
      Red Rattler’s analysis is spot on, and I’ll add to it. There is a semi-organised movement in Brazil that longs for the days of the military government. These are the ones trying to take over the marches, and they remind me of the far right militants of Tradição, Família e Propriedade who marched against Jango Goulart just before the military coup, although I suspect you might prefer to call that a revolution. That you agree with these neofascists is hardly a surprise after seeing your views on Chavez.

      • Nicolas 4.3.1

        When did I say I agree with neofascists? Of course I don’t agree with the extreme “Right” (or “Left”, for that matter) who have used these protests as an excuse to promote violence. You, yet again, show you know nothing of Brazil’s history or what the country’s situation is today…

        You fail to mention these assholes are a fucking MINORITY amongst the protesters.

        You, Murray, are such an idiot… I do consider myself part of the “Left” (I’m a Green Party member, hardly what a neofascist would be, huh?) but you still don’t get that PT is NOT part of the Left. Brazil’s problems are not down to “capitalism” or “socialism”. When corruption takes over, it almost becomes an economic system itself.

        Only idiots like you continue to advocate for “defenders of the poor” like Lula, who is a FUCKING MILLIONAIRE thanks to the money he stole from the people of Brazil.

        Not only that but I’ve spoken to many, who are taking part in these protests, who are starting to suspect the assholes destroying public property were put in place by the GOVERNMENT to discredit the movement.

        I’ll really emphasize this: these kids are a minority.
        It’s great that assholes like you are also a minority, Murray…

        • Murray Olsen

          I know you read Veja and think it gives a worthwhile view of Brazil. That’s enough for me.
          It’s easy for you to say Lula stole from the people of Brazil. Have you got any evidence, apart from Editora Abril or Rede Globo? You’re sounding a lot like Collor, pointing at Lula’s portable stereo and calling him bourgeois.

          Here’s one of my sources that you may or may not like to look at:


          For those of you who can’t read Portuguese, the article linked to is about community groups on the outskirts of São Paulo who are organising to make sure the neofascists don’t manage to derail the movement. These are the real poor, and they don’t expect to be met by rubber bullets.

          It’s easy for you to call me an idiot and an asshole. Have I hit a nerve, bonitão?

    • karol 4.4

      How to make sense of the eruption of discontent on the streets of Brazil?

      Is the ruling Worker’s Party a friend to the low paid, the exploited and the workers, or a corrupt or Stalinist regime?

      Is it a middle-class revolution against a truly socialist government, as Christ Trotter seems to be arguing?

      An article on the World Socialist website explains it as a complex mix of all of the above. It refers to the ruling Workers Party as Stalinist:

      The Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) government which has run the country for the past ten years, first under Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and now with Dilma Rousseff, who took office as president in January 2011, has sought to cover over Brazil’s sharp social tensions with minimal social assistance for the country’s poorest and the promise that the rise of Brazilian capitalism on the world stage would bring general prosperity to the population.

      Initially the protests were called by the Movement for Free Fares, which advocates providing public transportation as a free public service and had organized demonstrations over the past several years with little public turnout. This year, however, intersecting with fare hikes and mounting discontent, it erupted into a massive spontaneous movement.

      It is noteworthy that Brazil’s unions, which work to subordinate the working class to the PT government, have played no significant role in the mass protests.

      There are already those who are seeking to make a virtue of the initial political confusion, calling for a movement “without a party.”

      As Brazilian workers and youth come increasingly into struggle, it is inevitable that they turn with hostility against the corrupt ruling PT, which has falsely claimed to represent the working class, as well as the other right-wing parties in state and local governments, such as the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira) and Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro), and the various pseudo-left forces that orbit around the PT.

      However, a mass movement with no revolutionary political perspective and program will ultimately face only dispersion, co-option and defeat.

      Another WSWS article reports that right wing opportunist groups are now getting in on the action, attacking any left wing groups involved in the protests. Violent military police have been reported to have attacked protesters and journalists.

      The lack of any worked-out program or revolutionary leadership and the predominance of middle class layers has left this movement open to various influences, including those of the political right. Slogans opposing all political parties and denouncing corruption and high taxes have become increasingly common, and organized groups of thugs have attacked those carrying signs and banners of left-wing parties.
      In Sao Paulo, elements referred to by the media as “nationalists” attacked members of left-wing parties, seizing their flags and banners and burning them in the streets.
      The political confusion and the ability of right-wing elements to exploit it is the byproduct of a decade of rule by the Workers Party, a corrupt political machine that falsely claimed to represent the working class, and of the unions’ integration into the state apparatus and betrayal of the struggles of the working class. The unions have played no significant role in the mass protests.

      • Rogue Trooper 4.4.1

        thanx for the reportage karol; the chattering classes of the BRIICS.

      • Jenny 4.4.2

        Yes, thanks for this mention karol. Could you see to it, if the Fare Free New Zealand website could be included on The Standard blogroll?

  5. Wayne 5

    I know some here would like to see protests against the Key Govt on the scale of those occurring in Brazil. But the situation is vastly different, which is why (in my view) you wont see such protests here.

    Brazil used to be a military dictatorship, with levels of inequality that were simply breathtaking. And they still are. Basic services in Brazil in education and health are woefully inadequate, which means some people simply cannot go to school. The major cities have flavellas where people have virtually no property rights.

    So a World Cup and the Olympics (especially both together) might seem to many people to be a fundamentally wrong allocation of priorities, especially given the scale of the other problems that Brazil faces.

    In contrast people loved having the Rugby World Cup here.

    So I guess it is a question of balance and proportion. Obviously for many of the people in Brazil the balance is wrong to the point that these protests are taking place. But in New Zealand, I guess the balance is not seen as too bad, certainly not enough to generate days and days of general protest.

    • AmaKiwi 5.1

      I have a very different view of social history. I believe the social mood changes and AFTERWARDS people come up with explanations.

      During the first week of Brazilian rioting the public officials were baffled. The rioters did NOT have a set of demands nor any organizational structure or leadership. It was spontaneous.

      My explanation: the mood of society has been shifting from trust and happiness to distrust and anger. We have seen it in the Arab Spring and now demonstrations in virtually every developed country.

      The Springboks tour was before my time. I have always wondered if all those anti-tour demonstrators were genuinely infuriated about racism halfway around the world or angry in general and the tour gave them a focus for their anger. I will never know. But if my view is correct, don’t be surprised if we have a spontaneous outburst of anger without any single obvious igniting event to precipitate it.

      • karol 5.1.1

        I was in England during the Springbok protests. I did think that the diverse range of groups that protested was an indication of underlying dissatisfactions that had been around for a long time – probably decades. As much as anything, it looked to me as if it was a protest against the dominant rugby culture, which also was aligned to the dominant culture in NZ society at that time: white, heterosexual male and generally socially conservative.

        That’s also what Rob Muldoon meant to me. I recall walking past the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall in Dominion Road when Muldoon was speaking, not long before I fled the country in anger & despair. I could hear what Muldoon was saying from outside the hall. He started his speech talking about the hall being close to Eden Park, and aligned everything (he claimed was) good in society with rugby. This was how he framed his politics.

        As I recall, then, and on other occasions he said something like, “The average New Zealander is a decent bloke/person, who knows what’s right etc, like on the rugby field. That did a lot to nudge me towards the feminist movement, and towards supporting working class and anti-racist politics. To me Muldoon was totally aligning “decent” average Kiwis with the white male, heterosexual middle-classes, while I could see, everyone else was suffering in one way or another.

        Yep, I agree. Significant and spontaneously erupting protests aren’t just the result of one trigger, but a long term build up of resentments.

        I do still quite like watching rugby. But he NZ RWC, did a lot to lessen my enthusiasm for the game – t’was all the extravagance and diversions, and associations with a very public kind of booze culture. i recall the emergency services were over-loaded with accidents as a result.

      • Martin 5.1.2

        “I have always wondered if all those anti-tour demonstrators were genuinely infuriated about racism halfway around the world”

        I was.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      Brazil used to be a military dictatorship, with levels of inequality that were simply breathtaking.

      The levels of inequality in NZ are probably about the same then.

      In contrast people loved having the Rugby World Cup here.

      Well, some people did.

      But in New Zealand, I guess the balance is not seen as too bad, certainly not enough to generate days and days of general protest.

      Either that or the people who should be protesting are so wound down by poverty that they just don’t have the energy to do so. I’m picking it’s the latter combined with the broken society that neo-liberalism has bequeathed us.

      • Gosman 5.2.1

        “The levels of inequality in NZ are probably about the same then.”

        If by same you mean not the same at all you would be right.

        Gini comparison

        Brazil – 54.7
        N.Z. – 36.2


        • Draco T Bastard

          NZ happens to be in the 10 Worst category for income inequality.

        • Wayne

          I looked at the comparison between Australia (30.5 measured in 2006) and New Zealand (36.2 measured in 1997). This is quite a difference, but is it correct. Is New Zealand actually significantly less equal than Australia?

          I tend to accept GDP measures as being reasonably correct since I know they are robustly measured and on an annual basis. But I suspect that GINI measures are much looser and taken less frequently, in the NZ case apparently 16 years ago.

          As a general proposition I note that Western Europe has the lowest disparity between rich and poor, and the less developed countries the largest, but no surprise there. NZ is at the higher end of OECD, with Singapore, Portugal, Japan and the US having a higher rating. Quite a few OECD countries clustered around 32 to 34.

    • Mike S 5.3

      “In contrast people loved having the Rugby World Cup here. ”

      Really? I don’t know anyone who loved having the rugby world cup here, especially those I know who are Auckland ratepayers.

      The reason there are no protests, etc here I think are more due to people here having been slowly pacified over the years. As a population we seem to be pretty apathetic towards what our supposed leaders are doing to us and our country. Whereas in Brazil they are far more passionate about things (other than rugby, we don’t seem to be passionate about anything on the whole anymore.)

      For a small example, the anti worker legislation just going through that took away workers rights to two short tea breaks during the day. In the past there would have been massive union action over this sort of thing and it would have been dropped. Sadly, our unions have been legislated against and lazily have allowed themselves to become weak.

      History shows us that when unions are strong and union membership high, wages and productivity are high, whilst unemployment and inequality are lower..

      • Wayne 5.3.1

        Actually Auckland (at least as far as I could see) was really enthusiastic. The crowd problems occurred precisely because people, the Council especially, underestimated the level of enthusiasm.

        • Colonial Viper


          it’s like they didn’t know in advance how many tickets they had sold to the opening ceremony?

          Or maybe it was just shoddy planning and leadership, subcontracting critical elements out to private contractors who didn’t give a damn about cutting costs and corners on staffing and logistics.

        • karol

          Yes there was enthusiasm for the RWC in Auckland. Some of my family from both in and out of Auckland were there for the celebrations. But it still was only a small proportion of Aucklanders there.

          How many of us stayed well clear of the Auckland CBD & Eden Park area during the RWC?

          • Rogue Trooper

            a subset of those (possibly in the majority) who stay away from the mob behaviour, on-field cheating and brawling, side-line aggression, coach and ref baiting, booze culture, over-inflated drink prices , hype etc of the stadium game in general; There was a suggestion that with the ‘televising’ of the game going from pay tv to pay online next, Clubs will make watching the game at the grounds free. 😀

    • millsy 5.4

      “In contrast people loved having the Rugby World Cup here.”

      When RWC 2011 came round, most of the grounds had already existed and were up to an acceptable standard. They were also owned and funded (historically) by the rugby fishheads (with the exception of a few council owned facilites).

      We didnt see the government bowl hundreds of state houses to build flash stadiums that will take years to pay off.

  6. xtasy 6

    Brazil set out to join the Asian Tigers, but did so without having built the industrial power base to grow manufacturing. It has expanded largely in agricultural areas, in mining and resource exploitation, also in some manufacturing, but the latter is on an international level not as competitive and productive as the Asian Tiger economies.

    So there are a lot of structural issues, besides of the still immense social divisions.

    It was sheer Brazilian over indulgence and arrogance to compete for and get the Football World Cup and only 2 years later the Olympics to stage there. Such evens require huge investments, and in almost all cases, these investments never pay off. A soccer mad nation though felt it was time to be up there, and celebrate their most favorite and passionate past time.

    With the global economic situation having weakened after the GFC, and Brazil having lost growth the last year, it is now all proving too much for the economy to handle. A grown middle class expects things to get better, but suddenly they have to pay more for goods and services and incomes and job security get weaker.

    The poor are the biggest losers, but the government put up programs to invest in housing improvements and social programs to assist here and there. That has even enraged some in the middle class, feeling the poor get “social” assistance for their paid taxes, virtually for doing nothing. Of course that is absurd, but one must be aware of status of belonging to social groups there, of entitlement thinking and so forth.

    I see major social tensions get worse there, and it pay even end in states of emergency declared here and there. It seems unlikely to end in that, but one can never rule out some strongmen cooperating with the military and police to seize controls.

    The protests seem to be organised only in part, and by various groups. Dissatisfaction is great, but there is insufficient cohesion and unity for anything substantial to come out of it, similar to the Occupy movement, which has almost vanished.

    • Murray Olsen 6.1

      Good post, xtasy. One thing important to note about Brazilian economic “success” is that it’s tended to result in increased consumption, rather than investment. Once the minerals or the buyers run out, they’re back to where they were.

      You’re spot on with what you say about the middle class (in general) becoming enraged. We’ve even seen it in this thread. In some cases this is because they have to rub shoulders with poorer people at airports, instead of just having their toilets cleaned by them. It’s easier for them to blame the PT for their problems, stirred up by the big media, than to look at anything structural. Some of the older ones long for the days of the generals, when there was seeming order and a sense of progress. Some of the younger ones have swallowed this nationalist rat under some silly idea that they are all Brazilians and shouldn’t involve political parties, despite the fact that the people pushing this line are heavily involved in various parties.

      I don’t know how this movement will end up, but I note that it’s becoming something of more than just the enraged middle class, and the workers from the periphery of São Paulo and the hills of Rio are becoming involved. They are not the ones calling for no participation from parties. They have their community organisations, some of which are linked to the PT. I’ll also note that, whatever anyone may think about the PT in government, many of the people on the ground are members of the base of that party, as well as smaller left groupings. To some extent, writing the whole PT off for not running a revolutionary socialist government (it doesn’t), would be the same as discounting all members of the Labour Party because Shearer’s an idiot.

      • xtasy 6.1.1

        I appreciate your deeper insight in affairs Brazilian and Latin American, Murray!

  7. xtasy 7

    The world is mad, economic growth is tried to be achieved by creating ever more output in whatever. Brazil produces more palm oil, beef, fruit, logs, oil, gas, iron ore and more. There is some manufacturing and other activity, naturally horticulture, fishing, services of various kinds.

    But looking at the growth of mega cities, endless favelas around the better parts of those urban jungles, the cultivation of former forests, jungles, the formerly unused plains in Mato Grosso, Parana and elsewhere, endless monoculture, all to produce more of the same, it is going to head for a disaster sooner or later.

    Asian countries do similar things, look at the smoke pollution all over Singapore, Southern Malaysia and much of Indonesia. Forest is burnt down, to make way for palmoil plantations and other use.

    The plundering goes on, as if there is an endless resource to grab.

    Cities grow into anonymous, giant concrete and tin hut jungles. Social cohesion suffers. If economic troubles hit, people cannot cope, and they either protest or go out on rampages, or simply rob and steal to survive.

    It would be smarter to develop more balanced societies and economies, without mega cities, without obsessive growth for growth’s sake.

    A functioning society with stability would have smaller cities and more towns and villages spread across areas, would have space for collective and individual garden plots, for less environmentally damaging agriculture, that is sustainable and maintains soil and water conditions.

    Also social justice must be ensured, by involving all in economic and social activities, in sharing jobs, responsibilities, in having services to cover for breakdowns and avoiding social suffering.

    Brazil has not done this, so have many other countries failed. Partly it is the corrupt elites, not bothering to plan and govern smarter, fairer and sounder, partly it is the indifference and ignorance, even sometimes complacency of people to allow things to drift and move into the wrong directions, perhaps also being seduced into short term thinking and acting.

    Perhaps what happens in Brazil at present can teach us and others something, to avoid the same mistakes.

    A mega Auckland of 2 and a half million population comes to mind, just one thing!

  8. Jenny 8

    The dying fossil fuel civilisation is getting violent with protesters who seek a better way of doing things.

    Fare Free struggle on the streets of Brazil

    SÃO PAULO was a war zone the night of June 13 as riot police viciously attacked a peaceful demonstration of the Free Fare movement, which is protesting hikes in bus and subway fares.
    Despite massive police repression and the intransigence of the city and state governments, there are have been four large demonstrations in the last two weeks by the Free Fare movement in São Paulo, South America’s largest city.

    Sean Purdy São Paulo Free Fare Movement

    It is interesting to me that these protests were organised by the movement for free public transport.

    Internationally and here popular movements for free public transport have risen up in most countries.

    Demands by such groups for a comprehensive free public transport service, has been a common sense approach to traffic congestion and pollution identified by people primarily concerned about finding practical solutions to global warming caused by fossil fuel use.

    However such movement’s for free public transport also tap into the feelings of sticker shock felt by hard hit commuters at the petrol pumps by the more expensive gasoline and diesel sourced through extreme and environmentally risky extraction methods. As well as tapping into the groundswell of frustration and anger daily felt by commuters stuck in chronic road and motorway congestion for up to two hours a day.

    The fact that the gutless main stream political parties around the world in fear of offending the powerful roading and fossil fuel lobbies, have been deaf to such common sense solutions to grid lock and pollution, even in countries more hard hit by these problems than us. Has led to a loss in legitimacy for these mainstream parties in the densely populated cities where congestion and pollution are strangling the life out of their citizens.

    Here the New Zealand Green Party in its campaign to appear more “mainstream” has also opposed free public transport as a solution to what the proponents of free public transport call carmageddon.

    Instead the Green Party along with Labour have supported narrow punitive taxes on fuel as a solution to climate change. These added costs punish commuters, who no fault of their own have no alternative to private cars. This punitive autocratic approach has engendered resentment towards those genuinely concerned about doing something positive for the environment.

    In the few examples where it has been tried in cities overseas. The overwhelming success in the free social provision of public transport in getting people out of their private cars has been a runaway success. Commuters who when offered free buses and train rides to work left the cars at home by the tens of thousands causing cities that have trialed such systems to abandon their plans for new motorways resulting in savings greater than the cost of the fareless rides.

    The cost of a completely free public transport system for Auckland for twenty years is less than the $4 billion set aside for more motorway construction for the next four years.

    The $billions already wasted on motorway construction in Auckland have only succeeded in getting us to the traffic jam sooner.
    Ask anyone who commutes on the newly opened Wiri Station Road motorway extension, estimated cost $1billion.

    The Fare Free New Zealand movement in this country was founded by Roger Fowler an ex-bus driver and Queen Service Medal winner. farefreenz@clear.net.nz

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