Why Americans Should Care About the Riots in Brazil

Millions Protest for Reduced Government Corruption and Greater Accountability

It is my experience that the citizens of the United States of America are generally isolated from world events, on the whole. This could be due to a number of reasons, be it the classical isolationism which has defined the United States for much of its history, or geographic distance from many parts of the rest of the world. Regardless of the reason, Americans remain ignorant of many things beyond their own borders.

Recently, though, events in Brazil have occurred, of which Americans should take note.

“Why should Americans care what happens in Brazil?” one might ask. Well, I believe that events happening in Brazil could presage how things may unfold at home, as massive spending, inflation, and government waste pile in heaps upon the American people in record amount with each successive administration. Add to this particular government controls over some aspects of the economy, and this could be a recipe for disaster.

So, what exactly is happening in Brazil currently? I, unfortunately, am not physically present in Brazil to witness the civic unrest, leaving me to pour over news reports via the internet, as local or national television news is lacking on details. I’ve had to tease out facts which are relevant from each article I read to find out what is actually occurring.

Often, I find reporters focus on sensationalism (such as “X number of rioters injured or killed by police today”), rather than the why of the situation, as if these protesters appeared out of the ether like imps to cause havoc. It appears that these massive riots (now being numbered in the millions of participants across the country) started with a response to a governmental increase in the cost of public transportation tickets. While this issue was not a new one (protesters have previously picketed about cost increases), this time around it has become the proverbial spark which lit the fire.

Although this anti-price hike protest was the beginning, it is far from the end. Even rolling back the bus ticket prices has not placated the populace. In fact, if anything, this move has emboldened the citizenry, as they now have a stage from which to be heard. Pleas that wouldn’t be unfamiliar to Americans are now being given, such as governmental corruption, overspending on events like the upcoming World Cup, and a crumbling infrastructure, all worsened by increasing taxes, regulations, governmental snooping on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and excessive responses by state security forces, euphemistically utilized to “keep the peace.”

If this sounds slightly familiar to Americans, it should. The Patriot Act allows for spying on Americans, in a warrant-less manner, similar to what the Brazilian people are now experiencing. Waste of state “revenue” (read: taxes, fees, and fines) through over-regulation, favoritism, over-lapping bureaucracies and anti-free market principles has made the citizenry wary in many instances.

The main difference I see between the United States and Brazil is one of degree and direction. The United States has slowly crept towards a strong statist, authoritarian style of governance, while Brazil has vacillated between episodes of military dictatorship, monarchy, and republican forms of government that have been more parochial in nature all along. The American people should pay attention to Brazil, lest they also fall into a similar boat.

2 comments
airshowfan
airshowfan

As someone who gre up in Brazil and who has lived in the US for about 15 years, it is clear as day to me that the US has been moving in the direction of Brazil. Markets that are less regulated, low minimum wage, inflation that reduces the purchasing power of people in the street, unaccountable politicians, policies (such as austerity, tax breaks for corporations, weakened environmental protections) that aim to boost GDP and other strict economic indices... all help the rich get richer, increasing inequality and splitting the population between "the rich" and "the 99%". This has been going on in Brazil for decades, and it leads to a wildly unstable economy, to a smaller market for consumer goods and services (since most people are too poor), to crappy public education and health (since all the decisionmakers can afford private schools and private healthcare), and - worst of all - to a devaluation of the country's currency (and government bonds, and investment opportunities from foreign companies) in the eyes of the rest of the world, since no one trusts an unstable country, no one wants to invest in the prosperity of a society made up of 1% greedy leeches and 99% slum dwellers. Hopefully the US realizes this sooner rather than later. It is becoming more like Brazil every day.

This social inequality even plays out as tensions between the protestors. For an excellent essay on this, written by a photojournalist who has been "in the trenches" in Sao Paulo, see

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10100651672095693&l=415b816499

Think about it
Think about it

One might say todays generation do not understand the difference or principles of economics and how it relates to government as well.  Unfortunately, we as a country are hitting the tipping point in which we are at the point of no return.  We have programs that are woefully underfunded and a government that believes that money is there as long as you have citizenry to which to take it from. Our country is in a much bigger financial hole than most people really know about or care to know about and that by far is the scariest part of it all.  Reason being is that you have an electorate that isn't voting based on what is best for the country anymore as a whole.  But they are voting on what is best for them.

 We have exchanged a lot of our freedoms for security (Patriot Act) to only realize 10+ years later that might have been a mistake.  Now it is too late and now the government that is for the people, by the people, and of the people will no longer represnt that.  Instead it becomes a government becomes a strong authoritarian government in which personal freedoms and liberties are regulated away and diminished under the guise of "fairness".