Dilma Rousseff Learns Fiscal Crime Doesn’t Pay … At her impeachment trial this week, Brazil’s suspended president Dilma Rousseff warned of the “death of democracy,” comparing the senators trying her to the military tribunal she faced as a young woman fighting dictatorship. The actual charges against Rousseff — which she has denied, and for which she was impeached on Wednesday — are more mundane: that she manipulated the federal budget to hide Brazil’s true economic condition, and spent money without congressional approval. Yet they point to one of Brazil’s biggest problems: the persistent abuse of state resources to advance partisan or personal fortunes, with huge costs for the country at large. – Bloomberg
Brazil’s former president, Dilma Rousseff, doubtless did manipulate the Brazilian government and economy but the there is no “lesson” to be drawn from her fate as this editorial suggests. Nor are Dilma’s “crimes” in any sense unusual in bureaucratic terms.
The editorial wants to differentiate them, though.
Future Brazilian leaders should consider Rousseff’s fate a salutary warning against too-rosy scenarios and the fiscal fiddling that accompanies them.
Does the editorial staff really believe that Brazil’s corrupt political system will take any lesson from this except to choose their friends more carefully than Rousseff did?
The editorial seems to imply that the same sorts of activities do not occur in Russia, China, India and … of course, the US. Political corruption is endemic around the world.
Any federal government anywhere, especially of a largish state, is bound up in endless fraud, misery and ongoing corruption. It cannot be otherwise. Those in government inevitably seek to enrich themselves in almost any manner they can.
In fact, there are only two reasons, in fact, to go into government that we can see. The first is power. And the second is money.
The third one often mentioned is to “serve the people.” But we would argue those who are “served” are those inside of government, not outside of it.
The fiscal responsibility law that Rousseff was accused of violating is intended to prevent unauthorized spending, balance government accounts and save future administrations from having to pay for their predecessors’ populist sprees. By delaying repayments to state-owned banks for social programs,
Rousseff’s administration was able to bust its own budget while seeming to stay within legal bounds. In fact, this strategy enabled the government to “overspend” by tens of billions of dollars from 2012 through 2015, in part to pay for Rousseff’s expansive re-election promises.
Rousseff’s defenders argue that her behavior was no different from her predecessors’ and that her accusers face their own serious ethical challenges. The latter assertion is certainly true. But neither is an excuse.
The article goes on in this fashion, acting as if Rousseff did something that was especially egregious. Meanwhile Brazil’s new president, Michel Temer is presented as someone bringing Brazil back to a more normal state of affairs. “He has already won legislative concessions to make Brazil’s budgeting more flexible and introduce a temporary spending cap.”
In fact, Temer is Washington’s man. As we pointed out long ago, when the Brazilian scandal was beginning to percolate, Washington and the CIA have surely been behind Rousseff’s overthrow. Her dealings with China, especially as regards state oil giant Petrobras demanded that DC remove Dilma as Brazil was in DC’s “back yard.” In fact, DC trained Brazilian policemen that were reportedly influential in ensuring her removal.
Here are some DB articles on the subject:
This editorial reads more like government propaganda than a considered opinion. It simply reinforces the elite thematic that government can be “good” if it is placed in the proper hands. Government can never be good however, as human beings are fallible and the more power they have, the more fallible they become.
Conclusion: Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment was a message to Brazil’s industrial and political class. But it had nothing to do with a “salutary warning” regarding overt government manipulations. It was a stern warning that the US and its interests had a primacy of place in South America and especially in Brazil. If she had been properly submissive to US – and City – interests, she would likely still be president.