By Ricardo Amorim
I keep imagining Louis XVI, the last king of France before the French Revolution, travelling in time and popping up in Brasília today. He would feel at home. Delighted with some improvements we made to his system of government, he might even decide to live here for good.
To his mind, Brasília might seem like a modern version, only a little drier, of Versailles – the hub of French power in his days, to which all riches migrated, from all over France. The incapacity of local nobility to understand reality in the rest of the country would certainly seem familiar to him.
He would soon recognize the powerful royal family, the king’s and his offspring-princes’ hasty decisions and the joyous royal counsellors. He might find it odd that the most influential royal counsellor lived in Virginia, in the United States.
In Congress Louis XVI would see the court, their luxury and their faith that rules that apply to the commoners do not apply to the nobles. In public servants he would see modern aristocracy, kept by the wealth produced by the commoners but not sensitive to their sufferings.
Could the STF (Supreme Court) lobsters equate to the famous “cake” Marie Antoinette is alleged to have told the people to eat, since they had no bread? And what about the tens of billion reais paid annually to public servants – including pensioners – regardless of their achievements, and which are called “performance bonuses”? “Not even we ever had as much”, Louis XVI would think to himself. And what about extra allowances for housing, nurseries, jackets, books, wives, unmarried daughters and five-legged dogs? “How come we never thoughts of that??”
The news of the Treasury being bankrupt for excessive spending would sound familiar to Louis XVI; the decision to exclude state-level public servants from the harsh adjustment of the Social Security system, needed to prevent the country from collapsing, would seem even more familiar…
The French Revolution happened 230 years ago, but to tell from the behaviour of Brazilian politicians and public servants, the news hasn’t yet gotten to everyone around here. It would be wise if it did. It would be even wiser for our politicians to approve a wide and deep Social Security Reform, firmly including our “court”, our “nobles” and our “aristocracy”, before Robespierre and the diligent Doctor Guillotin decide to travel in the same time-machine.
Ricardo Amorim is the author of the best-seller After the Storm, a host of Manhattan Connection at Globonews, the most influential economist in Brazil according to Forbes Magazine, the most influential Brazilian on LinkedIn, the only Brazilian among the best world lecturers at Speakers Corner and the winner of the “Most Admired in the Economy, Business and Finance Press”.
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Translation: Simone Montgomery Troula