Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taxing the poor to provide for the wealthy

Next year Brazil hosts the World Cup. In 2016 the Summer Olympics head to the land of Carnaval.

In order to impress the wealthy folks who follow international sporting events in person, the Brazilian government has undertaken a mission of clearing the poor out of the favelas surrounding the facilities and moving them far away from the areas where the tourists will be wandering around.

As the government has shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade soccer facilities and to build Olympic-style venues, someone has to pay for the boring day-to-day operations of the state. And in Brazil that burden falls on the working class.

In response to government hikes for public transportation, thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in cities all across the country. And, while they're out in the streets demanding that the government stop its policy of raising taxes on the working class, thousands more have begun demanding better social services and better educational facilities for the people.

Imagine that - a government spending the people's money on shiny items that the vast majority of the population will never be able to use while the basic needs of the people aren't met. Luis Fernandes, the deputy sports minister (someone please explain to me why there is such a creature as a sports minister), has had it with the folks who complain about the money being spent on World Cup and Olympic facilities. He just can't grasp why the working people don't understand that spending money on toys for the wealthy benefits them.

Guess what, Mr. Fernandes, you're the one who doesn't get it. History has shown that the money spent on sporting facilities for international competitions is money down the drain. Go ask the good folks in London how big a bath they took on the 2012 Olympics. Ask the folks over in Russia how much money has been stolen by the organizers of next year's Winter Olympics.

As always, if the events are such massive money makers there shouldn't be any problem in finding private investors who would be willing to pony up the money to put on the events. But, if no one's willing to put up the money to stage them, what does that tell you about how profitable they really are?

President Dilma Rousseff is telling everyone who will listen how happy she is that the protesters are out there in the streets. She says that the protests are a sign of how strong Brazil's democracy is. But if she thinks that steering the same course in the future is a good move, she might need a new pair of glasses that aren't so rose-tinted.

No comments: