Looking for a Brazilian politician free of scandal
Don't be surprised if your Brazilian friends refer to every politician as a crook. Frankly, they've got good reasons to reach that conclusion.
Down in Brazil, where the last president was impeached for corruption, the new man is now sitting under a huge cloud of his own.
This is from Simon Romero of The New York Times:
A judge on Brazil's Supreme Court authorized new corruption investigations on Tuesday involving dozens of the country's most powerful politicians, dealing yet another blow to the beleaguered government of President Michel Temer.
The ruling by Justice Luiz Edson Fachin allows federal prosecutors to start new inquiries of at least eight ministers in Mr. Temer's cabinet, including his chief of staff, Eliseu Padilha, and his foreign minister, Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, as well as much of the Senate.
Altogether, this means that nearly a third of the cabinet and nearly a third of the Senate will be the target of inquiries in this new phase of the colossal scandal that emerged three years ago into graft around Petrobras, Brazil's national oil company.
Brazil has been Exhibit A of crony capitalism for some time. It is a terrible drain on the economy, one of the top 10 GDPs of the world.
Graft is so common that it is an accepted cost of doing business, or not at all different from having good coffee around when your customers come in for a plant tour.
According to a 2013 report by Forbes:
A 2010 study by the FIESP (the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State, in its acronym in Portuguese), the average annual cost of corruption in Brazil is between 1.38% to 2.3% of the country's total GDP.
The World Bank lists Brazil in its database with a GDP of $2.253 trillion as of 2012, while the OECD expects Brazil to grow 2.5% this year.
If the numbers of the FIESP study are to be believed, just in 2013 something between $32 billion and $53.1 billion can be accounted as "corruption money," which, it is important to remember, gets out of circulation that hits growth.
To put into perspective, if that money was invested in Brazil's precarious education system, the number of Brazilian students enrolled in elementary school could be improved from its current 34.5 million to 51 million.
Better schools and better bridges and better roads and so on.
Last, but not least, let's not forget about the voters. In other words, they voted for these people. Yes, they voted for them when the economy was booming and there was plenty of money to pay for all of those campaign promises.
The investigation of President Temer will take months, so don't expect an impeachment or resignation any time soon. Nevertheless, it just makes Brazilians more cynical, and they were pretty cynical before all this started a couple of years ago.
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