How to change the route of historical errors

By ETCO
28/01/2008

Author: Mara Luquet

Source: ETCO Magazine, January 2008 No 8 Year 5

Download the full article published in the edition no. 8 from ETCO Magazine
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The phrase was said in the time of King D. João VI by two comadres, to Major Vidigal, who were begged by Leonardo, the anti-hero of “Memories of a Sergeant of Militias”. Manoel Antônio de Almeida's novel was written in the second half of the 19th century, but it is set in Rio de Janeiro, shortly after the arrival of the Portuguese royal family in the country, in 1808. It is centered on the figure of Leonardo, the anti-hero, who lived by cunning, trickery, cheating, using these devices to guarantee survival. He plays opposite Major Vidigal, a symbol of arbitrary and socially unjust repression.

Fun, humorous narrative, the novel was defined as a paradigm of the trickster dialectic. From Leonardo and Vidigal to Zé Carioca, the figure created by Walt Disney in the 20th century, Brazilians are seen as violators of the law. It arrived in the 21st century with Tropa de Elite, the film that was pirated and seen by thousands of Brazilians, even before its opening in theaters, and that shows the use and abuse of violence by police, criminals and citizens, in the daily life of Rio.

This is the hardest portrait of Brazilian society. But, although deviations in conduct have spanned centuries, renowned scholars guarantee that it is possible to turn that game around.

“The type of discussion we are having here is already a sign that things are changing,” said former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, at the seminar “Culture of Transgressions - lessons from history”, held in August, at the institute that takes his name. "It is a concern that did not exist before, to explain inequalities and transgressions," he added. The seminar was part of the series of debates and events promoted by ETCO, which brought together the greatest expressions of Brazilian thought, on the eve of the celebration of the 200 years of the arrival of the royal family in Brazil, to map the genesis of the main problems of the country: legal uncertainty , poor management of public resources and the culture of transgressions.

These works will be of paramount importance for the 2008 agenda, as the solution to these historical problems depends on overcoming the greatest challenges facing Brazilians in the coming years: sustainable development and better management of public resources. Without the R $ 40 billion annual revenue, which would be provided by the CPMF (a tax whose renewal was not approved by Congress in December), and needing to grow to reduce its social inequalities, the country must listen to what these scholars have to say. Because, according to them, the good business environment is the driving force for sustainable growth.

A good business environment is the set of rules, institutions, norms, uses and customs that are favorable to productive activity and that stimulate economic growth. "This is ETCO's great ambition," says Professor André Franco Montoro Filho, the Institute's executive president. "But the good business environment suffers a series of threats of misconduct, such as tax evasion, informality, smuggling, piracy and other deviations that generate imbalances, harm companies, but especially hinder growth," he adds.

To analyze some variables that influence this business environment, ETCO organized an intense agenda in 2007 with works developed in partnership with some of the most recognized Brazilian entities. In order to examine in detail the culture of transgressions, ETCO, in partnership with the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Institute, asked four renowned thinkers who, within their specialties, answered: “Is overcoming this culture a condition for development?”. Yes, the scholars answered.

At the Helio Beltrão Institute, ETCO commissioned a radiograph of the ills of bureaucracy in Brazil. A scandalous fact: in the last ten years, 50 tax rules have been edited per business day. In partnership with the Institute of Economic Research Foundation (Fipe) of the University of São Paulo, an analysis was made of the quality of public spending. Why is this a relevant issue for a good business environment? “Because a high tax burden can stimulate tax evasion and informality and the increase in public spending is the reason for the increase in the tax burden,” replies Professor Montoro Filho.

Next, ETCO Magazine brings exclusively the balance of this intense year of work and studies that serve as a basis for the proposals that ETCO will forward, in 2008, to improve the business environment in Brazil. Thus, it hopes to contribute to halting the process that, over the centuries, has drained the nation's wealth.

Download the full article published in the edition no. 8 from ETCO Magazine
(PDF format, 1,1 Mb)