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Senator Cristovam Buarque: After the Crisis

Senator Cristovam Buarque, Ph.D. former professor and Rector of the Universidade de Brasilia. Former governor of Brasilia - Federal District - from 1995 to 1998. Former Minister of Education between 2003 and 2004. Was elected senator by the Federal District in 2002 to this date. He is a member of the Brazil Monitor Editorial Council

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By Senator Cristovam Buarque
Crisis demonstrate the exhaustion of the styles of government and of its development projects, which face resistance from the groups that benefitted from the old model, without accepting the necessary reforms. The reaction of the farm owners against the agrarian reform led to the urban explosion and to poverty in the fields.
Our current crisis is the result of the exhaustion of fiscal resources, previously used without restrictions in order to meet the short term demands of each social group – without respect for the rules of good management or for the interests of the Nation in the long term, and without adapting the economy to the more productive technologies.
Predictably, the time when it was possible to consider unlimited public funds and the custom of avoiding that the yearnings and demands of each organized social group were met, has ended. The depletion of public resources and the protectionism of the old model lead to crisis and suffering but, on the other hand, they also offer optimism for the positive things that can happen when the crisis ends.
This pedagogy of catastrophe will teach us to value efficiency, to worship spending reduction, to prefer well-being instead of consumption, and to give prestige to the efficient ruler who does more by spending less. The crisis will force acceptance of the limits on public sector spending, breaking the historic fiscal illusion that the state has money for everything.
The reform that imposes a cap for expenditures will provoke republican awareness by replacing irresponsible demands in exchange for responsible disputes in the drafting of public budgets. Policies will improve when those who advocate for more spending in one sector fight to reduce spending in other sectors.
Car Wash (Lava Jato) has brought economic and political losses by undermining the credibility of large business owners and politicians, but it can also lead to learning that indecency has costs. It is possible to expect that post-crisis companies will be more efficient, the voter will be more careful, and the candidates more ethical.
Waste of resources, low birth rates, and increasing life expectancy require social security reform. Many oppose it, but once it is done it will have sustainability and will end unequal treatments.
In the name of protecting the rights of employed workers, conservatism has prevented Brazil from adapting to technological advances, condemning the country to low productivity and low competitiveness. If well done, labor reforms will allow the economy to be more efficient and attuned to the demands of technological advancement.
But if we remain prisoners of the past, defending the privileges of those who already participate in the nearly exhausted modern sector, and Brazil remain in crisis for a long period of time, continuing the political dispute, without commitment with the truth, without public spirit, or long term vision, we will jump from the crisis to decadence, and from it to social disintegration – of which we already feel the symptoms.