Arquivo da tag: Pobreza

Oxfam: Em 2016, 1% mais ricos terão mais dinheiro que o resto do mundo (Carta Capital)

19/1/2015 – 09h33

por Redação da Carta Capital

pobreza Oxfam: Em 2016, 1% mais ricos terão mais dinheiro que o resto do mundo

A redução da pobreza é um dos eixos da agenda de desenvolvimento pós-2015. Crianças na favela de Kallayanpur, uma das favelas urbanas em Daca, Bangladesh. Foto: ONU/Kibae Park 

ONG britânica divulga dados sobre a desigualdade social no mundo para tentar guiar as discussões do Fórum Econômico Mundial

Um estudo divulgado nesta segunda-feira 19 pela ONG britânica Oxfam afirma que, em 2016, as 37 milhões de pessoas que compõem o 1% mais rico da população mundial terão mais dinheiro do que os outros 99% juntos. O relatório tem o objetivo de influenciar as discussões a serem travadas no Fórum Econômico Mundial (FEM), que reúne os ricos e poderosos no resort suíço de Davos entre 21 e 24 de janeiro.

O estudo da Oxfam é baseado no relatório anual sobre a riqueza mundial que o banco Credit Suisse divulga anualmente desde 2010. Na versão mais recente, divulgada em outubro 2014, o Credit Suisse mostrou que o 1% mais rico (com bens de 800 mil dólares no mínimo) detinha 48,2% da riqueza mundial, enquanto os outros 99% ficavam com os 51,8%. No grupo dos 99%, também há uma significativa desigualdade: quase toda a riqueza está nas mãos dos 20% mais ricos, enquanto as outras pessoas dividem 5,5% do patrimônio.

No estudo divulgado nesta segunda, a Oxfam extrapolou os dados para o futuro e indica que em 2016 o 1% mais rico terá mais de 50% dos bens e patrimônios existentes no mundo. “Nós realmente queremos viver em um mundo no qual o 1% tem mais do que nós todos juntos?”, questionou Winnie Byanyima, diretora-executiva da Oxfam e co-presidente do Fórum Econômico Mundial. Em artigo publicado no site do FEM, Byanyima afirma que o fórum tem em 2015 o duplo desafio de conciliar a desigualdade social e as mudanças climáticas. “Tanto nos países ricos quanto nos pobres, essa desigualdade alimenta o conflito, corroendo as democracias e prejudicando o próprio crescimento”, afirma Byanyima.

A diretora da Oxfam lembra que há algum tempo os que se preocupavam com a desigualdade eram acusados de ter “inveja”, mas que apenas em 2014 algumas personalidades como o papa Francisco, o presidente dos Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, e a diretora do Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI), Christine Lagarde, manifestaram preocupação com a desigualdade social. “O crescente consenso: se não controlada, a desigualdade econômica vai fazer regredir a luta contra a pobreza e ameaçará a estabilidade global”, afirma.

A Oxfam mostra que a riqueza do 1% é derivada de atividades em poucos setores, sendo os de finanças e seguros os principais e os de serviços médicos e indústria farmacêutica dois com grande crescimento em 2013 e 2014. A Oxfam lembra que as companhias mais ricas do mundo usam seu dinheiro, entre outras coisas, para influenciar os governos por meio de lobbies, favorecendo seus setores. No caso particular dos Estados Unidos, que concentra junto com a Europa a maior parte dos integrantes do 1% mais rico, o lobby é particularmente prolífico, afirma a Oxfam, para mexer no orçamento e nos impostos do país, destinando a poucos recursos que “deveriam ser direcionados em benefícios de toda a população”.

Para a Oxfam, a desigualdade social não deve ser tratada como algo inevitável. A ONG lista uma série de medidas para colocar a diferença entre ricos e pobres sob controle, como fazer os governos trabalharem para seus cidadãos e terem a redução da desigualdade como objetivo; a promoção dos direitos e a igualdade econômica das mulheres; o pagamento de salários mínimos e a contenção dos salários de executivos; e o objetivo de o mundo todo ter serviços gratuitos de saúde e educação.

* Publicado originalmente no site Carta Capital.

Aquecimento global pode minar luta contra a pobreza, alerta Banco Mundial (Carta Capital)

7/11/2014 – 11h38

por Redação da Deutsche Welle

agricola Aquecimento global pode minar luta contra a pobreza, alerta Banco Mundial

Em novo relatório sobre mudanças climáticas, instituição prevê grave impacto na agricultura. No Brasil, a produção de soja pode ser reduzida em 70% até 2050

As mudanças climáticas podem levar a retrocessos nos esforços para derrotar a pobreza extrema em todo o mundo, advertiu o Banco Mundial neste domingo 23, ao divulgar um relatório sobre os impactos do aquecimento global.

No documento, intitulado Reduzam o calor: enfrentando a nova normalidade climática (em tradução livre), o banco afirma que elevações bruscas de temperatura devem reduzir profundamente a produtividade nas lavouras e o abastecimento de água em muitas áreas.

O relatório, que foca em impactos regionais específicos do aquecimento global, prevê efeitos no Brasil. Um aumento de até 2 °C na temperatura média em relação aos tempos pré-industriais levaria a uma redução da produção agrícola do país – de até 70% para a soja e 50% para o trigo em 2050, diz o documento.

O Banco Mundial estima que, em 2050, a temperatura média seja 1,5 °C mais alta do que a registrada na era pré-industrial, com base no impacto das emissões de gases de efeito estufa do passado e atualmente.

“Sem uma ação forte e rápida, o aquecimento poderia exceder 1,5 °C ou 2 °C, e o impacto decorrente poderia piorar significativamente a pobreza intra e intergeracional em várias regiões do mundo”, diz o relatório.

Quanto ao nível do mar, o documento afirma que este continuará subindo por séculos, visto que as grandes capas de gelo da Groenlândia e da Antártica vêm derretendo lentamente. Se as temperaturas se mantiverem nos níveis atuais, os mares subirão 2,3 metros nos próximos 2 mil anos, aponta o estudo.

Entre outros efeitos citados, cidades andinas estariam ameaçadas pelo derretimento de geleiras, e comunidades do Caribe e da costa ocidental da Índia poderiam ver diminuir seus suprimentos de peixes. Na Macedônia, o cultivo de milho, trigo e uva seria reduzido em 50 %.

Ações urgentes

Sem ações coordenadas, o perigo é que o aumento da temperatura média global chegue a 4 °C até o fim do século, um cenário descrito pelo Banco Mundial como “um mundo assustador de aumento de riscos e instabilidade global”.

“Acabar com a pobreza, aumentar a prosperidade global e reduzir a desigualdade no mundo, o que já é difícil, vai ser muito mais difícil com um aquecimento de 2 °C, disse o presidente do Banco Mundial, Jim Yong Kim. “Mas com [um aumento de] 4 °C, há sérias dúvidas de que essas metas possam ser alcançadas.”

Os piores efeitos do aquecimento global poderiam ser evitados através da redução das emissões de gases de efeito estufa, reitera o relatório.

Representantes de quase 200 países se reunirão em breve para a próxima Conferência Mundial do Clima. Realizado no Peru entre os dias 1º e 12 de dezembro, o evento tem como objetivo a definição das bases de um acordo global de limitações de emissões de gases do efeito estufa. Espera-se que o acordo seja firmado em Paris em 2015.

NM/afp/rtr

* Publicado originalmente pela Deutsche Welle e retirado do site Carta Capital.

(Carta Capital)

The Immigrant Advantage (New York Times)

IF you want to die a successful American, especially in the heartland, it helps to be born abroad.

Statistics show that if you are born elsewhere and later acquire American citizenship, you will, on average, earn more than us native-borns, study further, marry at higher rates and divorce at lower rates, fall out of the work force less frequently and more easily dodge poverty.

What’s curious is where this immigrant advantage is most pronounced. In left-leaning, coastal, cosmopolitan America, native-borns seem well groomed by their families, schools and communities to keep up with foreign-borns. It’s in the right-leaning “Walmart America” where foreigners have the greatest advantage.

From Mississippi to West Virginia to Oklahoma, native-borns are struggling to flourish on a par with foreign-born Americans. In the 10 poorest states (just one on the East or West Coast: South Carolina), the median household of native-borns earns 84 cents for every $1 earned by a household of naturalized citizens, compared with 97 cents for native-borns in the richest (and mostly coastal) states, according to Census Bureau data. In the poorest states, foreign-borns are 24 percent less likely than native-borns to report themselves as divorced or separated, but just 3 percent less likely in the richest states. In the poorest states, foreign-borns are 36 percent less likely than native-borns to live in poverty; the disparity collapses to about half that in wealthier states like New Jersey and Connecticut.

This phenomenon came vividly to life for me while I was reporting a book about the brutal collision of a striving immigrant and a hurting native. One was Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh, working in a Dallas minimart in 2001 to save for a wedding and an education; the other, Mark Stroman, shot him in a twisted post-9/11 revenge attack, blinding him in one eye, during a rampage that killed two other immigrant clerks. Mr. Bhuiyan eventually learned more about Mr. Stroman and the world that formed him. What he found astonished him, then inspired him to forgive his attacker and battle to rescue him from death row.

Mr. Bhuiyan realized that he was among the lucky Americans. Even after the attack, he was able to pick up and remake himself, climbing from that minimart to waiting tables at an Olive Garden to six-figure I.T. jobs. But Mr. Bhuiyan also saw the America that created Mr. Stroman, in which a battered working class was suffering from a dearth of work, community and hope, with many people failing to form strong bonds and filling the void with escapist chemicals, looping endlessly between prison and freedom.

Eventually, Mr. Bhuiyan petitioned a Texas court to spare his attacker’s life because he had lacked his victim’s advantages: a loving and sober family, pressure to strive and virtuous habits. The naturalized citizen claimed the native Texan hadn’t had the same shot at the American dream as the “foreigner” he’d tried to kill.

At a time when even the American middle class is struggling, a difficult question arises: Are you better off being born in some of the poorest parts of the world and moving here than being raised in the poorer parts of the United States?

There’s no easy answer. But let’s first acknowledge the obvious: Most naturalized citizens — nearly half of America’s roughly 40 million immigrants — arrived by choice, found employer sponsors, navigated visas and green cards. (We’re not talking here of immigrants who never reach citizenship and generally have harder lives than American citizens, native- or foreign-born.) It’s no accident that our freshest citizens have pluck and wits that favor them later.

BUT I also think there’s something more complicated going on: In those places where mobility’s engine is groaning and the social fabric is fraying, many immigrants may have an added edge because of their ability to straddle the seemingly contradictory values of their birthplaces and their adopted land, to balance individualism with community-mindedness and self-reliance with usage of the system.

American scholars have long warned of declining “social capital”: simply put, people lacking the support of others. In Texas, I encountered the wasteland described by writers from Robert D. Putnam on the left to Charles Murray on the right. In mostly white, exurban communities that often see themselves as above the woes of inner cities, I found household after household where country music songs about family and church play but country-music values have fled: places where a rising generation is often being reared by grandparents because parents are addicted, imprisoned, broke or all three.

In places bedeviled by anomie, immigrants from more family-centered and collectivist societies — Mexico, India, Colombia, Vietnam, Haiti, China — often arrive with an advantageous blend of individualist and communitarian traits.

I say a blend, because while they come from communal societies, they were deserters. They may have been raised with family-first values, but often they were the ones to leave aging parents. It can be a powerful cocktail: a self-willed drive for success and, leavening it somewhat, a sacrificial devotion to family and tribe. Many, even as their lives grow more independent, serve their family oceans away by sending remittances.

Mr. Bhuiyan seemed to embody this dualism. By back-home standards, he was a rugged individualist. But in America it was his takes-a-village embeddedness that enabled his revival: Immigrant friends gave him medicine, sofas to sleep on, free I.T. training and job referrals.

Working at Olive Garden, Mr. Bhuiyan couldn’t believe how his colleagues lacked for support. Young women walked home alone, sometimes in 100-plus degree heat on highways, having no one to give them rides. Many colleagues lacked cars not because they couldn’t afford the lease but because nobody would cosign it. “I feel that, how come they have no one in their family — their dad, their uncle?” he said. They told stories of chaotic childhoods that made them seek refuge in drugs and gangs.

Mr. Bhuiyan concluded that the autonomy for which he’d come to America, while serving him well, failed others who had lacked his support since birth. His republic of self-making was their republic of self-destruction. “Here we think freedom means whatever I wanna do, whatever I wanna say — that is freedom,” he said. “But that’s the wrong definition.”

A second dimension of this in-between-ness involves the role of government. In this era of gridlock and austerity, many immigrants have the advantage of coming from places where bankrupt, do-nothing governments are no surprise. They often find themselves among Americans who are opposite-minded: leaning on the state for economic survival but socially lonesome, without community backup when that state fails.

All this has nothing to do with the superiority of values. If distrust of government made for the most successful societies, Nigeria and Argentina would be leaders of the pack. What’s interesting about so many of America’s immigrants is how they manage to plug instincts cultivated in other places into the system here. Many are trained in their homelands to behave as though the state will do nothing for them, and in America they reap the advantages of being self-starters.

But they also benefit from the systems and support that America does offer, which are inadequate as substitutes for initiative but are useful complements to it.

Like many immigrants, Mr. Bhuiyan operated from the start like an economic loner, never expecting to get much from the government. He was willing to work at a gas station to save money. Recovering in his boss’s home, he ordered I.T. textbooks online to improve his employability. Plunged into debt, he negotiated with doctors and hospitals to trim his bills.

But the system also worked for him. Robust laws prevented employers from exploiting a wide-eyed newcomer. He sued the Texas governor, in pursuit of leniency for his attacker, and was heard. Through a fund for crime victims, Texas eventually paid his medical bills.

In an age of inequality and shaky faith in the American promise of mobility through merit, we can learn from these experiences. Forget the overused idea popularized in self-help guides that native-borns must “think like an immigrant” to prosper, an exhortation that ignores much history. Rather, the success of immigrants in the nation’s hurting places reminds us that the American dream can still work, but it helps to have people to lean on. Many immigrants get that, because where they come from, people are all you have. They recognize that solitude is an extravagance.

American poverty is darkened by loneliness; poverty in so many poor countries I’ve visited is brightened only by community. Helping people gain other people to lean on — not just offering cheaper health care and food stamps, tax cuts and charter schools — seems essential to making this American dream work as well for its perennial flowers as its freshest seeds.

80 percent of U.S. adults face near-poverty, unemployment, survey finds (CBS)

People look through boxes of food during a food distribution by the Food Bank of the Southern Tier Mobile Food Pantry on June 20, 2012 in Oswego, New York. The mobile food pantry program was introduced in 2007 in the Southern Tier of New York and covers nearly 4,000 predominately rural miles. The converted beverage truck delivers fresh produce, dairy products and other grocery items to individuals and families in need. The pantry typically distributes for a period of two hours and provides 100 to 160 families with food. According to the 2010 Census, 15.72% the population serviced by the mobile pantry live at or below the federal poverty level. According to statistics presented at a recent U.S. Senate committee hearing, almost one in seven Americans are living below the poverty line with a significant number of them being children.  SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to “rebuild ladders of opportunity” and reverse income inequality.

As nonwhites approach a numerical majority in the U.S., one question is how public programs to lift the disadvantaged should be best focused — on the affirmative action that historically has tried to eliminate the racial barriers seen as the major impediment to economic equality, or simply on improving socioeconomic status for all, regardless of race.

Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy “poor.”

“I think it’s going to get worse,” said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend but it doesn’t generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.

“If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work,” she said. Children, she said, have “nothing better to do than to get on drugs.”

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in the government’s poverty data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.

The gauge defines “economic insecurity” as a year or more of periodic joblessness, reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.

Marriage rates are in decline across all races, and the number of white mother-headed households living in poverty has risen to the level of black ones.

“It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position,” said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty. He noted that despite continuing economic difficulties, minorities have more optimism about the future after Obama’s election, while struggling whites do not.

“There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front,” Wilson said.

___

Nationwide, the count of America’s poor remains stuck at a record number: 46.2 million, or 15 percent of the population, due in part to lingering high unemployment following the recession. While poverty rates for blacks and Hispanics are nearly three times higher, by absolute numbers the predominant face of the poor is white.

More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.

Sometimes termed “the invisible poor” by demographers, lower-income whites generally are dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America’s heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.

Buchanan County, in southwest Virginia, is among the nation’s most destitute based on median income, with poverty hovering at 24 percent. The county is mostly white, as are 99 percent of its poor.

More than 90 percent of Buchanan County’s inhabitants are working-class whites who lack a college degree. Higher education long has been seen there as nonessential to land a job because well-paying mining and related jobs were once in plentiful supply. These days many residents get by on odd jobs and government checks.

Salyers’ daughter, Renee Adams, 28, who grew up in the region, has two children. A jobless single mother, she relies on her live-in boyfriend’s disability checks to get by. Salyers says it was tough raising her own children as it is for her daughter now, and doesn’t even try to speculate what awaits her grandchildren, ages 4 and 5.

Smoking a cigarette in front of the produce stand, Adams later expresses a wish that employers will look past her conviction a few years ago for distributing prescription painkillers, so she can get a job and have money to “buy the kids everything they need.”

“It’s pretty hard,” she said. “Once the bills are paid, we might have $10 to our name.”

poverty, urban decline, generic, america, connecticut

A car drives by a closed factory on May 20, 2013 in Waterbury, Connecticut. Waterbury, once a thriving industrial city with one of the largest brass manufacturing bases in the world, has suffered economically in recent decades as manufacturing jobs have left the area. According to recent census data, 20.6 percent of the city’s residents are living below the poverty level. SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

Census figures provide an official measure of poverty, but they’re only a temporary snapshot that doesn’t capture the makeup of those who cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off.

In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults — falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.

The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.

Higher recent rates of unemployment mean the lifetime risk of experiencing economic insecurity now runs even higher: 79 percent, or 4 in 5 adults, by the time they turn 60.

By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.

By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.

“Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’,” says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. “Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need.”

The numbers come from Rank’s analysis being published by the Oxford University Press. They are supplemented with interviews and figures provided to the AP by Tom Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University; John Iceland, a sociology professor at Penn State University; the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute; the Census Bureau; and the Population Reference Bureau.

Among the findings:

–For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.

–Since 2000, the poverty rate among working-class whites has grown faster than among working-class nonwhites, rising 3 percentage points to 11 percent as the recession took a bigger toll among lower-wage workers. Still, poverty among working-class nonwhites remains higher, at 23 percent.

–The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teenage pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, compared with 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.

The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children went from 38 percent to 39 percent.

–Race disparities in health and education have narrowed generally since the 1960s. While residential segregation remains high, a typical black person now lives in a nonmajority black neighborhood for the first time. Previous studies have shown that wealth is a greater predictor of standardized test scores than race; the test-score gap between rich and low-income students is now nearly double the gap between blacks and whites.

___

Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, a biannual survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.

The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class. Forty-nine percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of nonwhites who consider themselves working class, even though the economic plight of minorities tends to be worse.

Although they are a shrinking group, working-class whites — defined as those lacking a college degree — remain the biggest demographic bloc of the working-age population. In 2012, Election Day exit polls conducted for the AP and the television networks showed working-class whites made up 36 percent of the electorate, even with a notable drop in white voter turnout.

Last November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since Republican Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide victory over Walter Mondale.

Some Democratic analysts have urged renewed efforts to bring working-class whites into the political fold, calling them a potential “decisive swing voter group” if minority and youth turnout level off in future elections. “In 2016 GOP messaging will be far more focused on expressing concern for ‘the middle class’ and ‘average Americans,'” Andrew Levison and Ruy Teixeira wrote recently in The New Republic.

“They don’t trust big government, but it doesn’t mean they want no government,” says Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who agrees that working-class whites will remain an important electoral group. His research found that many of them would support anti-poverty programs if focused broadly on job training and infrastructure investment. This past week, Obama pledged anew to help manufacturers bring jobs back to America and to create jobs in the energy sectors of wind, solar and natural gas.

“They feel that politicians are giving attention to other people and not them,” Goeas said.

Return of the oppressed (Aeon)

From the Roman Empire to our own Gilded Age, inequality moves in cycles. The future looks like a rough ride

by 

Jack Whinery and family, homesteaders photographed in Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940. Photo courtesy the Library of CongressJack Whinery and family, homesteaders photographed in Pie Town, New Mexico, October 1940. Photo courtesy the Library of Congress

Peter Turchin is professor of ecology and mathematics at the University of Connecticut and vice president of the Evolution Institute. He co-authored Secular Cycles (2009).

Today, the top one per cent of incomes in the United States accounts for one fifth of US earnings. The top one per cent of fortunes holds two-fifths of the total wealth. Just one rich family, the six heirs of the brothers Sam and James Walton, founders of Walmart, are worth more than the bottom 40 per cent of the American population combined ($115 billion in 2012).

After thousands of scholarly and popular articles on the topic, one might think we would have a pretty good idea why the richest people in the US are pulling away from the rest. But it seems we don’t. As the Congressional Budget Office concluded in 2011: ‘the precise reasons for the rapid growth in income at the top are not well understood’. Some commentators point to economic factors, some to politics, and others again to culture. Yet obviously enough, all these factors must interact in complex ways. What is slightly less obvious is how a very long historical perspective can help us to see the whole mechanism.

In his book Wealth and Democracy (2002), Kevin Phillips came up with a useful way of thinking about the changing patterns of wealth inequality in the US. He looked at the net wealth of the nation’s median household and compared it with the size of the largest fortune in the US. The ratio of the two figures provided a rough measure of wealth inequality, and that’s what he tracked, touching down every decade or so from the turn of the 19th century all the way to the present. In doing so, he found a striking pattern.

We found repeated back-and-forth swings in demographic, economic, social, and political structures

From 1800 to the 1920s, inequality increased more than a hundredfold. Then came the reversal: from the 1920s to 1980, it shrank back to levels not seen since the mid-19th century. Over that time, the top fortunes hardly grew (from one to two billion dollars; a decline in real terms). Yet the wealth of a typical family increased by a multiple of 40. From 1980 to the present, the wealth gap has been on another steep, if erratic, rise. Commentators have called the period from 1920s to 1970s the ‘great compression’. The past 30 years are known as the ‘great divergence’. Bring the 19th century into the picture, however, and one sees not isolated movements so much as a rhythm. In other words, when looked at over a long period, the development of wealth inequality in the US appears to be cyclical. And if it’s cyclical, we can predict what happens next.

An obvious objection presents itself at this point. Does observing just one and a half cycles really show that there is a regular pattern in the dynamics of inequality? No, by itself it doesn’t. But this is where looking at other historical societies becomes interesting. In our bookSecular Cycles (2009), Sergey Nefedov and I applied the Phillips approach to England, France and Russia throughout both the medieval and early modern periods, and also to ancient Rome. All of these societies (and others for which information was patchier) went through recurring ‘secular’ cycles, which is to say, very long ones. Over periods of two to three centuries, we found repeated back-and-forth swings in demographic, economic, social, and political structures. And the cycles of inequality were an integral part of the overall motion.

Incidentally, when students of dynamical systems (or, more colourfully, ‘chaoticians’ such as Jeff Goldblum’s character in the filmJurassic Park) talk about ‘cycles’, we do not mean rigid, mechanical, clock-like movements. Cycles in the real world are chaotic, because complex systems such as human societies have many parts that are constantly moving and influencing each other. Despite this complexity, our historical research on Rome, England, France, Russia and now the US shows that these complex interactions add up to a general rhythm. Upward trends in variables (for example, economic inequality) alternate with downward trends. And most importantly, the ways in which other parts of the system move can tell us why certain trends periodically reverse themselves. Understanding (and perhaps even forecasting) such trend-reversals is at the core of the new discipline of cliodynamics, which looks at history through the lens of mathematical modelling.

So it looks like the pattern that we see in the US is real. Ours is, of course, a very different society from ancient Rome or medieval England. It is cut off from them by the Industrial Revolution and by innumerable advances in technology since then. Even so, a historically based model might shed light on what has been happening in the US over the past three decades.

First, we need to think about jobs. Unless other forces intervene, an overabundance of labour will tend to drive down its price, which naturally means that workers and their families have less to live on. One of the most important forces affecting the labour supply in the US has been immigration, and it turns out that immigration, as measured by the proportion of the population who were born abroad, has changed in a cyclical manner just like inequality. In fact, the periods of high immigration coincided with the periods of stagnating wages. The Great Compression, meanwhile, unfolded under a low-immigration regime. This tallies with work by the Harvard economist George Borjas, who argues that immigration plays an important role in depressing wages, especially for those unskilled workers who compete most directly with new arrivals.

Immigration is only one part of a complex story. Another reason why the labour supply in the US went up in the 19th century is, not to put too fine a point on it, sex. The native-born population was growing at what were, at the time, unprecedented rates: a 2.9 per cent growth per year in the 1800s, only gradually declining after that. By 1850 there was no available farmland in Eastern Seaboard states. Many from that ‘population surplus’ moved west, but others ended up in eastern cities where, of course, they competed for jobs with new immigrants.

This connection between the oversupply of labour and plummeting living standards for the poor is one of the more robust generalisations in history. Consider the case of medieval England. The population of England doubled between 1150 and 1300. There was little possibility of overseas emigration, so the ‘surplus’ peasants flocked to the cities, causing the population of London to balloon from 20,000 to 80,000. Too many hungry mouths and too many idle hands resulted in a fourfold increase in food prices and a halving of real wages. Then, when a series of horrible epidemics, starting with the Black Death of 1348, carried away more than half of the population, the same dynamic ran in reverse. The catastrophe, paradoxically, introduced a Golden Age for common people. Real wages tripled and living standards went up, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Common people relied less on bread, gorging themselves instead on meat, fish, and dairy products.

The tug of war between the top and typical incomes doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, but in practice it often is

Much the same pattern can be seen during the secular cycle of the Roman Principate. The population of the Roman Empire grew rapidly during the first two centuries up to 165AD. Then came a series of deadly epidemics, known as the Antonine Plague. In Roman Egypt, for which we have contemporary data thanks to preserved papyri, real wages first fell (when the population increased) and then regained ground (when the population collapsed). We also know that many grain fields were converted to orchards and vineyards following the plagues. The implication is that the standard of life for common people improved — they ate less bread, more fruit, and drank wine. The gap between common people and the elites shrank.

Naturally, the conditions affecting the labour supply were different in the second half of the 20th century in the US. An important new element was globalisation, which allows corporations to move jobs to poorer countries (with that ‘giant sucking sound’, as Ross Perot put it during his 1992 presidential campaign). But none of this alters the fact that an oversupply of labour tends to depress wages for the poorer section of the population. And just as in Roman Egypt, the poor in the US today eat more energy-dense foods — bread, pasta, and potatoes — while the wealthy eat more fruit and drink wine.

Falling wages isn’t the only reason why labour oversupply leads to inequality. As the slice of the economic pie going to employees diminishes, the share going to employers goes up. Periods of rapid growth for top fortunes are commonly associated with stagnating incomes for the majority. Equally, when worker incomes grew in the Great Compression, top fortunes actually declined in real terms. The tug of war between the top and typical incomes doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, but in practice it often is. And so in 13th-century England, as the overall population doubles, we find landowners charging peasants higher rents and paying less in wages: the immiseration of the general populace translates into a Golden Age for the aristocrats.

As the historian Christopher Dyer wrote, life was good for the upper-crust English around 1300. They drank more wine and spent their spare cash building or refurbishing castles, cathedrals, and monasteries. They didn’t just enjoy a better living standard; they also grew in number. For example, the number of knights and esquires tripled between 1200 and 1300. But disaster struck in 1348, when the Black Death removed the population surplus (and then some). By the 15th century, while the common people were enjoying their own Golden Age, the aristocracy had fallen on hard times. We can infer the severity of their financial straits from the amount of claret imported from France. Only the gentry drank wine, and around 1300, England imported 20,000 tuns or casks of it from France per year. By 1460, this declined to only 5,000. In the mid-15th century, there were simply fewer aristocrats and they were much poorer.

In the US between around 1870 and 1900, there was another Golden Age for the elites, appropriately called the Gilded Age. While living standards for the majority declined (seen vividly in dwindling average heights and life expectancies), the moneyed classes were enjoying ever more luxurious lifestyles. And just like in 13th-century England, the total number of the wealthy was shooting up. Between 1825 and 1900, the number of millionaires (in constant 1900 dollars) went from 2.5 per million of the population to 19 per million. In our current cycle, the proportion of decamillionaires (those whose net worth exceeds 10 million in 1995 dollars) grew tenfold between 1992 and 2007 — from 0.04 to 0.4 per cent of the US population.

This seems like a peculiar development. The reason for it — cheeringly enough, you might say — is that cheap labour allows many enterprising, hard-working or simply lucky members of the poorer classes to climb into the ranks of the wealthy. In the 19th century, a skilled artisan in the US could expand his workshop by hiring other workers, eventually becoming the owner of a large business; Sven Beckert’s The Monied Metropolis (2003) describes many instances of this story playing out. In America today, enterprising and hard-working individuals start dotcom companies or claw their way into jobs as the CEOs of large corporations.

On the face of it, this is a wonderful testament to merit-based upward mobility. But there are side effects. Don’t forget that most people are stuck with stagnant or falling real wages. Upward mobility for a few hollows out the middle class and causes the social pyramid to become top-heavy. Too many elites relative to the general population (a condition I call ‘elite overproduction’) leads to ever-stiffer rivalry in the upper echelons. And then you get trouble.

In the US, there is famously a close connection between wealth and power. Many well-off individuals — typically not the founders of great fortunes but their children and grandchildren — choose to enter politics (Mitt Romney is a convenient example, though the Kennedy clan also comes to mind). Yet the number of political offices is fixed: there are only so many senators and representatives at the federal and state levels, and only one US president. As the ranks of the wealthy swell, so too do the numbers of wealthy aspirants for the finite supply of political positions.

When watching political battles in today’s Senate, it is hard not to think about their parallels in Republican Rome. The population of Italy roughly doubled during the second century BC, while the number of aristocrats increased even more. Again, the supply of political offices was fixed — there were 300 places in the senate and membership was for life. By the end of the century, competition for influence had turned ugly. During the Gracchan period (139—110BC), political feuding led to the slaughter of the tribunes Tiberius and Gaius on the streets of Rome. During the next century, intra-elite conflict spilt out of Rome into Italy and then into the broader Mediterranean. The civil wars of the first century BC, fuelled by a surplus of politically ambitious aristocrats, ultimately caused the fall of the Republic and the establishment of the Empire.

Beside sheer numbers, there is a further, subtler factor that aggravates internal class rivalry. So far I have been talking about the elites as if they are all the same. But they aren’t: the differences within the wealthiest one per cent are almost as stark as the difference between the top one per cent and the remaining 99. The millionaires want to reach the level of decamillionaires, who strive to match the centimillionaires, who are trying to keep up with billionaires. The result is very intense status rivalry, expressed through conspicuous consumption. Towards the end of the Republic, Roman aristocrats competed by exhibiting works of art and massive silver decorations in their homes. They threw extravagant banquets with peacocks from Samos, oysters from Lake Lucrino and snails from Africa, all imported at great expense. Archaeology confirms a genuine and dramatic shift towards luxury.

The US political system is much more attuned to the wishes of the rich than to the aspirations of the poor

Intra-elite competition also seems to affect the social mood. Norms of competition and extreme individualism become prevalent and norms of co-operation and collective action recede. Social Darwinism took off during the original Gilded Age, and Ayn Rand (who argued that altruism is evil) has grown astonishingly popular during what we might call our Second Gilded Age. The glorification of competition and individual success in itself becomes a driver of economic inequality. As Christopher Hayes wrote in Twilight of the Elites (2012): ‘defenders of the status quo invoke a kind of neo-Calvinist logic by saying that those at the top, by virtue of their placement there, must be the most deserving’. By the same reasoning, those at the bottom are not deserving. As such social norms spread, it becomes increasingly easy for CEOs to justify giving themselves huge bonuses while cutting the wages of workers.

Such cultural attitudes work with economic forces to widen inequality. Economists know very well that few markets are ‘efficient’ in the sense that their prices are set entirely by the forces of supply and demand. Labour markets are especially sensitive to cultural norms about what is fair compensation, so prevailing theories about inequality have practical consequences. And labour markets are also strongly affected by government regulation, as the economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz has argued. So let’s consider how politics enters the equation here.

The US, as we saw, breeds strong links between wealth and politics. Some wealthy individuals run for office themselves. Others use their money to support their favoured politicians and policies. As a result, the US political system is much more attuned to the wishes of the rich than to the aspirations of the poor. Kevin Phillips has been one of the most influential voices raised in alarm at the dangers for democracy of growing wealth disparity.

Inverse relationship between well-being and inequality in American history. The peaks and valleys of inequality (in purple) represent the ratio of the largest fortunes to the median wealth of households (the Phillips curve). The blue-shaded curve combines four measures of well-being: economic (the fraction of economic growth that is paid to workers as wages), health (life expectancy and the average height of native-born population), and social optimism (the average age of first marriage, with early marriages indicating social optimism and delayed marriages indicating social pessimism).Inverse relationship between well-being and inequality in American history. The peaks and valleys of inequality (in purple) represent the ratio of the largest fortunes to the median wealth of households (the Phillips curve). The blue-shaded curve combines four measures of well-being: economic (the fraction of economic growth that is paid to workers as wages), health (life expectancy and the average height of native-born population), and social optimism (the average age of first marriage, with early marriages indicating social optimism and delayed marriages indicating social pessimism).

Yet the US political system has been under the influence of wealthy elites ever since the American Revolution. In some historical periods it worked primarily for the benefit of the wealthy. In others, it pursued policies that benefited the society as a whole. Take the minimum wage, which grew during the Great Compression era and declined (in real terms) after 1980. The proportion of American workers who were unionised changed in a similarly cyclical fashion, as the legislative field tilted first one way then the other. The top marginal tax rate was 68 per cent or higher before 1980; by 1988 it declined to 28 per cent. In one era, government policy systematically favoured the majority, while in another it favoured the narrow interests of the wealthy elites. This inconsistency calls for explanation.

It is relatively easy to understand the periods when the wealthy bent the agenda to suit their interests (though of course, not all rich people care exclusively about their own wealth). How, though, can we account for the much more broadly inclusive policies of the Great Compression era? And what caused the reversal that ended the Gilded Age and ushered in the Great Compression? Or the second switch, which took place around 1980?

History provides another clue. Unequal societies generally turn a corner once they have passed through a long spell of political instability. Governing elites tire of incessant violence and disorder. They realise that they need to suppress their internal rivalries, and switch to a more co-operative way of governing, if they are to have any hope of preserving the social order. We see this shift in the social mood repeatedly throughout history — towards the end of the Roman civil wars (first century BC), following the English Wars of the Roses (1455-85), and after the Fronde (1648-53), the final great outbreak of violence that had been convulsing France since the Wars of Religion began in the late 16th century. Put simply, it is fear of revolution that restores equality. And my analysis of US history in a forthcoming book suggests that this is precisely what happened in the US around 1920.

Reforms that ensured an equitable distribution of the fruits of economic growth turned out to be a highly effective counter to the lure of Bolshevism

These were the years of extreme insecurity. There were race riots (the ‘Red Summer of 1919’), worker insurrections, and an Italian anarchist terrorist campaign aimed directly at the elites. The worst incident in US labour history was the West Virginia Mine War of 1920—21, culminating in the Battle of Blair Mountain. Although it started as a workers’ dispute, the Mine War eventually turned into the largest armed insurrection that the US has ever seen, the Civil War excepted. Between 10,000 and 15,000 miners armed with rifles battled against thousands of strikebreakers and sheriff deputies. The federal government eventually called in the Air Force, the only time it has ever done so against its own people. Add to all this the rise of the Soviet Union and the wave of socialist revolutions that swept Europe after the First World War, triggering the Red Scare of 1921, and you get a sense of the atmosphere. Quantitative data indicate that this period was the most violent in US history, second only to the Civil War. It was much, much worse than the 1960s.

The US, in short, was in a revolutionary situation, and many among the political and business elites realised it. They began to push through a remarkable series of reforms. In 1921 and 1924, Congress passed legislation that effectively shut down immigration into the US. Although much of the motivation behind these laws was to exclude ‘dangerous aliens’ such as Italian anarchists and Eastern European socialists, the broader effect was to reduce the labour surplus. Worker wages grew rapidly. At around the same time, federal income tax came in and the rate at which top incomes were taxed began to increase. Somewhat later, provoked by the Great Depression, other laws legalised collective bargaining through unions, introduced a minimum wage, and established Social Security.

The US elites entered into an unwritten compact with the working classes. This implicit contract included the promise that the fruits of economic growth would be distributed more equitably among both workers and owners. In return, the fundamentals of the political-economic system would not be challenged (no revolution). The deal allowed the lower and upper classes to co-operate in solving the challenges facing the American Republic — overcoming the Great Depression, winning the Second World War, and countering the Soviet threat during the Cold War.

It almost goes without saying that there was a racist and xenophobic underside to all this. The co-operating group was mainly native-born white Protestants. African-Americans, Jews, Catholics and foreigners were excluded or heavily discriminated against. Nevertheless, while making such ‘categorical inequalities’ worse, the compact led to a dramatic reduction in overall economic inequality.

The ‘New Deal Coalition’ which ruled the US from 1932 to the late 1960s did so well that the business community, opposed to its policies at first, came to accept them in the post-war years. As the historian Kim Phillips-Fein wrote in Invisible Hands (2010):
Many managers and stockholders [made] peace with the liberal order that had emerged. They began to bargain regularly with the labour unions at their companies. They advocated the use of fiscal policy and government action to help the nation to cope with economic downturns. They accepted the idea that the state might have some role to play in guiding economic life.

When Barry Goldwater campaigned on a pro-business, anti-union and anti-big government platform in the 1964 presidential elections, he couldn’t win any lasting support from the corporate community. The conservatives had to wait another 16 years for their triumph.

But by the late 1970s, a new generation of political and business leaders had come to power. To them the revolutionary situation of 1919-21 was just history. In this they were similar to the French aristocrats on the eve of the French Revolution, who did not see that their actions could bring down the Ancien Régime — the last great social breakdown, the Fronde, being so far in the past.

The US elites, similarly, took the smooth functioning of the political-economic system for granted. The only problem, as they saw it, was that they weren’t being adequately compensated for their efforts. Feelings of dissatisfaction ran high during the Bear Market of 1973—82, when capital returns took a particular beating. The high inflation of that decade ate into inherited wealth. A fortune of $2 billion in 1982 was a third smaller, when expressed in inflation-adjusted dollars, than $1 billion in 1962, and only a sixth of $1 billion in 1912. All these factors contributed to the reversal of the late 1970s.

It is no coincidence that the life of Communism (from the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989) coincides almost perfectly with the Great Compression era. The Red Scares of, firstly, 1919—21 and then 1947—57 suggest that US elites took the Soviet threat quite seriously. More generally, the Soviet Union, especially in its early years, aggressively promoted an ideology that was highly threatening to the political-economic system favoured by the US elites. Reforms that ensured an equitable distribution of the fruits of economic growth turned out to be a highly effective counter to the lure of Bolshevism.

Nevertheless, when Communism collapsed, its significance was seriously misread. It’s true that the Soviet economy could not compete with a system based on free markets plus policies and norms that promoted equity. Yet the fall of the Soviet Union was interpreted as a vindication of free markets, period. The triumphalist, heady atmosphere of the 1990s was highly conducive to the spread of Ayn Randism and other individualist ideologies. The unwritten social contract that had emerged during the New Deal and braved the challenges of the Second World War had faded from memory.

What, then, explains the rapid growth of top fortunes in the US over the past 30 years? Why did the wages of unskilled workers stagnate or decline? What accounts for the bitterness of election rhetoric in the US, the growing legislative gridlock, the rampant political polarisation? My answer is that all of these trends are part of a complex and interlocking system. I don’t just mean that everything affects everything else; that would be vacuous. Rather, that cliodynamic theory can tell us specifically how demographic, economic and cultural variables relate to one another, and how their interactions generate social change. Cliodynamics also explains why historical reversals in such diverse areas as economics and culture happen at roughly similar times. The theory of secular cycles was developed using data from historical societies, but it looks like it can provide answers to questions about our own society.

Our society, like all previous complex societies, is on a rollercoaster. Impersonal social forces bring us to the top; then comes the inevitable plunge. But the descent is not inevitable. Ours is the first society that can perceive how those forces operate, even if dimly. This means that we can avoid the worst — perhaps by switching to a less harrowing track, perhaps by redesigning the rollercoaster altogether.

Three years ago I published a short article in the science journalNature. I pointed out that several leading indicators of political instability look set to peak around 2020. In other words, we are rapidly approaching a historical cusp, at which the US will be particularly vulnerable to violent upheaval. This prediction is not a ‘prophecy’. I don’t believe that disaster is pre-ordained, no matter what we do. On the contrary, if we understand the causes, we have a chance to prevent it from happening. But the first thing we will have to do is reverse the trend of ever-growing inequality.

Correction, Feb 13, 2013: When first published, this article misidentified Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, as an inheritor of a large fortune. In fact he amassed most of his wealth himself.

7 February 2013

Poor Concentration: Poverty Reduces Brainpower Needed for Navigating Other Areas of Life (Science Daily)

Aug. 29, 2013 — Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University. As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes. 

Research based at Princeton University found that poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life. Experiments showed that the impact of financial concerns on the cognitive function of low-income individuals was similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night’s sleep. To gauge the influence of poverty in natural contexts, the researchers tested 464 sugarcane farmers in India who rely on the annual harvest for at least 60 percent of their income. Each farmer performed better on common fluid-intelligence and cognition tests post-harvest compared to pre-harvest. (Credit: Image courtesy of Princeton University)

Published in the journal Science, the study presents a unique perspective regarding the causes of persistent poverty. The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty. A person’s cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs. Thusly, a person is left with fewer “mental resources” to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.

In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests. On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ, or the loss of an entire night’s sleep.

But when their concerns were benign, low-income individuals performed competently, at a similar level to people who were well off, said corresponding author Jiaying Zhao, who conducted the study as a doctoral student in the lab of co-author Eldar Shafir, Princeton’s William Stewart Tod Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs. Zhao and Shafir worked with Anandi Mani, an associate professor of economics at the University of Warwick in Britain, and Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard University economics professor.

“These pressures create a salient concern in the mind and draw mental resources to the problem itself. That means we are unable to focus on other things in life that need our attention,” said Zhao, who is now an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia.

“Previous views of poverty have blamed poverty on personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success,” she said. “We’re arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function. The very condition of not having enough can actually be a cause of poverty.”

The mental tax that poverty can put on the brain is distinct from stress, Shafir explained. Stress is a person’s response to various outside pressures that — according to studies of arousal and performance — can actually enhance a person’s functioning, he said. In the Science study, Shafir and his colleagues instead describe an immediate rather than chronic preoccupation with limited resources that can be a detriment to unrelated yet still important tasks.

“Stress itself doesn’t predict that people can’t perform well — they may do better up to a point,” Shafir said. “A person in poverty might be at the high part of the performance curve when it comes to a specific task and, in fact, we show that they do well on the problem at hand. But they don’t have leftover bandwidth to devote to other tasks. The poor are often highly effective at focusing on and dealing with pressing problems. It’s the other tasks where they perform poorly.”

The fallout of neglecting other areas of life may loom larger for a person just scraping by, Shafir said. Late fees tacked on to a forgotten rent payment, a job lost because of poor time-management — these make a tight money situation worse. And as people get poorer, they tend to make difficult and often costly decisions that further perpetuate their hardship, Shafir said. He and Mullainathan were co-authors on a 2012 Science paper that reported a higher likelihood of poor people to engage in behaviors that reinforce the conditions of poverty, such as excessive borrowing.

“They can make the same mistakes, but the outcomes of errors are more dear,” Shafir said. “So, if you live in poverty, you’re more error prone and errors cost you more dearly — it’s hard to find a way out.”

The first set of experiments took place in a New Jersey mall between 2010 and 2011 with roughly 400 subjects chosen at random. Their median annual income was around $70,000 and the lowest income was around $20,000. The researchers created scenarios wherein subjects had to ponder how they would solve financial problems, for example, whether they would handle a sudden car repair by paying in full, borrowing money or putting the repairs off. Participants were assigned either an “easy” or “hard” scenario in which the cost was low or high — such as $150 or $1,500 for the car repair. While participants pondered these scenarios, they performed common fluid-intelligence and cognition tests.

Subjects were divided into a “poor” group and a “rich” group based on their income. The study showed that when the scenarios were easy — the financial problems not too severe — the poor and rich performed equally well on the cognitive tests. But when they thought about the hard scenarios, people at the lower end of the income scale performed significantly worse on both cognitive tests, while the rich participants were unfazed.

To better gauge the influence of poverty in natural contexts, between 2010 and 2011 the researchers also tested 464 sugarcane farmers in India who rely on the annual harvest for at least 60 percent of their income. Because sugarcane harvests occur once a year, these are farmers who find themselves rich after harvest and poor before it. Each farmer was given the same tests before and after the harvest, and performed better on both tests post-harvest compared to pre-harvest.

The cognitive effect of poverty the researchers found relates to the more general influence of “scarcity” on cognition, which is the larger focus of Shafir’s research group. Scarcity in this case relates to any deficit — be it in money, time, social ties or even calories — that people experience in trying to meet their needs. Scarcity consumes “mental bandwidth” that would otherwise go to other concerns in life, Zhao said.

“These findings fit in with our story of how scarcity captures attention. It consumes your mental bandwidth,” Zhao said. “Just asking a poor person to think about hypothetical financial problems reduces mental bandwidth. This is an acute, immediate impact, and has implications for scarcity of resources of any kind.”

“We documented similar effects among people who are not otherwise poor, but on whom we imposed scarce resources,” Shafir added. “It’s not about being a poor person — it’s about living in poverty.”

Many types of scarcity are temporary and often discretionary, said Shafir, who is co-author with Mullainathan of the book, “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much,” to be published in September. For instance, a person pressed for time can reschedule appointments, cancel something or even decide to take on less.

“When you’re poor you can’t say, ‘I’ve had enough, I’m not going to be poor anymore.’ Or, ‘Forget it, I just won’t give my kids dinner, or pay rent this month.’ Poverty imposes a much stronger load that’s not optional and in very many cases is long lasting,” Shafir said. “It’s not a choice you’re making — you’re just reduced to few options. This is not something you see with many other types of scarcity.”

The researchers suggest that services for the poor should accommodate the dominance that poverty has on a person’s time and thinking. Such steps would include simpler aid forms and more guidance in receiving assistance, or training and educational programs structured to be more forgiving of unexpected absences, so that a person who has stumbled can more easily try again.

“You want to design a context that is more scarcity proof,” said Shafir, noting that better-off people have access to regular support in their daily lives, be it a computer reminder, a personal assistant, a housecleaner or a babysitter.

“There’s very little you can do with time to get more money, but a lot you can do with money to get more time,” Shafir said. “The poor, who our research suggests are bound to make more mistakes and pay more dearly for errors, inhabit contexts often not designed to help.”

Journal Reference:

  1. A. Mani, S. Mullainathan, E. Shafir, J. Zhao. Poverty Impedes Cognitive FunctionScience, 2013; 341 (6149): 976 DOI: 10.1126/science.1238041

“La violencia define la vida de los pobres” (Tiempo Argentino)

19.05.2013 | entrevista a javier auyero

Con la maestra María Fernanda Berti, estudiaron en un barrio del Conurbano la otra cara de la inseguridad.

Por: Lucía Álvarez

Cuando el sociólogo Javier Auyero y la maestra María Fernanda Berti comenzaron su investigación en una escuela primaria de Ingeniero Budge, en la ribera del Riachuelo a metros de la Capital Federal, la intención era otra: replicar el trabajo en Villa Inflamable, estudiar el sufrimiento ambiental en otro barrio del Conurbano Bonaerense. Sin embargo, a semanas de haber empezado su trabajo de campo, surgió lo inesperado. Junto a los relatos “tóxicos” sobre los basurales a cielo abierto y el agua con sabor a aceite, los alumnos llevaban historias de asesinatos, violaciones, tiroteos y peleas domésticas. Retrataban una dimensión de la violencia invisible a los ojos de los investigadores; una violencia que permeaba y definía la vida de la gente.

“No estábamos equipados para estudiar este tema. Por eso, al principio decidimos no prestarle atención, pensábamos que nos distraía de nuestro objetivo. Pero la frecuencia en los registros y la insistencia de los relatos nos terminó forzando a indagar en esas violencias”, confiesa Auyero tres años después de ese punto de inflexión, y a una semana de que La violencia en los márgenes, publicado por la editorial Katz, llegue a las librerías.

No es la primera vez que el profesor de sociología de la Universidad de Texas, Austin, invita a reflexionar sobre temas que se creían saldados. Hace quince años, con La política de los pobres, Auyero derribó mitos en torno al clientelismo político y mostró que se trataba de una forma de sobrevivir a la pobreza y la desigualdad. Más tarde, reveló la trama en torno a los saqueos de 2001 con La zona gris y puso de manifiesto el complejo vínculo entre violencia colectiva, política partidaria y vida cotidiana. Ahora, Auyero y Berti se atrevieron a deconstruir el discurso sobre la seguridad para señalar que en la discusión pública no hay lugar para la violencia que sufren los pobres.

“Creo que si tomo como parámetro de comparación mi primer trabajo intensivo, en Villa Jardín, donde la gente hablaba de los pibes de la esquina que fumaban porro, a hoy, veinte años más tarde, el panorama es muy distinto. A diferencia de lo que sucedía un cuarto de siglo atrás, hoy la violencia permea y define la vida de los sectores populares. Tomando datos objetivos, estadísticos, y subjetivos, me quedan muy pocas dudas de que estos barrios son más violentos de lo que eran. Los chicos, adolescentes y adultos hablan casi compulsivamente de esta experiencia. No de un asalto, sino uno seguido de un tiro, de un cuchillazo, y muchas veces seguido de muerte”, reflexiona en diálogo con Tiempo Argentino.

–¿Los sectores populares no estuvieron desde siempre más expuestos a la violencia?

–Estamos hablando de más violencia, y en términos generales, de una nueva naturaleza de esta violencia. Antes, nos referíamos a la violencia del Estado, que hoy no ha desaparecido, pero que ahora vemos interactuando con otras formas que están concatenadas. Tenés violencia doméstica, con un marido que le pega a una mujer; sexual, con un tío que abusa de sus sobrinas; y una violencia que ocurre públicamente en asaltos, tiroteos y homicidios. Primero detectamos la frecuencia, y luego, comenzamos a hacer un trabajo de detectives, para ver cómo se conectaban entre sí. Porque veíamos que el dealer podía ser violento con un cliente, pero cuando iba a la casa, la mamá lo encadenaba y le pegaba para que no consuma. Esto quiere decir que este tipo de violencias que pensamos como fenómenos aislados, en algunos casos, están interconectadas.

–¿Cómo explica que, a pesar de una mayor presencia estatal y una mejor distribución de los ingresos, haya habido este retroceso en la calidad de vida de los sectores populares?

–Si uno toma dos fotos del mismo barrio, en los años setenta y hoy, lo que ve es un enorme proceso de informalización. Los sectores más afectados, los más pobres, experimentaron la desaparición de los modos formales de regulación del conflicto, las instituciones formales dejaron de regular la vida. Yo puedo estar o no de acuerdo en que se han recuperado ciertos derechos, que ha crecido la economía, que el Estado adquirió un rol más importante, pero también hay que remarcar la mayor presencia del Estado punitivo. Hoy hay más gente presa. Y a diferencia de hace 25 años, la cárcel se ha vuelto una institución de la vida cotidiana. Antes nadie hablaba de un familiar preso, o era muy raro. Hoy buena parte de las familias de los sectores populares están afectadas por el brazo punitivo. Si uno quiere entender el porqué puede decir que hay informalización, desproletarización, mayor degradación de las condiciones de vida, mayor presencia  de un Estado contradictorio. Pero es imposible encontrar una causa.

–La etnografía es en Arquitecto Tucci, ¿a qué sector social es extensible esta conclusión?

–No estamos en posición de generalizar. No sé si esto ocurre en Moreno, en José C Paz. Pero sí esta es una invitación a mirar que si hay muchos casos de violencia, es posible que estén concatenados. Y me parece que hay que empezar a decir, aunque esto no va a tranquilizar a los lectores, que las víctimas de la violencia están sobre todo entre los más postergados.

–¿Qué tipos de efectos colectivos e individuales generan a mediano y largo plazo “la violencia como aprendizaje”?

–Ese es el tema más complicado para investigar y reflexionar. Porque creo que en la teoría social se tiende a pensar que, a mayor exposición, se está más “dispuesto a”. No se trata de que estos sectores valoran la violencia. No estamos argumentando sobre valores, pero sí estamos señalando que al estar expuestos, aprenden a defenderse, a pegar una trompada, a ser más efectivo, a disciplinar a sus hijos, a manejarse en zonas del barrio. Esos chicos aprenden a lidiar con situaciones para las cuales mis hijos no están equipados. Eso no quiere decir que valoren más la violencia, sino que es otro repertorio de acción, otro habitus. A diferencia de la clase media, cuando un chico de diez años ya vio un cadáver, sabe dónde conseguir una bala, distingue entre calibres, se relaciona con la violencia de otra manera.

–¿En Argentina hay conciencia de este problema?

–A mí no me gusta hablar de una conciencia colectiva. Pero es cierto que el tema de la violencia que sufren estos sectores no es un tema que aparece con frecuencia en la discusión pública. Sí, en cambio, la que estos sectores perpetran sobre otros. El pibe chorro es una figura emblemática de la violencia. Y la discusión ronda en torno a cómo controlar a ese perpetrador, sin dar un debate sobre las condiciones que lo produce. Como apuesta política e intelectual, el libro propone mirar lo que pasa en estos lados, porque se sabe poco, se habla poco y se habla mal.

–¿Es correcto hablar de ghetto?

–La noción de ghetto, en Ciencias Sociales, se usa para características que no están presentes acá, porque hace referencia a cuestiones raciales de la población o de mecanismos de dominación racial. Sí es pertinente hablar de territorios segregados. Porque esta gente está bastante poco integrada con otras zonas de la Capital, toman peor agua, no tienen pavimento, van a peores escuelas. En ese sentido, hablo de margen urbano.

–Mencionaba el peso de la informalización, ¿cuánto colabora con este panorama el mercado ilegal de drogas?

–La economía de las drogas ilícitas es siempre un arma de doble filo. Las drogas pueden mantener a los barrios económicamente, y por el otro lado, los puede destruir. Yo no diría que es un mito que en Argentina ha aumentado el tráfico. Si se ven los mapas de distribución, hoy Argentina aparece en la región como un lugar, no sólo de paso, sino también de consumo: el mercado interno se ha consolidado. Cualquiera que haya estudiado cómo funciona este mercado sabe que en el Conurbano efectivamente ha aumentado el tráfico de drogas ilícitas. Pero la conexión entre drogas y violencia no se da exclusivamente por el efecto psicofarmacológico que produce. La mayor frecuencia de situaciones violentas producidas por las drogas es porque el mercado es ilegal y por ende inherentemente violento. Si a estos elementos –informalización, intervención de la policía, expansión del mercado de las drogas y su transformación interna– le sumás el trabajo en la Salada, el mercado localizado en donde hicimos trabajo de campo, uno entiende por qué es tan violento Arquitecto Tucci. Son miles de personas que salen con cash dos veces por semana. Así se presentan oportunidades para el crimen. El libro no intenta atribuir causalidad, pero es cierto que estos factores explican bastante.

–¿Funcionan esta concatenación de violencias como formas de control social?

–Me cuesta pensar que hay un agente detrás. Un plan, una intención de control. Efectivamente funciona sometiendo, fragmentando, debilitando, destruyendo a la gente que allí vive. No puedo decir que es un ejercicio de control de parte de los sectores dominantes. Ahora, el hecho de que una mujer tenga que acudir a la policía, que la sabe delincuente, para disciplinar su hijo, me parece una forma de lo más paradójica de gobernamentalidad, en el sentido foucaultiano de gobierno sobre las mentes y los cuerpos. Porque es el propio sujeto gobernado quien demanda ser gobernado. Este orden social está creando sufrimiento. Esto no ocurre porque los sectores populares, los pobres, son así. Ocurre porque el propio orden social ha creado esta monstruosidad.

–¿Cómo, cuándo y produciendo qué efectos el Estado interviene en las disputas de los más pobres?

–El Estado aparece de muchas maneras, con la Asignación Universal por Hijo, con la escuela, el hospital, y aparece, con mayor frecuencia y clandestinidad, en la forma de la policía. Me parece que es erróneo hablar de que no está presente. El Estado produce parte de esa violencia: cualquiera sabe en el barrio que la policía pacta con los transas. Y después está el Estado que provee la AUH. No es una realidad monocromática.

–¿Cómo reinterpretar a la luz de esta evidencia la AUH? ¿Alcanza? ¿Es un modelo?

–A veces me resulta extraño cuando leo en los diarios la perspectiva del progresismo hablando de la AUH. No sé si se han tomado el trabajo de ver qué lugar ocupa en el presupuesto de una familia marginada. Es una ayuda, una asistencia. Pero atribuirle efectos mágicos o empoderadores es, para hablar mal y pronto, delirante: en el mejor de los tiempos, cubre una semana de los gastos de una familia tipo. La AUH, para tener los efectos que se le atribuyen desde ciertas posiciones políticas, se debería multiplicar por diez. Debería ser un ingreso que cubra en serio las necesidades de los más pobres. Creo que es tan erróneo decir que los pobres no van a trabajar porque reciben la asignación, como atribuirle el efecto contrario: que es igualador, que empodera a los signatarios, porque eso tampoco se basa en la experiencia de quien la recibe. La gente que la cobra la valora mucho, es cierto. Es un programa que funciona, eso no hay duda. Pero no hay que sobredimensionar la cosa… en el país de los ciegos, el tuerto puede ser rey para la política, pero no para las Ciencias Sociales que investigan de manera cuidadosa.

–¿Cuánto margen de maniobra tiene la escuela?

–Fernanda, la otra autora del libro, que es maestra, apuesta por la función de la escuela como integradora, como posible actor del ascenso social. Me cuesta pensar en cuánto pueden hacer estas escuelas en las que chicos y chicas tienen dos horas y diez minutos promedio por día de horas efectivas de clase.

–En el libro trabajan con tasas de criminalidad y mencionan que no es correcto comparar con las de otros países. ¿Este es un proceso regional o es síntoma de que nuestra “estructura social” está más latinoamericanizada?

–Yo creo que buena parte de América Latina está asistiendo al crecimiento y la diversificación de la violencia. En ese sentido, se puede pensar en países como Venezuela, en donde la violencia comunitaria o familiar, o la vinculada a las drogas ha aumentado. En su naturaleza y en su intensidad. Hay nuevas formas de violencia coexistiendo. Pero no tiene mucho sentido citar las tasas en Centroamérica o Sudáfrica para comparar con Argentina. Te lleva a decirle a la gente que vive esa violencia, que lo viva como un estadística, es pedirle a la gente que viva su temor como lo estudia un demógrafo o un sociólogo. Otra mención sobre el trabajo con las tasas de criminalidad es la dificultad para encontrar datos. El Indec no me pudo proporcionar ni siquiera la cantidad de habitantes del barrio. Yo tuve otra relación con el Indec hace unos años. Si bien me costó mucho producir mis propios datos sobre criminalidad y violencia, tengo la confianza necesaria para decir que es una tendencia que existe en la Argentina.

–¿Qué soluciones hay?

–Yo creo que uno debe destacar el elemento estructural. Hay que volver a señalar que la raíz última es la informalización de la economía, la degradación de las condiciones de vida, la manera de operar del estado patriarcal. Pero sería muy útil pensar qué se puede hacer. Integrar al mercado laboral y al educativo, es una opción, pero además, hay que pensar otros problemas. ¿Cómo le pedimos a una mamá de un chico adicto, a la que el marido le pega, que viaje una hora a la comisaría de la mujer, y otra hora y media para tratar de internar al hijo? ¿Por qué no pensamos en una oficina del Estado que, para confrontar la violencia encadenada, integre su manera de tratar los problemas? En ese sentido es razonable decir que los más marginados están abandonados.

–En el libro hablan de una balcanización de las Ciencias Sociales para abordar la violencia, ¿también se puede hablar de una balcanización de las políticas públicas?

–La violencia está encadenada y la solución tiene que ser integral. Eso es lo que se desprende del libro. No podemos seguir tratando la adicción como un problema y la violencia doméstica como otro. En los efectos, la política pública está balcanizada.  -<dl

O novo velho Mano Brown (Revista Fórum)

10/04/2013 2:44 pm

Por Glauco Faria, Igor Carvalho e Renato Rovai. Fotos de Guilherme Perez

“A gente não foca na polícia, a polícia é um tentáculo do sistema, o mais mal pago. Mas é armado e chega com autoridade, é um tentáculo perigoso”

“Eu sou o Brown mais velho, macaco velho. Estou menos óbvio, menos personagem e mais natural. Comecei a tomar cuidado. Nunca fui oportunista, vivo de música, não sou um político que faz música.” Essa é uma das formas pelas quais o líder e vocalista do Racionais MC’s se define hoje, 25 anos depois de o grupo de rap conseguir levar sua mensagem não apenas às periferias de todo o Brasil, mas também a muitos lugares e pessoas que não tinham intimidade com o ritmo.

A mensagem de Brown sempre foi forte e contundente, mas hoje o músico prepara o lançamento de um álbum solo, no qual o soul e o romantismo predominam. Isso não significa, nem de longe, que o seu pensamento tenha se modificado, até porque muito do contexto que propiciou o nascimento do Racionais ainda está presente na realidade brasileira. “Eu não estava falando de chacina, de nada disso, estava preparando um disco de música romântica, aí começou a morrer gente aqui e tive de fazer alguma coisa.”

O músico se refere à chacina que matou sete pessoas na região do Campo Limpo, zona sul paulistana, em 5 de janeiro. Entre as vítimas, DJ Lah, em um primeiro momento tido como autor de um vídeo que denunciava a execução de um comerciante no mesmo local, feita por policiais. A informação foi desmentida depois, mas o espectro de que se tratava de uma vingança paira sobre a população do lugar. E Brown fala sobre as possíveis consequências para quem viu e sentiu a tragédia de perto. “Essa ferida não vai cicatrizar, quem mora naquele lugar onde morreu o Lah não vai esquecer, os moleques vão crescer, mano. Quem viveu aquilo não vai esquecer.”

Na entrevista a seguir, Mano Brown fala sobre a falta de oportunidades na periferia, do racismo, de um sistema que oprime, mas também ressalta o que ele considera ser o nascimento de um novo Brasil, destacando o papel da nova geração. Assim, ele mesmo tenta se “reinventar” para seguir na luta que sempre foi dele e de muitas outras pessoas. “Para dar continuidade ao trabalho, temos de caminhar pra frente, a juventude precisa de rapidez na informação, não dá pra ficar debatendo a mesma ideia sempre. É fácil para o Brown ficar nessas ideias, fácil, é até covarde ficar jogando mais lenha, então fui buscar as outras ideias, que passam pela raça também, com certeza.”

Fórum – Você esteve em uma reunião do pessoal do rap com o então candidato a prefeito de São Paulo Fernando Haddad, e ali disse que não iria falar sobre cultura, mas sim denunciar que os jovens estavam morrendo na periferia. Recentemente, houve o assassinato do DJ Lah, e mortes violentas de músicos da periferia têm sido muito comuns em São Paulo, na Baixada Santista, por exemplo. Como definir essa situação?

Mano Brown – Esses moleques cantam o que eles vivem. Geralmente, quando você chega nas quebradas, têm poucos lugares que são espaços de lazer, e o lugar onde teve a chacina era um ponto de lazer, querendo ou não. Um ponto meio marginal, mas tudo que é nosso é marginal. Era um bar, tinha a sinuca, tinham os amigos, o bate-papo com a família, tem o fluxo, é o centro da quebrada. O barzinho vende de tudo, vende pinga, vende leite, vende tudo, e o Lah gostava de ficar por ali, vários caras gostavam, era o quintal das pessoas.

O que aconteceu ali foi execução, crime de guerra. Tem a guerra e tem os crimes de guerra. As pessoas não estavam esperando por aquilo ali, não estavam preparadas pr’aquilo. É o que tem acontecido neste começo de ano, e aconteceu no final do ano passado, as mortes todas têm o mesmo perfil: moleque pobre em proximidade de favela. Os caras encontram várias fragilidades ali, várias formas de chegar, matar e sair rápido, e o governo simplesmente ignora o que aconteceu. existem as facilidades. O cara vai lá e mata sabendo que não vai ser cobrado.

Fórum – Mas você acha que, por conta dessas ocorrências, há uma coisa dirigida contra o rap?

Brown – Acho que não, se dissesse isso seria até leviano, porque muitas pessoas que morreram não tinham nada a ver com o rap. Gente comum, motoboy, entregador de pizza, moleque que saiu da Febem e estava na rua, com uma passagenzinha primária e morreu… E o rap tá na vida da molecada mesmo, tá nos becos, nas esquinas, no bar, na viela, geralmente o moleque que curte rap tá nesses lugares. É uma coisa dirigida, mas é dirigida à raça. Dirigida a uma classe.

Se você for fazer a conta de quantas pessoas morreram no final do ano, mortes sem explicação, crimes a serem investigados, e somar o tanto de gente que morreu em Santa Maria… Morreu muito mais aqui. Lá foi comoção total pela forma que ocorreu, lógico, todo mundo é ser humano, mas veja a repercussão de um caso e a repercussão de outro caso, quanto tempo demorou pra mídia acordar pra chacina? Quanto tempo demorou pras pessoas perceberem a cor dos mortos? Coisa meio que normal, oito pretos mortos, quatro aqui, três ali… É uma coisa meio cultural, preto, pobre, preso morto já é uma coisa normal. Ninguém faz contas.

Fórum – E quem está matando nas periferias?

Brown – A polícia. O braço armado, conexões armadas, de direita.

Fórum – Você tem um histórico de estranhamentos com a polícia…

Brown – Houve a época em que soava o gongo, a gente saía dando porrada pra todo lado, não olhava nem em quem. Outra época, a gente procurava a polícia pra sair batendo. Hoje em dia, espera pra ver quem vai vir. Não é só a polícia, são vários poderes. A gente não foca na polícia, a polícia é um tentáculo do sistema, o mais mal pago. Mas é armado e chega com autoridade, é um tentáculo perigoso. E tem várias formas de matar, de matar o preto.

Fórum – Da última vez que você deu entrevista à Fórum, há mais de 11 anos, boa parte da conversa foi sobre isso. Você é um ator importante dentro desse cenário, como está atuando para mudar a situação, está fazendo intervenções no governo, conversando com pessoas, ou só se manifestando pela sua arte mesmo?

Brown – Se eu disser que não uso meus contatos, estou mentindo. O que tem acontecido traumatizou todo mundo, então ficamos todos aqui com muita raiva, lógico que alguma coisa a gente fez. Mas não posso dizer o quê. Tenho minhas armas, mas não posso expor, parado a gente não ficou.

A partir do momento em que a gente nota realmente que nossa quebrada tem fragilidades, vê as famílias das pessoas com muitas mulheres e poucos homens, homens com pouca liberdade, pouca liberdade de movimento, vida pregressa com problema, pouca mobilidade na sociedade, caras condenados a viver no submundo, você começa a criar um exército na comunidade, de gente que vê aquele entra e sai da cadeia, de homens com vida pregressa que não conseguem mais arranjar emprego. As casas perdem esses caras, que deixam de ser úteis dentro de casa. Você vê a morte do homem da casa, cinco mulheres chorando; as famílias estão num processo que vai demorar, de restauração pra uma vida mais rotineira, mais calma, é uma corrente que tem de quebrar.

“Antigamente, quando só o rico tinha, ninguém reclamava. Pobre com celular, com moto, não pode, o sistema cobra”

Fórum – Um cenário de guerra, mesmo.

Brown – É, não passou a ser guerra agora, depois da chacina, já vivia em guerra. As mães também lamentam os filhos que vão pra vida do crime, perder pra droga… A molecada negra tá muito exposta ao perigo, o salário é baixo, o risco é alto. A sociedade cobra muito, você tem de ter as coisas, tem de estar, tem de ser, tem de aparentar ser… Aparentar ser já custa caro, “ser” é outro estágio. O pessoal acha que é vaidade boba a pessoa gostar de marca, de perfume bom, mas são coisas que ajudam a pessoa a circular, a arrumar um emprego, a arrumar uma gata, tudo melhora. No momento em que no Brasil começa a sobrar um dinheirinho pra categoria, pra raça, o outro lado já começa a cobrar com a vida também. O excesso de gente usufruindo deste novo Brasil… Não pode, é excesso, tem de limpar. Tudo que é moleque de moto… Os excessos que o pessoal começa a reclamar, todo mundo com celular no busão. Antigamente, quando só o rico tinha, ninguém reclamava. Pobre com celular, com moto, não pode, o sistema cobra.

Fórum – Você entende isso como uma reação da elite?

Brown – Uma reação. Três governos de esquerda eleitos pelo povo, o Brasil pagou a dívida, a classe C tomando espaço e a Globo expondo isso na novela, todo mundo analisando, os autores são mais jovens e começaram a mudar a mente, as ideias começaram a ir pra tela e os movimentos ganhando força a partir das ideias, muita coisa junto… Os caras reagiram. O que aconteceu em São Paulo aconteceu no resto do Brasil. Em Alagoas, o índice de negros mortos é muito alto, em Belém do Pará, Goiás…

Fórum – E você pediu o impeachment do governador Geraldo Alckmin em um evento na Assembleia…

Brown – Pedi o impeachment do Alckmin e ele tem de tomar providências. Naquela altura, estava em um estágio em que dava a impressão de que o Alckmin não estava nem aí. As declarações que ele deu foram piorando, chegou num ponto de eu achar que ele não sabia o que estava acontecendo. Era suicídio, como ele vai se eleger a qualquer coisa com esses números de morte?

Muitas vezes, acho a mídia com tanto medo e, de repente, vai um canal de direita, que é a Record, que começou a investigação. A gente conversava e sentia que tinha o medo no ar, eram jornalistas com medo, quando eu vi o [André] Caramante isolando e as pessoas pedindo pra ele não voltar, pensei: “Os caras tão com medo, o governo tá junto”. E as declarações que ele [Alckmin] estava dando mostravam isso, que não ia voltar atrás e era um movimento aprovado pelo povo, o povo estava com ele. Redução da violência, crime organizado, a guerra do PCC, o povo leu isso como uma coisa benéfica pra sociedade, mas estavam morrendo os filhos deles mesmos.

Fórum – Será que o povo leu isso desse jeito?

Brown – Pelo número de PMs que foi eleito, percebo que o povo está se dirigindo a votar dessa forma, tem medo. Primeira coisa que se pensa: segurança. Segurança é polícia, entre um cantor de rap, um padre e um policial, ele vai eleger um policial. O voto explica.

“O PCC hoje tem tanto poder que eles nem precisariam da contravenção pra existir”

Fórum – Qual a sua opinião sobre o PCC?

Brown – O PCC hoje tem tanto poder que eles nem precisariam da contravenção pra existir. Aí seria realmente um poder incontestável, e pelo número de mortes que foi reduzido em São Paulo, a gente sabe que muito tem a ver com eles. Já existe o PCC, não precisa fazer nada mais contra a lei. Se é que houve alguma coisa contra a lei… Não seria mais necessário usar contravenção, já existe a autoridade, existe a autoridade instalada, o povo aceitou.

Fórum – Como você vê a ascensão dos movimentos sociais hoje em São Paulo?

Brown – Sou privilegiado de ver acontecer isso, minha geração. Acho digno e muito importante mesmo todos os saraus, as reuniões, os diálogos, todo o movimento de jovens dedicado a isso, a conhecer as causas do Brasil, não só reclamar. É uma geração que não só reclama, que faz, que desce o beco da favela, vai trabalhar, vai bater nas portas. É um novo Brasil, novos médicos, novos advogados, novos pedreiros, novos motoboys, novos motoristas. O que todo mundo bebe, vai ser; o que todo mundo come, vai ser; o que todo mundo respira, vai ser. Daqui a 20 anos, você vai ver o país que está sendo implantado pelo Lula, pela Dilma, pelos Racionais, pelo Bill, pelo Facção Central. Daqui a 20 anos, vai ter um povo que vai ter essa cara.

Fórum – Fale um pouco mais de sua concepção desse novo Brasil.

Brown – Tenho 42 anos, sou fruto daquela geração dos anos 1980, aquela “geração lixo”. “Geração lixo”. Eu sou aquilo, com todos os defeitos e qualidades. Já os nossos filhos, nós que já aprendemos e sofremos um pouquinho mais, vão ser melhorados, mais ligeiros, mais práticos que eu, e não vão rodar tanto em volta do objetivo, vão direto ao foco.

Agora, os meus filhos, a molecada em geral… Ainda temos de lavar a roupa suja. Eu e eles. Não gosto de puxar a orelha dos moleques por revista e nem por entrevista, mas temos roupa suja pra lavar nas favelas, nas vielas, nas ruas, nos palcos, tem muita coisa pra melhorar ainda.

Fórum – Mas existe um orgulho hoje de quem vive na periferia, ele não se esconde mais. Há marcas que nascem na periferia. 

Brown – É o que o judeu fez, o italiano fez, o japonês fez e o preto foi proibido de fazer. Nos dias de hoje, faz, monta time de futebol, loja, grupo de rap. Forma a família, que é onde está o foco nosso, a família, dialogar, organizar… Historicamente foi proibido pra nós, a gente vive correndo, se escondendo, um comportamento de foragido que talvez essa geração não vá ter mais.

Fórum – Será que esse não é o susto das elites, perceber que daqui a 20 anos o Brasil não vai ser mais esse? 

Brown – O Brasil atrasado, os brancos também não querem isso, os brancos ligeiros não querem mais isso. Foi um ganho o branco acordar e o preto acordar também.

Fórum – “Fim de semana no parque” fez vinte anos agora. Você acha que essa foi a principal mudança nesse período, além do ganho econômico, também a elevação da autoestima?

Brown – Começa pela raça, pelo orgulho do que você é, de você ter na sua família a sua raiz. Se você não tem vergonha da sua mãe você vai ouvir mais ela, se você acha sua mãe bonita, seu pai bonito… Eu sou de uma geração em que muitos não tiveram pai, não tive pai, vários amigos não tiveram. Tive de aprender a ser meu pai, o homem da casa sempre fui eu. Isso também fez eu ser quem eu sou, mas acho que seria melhor se tivesse tido um pai. Em várias casas faltam um pai. Acho que a periferia vive este momento de fluxo de cadeia, da molecada se envolvendo na criminalidade, perdendo o direito de ir e vir, de oportunidade de emprego por conta de passagem [na polícia], então vai limitando e as famílias vão ficando empobrecidas. Mesmo que o governo faça, vai estar sempre correndo atrás, essa corrente tem de cortar. Dar oportunidade pra molecada – principalmente para os homens –, que não tem como demonstrar nada numa sociedade em que você tem de parecer que é, pelo menos. A molecada não tem oportunidade.

Fórum – Falando em oportunidade, o que você acha das cotas?

Brown – Como tudo que envolve o negro, é polêmico. Agora, se você negar que o Brasil prejudicou a raça negra… [As cotas] não vão resolver o problema, mas dizer que o negro não é merecedor disso é racismo. Historicamente teria de ter, mas, dentro da raça negra, o lance de cotas é tão dividido ou mais que entre os brancos. Se você chegar na inteligência negra, perguntar ali o que acha da cota… Mano, é treta! Você vai ter cara crânio que é contra, vai falar pra ele que tem de ser a favor… É dividido, acho bom ser polêmico. O problema tem de ser debatido, depois faz o acordo, mas de cara tem de conversar.

“Primeira coisa que se pensa: segurança. Segurança é polícia, entre um cantor de rap, um padre e um policial, ele vai eleger um policial. O voto explica”

Fórum – Qual a sua avaliação do movimento negro no Brasil?

Brown – O movimento negro evoluiu muito, tenho muito orgulho de ver como o movimento atua hoje, algumas reuniões em que eu fui, moleques muito inteligentes… Dá vontade de parar de falar e deixar só os moleques falarem. No dia do evento mesmo, antes tinha falado um garoto do movimento negro, ele já tinha falado tudo. Eu nem quis falar muito porque ele já tinha falado tudo. Antigamente, ia nos movimentos e era um debate muito primário, ranço de 300 anos debatido nos anos 1980, nós estamos em 2013 e a molecada já está debatendo outras coisas, outros poderes, não só os visíveis. Já não querem só a roupa de marca, os caras querem poder, os moleques vêm pesado na reivindicação, no direito, na história. São terríveis e estão vindo aí. Tenho orgulho, já foi um movimento confuso, hoje não é mais. É um movimento prático.

Fórum – Existe uma crítica de que somente o empoderamento econômico não traria consciência social para as pessoas, mas o seu depoimento não diz isso.

Brown – Traz. Traz porque o tempo é dinheiro pra todos, inclusive pra classe C. O micro-ondas, o carro que anda melhor vai fazer você chegar com mais conforto em casa, no seu trabalho, você vai ter tempo pra melhorar. Por que é conforto pro rico e pro pobre não? O pobre vai ficar bobo alegre, por quê? É preconceito. O que faz a vida do cara ter conforto, permitir organizar o tempo, poder estudar, trabalhar e cuidar do filho… Daqui a 20 anos, tá ele formado, o filho estudando, se ele não tivesse o carro, com certeza não trabalhava, não estudava, tinha cuidado só do filho. Ele não tinha estudado e era só o filho, não eram duas rendas, era uma. Bem material “aliena o pobre”, porque pobre é alienado, esse é o discurso… O pobre não tem inteligência… Sabedoria do povo é sabedoria do povo, tem de escutar, tem de entender a mensagem.

“Como um país como o Brasil pôde tolerar os números de mortes em São Paulo, em 2012? Ninguém vê?”

Fórum – Você nunca pensou em se envolver com política?

Brown – Dá preguiça. Vou ser preso por agressão… Primeira reunião é agressão, é foda, tem de ter sangue frio.

Fórum – No Rio de Janeiro, o MC Leonardo saiu candidato. Você não acha que o movimento deveria lançar mais candidatos?

Brown – Não houve sucessos nas últimas eleições, é a ideia que falei da disputa do cantor de rap, do padre e do policial, foi isso que aconteceu. Houve candidatos com votação inexpressiva. O MC Leonardo pegou o Rio de Janeiro de cabeça pra baixo, tá todo mundo embriagado com a UPP. Ele fez o movimento contrário, eu falei pra ele: “Você vai bater de frente com a UPP? O povo tá do lado. Sua bandeira é essa, então é difícil ganhar”. Deixou de ter excesso, UPP é a contenção dos excessos. Vai ter cocaína em todo lugar, maconha em todo lugar, na farmácia, na padaria você compra, vai ter o funcionário que vende a maconhinha… O problema é o excesso, polícia dando tiro, facção trocando tiro, garoto novo com arma.

Fórum – Como você chegou no Marighella? Você pegaria em armas por algum desses motivos que falou aqui com a gente?

Brown – Pegaria. Não sou mais do que ninguém, mas pegaria. Não vejo por que não pegar, mesmo que eu fosse um mau soldado. Faria de tudo pra ser um bom soldado.

Fórum – E o Marighella, como você chegou a ele?

Brown – Eu tinha ouvido falar do Marighella há alguns anos, alguém disse que a gente era parecido até fisicamente, e é mesmo né, mano? Através da esposa de um rapper, amigo nosso, me falaram que ia sair um filme e o pessoal queria falar comigo, porque tinha tudo a ver, Marighella e Racionais. Aí entrei em contato com o pessoal do filme e peguei a missão de fazer a música.

Fórum – Você se surpreendeu com a história dele? 

Brown – Me identifiquei demais com ele, pra caralho, como pessoa. Gostava de futebol, samba, poesia, mulheres e não tinha medo de morrer, por isso ele é um líder até hoje.

Fórum – E religião, você tem proximidade com alguma delas?

Brown – Minha mãe é seicho-no-iê, comecei a ir para a igreja por influência de amigos, estudei em colégio de ensino adventista, então tenho essa proximidade. Mas nasci dentro do candomblé e convivi com as duas culturas, uma conflitando com a outra. Imagina se eu sou confuso?

O adventista não agride tanto o candomblé ou qualquer outra religião, mas o neopentecostal é mais forte nisso, até porque os integrantes são tudo ex-filhos de santo, a maioria.

Fórum – As igrejas evangélicas estão cada vez mais presentes nas periferias de São Paulo…

Brown – Já foram mais.

Fórum – Qual a sua opinião sobre algumas lideranças religiosas, alguns pastores que estão enriquecendo? 

Brown – O povo tá injuriado com esse duplo sentido deles, essa dúvida sobre a honestidade que deixam no ar. E outra, tá meio neutralizado esse avanço, o povo fica de olho nessa dúvida que eles deixam.

Fórum – E o que mudou?

Brown – O que mudou é esse monte de escândalos em que eles se envolvem. “Ah, o cara é representante de Jesus”, mas quem deu esse direito a ele? “Ah, Jesus falou…”. Então tá, falou pra ele e por que não falou pra mim?

Fórum – Eles nunca tentaram chegar em você?

Brown – Não. Eles xingam os Racionais na TV, mas sem saber. Vou na igreja, gosto da ideia e da fé. Gosto de ajudar, de descer a favela, ir na cadeira, sou devoto dessa ideia, seja do candomblé, do evangélico ou do comunista, o cara que coloca em prática o que Jesus falou.

“Eu como e bebo por causa da pirataria, é minha rádio. Minha música nunca parou de tocar por causa da pirataria, ganhei e perdi na mesma proporção. Tá bom”

Fórum – Você falou de pegar em armas. Na periferia já não existem grupos de garotos falando em reagir, vingar essas chacinas?

Brown – Essa resposta você vai ver em sete ou oito anos. Essa ferida não vai cicatrizar, quem mora naquele lugar onde morreu o Lah não vai esquecer, os moleques vão crescer, mano. Quem viveu aquilo não vai esquecer.

Fórum – O governador Geraldo Alckmin, na sua opinião, está pecando por omissão ou é conivente com essa situação?

Brown – Peca por negligência, peca por prevaricação, por não executar a lei.

Fórum – Uns dois anos atrás, você disse que queria mudar sua imagem, que estava ficando “mapeada e óbvia”. Você mudou? Quem é o novo Brown?

Brown – O novo Brown não existe, porque esse termo “imagem” não existe, imagem é nada. Eu sou o Brown mais velho, macaco velho. Estou menos óbvio, menos personagem e mais natural. Comecei a tomar cuidado. Nunca fui oportunista, vivo de música, não sou um político que faz música. Eu não estava falando de chacina, de nada disso, estava preparando um disco de música romântica, aí começou a morrer gente aqui e tive de fazer alguma coisa.

Fórum – Você sempre teve uma visão crítica da mídia. O que acha dela hoje?

Brown – Ando muito chateado com a mídia por conta da chacina do final do ano. Dá para ver quem são os mais contestadores, eles são mais jovens e não têm forças. Os mais velhos têm espaço, mas são conservadores. Quem é da mídia e queria falar estava amarrado, e quem poderia falar fechou com a polícia, meio que concordando, entendendo mais a polícia do que a gente. Ontem (6 de fevereiro), em outra chacina em Guarulhos, mataram três irmãos nossos, filhos da mesma mulher, que já não tinham pai. Típico. A mulher de 40 perde os filhos de 15, 18 e 21 porque um polícia morreu na quebrada deles e mataram cinco para vingar.

Fórum – A chacina em que morreu o Lah realmente marcou você…

Brown – Muito, mano. Eu estava acompanhando antes daquilo, na véspera da eleição eu falei, em novembro; avisei de novo, aí depois vem essa chacina… Foi uma ação suicida, deram tiro com a bala da delegacia, foi como se dissesse assim: “Governador, você não é homem, o Estado não existe. Brasil, você é uma merda. Vem me pegar se vocês quiserem, matei sete pessoas no bar, com arma da polícia, e não vai dar em nada”. Deixou o recado. Como um país como o Brasil pôde tolerar os números de mortes em São Paulo, em 2012? Ninguém vê? ONU? Unicef? Qual a justificativa para tantas mortes? Não estamos em guerra. Queria saber como a Dilma lidou com isso.

Fórum – Sua relação com o Lula sempre foi forte.

Brown – É uma relação de respeito, sem badalação. Desde adolescente, eu votava no Lula, eu era simpatizante do PT, criei empatia. Ele é um cara honesto, gosto do Lula.

Fórum – E você ainda tem simpatia pelo PT?

Brown – Tenho. O PT, com todos os defeitos, ainda é a única coisa que a gente tem para lutar contra o PSDB, o partido do Alckmin, do Serra, da polícia tal, do delegado tal.

Fórum – Olhando para trás, após 25 anos de Racionais, você consegue identificar por que os Racionais ficaram tão grandes?

Brown – Porque o povo é muito grande. De cara, eu e o KL Jay, a gente trabalhava juntos, e falávamos que a periferia é a maioria absoluta e não tinha para ninguém. Se eles vierem com a gente, tá feito. O rap é a única coisa que sabia [fazer] e acredito nele até hoje.

Fórum – Quantos discos o Racionais vendeu?

Brown – Não tenho ideia, uns 2 ou 3 milhões.

Fórum – O que você pensa da pirataria?

Brown – Ótimo. Eu como e bebo por causa da pirataria, é minha rádio. Minha música nunca parou de tocar por causa da pirataria, ganhei e perdi na mesma proporção. Tá bom.

Fórum – Seu disco novo vai vir mais romântico mesmo? Você sempre falou de sua admiração por Marvin Gaye e Barry White, está se inspirando neles?

Brown – Continuo sendo o mesmo cara, interessado pelas coisas políticas do Brasil, pelo povo. Musicalmente, sempre gostei de música romântica, do Jorge Ben, Djavan, Arlindo Cruz, Zeca Pagodinho… Hoje em dia, as pessoas esperam do Brown aquele posicionamento combativo, de luta e guerra, mas aí é um personagem também, né? O Brown é um cara atuante, que tá buscando na vida novidade, força, inspiração, razões, buscando pessoas… É o que eu mais busco: pessoas. Quando as pessoas viram as costas e saem andando, você tem de saber por quê. Para dar continuidade ao trabalho, temos de caminhar pra frente, não voltar ao zero toda hora. A juventude precisa de rapidez, mobilidade de ideias, não dá pra ficar na mesma ideia todo dia. Seria uma atitude até covarde, fácil, ficar jogando mais lenha na fogueira. Então, você tem de buscar outras ideias, que passam pela raça também, com certeza.

Fórum – E essas novas ideias…

Brown – Passam pela raça, todas as ideias. Mas nenhuma ideia é desprezível.

Fórum – Você gosta de polêmicas, Brown?

Brown – O Brown está como sempre, velho e chato. Atuante, jamais calado ou inoperante. Tô aqui, ali, gesticulando, trazendo divisão de ideias, porque meu papel é esse também, trazer essas ideias, e tem de saber o que o povo quer também, não é só o que os intelectuais querem. Os comuns têm direito à opinião. E se a opinião dos comuns não for igual à dos intelectuais? Vai fazer uma ditadura, vai se isolar? Vai ter de interagir. Que nem quando escolheram o Serra, ficamos aqui, interagindo com as consequências da eleição do Serra [para prefeito, em 2004], encontrei gente na favela que votou nele. Quando a gente erra, o reflexo é violento.

Fórum – Você falou da eleição de policiais. A base de votos deles está na periferia. 

Brown – A base de voto de todo mundo. O público-alvo é a massa, os números estão aqui. Os partidos não conseguem se eleger com conceitos, é com números, com votos dos que não sabem o que estão fazendo e dos que sabem, dos brancos, índios, negros, confusos. Depois, quando estão lá em cima, decidem que direção tomar. Ter candidatos de dentro das comunidades seria bom, mas acho que isso ainda vai demorar um pouco. Do mesmo jeito que o rico se cerca com cerca elétrica, o pobre quer pular.

Fórum – Apesar de não ter candidato, a comunidade está exercendo um poder de pressão não pela via política, mas pela mobilização. Você vê que as pessoas estão experimentando novas formas de fazer política que não sejam necessariamente pelo voto?

Brown – Há quem diga que o povo que votou no Serra queria mudança, o que é uma forma de inteligência. Mas trouxe consequências gravíssimas na relação entre o povo e o poder, acabou o diálogo. Vamos ver o número de homicídios na periferia, não é possível que, por mais que sejam maquiados, que a informação seja negada, alguns excessos como essa chacina… No caso do DJ Lah, foi quando eu vi a revolta realmente, sete pessoas mortas em um lugar onde já tinha morrido um, prometida uma vingança… O povo vê a fragilidade, a opressão, o medo das famílias.

Um povo que não tinha noção de direito, de cidadania nenhuma, não sabe o que representa, o poder que tem, não confia em ninguém e, consequentemente, não respeita ninguém. Não vai respeitar o orelhão, não vai respeitar o ônibus, o que tem cheiro de sistema é alvo de agressões. É o orelhão que o moleque, por ignorância, quebra, até a casa onde ele picha. Então, a relação é entre seres humanos, não entre robôs, o comandante que está ali atrás da farda é um ser humano, o cara que dá a palestra na hora de formar o soldado é um ser humano, tem mulher, tem filhos. O que ele lê, o que assiste na TV, o que ele come, o que sofreu na infância dele pra ter esse comportamento?

“Os comuns têm direito à opinião. E se a opinião dos comuns não for igual à dos intelectuais? Vai fazer uma ditadura, vai se isolar? Vai ter de interagir”

Fórum – Recentemente, você esteve em Nova York e encontrou o Criolo lá. Quando você sai do País, você vai nas periferias? Como você vê o comportamento da juventude nesses locais?

Brown – O negro brasileiro é caloroso, e o americano é arredio, é outro comportamento. Fui lá procurar uns contatos de uns negões, uns negros muçulmanos, pesado demais cara, sombria a parada. Os caras ensinando coisas ruins para os negões, ensinando a fazer bomba, vai vendo, vai só piorando, é foda [risos]. O cara coloca na cabeça dos meninos a religião e tira a preguiça do corpo, dão motivo para o cara querer lutar.

Fórum – O Racionais, de um tempo para cá, tem sido muito ouvido na classe média. Como você lida com isso?

Brown – Há quem diga que a classe média é que cresceu muito [risos]. Mas já estava lá. Vejo com respeito, ouço crítica, elogio, converso, é importante ouvir o que eles dizem. Acho da hora que eles venham falar, até pra explicar minhas teorias, há muitos que vão de embalo, mas no caso do Racionais, estamos meio à prova de “embalista”, porque estamos há dez anos sem lançar disco, curte quem gosta mesmo. Não tem “modinha” Racionais.

Fórum – Como você tem se relacionado com os movimentos culturais, como o Tecnobrega?

Brown – Apoio. Conheci a Gaby Amarantos na MTV, mina lutadora, a nossa luta é a mesma, ela como mulher e negra, a luta é duas vezes maior. Eu dialogo com todos, o pancadão, os saraus, a várzea, até a música gospel. Sou envolvido com o começo da música gospel no Capão, não como evangélico, mas como amigo dos caras, eu gostava dos caras e eles gostavam de mim do meu jeito, a cena é forte aqui.

Fórum – Como é a história daquele diálogo inicial do Vida Loka 1?

Brown – A gente correu um certo perigo naquela gravação, porque celular em presídio é proibido, tá ligado? E é passível de punição. Ele estava preso, o disco saiu assim e não pegou nada. Houve uma falha no sistema, que estava meio embriagado de poder e nem viu nada. Naquela época a cadeia estava cheia de celular, e aí, porra, a gravação foi feita daquele jeito, ele lá dentro, falando comigo aqui fora.

Fórum – E o Santos? Você é um dos torcedores símbolos do Santos.

Brown – Não reconhecido, o Santos nunca me chama para nada, eu até conheço o presidente do Santos. Inviabilizei a contratação do Rafael Moura, ah, melei mesmo, contrata a Xuxa também, tá de brincadeira [risos]. Aquela reunião foi treta, aí eu sugeri: “Traz o André aí”. O Santos tá com um complexo de pobreza que eu não compreendo, esse negócio ridículo de colocar vidro no estádio inteiro, não dá pra ouvir as vozes da torcida, diminui a pressão. Os caras ficam batendo nos vidros, ficam parecendo loucos, esse negócio de colocar televisão nos camarotes. O setor Visa é vazio o ano inteiro, eu já perguntei ao presidente pra quem que é bom o marketing da torcida vazia, abre a câmera e o estádio está vazio.

Fórum – E o Neymar?

Brown – O Neymar é sensacional, melhor coisa que aconteceu no Brasil depois da eleição do Lula. Só poderia ter nascido no Santos mesmo, é foda, não cabe em outro time, mano. F

Agradecemos à Produtora Boogie Naipe pela colaboração

O recorde de Dilma (Brasileiros)

3 de fevereiro de 2013 – 10:37

Metade dos impostos arrecadados pelo governo são destinados a programas sociais

50,4%. Essa é a porcentagem do que o governo federal gasta de sua arrecadação com programas sociais e verbas destinadas diretamente a famílias registradas em políticas de auxílio. As informações são da Folha de S. Paulo.

O número, um recorde nacional, mostra que entre regime geral de previdência, amparo ao trabalhador e assistência, o governo da presidenta Dilma Rousseff distribuí R$ 405,2 bilhões. O valor representa 9,2% do Produto Interno Bruto (PIB) brasileiro.

O aumento das despesas do governo com medidas sociais podem ser creditados ao aumento do salário mínimo, que subiu 7,5% acima da inflação, maior guinada desde o ano de 2006. Assim como as aposentadorias, pensões e benefícios trabalhistas, os programas assistências seguem o salário mínimo como referência.

A política social explica a carga de impostos nacional, que hoje representa 35% da arrecadação do governo. Em outros países emergentes da América Latina e da Ásia, a carga tributária representa entre 20% e 25% da arrecadação. Recentemente, a Argentina subiu seus impostos e se aproximou dos valores tributados arrecadados pelo Brasil.

Queda da taxa de desemprego

Os valores investidos pelo governo federal parecem estar surtindo efeito junto à população. Na última quinta-feira, dia 31, o Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) divulgou que a taxa de desemprego no país em 2012 foi de 5,5%, a menor da série histórica iniciada no ano de 2003.

Em relação ao seguro-desemprego, um novo decreto editado recentemente apresenta mudanças para quem deseja usufruir do benefício. Agora, trabalhadores que ingressarem no programa pela terceira vez terão que participar de curso profissionalizante para garantir o direito.

Programa símbolo do governo de Lula, o Bolsa Família representa a maior despesa entre os programas sociais mantidos pelo governo federal. Criado há quase dez anos, o programa passou por significativa reformulação sob a tutela de Dilma Rousseff.

A linha de ação da presidenta busca beneficiar famílias que estão abaixo da linha da miséria. Enquadram-se nessa categoria famílias cujo rendimento é inferior ao valor de R$ 70 por pessoa. Em virtude dessa meta, a despesa com o programa saltou de R$ 13,6 bilhões no fim do governo Lula para R$ 20,5 bilhões em 2012. O Bolsa Família beneficia 13,9 milhões de famílias em todo o Brasil.

Dez anos de Fome Zero ajuda Guaribas (PI) a elevar IDH (Agência Brasil)

Da Agência Brasil – 03/02/2013

Lucas Rodrigues
Enviado Especial da EBC

Guaribas (PI) – Lançado no dia 3 de fevereiro de 2003, no município com o menor Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano (IDH) do país, o Programa Fome Zero foi criado com o objetivo de erradicar a miséria, com a transferência de renda e garantindo o alimento para as famílias que viviam na extrema pobreza. Hoje, o Brasil ainda tem pelo menos 5,3 milhões de pessoas sobrevivendo com menos de R$ 70 por mês, diferentemente do início dos anos 2000, quando eram 28 milhões de pessoas abaixo da linha da pobreza.

Nos último dez anos, esse número vem diminuindo. Em parte, por causa de políticas públicas de ampliação do trabalho formal, do apoio à agricultura e da transferência de renda. Hoje, a iniciativa, que ganhou o nome de Bolsa Família, chega a quase 14 milhões de lares. Ela nasceu do Programa Fome Zero, criado para garantir no mínimo três refeições por dia a todos os brasileiros. E foi do interior do Nordeste que essa iniciativa partiu para o restante do país.

Depois de dez anos, a Agência Brasil voltou a Guaribas, no sul do Piauí, escolhida como a primeira beneficiária do programa de transferência de renda. Localizada a 600 quilômetros ao sul da capital, Teresina, Guaribas não oferecia condições básicas para uma vida digna de sua população: faltava comida no prato das famílias, que, na maioria das vezes, só tinham feijão para comer. Não havia rede elétrica e poucas casas tinham fogão a gás.

Mulheres e crianças andavam quilômetros para conseguir um pouco de água e essa busca, às vezes, durava o dia inteiro. A dona de casa Gilsa Alves lembra que, naquela época, “era difícil encontrar água para lavar roupa”, no período de seca. “Às vezes, até para tomar banho era com dificuldade”.

O aposentado Eurípedes Correa da Silva não se esquece daquele tempo, quando chegou a trabalhar até de vigia das poucas fontes que eram verdadeiros tesouros durante os longos períodos de seca, com água racionada. Hoje, a água chega, encanada, à casa dele.

Pai de sete filhos, Eurípedes tem televisão e geladeira. Além do dinheiro da lavoura e da aposentadoria, ele recebia o benefício do Fome Zero e agora conta com o Bolsa Família. O benefício chega a 1,5 mil lares e a meta é alcançar 2 mil neste ano, o que representa oito em cada dez moradores da cidade. A coordenadora do programa em Guaribas, Raimunda Correia Maia, diz que “o dinheiro que gira no município, das compras, da sustentação dos filhos, gera desenvolvimento”.

A energia elétrica também chegou a Guaribas e trouxe com ela internet e os telefones celulares. No centro da cidade, há uma praça com ruas calçadas e uma delegacia, além de agências bancárias, dos Correios e escolas. A frota de veículos cresceu e, hoje, o que se vê são motos, em vez de jegues.

O município conquistou o principal objetivo: acabar com a miséria. Mesmo assim, ainda está entre os mais pobres do país e enfrenta o êxodo dos jovens em busca de emprego em grandes cidades. Segundo o IBGE, entre 2000 e 2007, quase 10% dos moradores deixaram Guaribas.

Alan e Rosângela podem ser os próximos. O Bolsa Família e as melhorias na cidade não foram suficientes para manter o casal no município, já que ali os dois não encontram trabalho. Os irmãos já foram para São Paulo e é impossível sustentar a família de oito pessoas com um cartão (do Bolsa Família) de R$ 130.

Quem escolheu ficar na cidade sabe que muita coisa tem que melhorar. O esgoto ainda não é tratado; algumas obras não saíram do lugar, como a do mercado municipal. Até o memorial erguido em homenagem ao Fome Zero está abandonado há anos. Longe de Teresina, os moradores se sentem isolados, principalmente por causa da dificuldade de chegar à cidade mais próxima: são 54 quilômetros de estrada de terra, em péssimo estado, até Caracol.

Isso torna difícil escoar a produção de feijão e milho e faz com que todos os produtos cheguem mais caros. A dificuldade de acesso também prejudica uma das conquistas da região: a unidade de saúde. A doméstica Betânia Andrade Dias Silva levou o filho de 5 anos para uma consulta e não encontrou médicos.

Há mais de um mês, o atendimento é feito apenas por enfermeiras e por um dentista. Mesmo oferecendo um salário que chega a R$ 20 mil, a prefeitura diz que não consegue contratar médicos. O jeito é mandar os pacientes mais graves para as cidades vizinhas.co. Ela desabafa: “É ruim né?! Principalmente numa cidade pequena, na qual você precisa de um atendimento melhor, tem que sair para ir para outra cidade, Caracol, São Raimundo, que fica longe daqui. Por exemplo, caso de urgência, se você estiver à beira da morte, acaba morrendo na estrada… Então, é difícil”.

Mas essa situação pode começar a mudar ainda neste ano. Segundo informou a Secretaria de Transportes do Piauí, o trecho da BR-235 que liga Guaribas a Caracol deve começar a ser asfaltado em outubro. Por enquanto, está sendo asfaltado outro trecho da rodovia, entre Gilbués e Santa Filomena.

O casal Irineu e Eldiene saiu de Guaribas para procurar trabalho em outras cidades, mas voltou. Agora eles levantam, pouco a pouco, uma pousada no centro da cidade. Irineu diz que a obra que está fazendo não é “nem tanto pensando no agora”, é para o futuro. “Estou vendo que a cada ano que está passando, Guaribas está desenvolvendo mais”.

A expectativa de Irineu e Edilene é resultado da mudança dessa que já foi a cidade mais pobre do país. Mesmo com dificuldades, os moradores de Guaribas, agora, olham para o futuro com mais esperança e otimismo. Eldiene garante que vai ficar e ver a pousada cheia de clientes.

Veja aqui galeria de fotos de Guaribas na época do laçamento do Fome Zero.

Edição: Tereza Barbosa

Flap Over Study Linking Poverty to Biology Exposes Gulfs Among Disciplines (Chronicle of Higher Education)

February 1, 2013

Flap Over Study Linking Poverty to Biology Exposes Gulfs Among Disciplines 1

 Photo: iStock.

A study by two economists that used genetic diversity as a proxy for ethnic and cultural diversity has drawn fierce rebuttals from anthropologists and geneticists.

By Paul Voosen

Oded Galor and Quamrul Ashraf once thought their research into the causes of societal wealth would be seen as a celebration of diversity. However it has been described, though, it has certainly not been celebrated. Instead, it has sparked a dispute among scholars in several disciplines, many of whom are dubious of any work linking societal behavior to genetics. In the latest installment of the debate, 18 Harvard University scientists have called their work “seriously flawed on both factual and methodological grounds.”

Mr. Galor and Mr. Ashraf, economists at Brown University and Williams College, respectively, have long been fascinated by the historical roots of poverty. Six years ago, they began to wonder if a society’s diversity, in any way, could explain its wealth. They probed tracts of interdisciplinary data and decided they could use records of genetic diversity as a proxy for ethnic and cultural diversity. And after doing so, they found that, yes, a bit of genetic diversity did seem to help a society’s economic growth.

Since last fall, when the pair’s work began to filter out into the broader scientific world, their study has exposed deep rifts in how economists, anthropologists, and geneticists talk—and think. It has provoked calls for caution in how economists use genetic data, and calls of persecution in response. And all of this happened before the study was finally published, in the American Economic Review this month.

“Through this analysis, we’re getting a better understanding of how the world operates in order to alleviate poverty,” Mr. Ashraf said. Any other characterization, he added, is a “gross misunderstanding.”

‘Ethical Quagmires’

A barrage of criticism has been aimed at the study since last fall by a team of anthropologists and geneticists at Harvard. The critique began with a short, stern letter, followed by a rejoinder from the economists; now an expanded version of the Harvard critique will appear in February inCurrent Anthropology.

Fundamentally, the dispute comes down to issues of data selection and statistical power. The paper is a case of “garbage in, garbage out,” the Harvard group says. The indicators of genetic diversity that the economists use stem from only four or five independent points. All the regression analysis in the world can’t change that, said Nick Patterson, a computational biologist at Harvard and MIT’s Broad Institute.

“The data just won’t stand for what you’re claiming,” Mr. Patterson said. “Technical statistical analysis can only do so much for you. … I will bet you that they can’t find a single geneticist in the world who will tell them what they did was right.”

In some respects, the study has become an exemplar for how the nascent field of “genoeconomics,” a discipline that seeks to twin the power of gene sequencing and economics, can go awry. Connections between behavior and genetics rightly need to clear high bars of evidence, said Daniel Benjamin, an economist at Cornell University and a leader in the field who has frequently called for improved rigor.

“It’s an area that’s fraught with an unfortunate history and ethical quagmires,” he said. Mr. Galor and Mr. Ashraf had a creative idea, he added, even if all their analysis doesn’t pass muster.

“I’d like to see more data before I’m convinced that their [theory] is true,” said Mr. Benjamin, who was not affiliated with the study or the critique. The Harvard critics make all sorts of complaints, many of which are valid, he said. “But fundamentally the issue is that there’s just not that much independent data.”

Claims of ‘Outsiders’

The dispute also exposes issues inside anthropology, added Carl Lipo, an anthropologist at California State University at Long Beach who is known for his study of Easter Island. “Anthropologists have long tried to walk the line whereby we argue that there are biological origins to much of what makes us human, without putting much weight that any particular attribute has its origins in genetics [or] biology,” he said.

The debate often erupts in lower-profile ways and ends with a flurry of anthropologists’ putting down claims by “outsiders,” Mr. Lipo said. (Mr. Ashraf and Mr. Galor are “out on a limb” with their conclusions, he added.) The angry reaction speaks to the limits of anthropology, which has been unable to delineate how genetics reaches up through the idiosyncratic circumstances of culture and history to influence human behavior, he said.

Certainly, that reaction has been painful for the newest pair of outsiders.

Mr. Galor is well known for studying the connections between history and economic development. And like much scientific work, his recent research began in reaction to claims made by Jared Diamond, the famed geographer at the University of California at Los Angeles, that the development of agriculture gave some societies a head start. What other factors could help explain that distribution of wealth? Mr. Galor wondered.

Since records of ethnic or cultural diversity do not exist for the distant past, they chose to use genetic diversity as a proxy. (There is little evidence that it can, or can’t, serve as such a proxy, however.) Teasing out the connection to economics was difficult—diversity could follow growth, or vice versa—but they gave it a shot, Mr. Galor said.

“We had to find some root causes of the [economic] diversity we see across the globe,” he said.

They were acquainted with the “Out of Africa” hypothesis, which explains how modern human beings migrated from Africa in several waves to Asia and, eventually, the Americas. Due to simple genetic laws, those serial waves meant that people in Africa have a higher genetic diversity than those in the Americas. It’s an idea that found support in genetic sequencing of native populations, if only at the continental scale.

Combining the genetics with population-density estimates—data the Harvard group says are outdated—along with deep statistical analysis, the economists found that the low and high diversity found among Native Americans and Africans, respectively, was detrimental to development. Meanwhile, they found a sweet spot of diversity in Europe and Asia. And they stated the link in sometimes strong, causal language, prompting another bitter discussion with the Harvard group over correlation and causation.

An ‘Artifact’ of the Data?

The list of flaws found by the Harvard group is long, but it boils down to the fact that no one has ever made a solid connection between genes and poverty before, even if genetics are used only as a proxy, said Jade d’Alpoim Guedes, a graduate student in anthropology at Harvard and the critique’s lead author.

“If my research comes up with findings that change everything we know,” Ms. d’Alpoim Guedes said, “I’d really check all of my input sources. … Can I honestly say that this pattern that I see is true and not an artifact of the input data?”

Mr. Ashraf and Mr. Galor found the response to their study, which they had previewed many times over the years to other economists, to be puzzling and emotionally charged. Their critics refused to engage, they said. They would have loved to present their work to a lecture hall full of anthropologists at Harvard. (Mr. Ashraf, who’s married to an anthropologist, is a visiting scholar this year at Harvard’s Kennedy School.) Their gestures were spurned, they said.

“We really felt like it was an inquisition,” Mr. Galor said. “The tone and level of these arguments were really so unscientific.”

Mr. Patterson, the computational biologist, doesn’t quite agree. The conflict has many roots but derives in large part from differing standards for publication. Submit the same paper to a leading genetics journal, he said, and it would not have even reached review.

“They’d laugh at you,” Mr. Patterson said. “This doesn’t even remotely meet the cut.”

In the end, it’s unfortunate the economists chose genetic diversity as their proxy for ethnic diversity, added Mr. Benjamin, the Cornell economist. They’re trying to get at an interesting point. “The genetics is really secondary, and not really that important,” he said. “It’s just something that they’re using as a measure of the amount of ethnic diversity.”

Mr. Benjamin also wishes they had used more care in their language and presentation.

“It’s not enough to be careful in the way we use genetic data,” he said. “We need to bend over backwards being careful in the way we talk about what the data means; how we interpret findings that relate to genetic data; and how we communicate those findings to readers and the public.”

Mr. Ashraf and Mr. Galor have not decided whether to respond to the Harvard critique. They say they can, point by point, but that ultimately, the American Economic Review’s decision to publish the paper as its lead study validates their work. They want to push forward on their research. They’ve just released a draft study that probes deeper into the connections between genetic diversity and cultural fragmentation, Mr. Ashraf said.

“There is much more to learn from this data,” he said. “It is certainly not the final word.”

Brazil’s ‘Poor’ Middle Class, And The Poor That No Longer Serve Them (Forbes)

By Kenneth Rapoza – 1/22/2013 @ 11:41AM |8.546 views

Let me preface this by saying that this is not a jab at Brazil. This is actually a story that shows how Brazil’s rising tide is lifting all boats. The poor have more opportunities than ever before. They are earning more money (for some, how’s 56 percent sound?). And for the middle class that used to depend on them to wash their dishes and make their lunch, those days of luxury are over.

Bemvindo a vida Americana, meu bem!

*       *       *

My “house.” Edificio Bretagne. How I miss it. Right in the fold, top floor, all three windows were mine all mine. And a maid cleaned them for me.

Ask an expat what they love most about living overseas and they will inevitably tell you this: the taxes and the maid service. That’s right. Maids. And not for the rich, mind you, but for middle-of-the-road, beer-from-a-can drinking, 2.5 GPA achieving riff-raff professionals. Whether they’re living in Dubai, Mumbai or Brazil, they all love their maids. It’s a luxury they cannot afford back home.

I lived in Brazil for 10 years. I left in March 2010. Maids cooked my lunch, always a three courser. Rice. Beans, sometimes black, sometimes Carioca-style, which meant brown. Meat. Salad. Desert. Fresh squeezed orange juice or Swiss lemonade. Passion fruit. Guarana. Then, she did my dishes. Afterwards, she washed my clothes and pressed them.

As time went on, maintaining a daily maid became too costly. I cut back. I had a maid just twice a week. She cleaned. She did laundry. I cooked. I paid her R$80 a day, or R$140 a week, which was around $78 for two full days of work. Her name was Hélia. Me and my girls loved Hélia. I hope she is doing well. Anyway…

We lived in this beautiful building pictured here in São Paulo, in the Higienopolis neighborhood. A colleague of mine from one of the big U.S. newswires lived there, too. Our children hung out together a lot, especially in the swimming pool, which was surrounded by palm trees that housed these small green parrots that blended in with the palm leaves. He too had a maid, only his maid was there every day and sometimes on the weekends. A female columnist from Folha de São Paulo newspaper lived in the building, too. She also had a daughter. Only her daughter had a maid and a nanny, seven days a week. This was an early 40-something year old newspaper columnist, not a rock star.

Like me, my colleague was an American living a life we could never afford in the States. Ever. We were both scum sucking reporters waiting for the ax to fall on our necks. He, a little richer and hopeful; me, a little younger and angrier. One thing we all appreciated was being able to afford the extra help.

My swimming pool. We even had a barman. Though he was a grump. Me, my daughter and the daughter of an American reporter colleague called him Mr. Grumpy Pumpkin Man during our Halloween parties. Ahhh, the life…

Over the last 8 years, the income of Brazil’s domestic workers has risen by an estimated 56 percent, according to the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics, IBGE. It’s a hard number to quantify because every single maid in Brazil is paid under the table in cash. By comparison, the average income in general rose by 29 percent. Nationwide, the average salary paid to domestic servants runs around R$721 a month, or around $360. However, that figure is double or triple in big cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The income of Brazilian maids has risen by an average of 6.7 percent in just one year in real terms. Adding to the price tag is a steady decline in the number of domestic workers in the market.

Quite frankly, Brazil’s economy is getting richer. The poor have better things to do than clean up after middle class teenagers who still haven’t learned to fold and put away their own  T-shirts.

Short supply, high prices. Many Brazilians cannot afford the help. Welcome to your American Dream, Brazil!

Carol Campos is an administrator at Banco do Brasil in São Paulo. It’s a nice, full-time middle class gig. She lives in Higienopolis. I’ve been to her house many times. Our kids are friends. They went to school together. She used to have a maid every day when her first child was born, then down to a couple days a week and now — because of the rising cost of living — she tells me, “We are now down to just one day per week. It’s too expensive.” She pays her maid R$90 ($45) a day.

A host of new labor laws designed to protect informal workers drove up costs. The government wanted the working poor, most of them women, to have enough money to save for retirement and, of course, healthcare. That started driving up prices around the year 2000.

“About four years ago, when me and my sister were in college and working, my family all decided to just hire a ‘diarista’,” says , Leoberto José Preuss, a systems analyst at Brazilian IT firm TOTVS in Joinville, Santa Catarina, one of the more middle class states in the country.  Back then he says, a diarista, a maid that just comes once in a while and charges a flat day rate, charged just R$60 a day to cook and clean a house. “You’re lucky if you find anyone for less than 90,” he says. “We have someone come three days a week. It’s difficult to find anyone available these days.”

It will get harder. And as time goes on, it will definitely get more costly. So costly, in fact, that the majority of middle class Brazilians will no longer have a maid.

The government recently required full time domestic workers to receive the coveted “thirteenth salary”, a whole month’s work of pay in December, plus workman’s comp through the FGTS tax.  Brazilian maid service is becoming professionalized, and that has pulled the rug out from the middle class that has come to depend on them to keep their house in order.

A poll from Folha de São Paulo this month asked respondents if they would be able to afford a maid given the new labor laws. Out of the 1,177 on line respondents, 44 percent said no, 26 percent said they’d have to cut back on hours. So a total 70 percent are starting to get used to the fact that the good ole “Banana Republic” days are gone.

*       *       *

Sarah Castro, 28, is also from Santa Catarina. She is one of the Brazilian middle class that grew up with a live-in maid, her very own Mary Poppins. For Americans, this is an imperial wet dream.  All that’s missing is Tinkerbell. In the dream, you’re from the rich nation before the days of labor rights, and your family can afford to hire your neighbors wife to clean the house, while he cleans your chimney.  Those days are gone in London. They are ending in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, where Sarah was raised and now works as a reporter.

“Our maid was named Nice. She lived with us and was part of our family. I miss her. There was no one like her,” she says. “Nowadays, we only have a maid once a week.  A good maid is hard to find.”

Let’s rephrase that. Barring a dystopian future, by the time Sarah is in her 40s, an affordable maid will be impossible to find.

I was in my early 20s when I first came to Brazil in 1995, I lived with a family in a city called Londrina, population around 500,000.  It’s in the center of Parana state, an agribusiness boom town.  The father was a professor at the local university.  The mother owned a small business, operating a clothing company out of what was once their garage. They had one weaving machine that made fabric 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I can still hear that thing moving back and force, swish-swoosh; swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh. They were Brazil’s middle class. By my standards, they were rich because six days a week they had a maid who cooked and cleaned for them so both parents could work. The maid served them. She picked up after the four children. She cleaned up the dog’s mess in the yard.

Here’s the rub, I was raised by a maid. My mother didn’t graduate from high school. But she grew up in America. A maid that didn’t go to school in Brazil doesn’t live like one that grew up in the U.S.  The Brazilians couldn’t believe that a maid’s son had a basketball pole in his yard, an above ground pool and that my family had three cars. Their car ran on ethanol, and that thing was a piece of junk; a jalopy is more like it. Damn, meu filho; I had aCamaro Berlinetta!

Inequality in Brazil allowed the middle class to enjoy a life of luxury their American peers envied.

I never saw a messy Brazilian house in the decade I lived there. Everything was in its place.  Two-income households in São Paulo, as busy as a two-income household in New York, never had a dish in the sink, an unmade bed, or a laundry basket overflowing onto the bathroom floor.

Embrace the mess, Brazil. (And pick up those socks!)

“I have a maid come once every 15 days and that’s it,” says Keli Bergamo, a lawyer in Parana state. “The cooking, the clothes washing, I have to do myself. But I live alone. I know a lot of people who are cutting back. Brazilians will get crafty with the labor laws, though,” she says, adding that many wealthy Brazilians will avoid the full time labor rules by getting rid of full time maids and hiring part-timers in their place.

“These new laws make it more costly to maintain domestic help in Brazil,” she says. “A lot of people are going to give up this comfort and will have to divide the labor between the members of their household from now on.”

As ‘coisas indescritíveis’ do mundo do consumo (OESP)

Por Washington Novaes – 19 de outubro de 2012

O historiador Eric J. Hobsbawn, que morreu no começo da semana passada, deixou livros em que caracterizou de forma contundente os tempos que estamos vivendo. “Quando as pessoas não têm mais eixos de futuros sociais acabam fazendo coisas indescritíveis”, escreveu ele no ensaio Barbárie: Manual do Usuário. Ou, então, “aí está a essência da questão: resolver os problemas sem referências do passado”. Por isso, certamente Hobsbawn não se espantaria com a notícia estampada no jornal O Estado de S. Paulo poucos dias antes de sua morte: Na Espanha, cadeados nas latas de lixo (27/9). “Com cada vez mais pessoas vivendo de restos, prefeitura (de Madri) tranca as latas como medida de saúde pública.” Nada haveria a estranhar num país onde a taxa de desemprego está por volta de 25%, 22% das famílias vivem na pobreza e 600 mil não têm nenhuma renda.

E que pensaria o historiador com a notícia (Estado, 26/9) de que as autoridades de Bulawato, no Zimbábue (África), “pediram aos cidadãos que sincronizem as descargas de seus vasos sanitários para poupar água. (…) Os moradores devem esvaziar os vasos apenas a cada três dias e em horários determinados”? Provavelmente Hobsbawn não se espantaria, informado das estatísticas da ONU segundo as quais 23% da população mundial (mais de 1,5 bilhão de pessoas) defeca ao ar livre por não ter instalações sanitárias em sua casa. As do Zimbábue ainda estão à frente.

E da China que pensaria ele ao ler nos jornais (22/9) que a prefeitura de Xinjian, no leste do país, “está sob intensa crítica da opinião pública após enjaular dezenas de mendigos no mesmo lugar durante um festival religioso”? Ao lado da foto das jaulas nas ruas com mendigos encarcerados, a explicação de autoridades de que assim fizeram porque os pedintes assediavam peregrinos e corriam risco de ser atropelados ou pisoteados. Mas “entraram nas jaulas voluntariamente”. Será para não correr riscos desse tipo que “quatro estrangeiros de origem ignorada” vivem há três meses no aeroporto de Cumbica, em São Paulo, recusando-se a dizer sua nacionalidade e procedência (Folha de S.Paulo, 29/9)? “Em tempos de transformação”, disse o psicanalista Leopold Nosek a Sonia Racy (Estado, 7/10), “quando o velho não existe mais e o novo ainda não se estruturou, criam-se os monstros”.

Para onde se caminhará? Na Europa, diz a Organização Internacional do Trabalho que, com todo o sul do continente em crise, o desemprego na faixa dos 15 aos 24 anos crescerá 22% em 2013, pouco menos no ano seguinte. Nos Estados Unidos, a taxa de desemprego entre jovens está em 17,4%, talvez caia para 13,35% até 2017 (Agência Estado, 5/9). O desemprego médio nos 17 países da zona do euro subiu para 11,4%.

Pulemos para o lado de cá. Um em cada cinco brasileiros entre 18 e 25 anos não trabalha nem estuda (Estado, 26/9). São 5,3 milhões de jovens. Computados também os que buscam trabalho, chega-se a 7,2 milhões. As mulheres são maioria. E o déficit ocorre embora o País tenha gerado 2,2 milhões de empregos formais em 2011.

As estatísticas são alarmantes. A revista New Scientist (28/7) diz que 1% da população norte-americana controla 40% da riqueza. Já existem 1.226 bilionários no mundo. “Nós somos os 99%”, diz o movimento de protesto Occupy. Entre suas estatísticas estão as que os relatórios do Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento (Pnud) vêm publicando desde a década de 1990: pouco mais de 250 pessoas, com ativos superiores a US$ 1 bilhão cada, têm, juntas, mais do que o produto bruto conjunto dos 40 países mais pobres, onde vivem 600 milhões de pessoas. Já a metade mais pobre da população mundial fica com 1% da renda global total. Menos de 20% da população mundial, concentrada nos países industrializados, consome 80% dos recursos totais. E 92 mil pessoas já acumulam em paraísos fiscais cerca de US$ 21 trilhões, afirma a Tax Justice Network.

E que se fará, com a população mundial aumentando e os recursos naturais – inclusive terra para plantar alimentos – escasseando? É cada vez maior o número de economistas que já mencionam com frequência a “crise da finitude de recursos”. Os preços médios de alimentos “devem dobrar até 2030, incluídos milho (mais 177%), trigo (mais 120% e arroz (107%)”, alerta a ONG Oxfam (Instituto Carbono Brasil, 6/9). 775 milhões de jovens e adultos são analfabetos e não têm como aumentar a renda (Rádio ONU, 10/9).

De volta outra vez ao nosso terreiro, vemos que “mais de 90% das cidades estão sem plano para o lixo” (Estado, 2/8). Na cidade de São Paulo, 90% do lixo reciclável vai para aterros sanitários (CicloVivo, 10/8). Diariamente 5,4 bilhões de litros de esgotos não tratados são descartados. Perto de metade dos domicílios não é ligada a redes de esgotos. A perda de água nas redes de distribuição (por furos, vazamentos, etc.) está por volta de 40% do total. Mas 23% das cidades racionam água, segundo o IBGE (Estado, 20/10/2011). E grande parte da água do Rio São Francisco que será transposta irá para localidades com essas perdas – antes de corrigi-las. E com o líquido custando muito mais caro, já que muita energia será necessária para elevá-lo aos pontos de destino.

Enquanto isso, a campanha eleitoral correu morna em praticamente todo o País, com candidatos fazendo de conta que vivemos na terra da promissão, não precisamos de planos diretores rigorosos nas cidades, não precisamos responsabilizar quem mais consome – e mais gera resíduos -, não precisamos impedir a impermeabilização do solo das cidades nem impedir a ocupação de áreas de risco.

“A sociedade de consumo”, escreveu Hobsbawn, “interessa-se apenas pelo que pode comprar agora e no futuro”. Mas terá de resolver o problema de 1 bilhão de idosos em dez anos (Fundo de População das Nações Unidas, 1.º/10).

Washington Novaes é jornalista.

(O Estado de S. Paulo)

A desigualdade social na Argentina (Luis Nassif)

Enviado por luisnassif, sex, 17/08/2012 – 14:17

Argentina demanda políticas públicas sociais unificadas que efetivem os direitos humanos

Por Maíra Vasconcelos, especial para o blog

O expressivo crescimento econômico experimentado pela Argentina, entre 2003 e 2007, passada a crise de 2001/2002, não representou em igual escala desenvolvimento social ao país. Ainda que indicadores socioeconômicos demonstrem algumas melhorias nos índices de pobreza e indigência, especialistas destacam a necessidade da construção de projetos de políticas públicas que unifiquem as demandas sociais e visem o cumprimento total dos direitos humanos.

Cerca de 33% das crianças e adolescentes na Argentina, menores de 18 anos, nos centros urbanos e rurais encontram-se na linha de pobreza, e 8,5% em estado de indigência. Respectivamente, ambos indicadores referentes a 2011, representam queda de 7,2% e 4,5% em relação a 2010. Os dados foram apresentados no último dia 14 de agosto, no informe “A Infância Argentina Sujeito de Direito”, do Observatório da Dívida Social Argentina (ODSA), na sede da Pontifícia Universidade Católica Argentina (UCA).

De acordo com a investigadora Laura Pautassi, membro do Conselho Nacional de Investigações Científicas e Técnicas (Conicet), e do Instituto de Investigações Jurídicas e Sociais A. Gioja, da Faculdade de Direito da Universidade de Buenos Aires (UBA), falta integração nas políticas sociais do Estado, para que o funcionamento em conjunto desses programas possa suprir as carências não só no que diz respeito ao ingresso econômico.

“Temos um conjunto de melhorias econômicas importantes, após a crise de 2001, mas as políticas públicas estão muito divididas. Uma para assalariados formais e outro tipo são as políticas assistenciais, onde há muitos projetos, alguns de transferência de ingresso, e outros mais globais como pode ser considerada a “Asignação Universal por Filho”, afirmou Pautassi.

O projeto “Asignação Universal por Filho” foi criado em 2009, durante o primeiro mandato da presidente Cristina Kirchner, hoje, em torno de 3,5 milhões de crianças e jovens são beneficiados.

Entre os resultados divulgados pelo ODSA, em relação à infância e adolescência, um destaque é o salto significativo no acesso à internet, que passou de 29,3%, em 2007, para 52,7%, em 2011, entre os adolescentes de13 a17 anos.

Por outro lado, a estrutura familiar marca sérios problemas como, por exemplo, as agressões físicas sofridas em casa saltaram de 31,6%, em 2007, para 36,4% em 2011, no total de aproximadamente 12,3 milhões de crianças e adolescentes.

Indicadores de Direitos Humanos

Instrumentalizar a medição da pobreza e indigência com indicadores não apenas socioeconômicos, mas que permitam visualizar os resultados do cumprimento dos direitos humanos na sociedade. Para combater e erradicar a pobreza e indigência na Argentina, investigadores afirmam que apenas a “visão monetária” limita a percepção das demandas para obtenção de ferramentas de trabalho que contribuam à formulação de exigências e propostas ao Estado.

Segundo a investigadora Laura Pautassi, recentemente a Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA) aprovou um instrumento para controlar o cumprimento das obrigações, por parte das 16 nações que ratificaram o “Protocolo de São Salvador”. Assim, deverão ser desenvolvidos indicadores específicos, que não englobam apenas dados socioeconômicos, mas também permitem mesurar o cumprimento ou violação dos direitos humanos.

“Hoje podemos ver desigualdades que antes não eram medidas, a desigualdade étnica, socioeconômica, de gênero. Mas as variáveis consideradas para avaliar os direitos humanos são diferentes daquelas dispostas para medir índices socioeconômicos, pois o que avaliam é a efetiva execução dos direitos”, ressaltou Pautassi.

World Bank’s Jim Yong Kim: ‘I want to eradicate poverty’ (The Guardian)

World Bank president says he will bring sense of urgency to efforts to end global poverty in exclusive Guardian interview

Sarah Boseley, health editor, in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 25 July 2012 13.48 BST

Jim Yong KimJim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, speaks at the opening session of the International Aids Conference in Washington on 22 July. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

The new president of the World Bank is determined to eradicate globalpoverty through goals, targets and measuring success in the same way that he masterminded an Aids drugs campaign for poor people nearly a decade ago.

Jim Yong Kim, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian, said he was passionately committed to ending absolute poverty, which threatens survival and makes progress impossible for the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day.

“I want to eradicate poverty,” he said. “I think that there’s a tremendous passion for that inside the World Bank.”

Kim, who took over at the World Bank three weeks ago and is not only the first doctor and scientist (he is also an anthropologist) to be president but the first with development experience, will set “a clear, simple goal” in the eradication of absolute poverty. Getting there, however, needs progress on multiple, but integrated, fronts.

“The evidence suggests that you’ve got to do a lot of good, good things in unison, to be able to make that happen,” said Kim. “The private sectorhas to grow, you have to have social protection mechanisms, you have to have a functioning health and education system. The scientific evidence strongly suggests that it has to be green – you have to do it in a way that is sustainable both for the environment and financially. All the great themes that we’ve been dealing with here have to come together to eradicate poverty from the face of the Earth.”

Kim, who was previously head of the Ivy League Dartmouth College, is probably best known for his stint at the World Health Organisation (WHO), where he challenged the system to move faster in making Aids drugs available to people with HIV in the developing world who were dying in large numbers. In 2003, he set a target of 3 million people being on treatment by 2005 – thereafter known as “3 by 5”. The target was not met on time, but it did focus minds and rapidly speed up the pace of the rollout, which included setting up clinics and training healthcare staff.

Now, he says, he thinks he can do the same for poverty. “What 3 by 5 did that we just didn’t expect was to set a tempo to the response; it created a sense of urgency. There was pace and rhythm in the way we did things. We think we can do something similar for poverty,” he said.

Asked if he would set a date this time, he said he was sorely tempted, but would not yet. “We don’t know what they will be yet, but [there will be] goals, and counting. We need to keep up and say where we are making successes and why, and when are we going to be held to account next for the level of poverty. If we can build that kind of pace and rhythm into the movement, we think we can make a lot more progress,” he said in his office at the Bank in Washington.

Kim was seen by many as a surprise choice for president. During the election, critics argued there should be an economist at the helm. Some said that, as a doctor, he would focus too much on health.

But Kim, who co-founded Partners In Health, which pioneered sustainable, high-quality healthcare for poor people, first in Haiti and later in Africa, said his three years at the WHO have been the only ones of his career that were solely devoted to health.

“It’s always been about poverty, so for me, making the switch to being here at the Bank is really not that much of a stretch. I’ve been doing this all my life and we’re in a bit of the spotlight because of the stuff we did in healthcare but it was really always about poverty,” he said.

Partners in Health offered HIV and tuberculosis treatment to poor people in Haiti for the first time. “We were trying to make a point. And the point we were trying to make was that just because people are poor shouldn’t mean that they shouldn’t have access to high quality healthcare. It was always based in social justice, it was always based in the notion that people had a right to live a dignified life. The good news is that this place – the Bank – is just full of people like that.”

Kim, who has spent his first weeks talking to Bank staff with expertise in a huge range of areas, strongly believes in the integration of all aspects of development, and says the staff do too. He cites a new hospital Partners built in Rwanda, which led to the building of a road to get there and then the expansion of mobile phone networks in the area. “In a very real sense, we’ve always believed that investing in health means investing in the wellbeing and development of that entire community,” he said.

Speaking to the International Aids Conference in Washington this week – the first World Bank president to do so – Kim told activists and scientists that the end of Aids no longer looked as far-fetched as the 3 by 5 plan had appeared in 2003. Science has delivered tools, such as drugs that not only treat but prevent infection.

But the cost of drugs for life for 15 million or more people is not sustainable, he says. Donors are unlikely to foot the bill. Hard-hit developing countries have to be helped to grow so they can pay for the drugs and healthcare systems they need.

Kim would like the highly active HIV community to broaden its focus. “We’ve had Aids exceptionalism for a long time and Aids exceptionalism has been incredibly important. It has been so productive for all of us,” he said. “But I think that as we go beyond the emergency response and think about the long-term sustainable response, conversations such as how do we spur growth in the private sector have to be part of the discussion.”

Every country wants economic growth, he says, and people want jobs. “If I care about poverty, I have to care a lot about investments in the private sector. The private sector creates the vast majority of jobs in the world and social protection only goes so far,” he said.

Nevertheless, he is a big proponent of social protection policies. “I’ve always been engaged in social protection programmes. But now it is really a signature of the World Bank. We’re very good at helping people look at their public expenditures and we say to them things like, fuel subsidies really aren’t very helpful to the poor – what you really need is to remove fuel subsidies and focus on things like conditional cash transfer plans. The Bank is great at that.”

New to him are climate change and sustainability, he says. “We are watching things happen with one degree changes in ocean temperature that we thought wouldn’t happen until there were two or three degree changes in ocean temperature. These are facts. These are things that have actually happened … I think we now have plenty of evidence that should push us into thinking that this is disturbing data and should spur us to think ever more seriously about clean energy and how can we move our focus more towards clean energy.”

But poor countries are saying they need more energy and we must respect that, he says. “It’s hard to say to them we still do it but you can’t … I think our role is to say the science suggests strongly to us that we should help you looking for clean energy solutions.”

‘Culture of Poverty’ Makes a Comeback (N.Y. Times)


A vacant lot on East 110th Street in New York in 1952: the study of urban blight has long been influenced by political fashions.

By PATRICIA COHEN
Published: October 17, 2010

For more than 40 years, social scientists investigating the causes of poverty have tended to treat cultural explanations like Lord Voldemort: That Which Must Not Be Named.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his office at Harvard in 1971. George Tames/The New York Times.

The reticence was a legacy of the ugly battles that erupted after Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant labor secretary in the Johnson administration, introduced the idea of a “culture of poverty” to the public in a startling 1965 report. Although Moynihan didn’t coin the phrase (that distinction belongs to the anthropologist Oscar Lewis), his description of the urban black family as caught in an inescapable “tangle of pathology” of unmarried mothers and welfare dependency was seen as attributing self-perpetuating moral deficiencies to black people, as if blaming them for their own misfortune.

Moynihan’s analysis never lost its appeal to conservative thinkers, whose arguments ultimately succeeded when President Bill Clinton signed a bill in 1996 “ending welfare as we know it.” But in the overwhelmingly liberal ranks of academic sociology and anthropology the word “culture” became a live grenade, and the idea that attitudes and behavior patterns kept people poor was shunned.

Now, after decades of silence, these scholars are speaking openly about you-know-what, conceding that culture and persistent poverty are enmeshed.

“We’ve finally reached the stage where people aren’t afraid of being politically incorrect,” said Douglas S. Massey, a sociologist at Princeton who has argued that Moynihan was unfairly maligned.

The old debate has shaped the new. Last month Princeton and the Brookings Institution released a collection of papers on unmarried parents, a subject, it noted, that became off-limits after the Moynihan report. At the recent annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, attendees discussed the resurgence of scholarship on culture. And in Washington last spring, social scientists participated in a Congressional briefing on culture and poverty linked to a special issue of The Annals, the journal of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

“Culture is back on the poverty research agenda,” the introduction declares, acknowledging that it should never have been removed.

The topic has generated interest on Capitol Hill because so much of the research intersects with policy debates. Views of the cultural roots of poverty “play important roles in shaping how lawmakers choose to address poverty issues,” Representative Lynn Woolsey, Democrat of California, noted at the briefing.

This surge of academic research also comes as the percentage of Americans living in poverty hit a 15-year high: one in seven, or 44 million.

With these studies come many new and varied definitions of culture, but they all differ from the ’60s-era model in these crucial respects: Today, social scientists are rejecting the notion of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty. And they attribute destructive attitudes and behavior not to inherent moral character but to sustained racism and isolation.

To Robert J. Sampson, a sociologist at Harvard, culture is best understood as “shared understandings.”

“I study inequality, and the dominant focus is on structures of poverty,” he said. But he added that the reason a neighborhood turns into a “poverty trap” is also related to a common perception of the way people in a community act and think. When people see graffiti and garbage, do they find it acceptable or see serious disorder? Do they respect the legal system or have a high level of “moral cynicism,” believing that “laws were made to be broken”?

As part of a large research project in Chicago, Professor Sampson walked through different neighborhoods this summer, dropping stamped, addressed envelopes to see how many people would pick up an apparently lost letter and mail it, a sign that looking out for others is part of the community’s culture.

In some neighborhoods, like Grand Boulevard, where the notorious Robert Taylor public housing projects once stood, almost no envelopes were mailed; in others researchers received more than half of the letters back. Income levels did not necessarily explain the difference, Professor Sampson said, but rather the community’s cultural norms, the levels of moral cynicism and disorder.

The shared perception of a neighborhood — is it on the rise or stagnant? — does a better job of predicting a community’s future than the actual level of poverty, he said.

William Julius Wilson, whose pioneering work boldly confronted ghetto life while focusing on economic explanations for persistent poverty, defines culture as the way “individuals in a community develop an understanding of how the world works and make decisions based on that understanding.”

For some young black men, Professor Wilson, a Harvard sociologist, said, the world works like this: “If you don’t develop a tough demeanor, you won’t survive. If you have access to weapons, you get them, and if you get into a fight, you have to use them.”

Seeking to recapture the topic from economists, sociologists have ventured into poor neighborhoods to delve deeper into the attitudes of residents. Their results have challenged some common assumptions, like the belief that poor mothers remain single because they don’t value marriage.

In Philadelphia, for example, low-income mothers told the sociologists Kathryn Edin and Maria Kefalas that they thought marriage was profoundly important, even sacred, but doubted that their partners were “marriage material.” Their results have prompted some lawmakers and poverty experts to conclude that programs that promote marriage without changing economic and social conditions are unlikely to work.

A Chicago mother and child in 1997 at the notorious Robert Taylor Homes, since demolished. Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times.

Mario Luis Small, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and an editor of The Annals’ special issue, tried to figure out why some New York City mothers with children in day care developed networks of support while others did not. As he explained in his 2009 book, “Unanticipated Gains,” the answer did not depend on income or ethnicity, but rather the rules of the day-care institution. Centers that held frequent field trips, organized parents’ associations and had pick-up and drop-off procedures created more opportunities for parents to connect.

Younger academics like Professor Small, 35, attributed the upswing in cultural explanations to a “new generation of scholars without the baggage of that debate.”

Scholars like Professor Wilson, 74, who have tilled the field much longer, mentioned the development of more sophisticated data and analytical tools. He said he felt compelled to look more closely at culture after the publication of Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s controversial 1994 book, “The Bell Curve,” which attributed African-Americans’ lower I.Q. scores to genetics.

The authors claimed to have taken family background into account, Professor Wilson said, but “they had not captured the cumulative effects of living in poor, racially segregated neighborhoods.”

He added, “I realized we needed a comprehensive measure of the environment, that we must consider structural and cultural forces.”

He mentioned a study by Professor Sampson, 54, that found that growing up in areas where violence limits socializing outside the family and where parents haven’t attended college stunts verbal ability, lowering I.Q. scores by as much as six points, the equivalent of missing more than a year in school.

Changes outside campuses have made conversation about the cultural roots of poverty easier than it was in the ’60s. Divorce, living together without marrying, and single motherhood are now commonplace. At the same time prominent African-Americans have begun to speak out on the subject. In 2004 the comedian Bill Cosby made headlines when he criticized poor blacks for “not parenting” and dropping out of school. President Obama, who was abandoned by his father, has repeatedly talked about “responsible fatherhood.”

Conservatives also deserve credit, said Kay S. Hymowitz, a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, for their sustained focus on family values and marriage even when cultural explanations were disparaged.

Still, worries about blaming the victim persist. Policy makers and the public still tend to view poverty through one of two competing lenses, Michèle Lamont, another editor of the special issue of The Annals, said: “Are the poor poor because they are lazy, or are the poor poor because they are a victim of the markets?”

So even now some sociologists avoid words like “values” and “morals” or reject the idea that, as The Annals put it, “a group’s culture is more or less coherent.” Watered-down definitions of culture, Ms. Hymowitz complained, reduce some of the new work to “sociological pablum.”

“If anthropologists had come away from doing field work in New Guinea concluding ‘everyone’s different,’ but sometimes people help each other out,” she wrote in an e-mail, “there would be no field of anthropology — and no word culture for cultural sociologists to bend to their will.”

Fuzzy definitions or not, culture is back. This prompted mock surprise from Rep. Woolsey at last spring’s Congressional briefing: “What a concept. Values, norms, beliefs play very important roles in the way people meet the challenges of poverty.”