The approaching elections make me think about the changes most needed for us to build a prosperous and fair country. My conclusion is that one of the essential reasons for our woes is our incapacity to separate rights from privileges.
A right must be universal, acquired in a fair process, and must benefit society as a whole, not just its direct beneficiary. A “right” valid only for some, which was not fairly obtained, or that benefits only whoever has it, is not a right, it is a privilege. For instance, the universal right to good quality basic education benefits not just the students but the whole society, which thereby acquires more productive professionals and more conscientious citizens. The fact, on the other hand, that some students may study in free public universities financed by taxes paid by all is good for them, but since it is not extended to all students it is in fact a privilege.
The public sector in Brazil has granted itself endless privileges that do not apply to other Brazilians. This must come to an end.
The Municipal Chamber of São Paulo recently approved a project to create two new “rights” for the employees of the Municipal Court of Accounts and grants them an increase in their “wife-salary” — an absurd remuneration for men married to women who do not work. Only then did we find out that thousands of São Paulo municipal and State employees have been paid said “wife-salary” for decades, How many other scandalous benefits must there be, financed with the money of all Brazilian taxpayers?
My conclusion is that the most urgent law the country needs is a Morality Law, a Constitutional Amendment forbidding the creation and extinguishing just any benefit, aid, social security perk or bonus present in the public sector that is not exactly the same as for all other citizens. Politicians, Judges, members of the Court of Accounts, the military and all other public servants deserve to be very well treated — exactly the same as all other Brazilians who pay their salaries and benefits, not any better.
The civil service is distorted. Those who should serve the public are often just helping themselves to public wealth. Enough privileges — rules must be the same for all.
Support to this project must be the first criterion we must all use in selecting and electing officers in October. A candidate not willing to approve such a law as the first step in his mandate intends to maintain the current system of privileges at your cost. Demand that your candidate commits to the approval of the Morality Law. Or you change the candidate.
Ricardo Amorim is the author of the best-seller After the Storm, a host of Manhattan Connection at Globonews, the most influential economist in Brazil according to Forbes Magazine, the most influential Brazilian on LinkedIn, the only Brazilian among the best world lecturers at Speakers Corner and the winner of the “Most Admired in the Economy, Business and Finance Press”.
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Translation: Simone Montgomery Troula