Brazilian Impeachment Illustrates Government Is Full of Crooks

Lower house votes to impeach Brazilian president over massive corruption scandal.



This weekend, the lower house of Brazil's legislature voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, comfortably clearing the two-thirds super-majority needed to move the impeachment forward. Next, the Senate must approve the impeachment—if that happens Rousseff must step down from office for 180 days while an impeachment trial takes place.

Rousseff has found herself embroiled in a massive corruption scandal involving Petrobras, the state-run oil company where Rousseff served as chair of the board of directors from 2003 to 2010, and the Workers Party (PT), which has ruled Brazil since the election of Luis Ignacio "Lula" da Silva in 2002.

In 2012 Krugman praised the "New Economic Policy" in Latin America, which amounts to increasing government spending to reduce income inequality. He noted Brazil specifically while complaining about how Argentina was getting less credit for its "recovery" (fueled by renationalizing industries and relying on populist rhetoric) than Ireland, which did not ramp up government spending while taking over industries and feeding its people populist rhetoric.  

"I think Brazil is going pretty well, and has had good leadership," Krugman wrote, saying Brazil was identified as an "impressive" economy when Argentina, with similar GDP growth, was not because of "the state of economics reporting."

Lula, Rousseff's predecessor, has also been targeted by prosecutors over the corruption scandal, and Rousseff appointed him chief-of-staff to shield him from prosecution. Rousseff, and Lula before her, were darlings of the international left because they appeared to provide evidence that massive government spending could produce "positive" results like lowering income inequality.

As the current scandal was unfolding, last year the Supreme Court of Brazil ruled corporate donations to campaigns, like those of the state-owned oil company Petrobras, were unconstitutional. But the money "corrupting" Brazilian politics is government money. The scandal in Brazil illustrates that corporations don't play the leading role in corruption in government—government does.  The Guardian complains of a "corruption-tainted Congress" voting to impeach Rousseff, as if any government corruption excuses all government corruption.

The power government has, to redistribute wealth, to take over industries, to choose winners and losers, to hand out lucrative contracts, that power corrupts government officials, not money spent on their elections. Limiting the ability of people to donate to campaigns limits their ability to exercise political speech but does nothing to curb corruption in government—only limiting the powers of government itself can do that, as many Brazilians are now learning.

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  1. Its a sad day when an actual banana republic has better governance than the US.

    1. Hah! I just had the same thought. A third-world latin american country is more likely to hold its corrupt executive branch accountable than the US is.

      1. Politicians get prosecuted for corruption in Brazil all of the time. This time, they got the ring leader. And it’s not really that they have that much more corruption there than we do in the US. It’s just accepted here by almost everyone who keeps voting these same crooks back into office.

        1. HRC is a shining example of this, and demonstrates unbelievable voter stupidity that supports a blatantly corrupt and vile hag.

          1. True that. They know she’s a crook and they don’t even care.

            1. I know some otherwise smart and savvy people who are HRC supporters. They simply tune out anything having to do with her corruption.

              I was astonished. In a relatively light conversation about politics, when her email server came up, they first waved it off as saying “well, she didn’t mean to violate national security”. When I pointed out that it was a strict liability crime, so that her intentions didn’t matter, one literally held up her hand and said (direct quote) “I don’t want to hear about it”.

  2. The best part of this is how pissed the people at the Socialism subreddit are.

    “When you live in Latin-America, it doesn’t matter at all what “socialist model” you are going for.
    From Cuba to Venezuela, from Brazil to the argentinian peronistas, you will be attacked by imperialism untill you are neoliberal.

    It’s not a matter of “model” here, really. Let’s not blame the ones that are trying to do something and forget about imperialism.”

    “This was never about corruption, the Bourgeois representatives saw the PT as an obstacle and they removed them. Now they are free to pursue the austerity plan in full force.”

    “So, who better than corrupt fascists to do some cleansing, amirite?. That’s what they are good at, anyway: Cleansing society from leftists, poors, gays, blacks. Heck they are even good at cleansing bank accounts of other people!.”

    1. [AMA Request] Comrades in Brasil how are things unfolding with the impeachment vote.

      This thread is particularly spectacular because everyone is talking about how this proves Democratic socialism doesn’t work. So they’re basically advocating socialist dictatorships instead because socialism can’t function unless you destroy liberal and democratic institutions.

      I love commies. They’re so precious.

      1. The cognitive dissonance when the call people on the right ‘fascists’ ….

      2. Well, yeah. The Island of Capitalism must be destroyed, otherwise it spoils the sea of socialism.

    2. Is there no end to the perfidy of los gringos yanquis?

      1. Imperialism: (one of) the “gift” that keeps on giving.

    3. You seem to enjoy inflicting these people on yourself. What does “neoliberal” mean to them?

      1. What does “neoliberal” mean to them?

        Capitalist. Term started popping up about… oh, ten years ago? Maybe a little longer? Got popular with all the Disaster Capitalism and what not.

      2. Whatever they want it to mean.

        Here’s a video where a bunch of feminists blame neo-liberalism for everything they don’t like. It’s great because the definitions actually contradict each other. Some of them claim neoliberalism is basically libertarianism, but then others blame neoliberalism for socially conservative shit like patriarchy and homophobia.

        They can’t actually agree on a definition for their own fucking term.

        1. They can’t actually agree on a definition for their own fucking term.

          Them or us?


        2. Is the person in that picture male or female? I really cannot tell.

          1. Whatever they self-identify as, dude.

            1. “Dude”?

              Making some assumption, aren’t we?

              I believe “comrade” is the accepted all-gender term.

        3. Watched for the first three speakers for about two minutes. High-falutin’ word salads all three were. The crazy guy who panhandles by the overpass is more coherent than those feminist academics.

    4. Everyone I know in Brazil, and I know quite a few people there, are ecstatic about it.

      1. At the risk of sounding clueless (“Nobody I know voted for Nixon!”), I do have to wonder how it seems somebody can be so loathed and yet win elections. Lula, Dilma, what is the redeeming quality of these narcissists in the eyes of voters?

        1. The Labor Party basically destroyed all the economic progress they had made in the last 30+ years, in about a decade in power.

          This is just the same old socialism story. They ran out of other people’s money. It’s always the same. The Brazilians just learned this lesson. So of course, they now have buyers remorse. They can’t actually get rid of her until 2018, because her VP will fill in as president in the interim. And guess what? His policies are hers, and these people NEVER admit they are wrong. Look at Venezuela. The asshole there knows full well that his party’s policies have destroyed the country, but he’s doubling down on them.

      2. My fiance, and all of my friends in Bahia are outraged. They see it as democracy being circumvented.

        When I point out that these are the people they elected holding this impeachment vote they bluster.

        I like to keep my friends, and they take this sort of thing deeply personally, Dilma is some kind of hero to many Bahians. So, I don’t talk politics with my Bahian amigos.

        Personally. I think their whole system is corrupt and when my friends tell me “they are just as corrupt, they just want to overthrow Dilma and seize more power for themselves and their cronies” I agree. Unfortunately they all have a serious blind spot where Dilma is concerned. The fact that her party has been in power for so long doesn’t help, either.

        I’m glad she’s coming here within a few months so we can finally be away from that shitshow

        1. Why are the Bahians in particular so protective of Dilma? Is she from that area?

          1. I’m not sure where she’s from. The people I know are mostly in the north though also, Pernambuco. I also know some people in Bahia. But they all hate Dilma and her party.

            But I’ll answer the question. There is a lot of poverty in the north. The south is generally more affluent. That’s why most of the Dilma supporters are in the north, they’re getting the Bolsa Familia, Brazil version of welfare.

            1. Ah, that does make sense. The small handful of people I know are all in the south and while they’re happy Dilma is getting pilloried, they aren’t very enthusiastic about any of the likely replacments.

              1. I would rate Aecio Neves as somewhat better than Obama. He almost beat Dilma. If the election were held today, he’d win by a landslide is my guess. He’s a pretty business friendly guy, he’s probably about the best the Brazilians can hope for right now. The LP have done significant damage to the economy.

          2. Mostly the poverty aspect for Bahians in general.

            My friends in particular all work in either the state run health system, or in the heavily unionised chemical industry. Therefore, they are major labor party supporters.

        2. The one thing here my wife was amazed at and one of the reasons she likes being here no matter how much she misses home, is the relative safety as compared to Brazil.

  3. I asked a friend in Brazil what the general mood there was, she said the people have no trust in any of the federal government institutions or any of the political parties. The only government agents with a shred of respect left are the police. The. Police.

    1. Not just the police. The Brazilian police.

      And, they’re probably not wrong about that.

      1. Seriously!

  4. Emerging Brazilian economy my ass. Bunch of kleptocratic socialists spending other people’s money.

    1. They were actually one of the fastest growing economies on earth before Dilma’s Labor Party gained control. It took about a decade to wreck all of that, but they finally managed.

      1. They did well during the temporary runup in commodities after the Big Dump of ’08, which probably masked the economic destruction.

  5. “last year the Supreme Court of Brazil ruled corporate donations to campaigns, like those of the state-owned oil company Petrobras, were unconstitutional.”

    Makes sense. I know how I’d feel about the DEA or IRS making campaign contributions.

    1. You mean like pubsec Unions do?

  6. For good measure, most of the members of the lower house who made that vote are also under investigation for corruption.

    This is a “burn it down” moment.

    1. Yeah, isn’t it something like 2/3 are under investigation? What a debacle.

    2. What happened is that the guy who started the impeachment process of Dilma, was himself being investigated for corruption. Apparently, he had a list of things on Dilma and he decided that if he’s going down, Dilma and her partners in crime are also going down. I think the turning point was when she tried to appoint former president Lula to a high position in the government in Brasilia which would have effectively given him immunity from the corruption charges he’s being prosecuted for. This really pissed off a lot of people.

      1. Trying to insulate Lula from prosecution does seem to have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Is Cunha’ the guy you’re thinking of?

        1. Yes, Lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha.

  7. The Brazilian government owns 54% of Petrobras. The Brazilian Development Bank and the Brazilian Sovereign Wealth Fund owns another 10%.

    Obviously the 36% private ownership has corrupted Petrobras, which was hardly an exemplar of transparency, financial discipline, and efficiency before its so-called privatization, and caused it to corrupt Brazil’s socialist politicians. Because private investors love socialists who promise to cut their dividends and otherwise expropriate their wealth.

  8. By the way, the Petrobras scandal in leftist Brazil is very much like the Elf Aquitaine scandal in leftist France.

    French politicians used Elf Aquitaine as a slush fund for domestic politics and covert aid to conflicts abroad as well as mistresses, villas, luxury apartments, fine art, and jewelry. It was finally taken down by the Oil-for-Food scandal and for bribing the German prime minister to facilitate its defrauding the German reunification program.

    Of course, there are also common threads in the American S&L, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac scandals.

    1. American S&L, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac scandals.

      But those are fake scandals.

      1. I think the S&L is real because Reagan.

      2. The socialist elites would have you believe that Petrobras and Elf Aquitaine scandals were also fake.

    2. Dilma is the ring leader of the entire Petrobras affair. This is pretty common knowledge in Brazil.

  9. The power government has, to redistribute wealth, to take over industries, to choose winners and losers, to hand out lucrative contracts, that power corrupts government officials, not money spent on their elections. Limiting the ability of people to donate to campaigns limits their ability to exercise political speech but does nothing to curb corruption in government?only limiting the powers of government itself can do that[].

    It should be mandatory for everyone wishing to enter politics, to have this tattooed on their forehead.

    1. Cronyism should be severely punished. That’s the only way this ever stops. That and one term in elected office, for life, then you go get a real job.

      1. Cronyism is too embedded into our system, and damn near indestructible. Going to take a really big hammer to rearrange to workings of the government one-way ratchet (endless expansion without sanity).

    2. Or, as a true make work program, have somebody constantly whispering that statement in their ear during the legislative session a la the Roman emperors during their parades. After all, a politician doesn’t spend all his/her time surrounded by other politicians where they would constantly be seeing the statement.

      (Or maybe invent a phone app to do the same thing. Potential million-dollar idea here?)

  10. Dilma can always get a job in the Hillary regime. Perhaps secretary of commerce.

  11. Really? Limiting campaign financing is useless? I’m sure many of the Brazillians would disagree with you on that.

    Also, what people ignore is that this corruption scandal implicates politicians on both the left and right of Brazil’s political spectrum. And that corruption has been a big problem in the nation since it declared independence 150 years ago.…..story.html…..ras-brazil

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