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Brazil Discovers the Great Society 50 Years Later PDF Print E-mail
2012 - September 2012
Written by Ed Catchpole   
Sunday, 16 September 2012 22:55

Lyndon Johnson meet the poor As a benchmark of development Brazilians like to compare their country with the United States. Their reasoning is pretty convincing and goes something like this: Brazil and the US are roughly the same size (Brazilians will remind you that Brazil is in fact larger than the Continental USA), both are vibrant democracies, both achieved independence from European colonizers at around the same time, both are abundant in natural resources and have huge labor forces. 

Brazilians used to wonder why their country is not more like its North American counterpart. Not anymore. There is a real sense here that Brazil is finally fulfilling its potential and is indeed becoming another USA. The United States circa 1964. 

That was the year that President Lyndon Baines Johnson first presented his idea of the Great Society at Ohio University. This became a series of social programmes intended to eliminate poverty and racial injustice in the United States. Some of the changes then implemented such as Medicare and federal education funding still exist today. 

The most ambitious and far-reaching part of the Great Society was its War on Poverty, which made major amendments to social security, significantly increasing benefits and expanding coverage. By 1970 the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line had fallen from just over 22% to 12%. Between 1961 and 1968 the American economy grew at an average rate of 4.5% per year. 

Today, Brazil is experiencing very similar changes. 

Through its version of the Great Society, which includes the flagship programmes such as Bolsa Família and Brasil - Sem Miséria (Brazil - Without Misery) Brazil is witnessing developments remarkably similar to those implemented in the States 50 years ago. They are having the same effect. The number of Brazilians living below the poverty line fell from 28% in 2003 to 22% in 2010. 

While the Great Society sought to fight poverty and enfranchise Afro-Americans in the United States, in Brazil disenfranchisement is mostly regional not racial. That is why Brazil's War on Poverty has had the most pronounced effect on its very own version of the Deep South - the Nordeste (the region made up of the states of Pernambuco, Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão and Rio Grande do Norte).

Brazilians who used to be disenfranchised have finally become consumers for the first time and millions are clambering out of abject poverty with the support of the Federal Government and a booming economy. 

Of course, there is much more still to do; improvements need to be made to infrastructure and education, in addition to political and tax reform. Challenging certainly, but not beyond the realms of possibility, after all, the USA faced significant obstacles in the sixties and early seventies such as the Vietnam War and the 1973 Oil Crisis. It then took further ten years of reform and Reaganomics, all under the shadow of the Cold War, to propel the US to economic superstardom. 

Brazil's GDP now stands at the adjusted figure for the US in 1951, so there is a long way to go, but there is no doubt Brazilians firmly believe their time has come. 

Evidently, they are not alone, a recent article in Isto É magazine highlights a growing problem for the Brazilian Polícia Federal, where just like in the US, coyotes - or their Brazilian counterparts the coiotes - are making big money smuggling foreigners into the country.

There have been cases of groups of Haitians, Koreans, Chinese and Bengalis paying up to US$ 10,000 to make the perilous journey into Brazil from Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay to work in the megacity of São Paulo and take their part in the Brazilian Dream. 

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Comments (7)Add Comment
Braziliam real estate Bubble published Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper
written by Sergio A Lima, September 16, 2012
The newspaper "Folha de Sao Paulo" published on Saturday, September 16, a front page about the Brazilian Real Estate Bubble. The report was based on the study of two experts from IPEA, a government institute on economics. More information on the journal (in portuguese)

Thank some attention, because here in Brazil the Dilma's Government are trying to hide a massive credit crunch.
Sorry my english.


Sérgio Alexandre LIma
Brazilian citizen
Brazil Discovers the Great Society 50 Years Later
written by Diogo, September 16, 2012

As a benchmark of development Brazilians like to compare their country with the United States.

This article is starting off on the right foot...thanks for the laugh.smilies/cheesy.gifsmilies/cheesy.gif

That was the year that President Lyndon Baines Johnson first presented his idea of the Great Society at Ohio University. This became a series of social programmes INTENDED to eliminate poverty and racial injustice in the United States. Some of the changes then implemented such as Medicare and federal education funding still exist today.

As the old adage says, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".
The author fails to mention that those same programs gave women the financial incentive to disregard the family structure.
Amazing that the illegitimacy rate in the American black communities was around 20% during the racist 1950' good intention "Great Society" over 70%.

written by Nicholas (usa_male), September 17, 2012
both are vibrant democracies..

The US is becoming a Democracy..true..ruled by a Mob called wallstreet. Brazil is acting more like a Republic, which it is.

USA and Brazil,

there aren't many differences, except, The US has more people vs Brazil, Brazil was born an Empire, US a Republic, Brazil has an official language Portuguese, the US doesn't have an official language, and both received immigrants from all over the world, though Brazil has more sub cultures.

This “real estate burble” may be true of Rio and SP, but I can tell you it is not anywhere near the truth in the states in North, North East of Brazil, Minas Gerais (South-East) or South.
Just like anywhere else in the world, you can't classify a whole country by using its megacities to make the case, but it's okay to be alerted.
written by slava, September 17, 2012
''both are vibrant democracies'' ha ha ha thats good that is !
You, who knows nothing about me!
written by Helena, October 16, 2012

I am Brazilian. And I am old enough and educated more than enough to know about my county's History, Economy and politics.

It is so anoying to see all these people who do not have a clue about what Brazil truly is, spreading nonsense through ridiculous articles like this. The blind leading the blind trying to convince someone-who?? (the poorly informed, for sure) that have drew the a theory about Brazil and the truth behind our economic growth.

I am so sorry for you all: the ones who write , who trully looks pathetic on the eyes of the people who understand Brazil. The ones who ad and on top of their ignorance eat all the nonsense the first morons write.

Hey! You can not browse a few websites and decide that you know Brazil. Unfortunatelly you will have to be more educated andperhaps o back to scholl to be able to draft a humble opinion about my country. You (who wrote this article and (too) many out there, you know nothing!
Helena, YOU know nothing, that is.
written by Demon, December 06, 2012
I'm a brazilian citizen, and what I see everyday is the disrespect of every single law, people without a minimal notion of common sense, and most importantly (and very noticeable) trying to "take advantage" of everything and everyone.
Hard work doesn't pay decently in Brazil, even senators aren't satisfied with their obscene salaries.
Seriously, I drive 7km on the streets of a small town every working day, and every time I see dozens of absurdities. The police does nothing. I feel happy when I see on TV the thousands of deaths per year because of traffic fights. Some people in Brazil really deserve death, actually, the majority I'd say.
I'm ashamed to tell my friends in decent countries that I'm brazilian. I don't even consider this conglomerate of uneducated and primitive souls a country.
Even being extremely and unrealistically optimist, knowing that the majority of judges are corrupt and pretty much every politician also, I don't think I'd consider this something better than a huge Indonesia.
I have a lot of friends in Germany, UK and US and never heard them talking about ways to circumvent the law, steal money or take advantage of everything, in their minds, hard work pays and there's no need to waste your brain thinking such things that populate the mind of pretty much every brazilian 24hs a day.
If you have a different opinion or experience, you either don't live in Brazil or you live in Brasilia where everyone 'plays' a honest person and thinks Brazil is truly the 6th world power (that's why Brasilia is known as "the isle of fantasy"). Behind the scenes though, they're all (extremely) corrupt oligarchs.
Brazil great society USA
written by Brazuka Europa, February 24, 2013
I was for many years, very unhappy with Brazil's inequalities, violence and corruption... I was always thinking in a way to change things... trying a way to fight the wrong and trying to make things right... I fail, so I decide to change me, so I moved out of Brazil, unfortunately, when you can’t change things, change yourself!

Brazil is the land that my parents immigrated. The land that was believed to be the 'new' World of opportunities for many immigrants that one day stepped in their shores, for most of the immigrants, Brazil represented better life, however today I cannot say the same for anybody. It is perhaps for some, difficult however to say it in general. However with the level of violence, corruption and deaths by traffic accidents, the today's Brazil looks a bit scary really, more like a nightmare.

When you think the amount of things in Brazil that need urgent improvement and reforms in order to function properly, you would think that folks would be more organised and keen in getting things changed, however who said that Brazilians want to change the reality for a better one? People talk and complaint, however there is not a serious conscience from the society towards that, I actually think that people got used and immune to the absurdity, it became the norm, what the majority do in the daily basis, is looking for the evening 'cervejinha', the everyday 'futebol' match and the next 'barsinho' meeting, of course getting ready for the 3 months long next 'carnaval'. Brazilians got addicted to these social ‘drugs’, like an opium and cocaine high, all so they can forget about the real things that surround them.

However, despite all that, after studding and learning the western ‘developed’ countries way to do things, especially the US, I cannot criticise Brazil’s society way to be, even so I cannot stand it, no more than what the US society is.

I conclude saying that Brazil is a corrupted, violent and made of majority uneducated people which became specialised in ‘Carnaval’ and ‘Futebol’, in the other hand, the US is the almighty west society, the super organised police state, which can do anything they wish in any place they desire in this World, which is specialised in wars, A LOT OF innocent killing, conquering and destroying other countries and cultures way to be. Yes, Brazil is a mess… however Brazilians don’t kill others to pay for their children education, they may kill themselves, but that is ok, right?

So you have it, two America’s neighbour, two ‘United states’, one specialised in parting their ass up, corruption and violence and the other in killing the hell of every body’s ass, which one is the better society?

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