Taxation of the super-rich

Image: Georg Scholz


“Being rich is not a sin.” The Brazilian elite continues to distill contempt and insensitivity on the pages of the corporate press, its privileged spokesperson

The Brazilian elite, the same one that enjoyed slavery for 300 years, continues to distill contempt and social insensitivity in the pages of the corporate press, its privileged spokesperson. Recently the newspaper Folha de S. Paul published an article by a certain João Camargo (President of the Board of CNN/Brazil) entitled “Being rich is not a sin”.

The text is a complete mockery of the 21 million Brazilians who go hungry in Brazil, figures taken from the report “The State of Food and Nutritional Security in the World 2023”.[I] This represents almost 10% of the Brazilian population. Furthermore, it matters little to João Camargo that between 2016 (year of the coup against Dilma) and 2022 (end of the ineligible government) the percentage of Brazilians going hungry went from 1,9% to 32,8% with a total of 70 million of Brazilians without having anything to eat.

In 2023, so far, the R$600 monthly Bolsa Família, plus R$150 per child aged 0 to 6 and R$50 in the case of pregnancy, has alleviated the situation of extreme poverty. More than that, the return of important programs such as PAC (Minha Casa, Minha Vida, among others) will certainly have a positive impact on the generation of jobs and income. For those who don't remember, during the ineligible government, Consea (National Council for Food and Nutritional Security) was closed, and is now being resumed by President Lula. However, for billionaire João Camargo, what the Brazilian government has to worry about are the 1.650 super-rich whose exclusive funds exceed R$250 billion in assets.

João Camargo's central argument is mediated by the same mentality symbolically represented in the title of the article: “Being rich is not a sin” and clearly demonstrates not only an abject social insensitivity, but a complete lack of intelligence. In a certain part of the article, Camargo, explicitly seeking to block the government, tries to convince us, in a threatening tone, that taxing the rich tends to fail, he wrote: “in a globalized world, the rich have enormous financial mobility, managing to allocate your money in more attractive places almost instantly”.

In other words, the “patriot” João Camargo simply told us that rich people have no nationality, therefore, for him, it doesn't matter if Brazilians go hungry, what really matters is where on the planet he will triple his wealth. Here João Camargo imitated Mario Amato (former president of Fiesp), his plutocracy compatriot, who in 1989 stated: “If Lula wins the elections, here the number of businessmen who would flee would not be less than 800 thousand. Furthermore, we would no longer have investments from developed countries.” Result, in 2002 Lula won the election and the plutocracy never became so rich.

Camargo continues his argumentative saga by citing examples of countries (Germany, Holland, Austria, Ireland) that sought to tax the super-rich and apparently regretted it. He just forgot to say that all of these countries have social inequality rates that are infinitely lower than those of Brazil. Camargo's arguments are shallow and mediocre, typical of a plutocracy completely disconnected with Brazilian social reality and more concerned with the salons of Paris or the casinos of Punta del Este. For him, the taxation of the super-rich is difficult to monitor and “is always subject to a dose of arbitrariness”. Sealing experts would say that the CNN billionaire is trying to victimize himself with “arbitrariness”. A billionaire claiming to be a victim of arbitrariness in Brazil is the quintessence of an insult to our intelligence.

According to the eminent representative of our Casa Grande, taxation of the super-rich is harmful rhetoric. What is not harmful to him is starving, that is part of life. Perhaps, whoever dies of hunger, for him, is someone who did not have enough discipline and mental strength to undertake and become rich. But João Camargo would leave the icing on the cake of elitist nonsense for the final phase of the article by resorting to the rhetoric of bourgeois liberal meritocracy, he wrote: “the Brazilian who built his heritage must be admired as the protagonist of a successful journey. (…) He is the one who invests, undertakes, takes risks, innovates, creates wealth, creates jobs and pays huge amounts of taxes”.

A little more and I was almost pulling out my powerful Pix to help this “poor” and “exploited” entrepreneur. Would João Camargo exchange with me (a “privileged” salaryman) all this dose of “sacrifices” reported by him? If he wants, he will certainly have a line of Brazilians super interested in going through the “discomfort” of taking risks, innovating, creating wealth, creating jobs and paying huge tax burdens. These billionaires' arguments are so shallow, predictable and clichéd that sometimes I get the impression they really think we're idiots. They don't even make a point of appearing to have any argumentative intelligence. They are proudly mediocre.

João Camargo's speech is that of the cynical and usurious slaveholder (not to mention the fraudulent ones - Lojas Americanas) whom the worker must thank every day for exploiting his labor force to the maximum, paying him derisory wages, extracting the maximum of added value and also show gratitude for not being one of those who, due to lack of “merit”, had to “opt” for the bitterness of unemployment and misery.

Finally, João Camargo ended his article by demonstrating a small crisis of conscience and decided to give his opinion on Brazilian social inequality. For him, inequality must be combatted by restoring public accounts (that is, the old litany of the spending State), but this must be done without “features of tyranny” (a euphemism for let us profit in peace). No worries about lowering the profit rate and distributing wealth. Why do there need to be billionaires? This question needs to be faced in a country with a miserable majority like Brazil. It is very mocking for the owner of capital to talk about tyranny. Not long ago some of them were drooling over military intervention.

I close this short article/rant by returning to the phrase that titles the article analyzed: “being rich is not a sin”. Certainly, João Camargo must consider himself a patriot, a good and God-fearing citizen. I therefore resort to some excerpts from Holy Scriptures (which Camargo must follow with devotion and faith) to reflect on the non-sin of being rich. Let's continue:

– Ecclesiastes 5:10: “Whoever loves money will not be satisfied with money; Nor will he who loves wealth be satisfied with gain; This too is vanity.”

– Proverbs 15:16: “It is better to have little with the fear of the Lord than great riches with worry.”

– Timothy 6:9-11: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and traps and many uncontrolled and harmful desires, which lead men to ruin and destruction, for the love of money is the root of all evil. Some people, because they coveted money, strayed from the faith and suffered many sufferings. But you, man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.”.

– Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and riches.

We close with the most explicit of all, to the point of being confirmed by two evangelists (Lucas 18: 25 e Matthew 19:24): "And again I tell you that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.".

The interesting thing is that the biblical passages cited above are selectively “forgotten” by a huge portion of those Brazilians who blindly believe in the slogan: “Brazil above all, God above all”.

As for João Camargo (I have nothing against him personally, as I don't know him) his article is completely wrong and reminds me of the Swiss physicist Fritz Zwicky, for whom astronomers would be spherical idiots, that is, no matter what angle we look at them, they will always be idiots. This is João Camargo’s article.

*Eduardo Borges He is a professor of history at the State University of Bahia. Author, among other books, of Coup: the coup as a political method of the Brazilian elite (Cutter).



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