Liberalism, developmentalism and development projects

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By LUIS NASSIF*

The assumption of any consistent project of the Nation must be to meet the demands of the population

There is a strand of discussion about the Ceiling Law, defending its application as long as there is room for public investment. In the same way as the original Ceiling Law, a complex issue – development – ​​is reduced to just one angle, the macroeconomic one. It is part of a heritage from recent decades, of seeing development only from a macroeconomic perspective, in order to maintain the supremacy of economists in the formulation of public policies.

That is why the entire discussion of the country's project is restricted to current liberalism, traditional developmentalism and the social developmentalism aspect - the absence of the State, developmentalism restricting itself to the priority of public investments and social developmentalism favoring social policies.

Development project is something much broader and systemic. In the mid-2000s I tried to synthesize in a series of columns in the Sheet, later included in my book the spreadsheet heads. At the time, the series was reproduced on the BNDES website by President Carlos Lessa – one of the last formulators of systemic plans, heir to the tradition of Celso Furtado and Darcy Ribeiro.

The macroeconomic part is just closing the project, just as, in a private company, finance is just the technician who takes care of financing the larger strategy. In other words, first you have to design the model of country you want and the strategy to get there. Then, the ways to finance.

The assumption of any consistent project for the Nation must be to meet the demands of the population. Even because this service has a relevant impact on the supply of labor, on the creation of the consumer market, on the maintenance of social peace.

Popular culture is the mortar of the project. It is what strengthens the feeling of national solidarity, allows seeing the country as a whole, reinforces the bet on human potential and on the concept of Nation – without xenophobia. At some point in the late 2.000s, when the country reached the peak of self-esteem, the “jeitinho” came to be seen as a value, showing the flexibility of Brazilians to find solutions, enchanting the great quality managers.

This discovery of Brazilians' natural talents is essential to cement educational programs and inclusive social policies. At the end of the second Lula administration, pride in being Brazilian became a flag that opened space for quota policies in public education.

Within this same logic, it is essential to encourage small entrepreneurs, micro and small companies, which not only guarantee employment, but, in their growth process, the renewal and vitality of the economy.

Throughout the post-Constitution period, numerous instruments were created to support SMEs, starting with the restructuring of Sebrae during the Collor government. SMEs can be stimulated with management programs, with support from public institutes for innovation, with models of Local Productive Arrangements and with financing at reasonable costs, as in the isolated experiments of public banks.

In the agricultural part, cooperativism played an enormous role. And, more recently, the champion model of the MST (Movement of Homeless Workers), with its innovative proposals to grant the worker the usufruct, but not the ownership of the land – to prevent speculative games.

Policies, such as support for family farming – guaranteeing demand from schools and other public service organizations -, attempts to produce bioethanol by small farmers, all these are historically recent experiences that can be recovered.

This entire model is based on society's ability to work together, to join forces, to institute forms of collaboration, only possible after the previous work of building, through culture, the symbols of a Brazilian soul, as a way of reinforcing the solidarity.

At the same time, there is a need to institute industrial policies aimed at maintaining the competitiveness of Brazilian production. The only way to consolidate the model is to guarantee quality jobs. And quality jobs cannot be achieved in the uberization and consolidation of an eminently service society.

This is where state intervention becomes necessary. We live in a period of elimination of jobs. And jobs are essential for social peace, for general well-being, for strengthening the consumer market. Hence the need for proactive employment generation policies, laws that tame the anti-employment savagery of platforms, of uberization. It is an international movement, which will tend to grow more and more. The challenge will be to have governments capable of aligning the country with the new ideas that are beginning to spread throughout the civilized world.

Another essential point, in public policies, is the role of the State in financing innovation, either through the Finep-Fundações de Amparo à Pesquisa system, or by resuming the essential role of Petrobras and large private corporations in the dissemination of research, through partnerships with universities and improving the practices of its suppliers.

 

The trap of financial indicators

One of the most relevant points is to get out of the trap of purely financial indicators.

I remember the great management revolution of the 90's and the attempt to bring management improvement and innovation to small and micro companies. There was an iron logic reinforcing the relevance of this work. As SMEs were the majority, any incremental gain would have a big impact on productivity as a whole.

In a debate in the 90s, I argued with Luciano Coutinho, defender of the concept of national champions – one of the main hallmarks of the developmentalist school. And I highlighted the lack of indicators on micro aspects of the economy. For example, a group of small companies, working in a consortium, would represent a relevant efficiency gain for the economy. And yet, this gain was not measured.

This brings us to another important area of ​​economics, and little considered in the country: the analysis of the externalities of public and private investments. That is, the indirect consequences of these investments, in the social, environmental and development fields, especially to overcome one of the great marks of underdevelopment in Brazilian market thinking: the fallacy of composition.

A clear example was the distribution of research investments over the new campuses. There was an intense reaction from researchers in the São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro-Belo Horizonte triangle. As they have the best public institutions, it was assumed that each cent invested in them would be more efficient than the cents invested in new institutions, with no research tradition.

Reality has shown the opposite. The new institutes took the research concept to the different regions, allowing the creation of very efficient policies, research consortia funded by Petrobras and the National Confederation of Industry, bringing new blood to researchers and, above all, a greater focus on solving problems. regional problems.

Another challenge was the enormous concentration of power in national slaughterhouses. It turned JBS into an international champion, but what were the results for the meat and leather production chain? Now, what would impact the country would be JBS as an instrument for modernizing livestock production. On the contrary, its power – and that of other slaughterhouses – caused huge imbalances in livestock and in the leather industry. With that, the national champion went international, with a very low contribution to the systemic development of the sector.

Another very relevant topic was social-racial quotas in public universities. The reaction of the idiots of objectivity is that, by placing less prepared students in universities, there would be a loss of quality in teaching.

The logic of inclusion is that there was an asymmetry at the start – the difference in education and opportunity between public and private school students. Once this asymmetry was circumvented by quotas, what was seen – and was proven by Unicamp – is that the generation of quota holders, on average, performs better than the average of non-quota holders, knowing that studying is the only way to overcome the curse of socioeconomic barriers.

And, if the potential of a country is measured by the sum of potentialities used by its population, how can we leave out the majority of the population, black and poor?

There are countless other essential themes, within a development project, such as the State's purchasing capacity – fundamental in sectors such as medicines and, in other times, in the construction of platforms by Petrobras.

 

developmentalism

Going back to the beginning of our conversation, what about the developmental principles of increasing public investment?

Public investments cannot be seen exclusively from the perspective of economic economic recovery – as they are usually treated –, but as an essential part of development, that is, in a long-term time horizon. As well as the appreciation of domestic production, the use of the consumer market as a bargain for the transfer of technology by multinationals – as was done by Brazil in the 50s and by China in the third millennium.

There is no silver bullet for development.

The great development project will be the one that encompasses all these policies simultaneously, with a direct focus on the best of Brazil: Brazilians. And the great statesman will be the one who joins all these pieces into a logical whole and knows how to explain the whole to the country, stimulating the great pact of development in small, medium and large companies, in social arrangements, in cooperatives, in APLs, in social movements .

And hail Manoel Bonfim, Celso Furtado, Josué de Castro, Rômulo de Almeida, Anisio Teixeira, Paulo Freire, João Paulo dos Reis Velloso, hail the brilliant generation of the 60s, cut down by the military coup and, later, by the stultifying contemporary economicism.

* Luis Nassif is a journalist, editor of Jornal GGN. Author, among other books, of the spreadsheet heads (Ediouro).

Originally published on GGN newspaper.

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