offshore – the separatism of the wealthy

Image: S. Suksai


By taxing equity without associating it with financial assets, two injustices are committed, one fiscal, the other social.

In 2002, Father Pedrinho Guareschi translated into Portuguese the work that won the coveted laurel in Europe, in the area of ​​Social Sciences, the Amalfi Prize, previously awarded to intellectuals such as Serge Moscovici, Richard Sennet, Zygmunt Bauman and Norberto Elias. Pedrinho is known for his academic work on the relationship between ethics and the media in Brazil. John B. Thompson, is the UK author laureate who won an edition by Editora Vozes: The political scandal: power and visibility in the media age.

This is the key to understanding why the reports on the pandora papers (2021), which revealed the accounts in offshore of the exponents of the disastrous Economy, Paulo Guedes, and of the autonomous Central Bank (BC), Roberto Campos Neto. Having declared the procedures to the Federal Revenue (RF) does not exempt them from penalties. The High Public Administration Code of Conduct prohibits high-ranking officials from keeping financial investments in the orbit of speculation and rent seeking, which may be affected by government policies. Yes, the idea was to get the foxes out of the henhouse.

To aggravate suspicions, the article of the new collection of Income Tax that taxed the profits of companies controlled by Brazilians, in tax havens, was removed from the Bill sent to the Chamber of Deputies. It also regarded as a taxable capital gain, the dividends with the variation of the dollar in the rendering of accounts to the Treasury. O old chicago was a direct beneficiary of the convenient eclipse, in the opinion of the kind rapporteur who had just changed skin, from the PSDB to the PSL. The project was conceived by RF in line with the struggle waged, in the North and South hemispheres, to catch tax evaders who hide treasures in the paradisiacal lawless islands, where the weak have no place.

The compromising investigation was similar to that carried out by the Lux leaks (2014), by Panama Papers (2016), with data from the Panamanian Law Society, the fourth largest in the hierarchy of the British newspaper The Guardian, and by Paradise Papers (2017). In the thick of the imbroglio, businessmen, politicians, soccer players, TV program animators and, not to mention that we don't talk about flowers, the honest Marinho brothers.

The allegations resulted from the collective effort of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which analyzed twelve million confidential files for two years in more than one hundred countries, with the collaboration of hundreds of professionals for the conference of data. The information is the result of discoveries unearthed by independent journalism. O modus operandi for concealment of assets did not change, in scandals that did not become scandals. Why didn't the media give them visibility? Why was he silent, making faces like a dead landscape?

The hypocritical silence of the guilty

For the unsuspecting UOL columnist, Marco Antônio Villa, the revelation about anti-republican immorality contains conflicts of interest that would justify the immediate dismissal of those responsible. However, the historian known for his conservative positions estimates that the bombastic news will soon be out of the agenda: “The dust settles with the days and, next week, no one will be interested in the matter anymore. This is a serious problem in the country, forget about the scandals.” No one, that is to say, the large sponsors of communication vehicles (banks, private health plans) belonging to the same social class as the accused. The bourgeoisie does not like to see its infamous secrets in the public mirror.

In particular, in cases where the facts that have come to light stamp the “hypocrisy of the salons”, laid bare by Rousseau's criticism in earlier eras. The difference is that, now, the accusations are based on numbers instead of philosophical comments about appearance rituals in customs. You tights they couldn't stop the initial publicity. However, they can push the winner under the rug, as in other carnivals. No wonder, opinion holders also have money abroad. For details, access the interview given by Economy reporter Luís Nassif at Focus Brazil (18 / 10 / 2021).

“In no – I repeat, in no – newspaper did you see a front page headline mentioning Paulo Guedes, let alone a photo of him. The weights and measures are antipodes, when incriminating a public agent of the left”, compared a PT parliamentarian. Well, the progressives watch the repetition of the persecutory film since the circumstances led the “father of the poor” (Getúlio Vargas) to the tragic outcome. They just changed the actors in the theater manipulated by the factious media (Juscelino Kubitschek, João Goulart, Lula da Silva). Media creativity in the undermining of authentic leaders never crossed the threshold of false convictions. Already, to the cronies of neoliberal dogmas caught with their hand in the cruse (red-handed), nor with the overwhelming body of evidence do wrongdoers serve convictions.

Tax evasion is a self-indulgent illegal practice of economic elites in capitalism. In Brazil, it is estimated at R$ 400 billion per year the evasion of foreign exchange. Evidently, the native dominant classes opt for social and regional inequalities, unemployment, wage flattening, the precariousness of public services, the abandonment of science, research and universities – instead of complying with tax obligations. They carry in the depths of their soul the anarcho-capitalist discourse “against all taxes”, disguised under a smokescreen with propositions of “simplification”, strictly speaking, more regressive. Deep down and shallow, they aspire to increase their privileges. The egoic use of “civil disobedience”, the concept formulated by Henry Thoreau for individual initiatives contrary to the laws of the State, exposes the predatory profile of the ruling layers that have no commitments to the country, not even empathy with the people. Who go to Miami.

The scandals of the rotten powers

JB Thompson distinguishes three types of political scandals: sexual, financial and power scandals. Those of the Minister of Economy and the President of the Central Bank fall within the scope of abuse of power (improper use of the position held in the state apparatus) for illegitimate and illegal purposes, passively or actively. In the philosophy of law, the passivity of the authorities in question expresses an action (enrichment), given the fluctuation of the dollar, which is within the scope of the respective functional competences. The fortune of US$ 9,5 million that Guedes keeps in offshore jumped to $14 million. In Reais, he pocketed around R$ 25 million, without moving a muscle. The silence about it sounds like a scream of horror, on Munch's screen. Who doesn't, provokes provocative Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr.: "Throw the first stone, Faria Lima, who has never had a few measly millions parked in a tax haven." After all, separatism is the favorite sport of high-end eugenics, who don't like to mix.

The permanence of Guedes and Campos Neto in office testifies to the double absence of public spirit. To evoke Pierre Bourdieu, they lost the “symbolic capital” with which they were invested, and were not warned. The damage to their personal reputation, which is the trust that the community can place in each one, prevents them from setting goals that depend on social consensus in order to be successfully achieved. Even because millions enter their accounts in offshore, even if governance policies fail.

While the common people become impoverished, the notables have the chance to get rich by allocating resources to territories beyond the reach of the country's norms. Resources that traveled for one of the reasons: (a) they are not consistent with the declared income, as they do not correspond to what is lawful; (b) by the desire to circumvent the tax authorities and avoid paying taxes, thanks to the ruse and; (c) by the pessimism devoted to the course of the current economic policy in the country of origin.

In all the gloomy scenarios, removal from functions is imposed. On the other hand, for the time being, there is a bet on postponement strategies for the recovery of the characters. sub judice. They don't need organized supporters, judging by the columnist for the newspaper Valor Econômico, who tried to explain Guedes' motivation in continuing to lead the Ministry as if it were his pet pet. "Despite the crossfire, the minister does not intend to leave the government, except if the spending ceiling law is broken... uncertainty that erodes the expectations of economic agents... Guedes is the source of rationality in the electoral game". The rentiers' message is transmitted to Centrão. About the scandal of offshore, any.

In a context of “identity crisis” caused by changes in labor relations (outsourcing, unemployment, informality); by the process of deindustrialization (closing of automakers, dismantling of the naval industry) that reconfigured the working classes; for discrediting the institutions (Judiciary, Legislature) that allowed the 2016 coup (impeachment of the Chief Executive) and that of 2018 (disqualification of the candidate who led the polls). For all these reasons, reliability is fundamental to reorganize the social fabric and increase cooperative political behavior. Inciting the existing chaos suits the obscurantist forces, guided by the destruction of national sovereignty to inaugurate the authoritarian regime, with a fascist approach. Civilizing proposals do not grow in the militia swamp.

Political scandals, although suppressed, do not sink into popular oblivion. With that, distrust in the political-economic system, as well as in the mentors of poverty and misery that spread with the virus, in the Tropics. In the dictatorial interim, scandals disappeared from the news. Without freedom of the press, they remained submerged in censorship. See the deaths of journalist Vladimir Herzog, worker Santo Dias and other victims listed in the survey of Brazil: Never Again (Ed. Vozes), with a preface by Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns. Or the terrorist bomb, which exploded in the lap of the extremists of the civil-military dictatorship, who dreamed of triggering it in Rio Centro during the commemorative musical on May Day (1981), watched by thousands of democrats.

President Jair Bolsonaro took aim at that period, by forming a parallel government erected underground (patronage, in Italian) to remove the spotlight on the genocidal administrative guts throughout the pandemic and negotiations on the purchase of vaccines, with inflated prices and prevarication. For obvious reasons, the Republic would not support a live, color view of the scandalous plot. Authoritarianism and arrangements mafia on restaurant tables they are like Dracula and the decorative Temer, fleeing sunlight. They coexist badly with the demands of transparency of the Democratic Rule of Law. By the way, in a liberal democracy they are usually transformed into a weapon to attack the reputation (symbolic capital) of adversaries and/or enemies. O lawfare fits into this perspective.

Yes, tax financial assets

The etymology of the word scandal derives from the Indo-Germanic root skand (jump, jump). In ancient Greek, skandalon (trap, obstacle, moral slip). In the theological version of the First Testament, it indicated a deviation from the path of worshiping God. The religious connotation was lightened in the Latin derivation scandalum (slander, defamation). Until it acquired the modern sense of affront to the moral codes of decency. In Thompson's definition: “Scandal refers to actions or events involving certain transgressions that become known to others and that are serious enough to incite a public response” (p. 38). It is the present meaning in everyday use.

The commercial media did not consider the episode serious enough to demand clarification, while the offenders did not feel obliged to provide a public response, closing in on silence and fleeing abroad, in order to cool the spirits of deputies and senators. As in the poem by Cecília Meireles, the destitute comment in the corners: “I only gather the infinite taste of answers that cannot be found”. to the scandal, per se, came the lack of shame that spreads anomie in civil society and impudence in the State. Today, the scientific-technological, economic-moral and socio-environmental development of the country depends on macunaímic simulacra.

Repeated impostures in recent history have updated Mário de Andrade's masterpiece, published back in 1928: Macunaima, the Hero Without Character. It started in Maceió with Collor, crossed Minas Gerais with Aécio, made a stopover in Curitiba with Moro, flew over Brasília with Eduardo Cunha, skirted Rio de Janeiro with the Bolsonaro clan, to land in the most important control bodies of the economy. In the arduous escalation of neoliberalism, several institutions remained weakened: the Federal Supreme Court (STF), the Public Ministry, the National Congress, the Command of the Armed Forces, the Union Centers and Rede Globo itself. Victorious were the Think Thanks in favor of the free market, privatizations for cheap reasons and the return to servitude of men, women and children, whose dystopia draws a prolonged civilizational setback. What Karma.

Thomas Piketty, in The Earth is Round, when looking into the pandora papers, concludes that the richest continue to evade (read, social policies). He cites the US billionaires who pay few taxes relative to what they accumulate. He mentions French peers who pay similarly paltry taxes. According to the economist, “we continue to register and tax assets only based on real estate properties such as housing and professional assets (agricultural land, stores, factories, etc.), using methods and cadastres established in the early XNUMXth century” . The property tax (property tax) accounts for an average of 2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It must be considered that the ownership of a property is an indicator of the owner's ability to pay.

When taxing equity without associating it with financial assets, two injustices are committed, one fiscal, the other social. The assertion that it is impossible to account for financial assets is fallacious. “This is not a technical impossibility, but a political choice… The priority should be the establishment of a public financial register and the minimum taxation of all assets, even if only to produce objective information about them… Requiring that the companies that own them or operating goods disclose the identity of their holders and tax them transparently, as is the case with taxpayers in general. It's time to act”, he concludes with a militant tone. The Economy “post Ipiranga” and the banker of the Central Bank, to deserve the positions, would need to assume the responsibilities with civic conscience in the direction of a fairer society. Being honest and looking honest.

* Luiz Marques is a professor of political science at UFRGS. He was Rio Grande do Sul's state secretary of culture in the Olívio Dutra government.


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