POLITICAL GRID LOCK ALL AROUND

If you’re concerned about grid lock in the US Congress look at the situation in Brazil. With the 2016 Olympics about to begin in Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Congress is also about to begin its own mega media event: impeachment proceedings against Dilma Rousseff elected President for a second term in 2014.

The Worker’s Party, which she leads, has been having trouble since it was first elected in 2002.   Getting legislation passed by the increasingly fractured Brazilian Congress with more than twenty political parties represented, none with close to a majority challenges even political wizards.

To get legislation passed, the Worker’s Party began buying votes of other parties to get simple majority votes in the Congress .  Scandal erupted during the last years of the popular president Lula’s administration, 2010. All of the president’s ministers were implicated, except, President Rousseff, who now faces impeachment for manipulating the government’s budget in 2014.

In the past five years it has become crystal clear that to do politics or business in Brazil, that the wheel must be greased to make it roll. Operation Cash Wash involving Petrobras, the mammoth state owned oil company, was designed by company executives to award overpriced contracts to construction companies in return for bribes.

The 2014 World Cup both required huge construction projects. These contracts were initially awarded by the government to private companies presenting low ball bids. The work for both global events could not be finished on time or within budget. The Brazilian government paid the tab needed for to get the work done. This led to massive street demonstrations in 2013 and 2014 prior to the World Cup. “Schools and Stadiums,” was one of many slogans protestors shouted.

But little changed when Brazil began preparations for the 2016 Olympics. Billions needed to be invested to prepare for this “world class” event. Again private sector contracts which could not be fulfilled were awarded anyway. Then the government was left holding the bag. A very big bag indeed. Citizens protest and disaffection has mounted to the heights of Everest. The unholy alliance of corruption between the public and private sectors needs to be broken

Americans beware. We are no strangers to pork barreling, lobbying, and now Citizens United. The growing tendency towards political gridlock must be broken or worse could come, just look at Brazil.

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