Monday, May 23, 2016

A crise venezuelana

A respeito da crise venezuelana, creio que não se pode aplicar a justificação que a esquerda radical costuma dar quando uma sociedade "socialista" entra em colapso ("o mal foi o poder ter ficado nas mãos de uma elite de burocratas, em vez da economia ter sido verdadeiramente gerida pelos e para os trabalhadores") - se olharmos para as prováveis causas da crise (pouco investimento nas empresas produtoras de energia, câmbio sobrevalorizado, preços artificialmente baixos de certos produtos, etc.), são tudo decisões que foram populares (ou, pelo menos, não foram impopulares) quando foram tomadas, logo provavelmente teriam à mesmo sido tomadas se a decisão fosse, não por decretos de Chavez, mas por um congresso geral de conselhos operários ou coisa parecida.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Recordando a Comuna de Paris

Remembering the Paris Commune, por Roderick Long, nos Bleeding Heart Libertarians:

This month marks the 145th anniversary of the violent suppression of the Paris Commune by the French national government. 
The Paris Commune remains a potent symbol for many people – though what exactly it symbolizes is a matter of dispute. To conservatives, the Commune stands for a reign of terror and mob rule. For many radicals, including anarchists and Marxists (even though at the time, Marx himself opposed the Commune as a “desperate folly” and urged would-be insurrectionists to work within the system), it signifies a community that importantly prefigures their own preferred social and political systems. 
The Commune wasn’t quite any of these things. While it bears responsibility for some foolish decisions (such as trying to relieve bakers of their long hours by forbidding them to work at night, which is a bit like trying to cure a disease by punishing anyone who shows symptoms of it) and some wicked decisions (most notably, executing the noncombatant hostages), on the whole the Commune behaved in a rather moderate and restrained fashion, and was far from being the sanguinary monster of conservative nightmares. (...) The invasion and massacre instituted by the national government at Versailles in May 1871 to put down the Communards’ insurrection has far more claim to be described as a reign of terror than anything the Commune itself did. 
While it certainly has inspired anarchists and attracted their sympathy (Louise Michel being the most prominent anarchist figure to emerge from the movement), the Commune was not in any real sense an anarchist project. Yes, it was a working-class insurrection, but one aimed at establishing, and one that did in fact establish, a government. (...) 
Nor can the Marxists plausibly claim the Commune as a precursor. While generally statist-left-leaning in their policies, most leaders of the Commune had no interest in abolishing private property; as Marx himself noted, “the majority of the Commune was in no sense socialist.” The term “Commune” refers not to communism but to the independent mercantile cities, called “communes,” that flourished in Europe at the end of the medieval period. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Repensando "Música no Coração"

A castanho, a votação nas eleições legislativas alemãs do Partido da Direita Alemã (1949), do Partido do Reich Alemão (de 1953 até 1961), do Partido Nacional Democrático da Alemanha (desde 1965) e da União do Povo Alemão (em 1998); a azul, a votação nas eleições legislativas austríacas da Federação dos Independentes (até 1953) e do Partido da Liberdade da Áustria (desde 1956).

[Post publicado no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Irlanda - crescimento artificial graças à Pfizer?

Em parte (o crescimento irlandês parece que é mesmo o maior da Europa, mas será menor do que as estatísticas milagrosas de 7% ou 8%).

Doing the maths: how real is Ireland's economic growth? (Independent)

The ESRI estimates that the Irish economy grew by 6.7pc in 2015 and is forecasting GDP growth of 4.8pc for this year. GNP, which is generally regarded as a better measurement of the underlying performance of the Irish economy, is also growing strongly, with the ESRI reckoning that it grew by 5.2pc last year and that it will grow by a further 5.3pc this year.

But how real is this economic growth? (...)

Measuring the true level of Irish economic activity has always been a tricky topic for economists. The generally accepted international standard is gross domestic product (GDP). The problem with GDP for Ireland is that it includes the undistributed profits of foreign-owned multinationals. This has the effect of artificially boosting the value of Irish economic output, since those profits belong not to Irish residents, but to the multinationals' overseas shareholders.

It is for this reason that gross national product (GNP), which excludes undistributed multinational profits, is the usually preferred measure of Irish economic output. (...)
Unfortunately, just when it seemed as if it was safe to trust the GNP figures once more, a new cloud has appeared on the horizon.

While re-registration may have had its day, a new but closely related phenomenon has since emerged to take its place: tax inversion.

Tax inversion takes place when a much larger, usually American, company agrees to be taken over by an Irish-registered company.

Under existing international tax law, this allows the enlarged company to be classified as 'Irish' and to qualify for our 12.5pc corporate profits tax rate - rather than Uncle Sam's punitive 35pc rate.

Since 2012, at least 21 major US corporations with a combined value of well over a third of a trillion dollars have gone through the tax inversion process. Many of these tax inversions have involved Irish-registered companies including Medtronic's takeover of Covidien, Perrigo's acquisition of Elan and Actavis' takeover of Allergan. 
However, it is the latest tax inversion-driven deal that has focused attention on the emerging problem. In November 2015, Pfizer, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, announced that it had agreed a $160bn 'merger' with Allergan, which, following the previous Actavis transaction, is an Irish-registered company.

This means that the combined Pfizer/Allergan will be tax-resident in Ireland - and presumably that the $21bn of undistributed profits that Pfizer has on its balance sheet would be added to the Irish GNP figure. (...)

Professor FitzGerald doesn't specifically address the tax inversion issue in his June 2015 paper, but he does identify another potential problem, aircraft leasing, with up to 20pc of the world's civil aviation fleet either owned or managed by Irish-based leasing companies.

So how on Earth is one supposed to make sense of official Irish economic statistics?
In fairness to the CSO, it is not unaware of the problem. It set up a Large Cases Unit in 2009 to liaise with the largest Irish-based companies in an effort to identify potential distortions.

However, even with the best will in the world, the CSO is constrained, as it is obliged to produce its data in accordance with international standards - standards that aren't always appropriate to Irish conditions.

"GDP and GNP are very imperfect measures of how the economy is actually doing. The focus should be on domestic demand; investment, consumption and government spending," says Goodbody Stockbrokers economist Dermot O'Leary.

Using these indicators, Mr O'Leary reckons the Irish economy grew by 4.5pc in 2015 and that it will grow by a further 4pc in 2016.

"We are living in a 4pc-plus economy, rather than in a 7pc economy. If you compare that with the rest of Europe, we still have the best-performing economy," he says. (...) 
With GDP and now GNP having been apparently skewed by factors such as non-repatriated profits, companies re-registering and now tax inversions, readers of Irish economic statistics would be well advised to proceed with caution.
Também sobre isto - Pfizer as Irish firm would swamp Ireland's national accounts (1 de novembro de 2015)

[Publicado também no Vias de Facto; podem comentar lá]

Friday, May 13, 2016

Já que tanto se fala em "liberdade de educação"...

Sociedade sem Escolas [pdf], de Ivan Ilich:

Devo meu interesse pela educação como uma função pública a Everett Reimer. Antes de nosso primeiro encontro em Porto Rico, em 1958, nunca havia questionado o valor de estender a obrigatoriedade escolar a todo o povo. Juntos, chegamos à conclusão de que a maioria dos homens tem seu direito de aprender cortado pela obrigação de freqüentar a escola.

Hillary Clinton e os extra-terrestres

Hillary and the Extraterrestrials, por Jesse Walker:

Every now and then an interviewer will ask her about sky saucers, and she'll reply with an apparently earnest pledge to open the government's files on the subject, sometimes adding that we can't say for sure whether we're alone in the universe. Now The New York Times has put together a detailed story on her interest in extraterrestrials (...)

It's easy to mock this, but I've decided it's actually one of the few things I like about Hillary Clinton. I've got three reasons:

1. At least she wants to be transparent about something. I'd rather she pardon Snowden, end the Leak Scare, stop the war on whistleblowers, and battle Washington's overclassification epidemic. But a smidge is better than nada.

2. Almost every aspect of Clinton's public persona feels like it was designed by a committee of PR professionals after they spent a year asking focus groups what they'd like to see in a firm-but-caring suburban grandmother. Her interest in something vaguely weird and disreputable is one of the few signs she's not a pod person.

3. If she is a pod person, this is our chance to find out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Quem votou nos vários candidatos Republicanos?

The Four Corners Of The GOP (Trump Owns Three Of Them), por David Wasserman (FiveThirtyEight):

Thus far, the two best predictors of GOP voter preferences have been white socioeconomic status and an area’s partisanship. (...)

HighBlue (...)

These liberal, elite urban and academic havens aren’t home to many GOP voters, but they dominate the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and West Coast and punch above their weight in the delegate count. This is the only quadrant where Kasich and Marco Rubio have combined for more votes than Trump. (...)

LowBlue (...)

They’re all traditionally Democratic-leaning areas of low socioeconomic status where Trump has posted his highest percentages in the country. These GOP voters tend to live in the midst of racial minorities, urban Democratic machines or declining industrial bases, and their sense of alienation is rocket fuel for Trump’s nativist and protectionist message. (...)

HighRed (...)

Well-educated Mormons in the West and well-heeled conservatives in suburbs of Milwaukee and Dallas have had little use for Trump. This is Cruz’s best quadrant and Trump’s worst. In fact, it’s the only quadrant where Trump is losing. (...)

LowRed (...)

Deeply red areas with low white socioeconomic status are mostly located in the South and the Sun Belt and include many areas popular with retirees. Cruz hasn’t performed much worse in LowRed than he has in HighRed, but Trump does much better in LowRed than HighRed
Em suma, a maior base de apoio de Rubio e Kasich terão sido os eleitores de classe alta/média-alta vivendo em zonas metropolitanas/cosmopolitas tipicamente Democratas; provavelmente aqueles Republicanos cujas principais preocupações são os impostos, e não tanto a imigração ou a defesa da civilização cristã.

Os apoiantes mais entusiastas de Trump  serão eleitores de classe baixa/média-baixa vivendo em zonas tipicamente Democratas, como grandes cidades (ou então algumas zonas de maioria negra do Sul) - provavelmente os sectores mais conservadores da classe operária branca, a facção do eleitorado Republicano que pretendia ser caricaturada pelo personagem "Archie Bunker" de "Uma Família às Direitas".

Já os maiores apoiantes de Cruz eram os eleitores de classe alta/média-alta vivendo em zonas tipicamente Republicanas - as clássicas famílias da classe média religiosa e respeitável das pequenas cidades do Oeste (já agora, veja-se também as exit polls, que indicavam que as maiores votações de Cruz eram entre os evangélicos com formação universitária).

Finalmente, entre os eleitores de classe baixa/média-baixa vivendo em zonas tipicamente Republicanas, Trump foi também o vencedor, mas também com muita força para Cruz;  trata-se aqui, sobretudo, do "Sul profundo".

Monday, May 09, 2016

As contradições dos defensores e dos críticos dos contratos de associação

Nesta polémica (e similares, como as do cheque-educação), noto frequentemente uma curiosa inversão das posições habituais.

Por um lado, à esquerda ouve-se frequentemente dizer que há total liberdade de educação, que quem quiser pode matricular os filhos num colégio privado, tem é que pagar do seu bolso; mas quem diz isso são por regra as mesmas pessoas que, noutros contextos, são quem mais diz que a dependência económica restringe a liberdade (p.ex., que os contratos de trabalho não são verdadeiramente livres, já que os empregados, como não possuem os "meios de produção", são obrigados a trabalhar para os patrões), e que aqui defende entusiasticamente a conceção "burguesa" da liberdade ("és livre -se tiveres dinheiro, podes fazer o que quiseres").

Há direita e entre os liberais, há a contradição simétrica - na questão da educação, defendem que para alguém ser livre, é preciso que o Estado o subsidie para poder adquirir os bens (neste caso, o serviço) que deseja. Claro que a direita parece ter um mínimo de coerência, dizendo que esses subsídios é receber de volta o dinheiro que pagamos de impostos (ou que não se pode obrigar as pessoas a pagar duas vezes pela educação); mas quem diz isso são os mesmos (ou pelos menos escrevem nos mesmos blogues...) que, quanto, se fala em progressividade fiscal, publicam logo uma carrada de posts dizendo que uma pequena percentagem da população paga o IRS quase todo - é verdade que isso é falacioso, já que o IRS nem é o principal imposto em termos de receita, mas é esse o argumento que eles fazem. Ora, a partir do momento em que se adota a posição de que grande parte da população contribui, comparativamente, pouco para os impostos, isso implicaria logicamente considerar que para grande parte da população os tais subsídios para pôr os filhos nos colégios privados são isso mesmo - subsídios; não são nenhuns impostos "devolvidos". A contradição torna-se ainda mais óbvia quando vão mais longe na argumentação e dizem que são sobretudo os mais pobres que ficam pior, já que enquanto as pessoas de maiores rendimentos, mesmo depois de pagar os imposto, têm dinheiro para pagar um colégio privado, os mais pobres não têm capacidade de fazer o tal duplo pagamento (os impostos e mais a educação privada), sendo assim obrigados a frequentar a escola pública - os mesmos pobres que, recorde-se, são descritos pelos mesmos (nas tais discussões sobre o sistema fiscal) como não pagando impostos quase nenhuns (logo, para eles os tais subsídios não teriam quase nenhuma componente de devolução de impostos).