Economy in Brazil has been a huge issue that has raised public attention and hostility. “Retire at 55? In Brazil, It’s the Norm. But Can the Good Times Last?” by Shasta Darlington from the New York Times addressed the problem of pension in Brazil. Even though the new pension policy has not been renewed in Brazil, the controversies and unsatisfactory have already started among the Brazilians. In Brazil, the average retirement age is 55 and “earning 70% of their final salary for the rest of their lives.” Most Brazilians work before their retirement and pay the pension tax for some amount based on their individual willingness. The Brazilian government spent 8.2% on pension. Despite the fact that this early retirement age has been a norm in Brazil, pension takes up to a third of government spending, which created a budget deficit. Therefore, the pension system in Brazil was no longer sustainable, as Brazil also has low credit rating and low investment grade. Many Brazilians who have worked half of their lives noticed this problem as well because what they have earned and saved was not enough for their retirement life.
Current Brazilian President Michel Temer and Congress in response planned to pass new pension legislation by having the public and private sector workers to retire at 65 for men and 62 for women, which it could prevent bankruptcy . However, this renewal would not be passed by the end of this February as President Temer had military to rein in violent crimes in Rio de Janeiro. According to the Constitution, lawmakers were prevented from making broad legal changes during any military intervention. As a result, President Temer was inhibited to make any proposal on pension this month. The new retirement age has brought a huge hostility in Brazil as some Brazilians thought that the retirement age would make them work longer. Moreover, political elites and governments have always been the one with corruption scandals, and huge amount of money has gone to the group of well-off people. Some Brazilians claimed that the government stole the money they accumulated. Strikes and protests took places to express the anger towards the new potential policy, while Brazilians also used carnivals to show their anger. The purpose of this new pension plan for President Temer was to protect the poor people who have earned a large amount of money in the public sector as large portion of well-off people were subsidized by the working poor. For the time being, the pension vote was postponed to the end of December, and President Temer also aimed to broaden corruption scandal and charged in two criminal cases.
Brazil in the media coverage has always been portrayed as a poor, unsafe, unequal, hostile and corruptive country. So did the new article. The article has addressed the pension problem with dissatisfaction toward the president and congress; protests from Brazilians, as they believed that the government took huge amount of money for their own interests; and the economy was bringing the citizens down. The media coverage gave readers an impression of Brazil was a chaotic country as people and government were not in harmony, while it is easy to ignore the splendid culture and other aspects of Brazil.
The news article addressed one of the most controversial issues on economy and politics. Many Brazilians have worked hard to save for their retirement, but the existing policy could not guarantee their lives after they ended their career. Pension is also related to Brazilians’ socioeconomic status, as money represents wealth and mobility. However, majority of the Brazilian population still struggle to live, while only a few percent are the group of well-off people. Moreover, 35% of the pension subsidies go to the richest group of people, but only 4% go to the poorest group of people. The pension system does not guarantee Brazilians’ social security. Brazil is a country that stresses racial democracy with the portrayal of Brazil grants equal opportunities to all groups of people regardless of race. Race in relation to socioeconomic status are concerns in Brazil. From the book Racism in Racial Democracy, the book presented racial issues in Vasalia, Rio de Janeiro, and some reflections of socioeconomic status. Vasalians in the book regardless of Euro-Brazilians or Afro-Brazilians, they think of their social welfare and mobility based on their socioeconomic status over the problem of race. They think of their raise in social status and power in terms of the money they have .
1 Shasta Darlington, “ Retire at 55? In Brazil, It’s the Norm. But Can the Good Times Last?” The New York Times, February 25 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/25/world/americas/brazil-pension-michel-temer.html?rref=collection%252Fsectioncollection%252Famericas.
5 France Winddance Twine, Racism in a Racial Democracy (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1998), 70.
Darlington, Shasta. “Retire at 55? In Brazil, It’s the Norm. But Can the Good Times Last?”
The New York Times, February 25, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/25/world/americas/brazil-pension-michel-temer.html?rref=collection%252Fsectioncollection%252Famericas.
Twine, France Winddance. Racism in a Racial Democracy. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers
University Press, 1998.