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Why Americans Should Care About the Riots in Brazil

By: Ryan Hildebrand - Jun 25, 2013, 12:47 am

It is my experience that the citizens of the United States of America are generally isolated from world events, on the whole. This could be due to a number of reasons, be it the classical isolationism which has defined the United States for much of its history, or geographic distance from many parts of the rest of the world. Regardless of the reason, Americans remain ignorant of many things beyond their own borders.

Recently, though, events in Brazil have occurred, of which Americans should take note.

“Why should Americans care what happens in Brazil?” one might ask. Well, I believe that events happening in Brazil could presage how things may unfold at home, as massive spending, inflation, and government waste pile in heaps upon the American people in record amount with each successive administration. Add to this particular government controls over some aspects of the economy, and this could be a recipe for disaster.

So, what exactly is happening in Brazil currently? I, unfortunately, am not physically present in Brazil to witness the civic unrest, leaving me to pour over news reports via the internet, as local or national television news is lacking on details. I’ve had to tease out facts which are relevant from each article I read to find out what is actually occurring.

Often, I find reporters focus on sensationalism (such as “X number of rioters injured or killed by police today”), rather than the why of the situation, as if these protesters appeared out of the ether like imps to cause havoc. It appears that these massive riots (now being numbered in the millions of participants across the country) started with a response to a governmental increase in the cost of public transportation tickets. While this issue was not a new one (protesters have previously picketed about cost increases), this time around it has become the proverbial spark which lit the fire.

Although this anti-price hike protest was the beginning, it is far from the end. Even rolling back the bus ticket prices has not placated the populace. In fact, if anything, this move has emboldened the citizenry, as they now have a stage from which to be heard. Pleas that wouldn’t be unfamiliar to Americans are now being given, such as governmental corruption, overspending on events like the upcoming World Cup, and a crumbling infrastructure, all worsened by increasing taxes, regulations, governmental snooping on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and excessive responses by state security forces, euphemistically utilized to “keep the peace.”

If this sounds slightly familiar to Americans, it should. The Patriot Act allows for spying on Americans, in a warrant-less manner, similar to what the Brazilian people are now experiencing. Waste of state “revenue” (read: taxes, fees, and fines) through over-regulation, favoritism, over-lapping bureaucracies and anti-free market principles has made the citizenry wary in many instances.

The main difference I see between the United States and Brazil is one of degree and direction. The United States has slowly crept towards a strong statist, authoritarian style of governance, while Brazil has vacillated between episodes of military dictatorship, monarchy, and republican forms of government that have been more parochial in nature all along. The American people should pay attention to Brazil, lest they also fall into a similar boat.

Ryan Hildebrand Ryan Hildebrand

Dr. Ryan Hildebrand is a college instructor in New Orleans, Louisiana, and co-host of The Neo and Wim Show. You can follow his personal blog, NOLA City Blues, and his Twitter @NOLACityBlues. Read more of his featured PanAm Post column, "Self-Ownership."