OPINION A Brazil Sticks With Statism

Monday, October 27, 2014 | A17
Brazil Sticks With Statism
São Paulo
n economic recession, inflation running at 6.7% and
revelations of an audacious
skimming scheme at the stateowned oil company Petrobras
were not enough to deny Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff re-election
to a second term on Sunday.
With 99% of the vote counted,
the incumbent led with 51.56% of
the vote against challenger Aécio
Neves, of the Social Democratic
Party of Brazil,
with 48.44%.
Ms. Rousseff
ran as the antimarket,
welfare-state canwhich
AMERICAS didate,
may be why she
By Mary
fared far better
in the poor, deO’Grady
pendent north
than she did in the prosperous
agricultural heartland and here
in Brazil’s largest city, where the
economy relies heavily on services and value-added manufacturing.
Like the U.S., Brazil has its
upper-class, urban voters who
feel virtuous backing state intervention in other peoples’ lives
and supporting Cuba’s military
dictatorship. But there is also an
aspirational Brazil—which is
made up of risk-taking entrepreneurs, globally competitive farmers and a rising middle class
that hungers for greater engagement with the world. These Brazilians badly want the change
Mr. Neves represented. They
made Sunday’s contest the closest in Brazilian history.
Like the proverbial dog that
caught the car, Ms. Rousseff now
has to figure out what to do with
her next four years. She may believe she can further the consolidation of PT power—her highest
goal—if she sticks to the policy
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff after voting in Porto Alegre, Oct. 26.
mix she has been using thus far,
no matter the cost to the economy. Alternatively, she could
make pragmatic economic adjustments with the goal of restoring
confidence and growth.
The latter is certainly possible. But it is unlikely because
the party militants, who have
fattened up during PT rule, want
more power, not less. She may
utter some conciliatory statements and in the short run take
some small steps that favor liberty, just as her PT mentor, former President Lula da Silva
(2003-10), did when he first took
office in order to calm markets
that were plummeting out of
fear. But Lula soon reverted to
Odds are that Ms. Rousseff
will do the same, making Brazil’s
legendary reputation for mediocrity safe for another four years.
Only if a criminal investigation
proves that Ms. Rousseff and
Lula knew about the graft at
Petrobras are things likely to go
The great irony of the campaign is that while Ms. Rousseff
and Lula claimed the credit for
Brazil’s turn-of-the-century revival, they both opposed the reforms of the 1990s. The privatization of state companies, the
limited opening to foreign competition, and the 1994 “Brazilian
real” currency plan to defeat hyperinflation all stimulated development and made more generous welfare programs, the
trademark of the PT, possible.
But the PT never followed
through on those reforms and
the “Brazilian miracle” died in
the crib. At best the country
runs in the middle of the emerging-market pack. More often it
brings up the rear.
Neither Lula nor Ms. Rousseff
seem to care about development.
According to Goldman Sachs,
spending grew at almost 8% a
year, in real terms, which was
more than twice the rate of GDP
growth. Inflation is now 7%
year-over-year on prices for
goods and services not regulated
by price controls and 8.6% for
services alone. Inflationary expectations are rising.
Ms. Rousseff thought she
could fix the problem by capping
BOOKSHELF | By Martin Rubin
the price of gasoline, which is
supplied by Petrobras, and of
ethanol, which is made by local
sugar mills and used to make
flex-fuel. But since production
costs are not capped, Petrobras
and the sugar mills are sustaining large losses. Some sugar
mills are already bankrupt and
others that I talked to said they
won’t survive if the policy continues.
The PT boasts about helping
the poor with welfare but what
it gives with one hand it takes—
and more—with the other. Rising
protectionism, steep payroll and
consumption taxes, lousy infrastructure and heavy labor regulation are hidden costs that
make all Brazilians worse off.
More worrying is the damage
the PT might do to institutions
and the rule of law over another
48 months. Civil society here
jealously guards civil liberties
and pluralism. But as one astute
businessman told me, “We are
noticing, bit by bit, a trend toward copying Argentina, Bolivia
and Ecuador. The tendency is to
reduce democracy.” One example
is Ms. Rousseff’s May decree
empowering “popular councils,”
which would move the country
away from representative democracy à la Venezuela. Congress has so far refused to approve the measure but if the
usual vote-buying goes on, that
may change.
This is creepy for anyone who
has read history. As the 18thcentury political philosopher David Hume observed, “It is seldom that liberty of any kind is
lost all at once.” Today Mrs.
Rousseff is a politician who won
an election. But Brazilians may
someday learn that the oneparty state and indefinite rule
are the real long-term projects
of the PT.
Write to O’[email protected]
Beijing’s Hong Kong Disinformation
fficials in Beijing claim
they’re doing more for democracy in Hong Kong
than Britain ever did in colonial
days. “In 150 years, the country
that now poses as an exemplar of
democracy gave our Hong Kong
compatriots not one single day of
it,” declares an editorial in the
Communist Party
organ People’s Daily.
It’s pure
with the
By L. Gordon
era of Mao
Chinese officials have fought
against self-governance for Hong
Kong, even threatening to invade
if London extended democratic
freedoms to the people of Hong
Kong. Beijing’s resistance underscores the significance of the deal
it negotiated with Britain in the
1980s pledging democracy for
Hong Kong after the handover in
1997. Reneging on this commitment led hundreds of thousands
of demonstrators to take to Hong
Kong’s streets.
According to recently declassified British records, Beijing
warned London against democracy in Hong Kong soon after the
communists took power on the
mainland in 1949. In 1958 Premier Zhou Enlai opposed “a plot
or conspiracy to make Hong
Kong a self-governing dominion
like Singapore.” He warned that
“China would regard any move
toward dominion status as a very
unfriendly act. China wished the
present colonial status of Hong
Kong to continue with no change
In 1960 Chinese officials went
further: “We shall not hesitate to
take positive action to have Hong
Kong, Kowloon and the New
Territories liberated” if Britain
permitted “self-government.”
Margaret Thatcher was taken
aback when she encountered
fierce opposition from Deng Xiaoping during the handover negotiations. According to the minutes of
a key 1982 meeting, made public
last year, Thatcher told the Chinese leader that “her duty, which
she felt deeply, was to reach a
result acceptable to the people of
Hong Kong.” She reminded him
that even with limited democracy,
Hong Kong already had “a political system which was very different from that of China.”
Deng responded by warning
Britain not to make any changes
that would raise expectations for
democracy. He warned that “if
there were very large disturbances in the next 15 years, the
Chinese government would be
forced to reconsider the time and
formula” for the handover.
This is the backdrop for the
promise Britain managed to extract in the 1984 Joint Declaration, which pledged “one country,
two systems,” and in Hong Kong’s
post-handover Basic Law ensuring
“universal suffrage.” It also helps
explain why Beijing denounced
the last British governor, Chris
Patten, as a “serpent” and a
“prostitute for 1,000 years” for his
modest democratic reforms. This
year’s Umbrella Movement protests were provoked by China’s
August announcement that in
2017 it will continue its current
practice of permitting only Beijing
loyalists to run for chief executive.
Declassified records show
China always opposed
democracy, even when
Hong Kong was a colony.
Lawyers at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law this month published a
detailed analysis of the treaties
and laws relating to Hong Kong
democracy. They concluded that
Britain, as cosignatory to the
Joint Declaration, has “clear
standing” to object to violations.
They show China agreed that the
International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights applies in
Hong Kong. That “means both the
right to be elected as well as the
right to vote,” the United Nations
Human Rights Committee declared last week.
The British lawyers also noted
the Basic Law promises “orderly
progress” toward open elections.
The risks of delay, they write,
include “civil disorder in Hong
Kong, loss of confidence among
Hong Kong people in the system
of governance, and loss of international confidence in the commercial and investment environment in Hong Kong.”
Hong Kong’s Beijing-selected
chief executive, C.Y. Leung, gave
interviews last week opposing the
right to vote as well as the right
to run. “If it’s entirely a numbers
game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in
Hong Kong who earn less than
[US]$1,800 a month,” he said.
“Then you would end up with
that kind of politics and policies.”
Contrary to Mr. Leung’s remark, most Hong Kong people are
proud of their free markets,
economic mobility and low, flat
income tax, which exempts most
In a free election, Hong Kong
people would select candidates
who pledge to protect Hong
Kong’s independent judiciary and
free press, restore its apolitical
civil service and end favoritism
for Beijing-friendly companies.
Chinese officials fear that democracy in Hong Kong could
encourage mainlanders to demand more freedoms for themselves. They oppose self-governance in Hong Kong for the same
reason they always have: They
know their repressive control
could not survive a democratic
vote—in Hong Kong or anywhere
else in China.
The Other Senate Nuclear Option
The midterms might
mean finally ending
Harry Reid’s blockade
of Yucca Mountain.
the one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour fee earlier this year, in
response to a court order.
Mr. Reid has unleashed his particular brand of heavy-handed
politics to get his way on Yucca
Mountain. As majority leader, he
applied pressure on President
Obama’s appointees at the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission to secure
commissioners who advanced his
agenda. The NRC chairman who
pulled the plug on Yucca Mountain
was Gregory Jaczko, a former Senate aide to Mr. Reid.
Just over a year after the administration scuttled the project
in early 2010, the Government
Accountability Office issued a
report saying the Yucca Mountain
uch is at stake as Americans vote on Nov. 4.
While different races
have different issues, the nuclearenergy world is watching to see
which party will control the
Senate. If Majority Leader Harry
Reid becomes minority leader, he
would likely no longer be able to
sustain opposition to Yucca
Mountain, the Energy Department’s chosen nuclear repository.
On Oct. 16 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued its Yucca
Mountain Safety Evaluation Report 3, stating that the facility
meets the government’s long-term
regulatory and safety requirements as a nuclear-waste repository, including the benchmark of
remaining safe for a million years.
The report is a culmination of
decades of scientific and technical
studies showing the underground
facility in south-central Nevada to
be safe and secure for storing
spent fuel and other nuclear
waste. Yet after nearly 30 years of
study, at a cost of over $15 billion,
Yucca Mountain is stuck in political gridlock.
The idea of a national usednuclear-fuel repository was conceived in 1987 in an amendment
to the 1982 Waste Policy Act, and
Yucca Mountain was approved by
Congress in 2002. In 2011, however, the Obama administration
yanked the project’s funding.
The president had plenty of
help. Nevada Sen. Reid has made
it his business to personally kill
Yucca Mountain. This was despite
the fact that ratepayers across
the U.S. who use nuclear energy
had already contributed $31 billion to the project—until Energy
Secretary Ernie Moniz suspended
shutdown was not only strictly
political, but would also set back
used-fuel storage efforts by two
decades. As the New York Times
reported at the time, “The Obama
administration did not provide a
technical or scientific basis for
shutting down the site and failed
to plan or identify risks associated with its hasty closure.”
The Tennessee Valley Authority—which operates two nuclear
plants in Tennessee and one in
Alabama—has a deep commitment to producing safe, reliable
and affordable nuclear energy for
its customers. Over the last four
decades, ratepayers in the Tennessee Valley who rely on the
TVA and local power-supply companies paid about $53 million a
year to the Energy Department to
fund a used nuclear-fuel repository. TVA isn’t alone. All told, 100
nuclear reactors in 31 states produce 20% of the total electricity
in the U.S. Nuclear is a vital part
of our nation’s energy mix as we
seek enhanced energy security
and lower carbon emissions.
Pursuant to federal law, the
government was directed to begin
providing storage for spent
nuclear fuel in 1998. That didn’t
happen. As a result, reactor
owner-operators began suing the
federal government for its failure
to begin picking up and storing
the waste. The government has
lost every one of the lawsuits.
Now the Treasury has to reimburse reactor owners for the
expense of on-site storage. The
current cost to the taxpayer for
the government’s failure to establish a national repository is estimated to be $20 billion, and
growing at a rate of $500 million
each year.
As House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton said
when the 2011 GAO report on
Yucca Mountain was released, “It
is alarming for this administration to discard 30 years of
research and billions of taxpayer
dollars spent, not for technical or
safety reasons, but rather to
satisfy temporary political calculations.”
Nuclear energy is here to stay.
It is safe, environmentally
friendly, affordable and good for
the economy, jobs and manufacturing. But the nation needs a
safe repository for used nuclear
fuel. When Americans go to vote
next month, they have a chance to
tell Sen. Reid and Democrats in
Washington what they think
about people who have seized
Yucca Mountain and turned it into
a political tool at a huge cost to
taxpayers and the environment.
Mr. McCullough is a former
chairman of the Tennessee Valley
Authority and was mayor of
Tupelo, Miss. He is now a consultant to energy corporations.
Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson
By Elizabeth Maslen
(Northwestern, 556 pages, $40)
f anyone today reads the British novelist Margaret
Storm Jameson (1891-1986)—or is even aware of her
existence—the reason may be her resurrection in the
early 1980s by Virago Press, when she was herself in her
90s and had long since stopped writing. An imprint
dedicated to reviving women authors could hardly have
omitted a writer who had provided the literature of her
age with such bulk: 65 books, most of them novels, many
commercially successful.
In “Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson,” Elizabeth
Maslen, a research fellow at the University of London,
makes rather large claims for Jameson’s work. She groups
her with literary “iconoclasts” who go about “dissecting
the received wisdoms of their own and the preceding age
from a woman’s point of view.” Her novels, Ms. Maslen
writes, “are always broad in scope, never tied to the
purely provincial,
and she is unafraid, like Honoré
de Balzac, of analyzing unpleasant
characters. She
reveals her contemporary world, warts
and all. Her sense of
the universal
embedded in the
particular is reminiscent of Stendhal.”
The enthusiasm is
welcome but goes too
far. Although Jameson
writes well and
displays a feeling for
her characters and the
society they live in, it is risible to
compare her to Balzac or Stendhal—or to Vera Brittain
and Rebecca West, two of her contemporaries whose
achievement Ms. Maslen regards as roughly similar to
Jameson’s own. Jameson is at her best in “A Cup of Tea
for Mr. Thorgill” (1957), an exposé of communist intrigue
at postwar Oxford, and in “The Green Man” (1952), a
family saga that is also a novel of ideas. In those works
and in some of her stories, she shows wit and irony and
breathes life into overworked forms. From our vantage,
she can also be seen as proto-feminist in her concern for
women trapped in relationships or worried over their
proper role. But for all her occasional virtuosity, the
world she conjures can now feel a bit dated.
We are likely to infer from “Life in the Writings of
Storm Jameson” that the wealth of unpleasant
characters in Jameson’s work has something to do with
her own less than attractive personality: prickly, worldweary, often just plain sour. Yet, as Ms. Maslen shows,
Jameson had the power to attract other writers to her—
Rebecca West said that she considered her a sort of
sister. And Jameson had a selfless side. She was a champion of newcomers, such as Arthur Koestler and Czeslaw
Milosz, and her public stands against censorship and
Storm Jameson began writing novels because
it ‘was the simplest way to earn money when
you have a young child keeping you at home.’
totalitarianism are laudable for their intensity. (She
served as president of Britain’s Society of Authors and
of PEN International.) Her long-lasting second marriage
to Guy Chapman, a distinguished professor of French
history, took her to the U.S. and to France for extended
periods. She is certainly one of the least parochial of
British writers, and some of her works are set in France
and depict the character of French life.
Yet she never lost the indelible plain-spokenness and
direct manner of her native Yorkshire, where she was
born to a maritime family: Her grandfather was a ship
owner and her father a sea captain. Her childhood was
traumatic, dominated by a controlling mother who, she
said, thrashed her repeatedly. This experience surely
contributed to her rather difficult personality, although,
surprisingly, she did develop a strong family feeling. The
loss of her brother as a pilot in World War I was a key
to her life-long pacifism, and the death of her sister in a
bombing raid in 1943 was a painful wound. Her sense of
commitment to her only child, a son from a disastrous
early marriage, led her to support him—financially and
in other ways—through many difficulties in his career
and personal life.
As Ms. Maslen shows with perhaps too much fidelity,
Jameson was often preoccupied with money—or the lack
of it. We see her begging for advances, complaining of
the unremunerated time involved in writing a long
novel, proposing that collections or reprints be published to generate more income. The effect is one of
tireless moaning and, for the reader, a certain
bafflement. After all, Jameson’s books sold well enough.
Early in her career she was recruited by Blanche Knopf,
who, with her husband, Alfred, remained her steadfast
supporters (and publishers).
Looking at Jameson’s career, you can see the particular value of that long-lost figure, the productive midlist
author: One of her books was even the featured choice
of the Book of the Month Club. Ms. Maslen does not really explain Jameson’s cry of poverty beyond emphasizing her sense of obligation to sundry family members.
Was Britain’s punitive tax system perhaps to blame?
In her brusque way, Jameson attributed her vast
output to financial need. In an introduction to the Virago edition of “Women Against Men”—a gathering of
three novellas from the 1930s—the poet Elaine Feinstein
wrote that, when she met Jameson in Cambridge in 1981,
Jameson insisted that she had “only written novels for
money because writing was the simplest way to earn
money when you have a young child keeping you at
Clearly there was more to Jameson’s writing career
than churning out potboilers, even if her first novel was
called “The Pot Boils” (1919). But there is a thinness, a
want of texture, to her fiction that may well reflect her
dispirited attitude toward life. Her books of
autography—“No Time Like the Present” (1933) and
“Journey From the North” (1969-70)—leave one longing
for more about her inner life. Ms. Maslen says that her
own aim, in her biography, is “to allow [Jameson’s]
personality to emerge from her letters and from
comments by her friends.” A few of those who knew
Jameson discovered both loyalty and understanding, but
the reader of “Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson”
may be forgiven for feeling some reservations about the
woman we see groaning her way through a long and
what should have been a rewarding life.
Mr. Rubin is a writer in Pasadena, Calif.
By Glenn McCullough Jr.
Of Stendahl