Death wishes: Brazil and Japan

From the Economist:

Death wishes

In America and Japan not burdening families with the costs of care was the highest-ranked priority, cited as extremely important by 54% and 59% respectively. (The Japanese may be worrying about the cost of funerals, which can easily reach ¥3m, or $27,000.) A third of Italians emphasised having loved ones around them. Brazil was the only country where more people said they would put extending life ahead of reducing pain and stress than the other way around.

Japan: where people live the most and do not really care about it. Brazil is the opposite.

It actually makes sense. Japanese people take a long life for granted.

‘Brazil’s fall’

Com o título acima, Dilma Rousseff estampa a capa da primeira edição da Economist em 2016. A publicação traz dois textos sobre o Brasil — um editorial e uma reportagem.

O editorial faz um resumo dos problemas do país e sugere medidas para amenizá-los. A revista acredita que Nelson Barbosa pode ter mais sucesso que Joaquim Levy em sua empreitada (por motivos semelhantes aos mencionados por Bernardo Guimarães), mas não demonstra otimismo em relação à realização das reformas necessárias.

It is therefore hard, despite Mr Barbosa’s advantages, to feel optimistic about the prospects for deep reform. Voters hold politicians in contempt. The opposition is bent on impeaching Ms Rousseff, a misguided battle that could dominate the political agenda for months. The PT has no appetite for austerity. Achieving the three-fifths support in both houses of Congress needed for constitutional reforms will be a tall order.

A reportagem basicamente aprofunda os pontos do editorial. Entre outras coisas, cita crises passadas, o papel da Constituição de 1988 nos problemas estruturais, a possibilidade de dominância fiscal e as dificuldades políticas.

They [prominent economists] forecast a “muddling-through” in which Ms Rousseff holds on to her job, Congress passes a few modest spending cuts and tax rises, including a financial-transactions levy, the Central Bank continues to fight inflation, the cheap real boosts exports and investors don’t panic. After three years of this, the theory goes, an electorate fed up with stagnation and sleaze will give the PSDB a clear mandate for change. […]

But the fact that muddling through may be possible does not mean it is assured. It hinges on the hope that politicians come to their senses more quickly than they have done in the past (witness the lost decade begun in the 1980s). It also assumes that Brazil’s penchant for consensus will hold its people back from social unrest on the sort of scale that topples regimes in other countries. The anti-government protests of 2015 were large, drawing up to a million people in a single day. But they were middle-class affairs which took place on sporadic Sundays, causing Ms Rousseff more annoyance than grief. As wages sag and unemployment rises, though, tempers could flare. If they do there will be every chance of a facile populist response that does even deeper economic damage.

Assim como o ensaio de Kenneth Maxwell publicado em agosto na New York Review of Books, a matéria da Economist oferece uma boa síntese dos recentes acontecimentos e da atual situação do Brasil. São ótimos textos para, por exemplo, enviar a amigos ou conhecidos estrangeiros que queiram se informar um pouco sobre o país.

[Atualização] O Estadão traduziu a reportagem da Economist.

O debate sobre a reorganização das escolas em São Paulo

Guilherme Lichand, na Folha:

Quem está certo, afinal? Resposta curta: não sabemos. Esse é o chamado “problema fundamental da inferência”: não observamos o mundo contrafactual em que tudo é igual, exceto a política que queremos avaliar.

A maneira mais segura e controlada de aprender a resposta seria “pilotando” a iniciativa: algumas escolas seriam sorteadas para serem reorganizadas (“grupo de tratamento”), enquanto outras não (“grupo de controle”). Em seguida acompanharíamos ao longo do tempo variáveis como frequência escolar, notas e evasão de todos os alunos, comparando aqueles cujas escolas foram reorganizadas com os demais.

Também monitoraríamos o tempo de deslocamento de casa até a escola, e as despesas da família com transporte.

[Atualização – 15/12] A Economist desta semana tem matéria e editorial sobre estudos randomizados controlados (RCT, randomised controlled trial).

Da matéria:

RCTs are being used more often to assess social policy in America, France and Scandinavia. In Britain there has been a flurry evaluating educational innovations—including one called “Teensleep”, in which the treatment group starts school at 10am (the idea is that they will learn more after a lie-in). Often the results are underwhelming, though no less important for that. A randomised experiment in New York showed that paying all teachers in a school more if their pupils do better in tests does not raise attainment.

But the emerging world remains far ahead. In Britain and America RCTs are mostly used to test minor policy tweaks, not fundamental reforms. In poorer countries, by contrast, they are being used to design welfare systems and measure corruption.

Do editorial:

To live in a modern democracy is to be experimented on by policymakers from cradle to grave. Education is intended to mould an upstanding future citizen; a prison sentence, to reshape someone who has gone astray. But without evidence, those setting policy for schools and prisons are little better than a doctor relying on leeches and bloodletting. Citizens, as much as patients, deserve to know that the treatments they endure do actually work.

Brazil’s weird justice

In Brazil, “the courts treat suspects too harshly, and convicts too leniently,” says the Economist:

Gratifying as it may be to see billionaires behind bars, some lawyers are troubled by Mr Moro’s penchant for locking up suspects before they go on trial. Most are loth to challenge a charismatic judge. Those who publicly object tend to work for one of the innumerable defence teams. All 11 directors of the comically named but serious Institute for the Defence of the Right to Defence are thus employed. Heloisa Estellita, a professor of criminal law at the Fundação Getulio Vargas Law School in São Paulo, is one of the few public critics of Mr Moro’s methods who is independent. She thinks he has wrongly “used pre-trial detention to extract plea bargains”. […]

Pre-trial detention should not be used to browbeat them into co-operating with investigations or to signal the gravity of the charges they face. The Lava Jato inquisitors deny they are doing this, but readers of Blackstone’s report will wonder. Timothy Otty, its lead author, has written human-rights opinions on behalf of Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish separatist leader, and detainees at the American prison in Guantánamo Bay. “Just as it was wrong to jettison the protection of liberty and right to fair trial as part of the war on terror, so it would be wrong in the fight against corruption,” says Mr Otty. […]

However, “the law can be as weirdly indulgent as it is harsh,” says the periodical. “Convicts are entitled to go home while they exhaust their appeals,” and that can take years.

Many critics of the system, including Mr Moro, think convicts should have to file appeals from their jail cells. That would make sense. So would an overhaul of the criminal code which left at liberty people presumed innocent and guaranteed them a fair trial.

Exagero nas prisões da Lava Jato

Diz a última edição da Economist, em texto intitulado “Weird justice”, com a linha fina “The courts treat suspects too harshly, and convicts too leniently”:

Pre-trial detention should not be used to browbeat them into co-operating with investigations or to signal the gravity of the charges they face. The Lava Jato inquisitors deny they are doing this, but readers of Blackstone’s report will wonder. Timothy Otty, its lead author, has written human-rights opinions on behalf of Abdullah Ocalan, a Kurdish separatist leader, and detainees at the American prison in Guantánamo Bay. “Just as it was wrong to jettison the protection of liberty and right to fair trial as part of the war on terror, so it would be wrong in the fight against corruption,” says Mr Otty.

Blackstone é um escritório de advocacia em Londres contratado pela defesa do empresário Marcelo Odebrecht.

A revista ainda diz que os condenados, por outro lado, podem ficar em casa enquanto recorrem das sentenças impostas e cita o caso do jornalista Antonio Pimenta Neves, ex-diretor de redação do Estado de S. Paulo, que ficou anos em liberdade antes de ser preso, em 2011, pelo assassinato da ex-namorada Sandra Gomide, que ocorreu em 2000.

Não achei tradução desse texto no site do Estadão, que tem os direitos de publicação de conteúdo da Economist em português. Talvez o jornal discorde da revista.

A Folha, por outro lado, publicou dias antes um editorial com tom semelhante:

Há sinais muito claros, contudo, de que está em curso o fenômeno da hipercorreção no sistema judicial. Procurando sanar uma evidente distorção, responsáveis pelas investigações e sobretudo magistrados têm incorrido em outro erro de grandes proporções.

Muitos dos investigados têm sido mantidos atrás das grades sem que exista nada parecido com um julgamento definitivo. A opção pelo encarceramento provisório, no entanto, só deve ser evocada quando a aplicação de medidas alternativas –suspensão da função e tornozeleira eletrônica, por exemplo– se mostrar incabível. […]

No caso específico da Lava Jato, alegações vagas sobre a possibilidade de que os réus insistam na prática dos crimes ou interfiram nas investigações têm bastado para privá-los da liberdade. […]

Tais exageros não podem continuar.