Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Race and Regionalism in the Politics of Taxation in Brazil and South Africa

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

Race and Regionalism in the Politics of Taxation in Brazil and South Africa

Article excerpt

Race and Regionalism in the Politics of Taxation in Brazil and South Africa

Evan S. Lieberman

Cambridge University Press, 2001

The author compares and contrasts the taxation systems of Brazil and South Africa. These two countries make an interesting comparison because, as the author observes, "When former exiles Nelson Mandela and Fernando Henrique Cardosa were elected presidents of South Africa and Brazil in 1994, the poor and largely black majorities in both countries had good reason to be hopeful. Both men had been outspoken critics of prior authoritarian regimes, socioeconomic inequality, and persistent racial discrimination in their respective countries. Yet these new presidents soon discovered that they had inherited very different states." In South Africa under apartheid rule, the whites had established a sound system of government and of taxation, and whites continued to pay the overwhelming part of the taxes collected by government even after the takeover of government by the black majority. In Brazil, long praised for its racial diversity, the economy still lay primarily in the hands of the whiter element, but matters were managed in a more duplicitous manner, and the same duplicitous character of the government extended to the way taxes were applied and collected - or not collected. The success or failure of these two economies, the largest in southern Africa and the largest in Latin America, is of worldwide importance, and the study undertaken in this book is therefore of international significance.

What emerges as a remarkable result of this study is that the racial unity of the whites in South Africa, prior to the collapse of apartheid, had encouraged a sense of responsibility toward the less successful, and even to the subordinate black population - a culture of fiscal responsibility, if you will, which at least until the present has survived the loss of political power. …

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