by Nomi Prins
This weekend, millions of Brazilians took to major city streets (again) to protest the hydra of corruption gushing from Petrobras, Brazil’s largest oil company and the government amidst deepening economic recession. Calls for the impeachment of sitting Workers’ Party (PT) president (and former Chair of Petrobras), Dilma Rousseff filled the air. (I can’t wait to see the frenetic state of things when I swing by there in two weeks for talks and book research.)
It’s tempting to consider the spectacle as isolated to Brazil’s unique brand of political-corporate collusion, where pillaging state-run companies to line pockets of power players is standard practice. But that’s doesn’t do the whole story justice.
In the US, bartering government contracts or certain legislation for billions of dollars of political donations falls under the umbrella of legalized bribery, better known as campaign contributions, including via SuperPacs, the elite’s favorite political currency thanks to Citizens United. Political stars leave Washington for cushy corporate board posts or lucrative speaking engagements, sometimes en route back to DC.