Brazil

Life Behind Bars

What happens when a government starts to run out of money? What are they able to cut out?

This is what I noticed when I was living in Brazil…

First, goes the parks people. No one is cutting the grass, raking the leaves, pruning the bushes and planting flowers. In terms of importance for human survival and protection, these things become secondary.

Then, once things like the park’s budget have been cut. Big decisions have to be made. When government officials have to decide whether to keep paying for programs that they have a financial interest in (like state-run businesses) or the police staff, the police staff gets cut.

A smaller than necessary police force, leads to higher unemployment, more homeless people, higher crime and higher insecurity. This then creates a few situations…

1) Rich people live in their cars. They don’t walk outside so they don’t have to worry about being chased down by a homeless person.

2) The homeless own the streets without police. No one is there to punish “petty” crime, like phones or wallets getting robbed from people at gunpoint.

3) So, non-homeless or people like you and me are jailed up, hiding from the homeless who are free to roam the streets.

In Porto Alegre, Brazil, where I was living for the month of May, I had 4 doors between me and the outside: 1) a gate from the sidewalk to get into a small patio sized area in front of the apartment building 2) a door to get into the building itself 3) one wrought iron gate in front of the front door of the apartment and 4) one door to the actual apartment.

As Americans, we take for granted so much of what we have. We have become accustomed to how we live day in and day out. We forget to lock the front door. We leave our purse sitting out in the chair next to where we are sitting in a restaurant. We trust a stranger to watch our suitcases at the airport, while we make a quick trip to the bathroom.

There is a level of security in the US that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. And me, like you, find ourselves forgetting to be thankful for the great infrastructure, police and general sense of comfort that we have.

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