Thursday, May 6, 2010

Monsoon, bureaucracy and people

This post is about Brazil, more especifically Belém, but from travels around the globe I think it applies to many (most???) developing countries as well.

As I write this I´m in line to do a medical exam necessary to quit my old job here. I've been waiting for almost 2 hours.... The place I´m at is a clinic that specializes in labor medicine. Anyone that is hired, fired, quits, changes job functions within the same firm or just needs a leave  has to come here for an "examination". The "examination" is meant to check if your physical and mental capacities are still similar to when you entered. It consists of an interview with a doctor who asks you what your job is and whether you think you can handle it. She takes your blood pressure and... that's it! At the end you get a letter saying that you are apt to do the job.

Now, can anyone tell me in what ways this makes the system more efficient? I know it is means to safe guard the employer from lawsuits regarding work conditions but I certainly don't s see how 2 questions can assess anything. As I see it this just creates one more level of bureaucracy (and, of course, the people that live off it) and helps explain why 50% of the Brazilian economy is informal. In Brazil a formal employee costs twice as much to the employer than she earns, the rest being taxes paid by the employer.

So now it's time to go to the "people" part of this post. People here already know how the system operatyes, they know they will wait for hours. So what do they do about it? They bring more people to sit in line with them and then they can entertain each other. So in line are entire families, mothers with 2-3 kids, sometimes a baby crying. Then there are couples of boyfriend/girlfriend, grandams that sit in line while the grandchild (who will do the examination) runs out for errands...

And then, without further notice the sky collapses into thunder and huge raindrops flood the street. Windows are hastely closed to keep everything from getting wet and in exchange air gets stuffier by the minute. But the rain also reminds me that there is no use in hurrying the process and even if I was called by the doctor now I'd have to wait for the rain to pass to be able to get to the nearest bus stop...

Ah, Brazil...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Brazil fascinates me and hope I can visit it some day. I am Indian and had friends and some very close freind living in Sao Paulo. One thing that fascinates me is culturally both India and Brazil are community societies. We like to be surrouded with peopel!..I read your blog and hope best for this melange of samba with sambar!