Can Portugal be like Germany?
The text published here three weeks ago, on the causes of poverty and wealth of nations, caused opposite reactions: there were those who considered it right and those who thought it was wrong from the roots.
Basically, I claimed that the wealth and poverty of nations does not depend on governments but on people.
But one reader argued: «That is not true, because the Portuguese are going to work for other countries and they are great professionals. The problem is therefore not with the people but with the leaders».
Now, this argument, instead of contradicting what I wrote, confirms it.
In other words: integrated into other structures, Portuguese that work. But itself, it cannot get out of the strain.
And the history of mankind is full of such examples.
Men who lived in an almost savage state when transported as slaves to other people contributed to the development of very advanced geography.
Another reader, agreeing with the text, remembered a phrase from Adam Smith’s famous book The Wealth of Nations, written in the last quarter of the 18th century, which reads thus: “The wealth of nations is measured by the wealth of their people, more than for the wealth of their princes.”
If it were the other way around, if the development of countries depended on governments and not on peoples, a state in deep Africa that was fortunate enough to have been well governed could today be as developed as Switzerland; conversely, a country in northern Europe, which had the misfortune of being poorly governed, could currently have a per capita income lower than that of Portugal or even that of Angola.
Well, that doesn’t fit in anyone’s head…
It is curious to note that, even within countries, there are differences between the north and the south. Northern Italy is much more developed than the south. And the government is the same… It doesn’t mean that governments are totally unresponsible for the decisions they will make. Not.
But the impact of decisions is limited by the characteristics of each people, by their constructions and development. And it’s temporary; over a longer period this impact is diluted. Even the effect of revolutions is lost.
Jul, if politics hadn’t existed 25th of April, Portugal in Europe today with more democracy or less like a market economy, integrated. Or maybe even a little better, given the rivers of money that have been melting away.
Think of the many billions that entered Portugal after April 25: European funds (starting to arrive in 1981, 40 years ago), public debt accumulated during the revolution and external debt (families and companies) contracted in the same period.
Add up these values – and you get an astronomical sum, which entered the country and largely disappeared. Cities improved, it is true, roads improved, but the productive capacity did not change much – and some parts even regressed.
At our distance the advanced countries of Europe were not for us – and we were behind us by many of us. Portugal, therefore, have been better governed. But don’t think of it as a developed country like Germany.
Our problem was never money. Money has come in a lot – from Europe, in the recent past, from the East or Brazil, in a longer time. But the issue is with the people – and not with money, government or resources.
There are countries in Africa that have huge natural resources and are very backward, and without natural resources in the Netherlands, which are highly developed.
The wealth of countries lies in the ability of their people to work, in their ability to learn, in their ability to organize, in the structures they build – and which then have repercussions at all levels of society, up to the highest level: the Government. .
That’s why the young people went to an arid territory, where a miserable people lived, and there lived a rich and powerful state.
There is no example that better illustrates that this idea of the development of a country essentially depends on the capacity of its people.