In a parliamentary speech delivered in January 1842, Alexis de Tocqueville he referred critically to a widespread trait, at that time, in the political customs of France. It was about the desire for public office, “a permanent object of all the ambitions of the country”, a fact that he attributed to the desire to climb the social ladder by a citizenry that had become “a herd of applicants”.
These words are strikingly topical for us. Months ago, the Center for Studies in Applied Communication (Cecap) of the Austral University released the results of an investigation that reveals that “the national State continues to be the sector chosen by Argentines to work.” The study shows that six out of ten Argentines prefer a job in the public sector, a fact that becomes more apparent among respondents with fewer resources and young people. Likewise, the study consigns, as a recurring explanation, “the peace of mind of not being fired” and the conviction that “the State is an entity that cannot go bankrupt.”
The recent modification by the Buenos Aires legislature, of the law that limited indefinite reelections, provides us with another piece of evidence. Only, in this case, the institutional impairment is added to the affection for the position. Indeed, as Nicolas Isola wrote in La Nación, by virtue of the approved regulations “a thousand insfranes will flourish” with the endorsement even of opposition legislators determined to turn their backs on an electorate that demanded limits on power and greater institutionality.
Trascartón came the scandalous session of the Senate of the Nation that modified the tax base of the tax on personal assets and provoked, among other reactions, the allusion to the need for a fiscal rebellion by deputy Espert. Imagine the scenario: a kind of urban 125 that confronts the confiscatory greed of our rulers, not excepting, by the way, the CABA government that now stands before the fiscal consensus when just after the elections did not hesitate to increase the tax pressure by adjusting tolls, VTV, metered parking and other services for inflation while ordinary citizens do not see their income adjusted according to that guideline. (A similar little gift had been given to us porteños with the approval of the stamp tax on purchases and debits by credit cards, a decision that conspires against consumption, banking, the economy in white and of course the pocket of the users .)
Among other evasions, when justifying the tax overload and the increase in public employment there is no lack (when not) of reference to the State as an instrument of development and social transformation. The expression “expenditure cuts” seems to be foreign to the vocabulary of those who hide behind this argument to continue expanding a structure and staff that seem out of all proportion: officials of different political persuasions who obviously prefer that the adjustment fall on the private sector while they spend much of their time designing new and imaginative ways to keep fleecing us. In terms of public spending, no one seems to care about the principle of reasonableness emanating from article 28 of our Constitution, since our rights are daily altered by laws that regulate their exercise. In this way, the productive sector, condemned to obey and pay, ends up assuming a sacrifice never shared by the State in its different jurisdictions.
To deal with these blunders, perhaps we need a better and more refined “societal accountability” that complements or even revitalizes the system of distribution and reciprocal control of the powers of the State, also enshrined in our Magna Carta, but which at this point has proven to be insufficient. The claim will have to come from society, from the public action of citizens who make use, for now, of their right to petition. We would probably get a more successful democracy as a result. Because, as Tocqueville wrote, although democracy does not always give rise to the most efficient government, it achieves what the latter cannot: “it spreads throughout the social body a restless activity, a superabundant force and an energy that never exist without it and that , however unfavorable the circumstances, can engender wonders.
Professor of political theory