Dispatches from the road: Sao Paulo

I am here. One of the side effects – benefits – of marrying a Brazilian. Especially one that misses her country a bunch.

Sao Paulo is an egregiously large city. 10 million in the city – in an area of 1523.0 square kilometres or about the size of the Moncton CA ( 2177 square kilometres). Imagine squeezing in 10 million people from Memramcook to Salibury. You´ve got yourself a visual image. To make things even more sizeable, there are 19 million people living in the metro area – an area smaller than the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Every time I come I am amazed at its size. From the air it looks three or four times larger than New York City becuase the majority of people live in high rise buildings. Maybe Mexico City or Tokyo look like this – but I have never been those hamlets.

It´s a gritty place where the fabulously wealthy live among the poor. Sao Paulo has the least poverty of any third word city (as a percentage of total population) but it still has a large share of poverty.

One day, I´ll have someone tell me the definition of ´poverty´. According to Wikipedia, about 9% of São Paulo’s population live below the poverty line.

That means there less poverty here – than in New Brunswick – in relative terms.

Somehow I think the definition of poverty line must vary based on where you are standing.

Anyway, not much to say from down here. No Al Hogan. No Tanker. No Ignatieff here. Just about 100 people per square foot trying to get by.

And as for national unity, everyone has a dozen flags or more (Sheila Copp´s cousin must be doling them out right and left) – hanging from windows, cars, worn on clothes, hanging on walls, etc. Sure it´s the World Cup but for some strange reason these folks are intensly nationalistic – not forced by government but by some sense of nationalness which I can´t quite put my finger on but it cuts across ethnicity (Brazil is the most multicultural country in the world), gender, class, employment.

Canada, in my opinion, has much less sense of nationalness than at least some other countries I have spent time in. 98% of Americans polled identified themselves first as Americans and then as Texans, southerners, etc. Only about 50% or so of Canadians felt the same way. The rest identified themselves first as Quebecker, Albertan, Newfoundlander, etc. and then second as Canadian.

I don´t know what that means. Or if it´s even important. But somewhere down inside (without a good, logical reason why) I think we need to work a little more on a sense of national unity. And it takes more than flags (Sheila) and a lot more than forced wealth redistribution.

In my opinion.

But I stake no claim to an expertise in this area – it´s way off my beaten track.

But worthy of someone~s attention, me thinks.

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0 Responses to Dispatches from the road: Sao Paulo

  1. scott says:

    You’re right, it’s based on a line, but unfortunately, most countries do not enjoy the
    benefits of social programs like Canada (universal healthcare, etc) when not employed. Consequently, they do have other things to be proud of. As I mentioned in my TJ article today, Brazil is a world leader in the ethanol industry.

    Their industry comes down to tax and loan incentives which prohibit the construction of critical infrastructure needed to turn the country’s profuse supply of sugar into a workable fuel for all vehicles. That is probably because their country heavily subsidizes their auto industry so as to develop cars and trucks that run strictly on pure ethanol. As a result, they have over 3 million pure ethanol vehicles on the road and are the world’s leading producer at 12 to 18 billion litre per year.

    It’s too bad we couldn’t have that type of a growth industry right here in NB. We have the unused land to grow corn. Anyway, if you get the chance, make sure you tell us how the pollution situation is there compared with say Toronto, San Diego or New York. It would be great to have a firsthand analysis.

    By the way, thanks for your help with that article. The stats on agriculture cameinto good use. Unfortunately, the editor cut it out. Have a great vacation.

  2. Access Riverview says:

    Hi Dave!!
    I am glad you are enjoying your trip to the tropics…
    As a Brazilian (and paulista), I am also glad that you are taking notes and making an economical analysis of my dear country and city. Now you understand why I get so upset by “some things” around here!
    Love you all!
    PS: the Association is up and running! See if you can find good opportunities for us in terms of research and government deals.