Deve-se o crescimento económico a este governo?


Uma retórica que tem sido repetida ad nauseam, faz valer a ideia de que o presente governo, com as suas políticas económico-financeiras e mais precisamente de devolução de rendimentos, e outras medidas como o abaixamento do IVA na restauração, tem sido o principal contribuidor para a retoma económica do país. Claro que com o crescimento económico e com a retoma na confiança dos consumidores, diminui-se o desemprego e a precariedade, os salários podem ser aumentados, e todos os que recebem do estado, como funcionários públicos e pensionistas podem ser, desta forma, beneficiados. Isto é natural e indubitavelmente positivo. A questão de fundo mantém-se: qual a contribuição de facto das políticas deste governo para o recente crescimento da economia? A resposta a esta pergunta deve vir, tal como exige a ciência, dos factos e não das meras opiniões.

Fui aos dados do Eurostat, e apresento-vos o crescimento económico real de Portugal, da média da União Europeia a 28 e da média da Zona Euro, desde 2006 até 2016, ou seja num período de 10 anos. E os dados não deixam dúvidas! Entre 2012 e 2014, durante o anterior governo, Portugal teve uma variação do crescimento económico muito acentuada, em comparação com os restantes países da União Europeia; já no período de 2014 a 2016, a economia de Portugal mais não faz que acompanhar o comportamento da economia europeia. Ou seja, o contributo do presente governo para as boas notícias da economia - sim, são indubitavelmente boas, na medida que há menos desemprego e funcionários públicos e pensionistas podem ter mais rendimentos com o aumento da receita fiscal - é de facto muito diminuto. Mais não seria todavia de esperar! Se o estado não é reformado, nem que seja pela via da eficiência dos processos ou com o investimento em tecnologia como fez de positivo o governo Sócrates, se a despesa pública não é cortada, se a estrutura da economia se mantém essencialmente nos serviços, muito vocacionados para o turismo por exemplo, e não na tecnologia nem nos processos e produtos industriais; é expectável, logo, que a economia portuguesa mais não faça que acompanhar o comportamento da economia europeia. De salientar em acréscimo que os principais parceiros comerciais de Portugal estão na Europa.


Why pornography and violence on media are so harmful for one's mind?


I seek humanity in mysterious ways

One of the major problems of dealing with the harmful effects of pornography, for instance, is that the individuals that seek to debate about such subject, normally put into the reasoning theological or religious precepts contaminating therefore a pure scientific approach on the subject. I will not at all on this text evoke any religious or theological arguments. There are mainly, according to psychoanalysis, three levels of driven works and thoughts in one's mind, the consciousness, the preconsciousness and the unconsciousness. All the primary instincts come mainly from the so called limbic system, and they do operate not only on the pre- and conscious level, but they are much more powerful on the unconscious level. When one fells hungry, even if one tries to counterbalance such primary instinct with a rational and logical thought, one's mind will be absorbed unconsciously by that specific feeling of hungriness and his apparently rational choice will indeed be biased by a primary instinct. It's an illusion so that the individual, in his ego, may suppose he's making a free choice purely driven by freewill. It's not a question of destiny nor fate, it's simply a drive that works on the unconscious level and bias one's apparently rational choice. Two mathematicians from the same school and with the same methodology solving the same equation most likely would use different mathematical approaches if one is immensely hungry and the other is sexually aroused. Indeed that's what defines the true human nature, a mix between logical abstraction of thoughts and primary instincts evolved from natural selection.

As Freud clearly puts it, in his Civilisation and its Discontents, people seek happiness through satisfaction of sexual and other primary instincts. The remaining people are the source of unhappiness in the sense that other people block one's primary intentions and block one's drives to seek those primary instincts. Indeed when you, an heterossexual man for example, desire a woman, the main true feeling that prevents you from copulate with her is fear. Your fear the consequences even if you don't consciously realise it. You fear her husband, her father, you fear the lawful consequences, the authorities, you fear your family or the reprimand from society. That's fear the counter psychoanalytical drive that stops you from ravish and eventually raper her. That counter force is very powerful and efficient because it works on the same level of the sexual primary instincts. As sexual drive is very powerful, fear is efficient because it uses the same primary methodology and operation, since both drives come from the limbic system and both operate on the unconsciousness. One will never admit that is fear, what truly prevents him from ravish another human being into the most primary actions like forced intercourse or even murder. This balance between two primary opposite drives, brings humanity into the society. Plato, in his Phaedrus, presents us with the same paradigm in a more philosophic and literate presentation when Socrates tell us that, when the individual is strongly in love with someone, he's like a coach pulled by two horses, a white one and a black one. The black horse pulls the individual strongly and instinctively, without concern with the status quo or social rules, towards the loved one; whilst the white horse cools down these instincts and brings rationality into the drive. Religion, as Freud puts it and Freud was an atheist, is thus a very efficient means for harmony in the society since religion normally, with the notion of guilt and sin, indeed embeds fear in one's mind. Not fear from the society but fear from an imaginary almighty father. Another religious methodology is prohibition. By simply forbidding sexual intercourse or sexual pleasure like masturbation, on so many different circumstances, and stages of life, religion was efficient in bringing harmony into the society. If it is true for the majority, indeed religion brought as well tremendous attacks for the freedom of the individual, even if such freedom is only partially apparent. And one of the most iniquitous attacks performed by religion, is the freedom of thought.

If she, the hypothetical lusty lady, doesn't want you, and you, a heterossexual man as a mere example, do not fear her father, husband, family or law, because you are either brave or mad, you most likely will have then the consequences through another primary feeling: pain. Either the father or the husband will beat you, either you will be incarcerated or you'll be ostracised by your family, friends or society; in any case the consequences are the painful effects that such violence, lack of liberty or ostracisation implies. Obviously the majority of the people are civilised, and through the smoothly abolition of fear, respecting all the cultural and societal rules, the majority of the men engage therefore romantically and sexually with a partner through socially acceptable means. But that demands time and effort, whilst technology provides immediate sexual pleasure through pornography. Why losing time and effort for the same sexually intense pleasurable goal? If one can obtain the same intense sexual satisfaction, as a pure voyer of sexual intercourse, being completely sure that one disguises oneself as being a totally anonymous viewer, the fear fully disappears remaining only the guilty and the sinful thoughts brought by religion and education. If one has no religious beliefs or one doesn't have them as being that important or relevant, one most likely will let oneself be absorbed by those consequences-free and immediate sexual pleasures. Pornography pays then back, as it provides the viewer a powerful sexual satisfaction without fearful or painful consequences. Then, you know you may advance, since nothing stopped you from that specific primary satisfaction. Therefore you seek the next step of satisfaction, either by seeking more violent sexual intercourses or more humiliating scenes for the passive actor or actress. The common and exemplary sexual intercourse doesn't satisfy you anymore. Your wife or girlfriend doesn't satisfy you anymore which may also explain the enormous divorce rate in western societies. Then you seek younger or more sexually attractive actresses to see, even more beautiful or voluptuous than the previous ones, since the previous do not satisfy you anymore. What would stop you according to psychoanalysis? Fear or pain, and you have neither. The borderline to reach pathology, vice or unlawful media content might be easily reached, since nothing is able to stop those ravish instincts. Since sexuality and violence play on the some level on the primary instincts, because in the Paleolithic and a feature common to most mammals, sexual intercourse was made most likely through the use of violence against other males; you'll seek more violent movies, series or video games, since the previous ones become boring, i.e., without the violent content that truly satisfy you. You'll tend to go into extreme ideologies too, since fear from other individuals was also brought from this mix of instincts and all this media content has distorted your notion of the outer realm. Probably either you'll start to defend extreme left ideologies and you'll start to hate all the human beings that have more money or power than you, being those the potential male competitors in the Paleolithic which you have to kill to obtain power and females; or you'll tend to extreme right and you'll start to hate and despise immigrants and minorities, since violent instincts haven taken your thoughts.

Why trains are more expensive to use than airplanes or buses?


The true and crude answer to this question is politics. It's far from being technical. Airplanes and buses emit a lot of CO2 and pollutants through the burning of fossil fuel and these externalities are not totally paid by the passengers. Trains are by default electric, which in cases like Europe, that electricity may come from wind power or hydro energy sources. Furthermore in airplanes there's a lot of competition, the business is very active and the non-profitable routes are by default not made or shutdown. Of course, the means through which the vehicle travels in the airplane industry, in this case the "free air", also allow higher flexibility for changing routes and lowering costs. In trains nonetheless, the state imposes routes to small cities and places that provide huge deficits to the company, according to what the state considers the public interest. The means through which the train travels are either not free, and normally these rails are owned by a single company which may almost impose its prices. Regulators also oblige trains to have a lot of staff, which in many cases is superfluous due to technology, even the machinist is redundant nowadays, like it is clear in many new train systems. A third of the train ticket might just go to pay high salaries for the train staff, even if many collaborators are not that specialised, like by merely selling or checking tickets. We talk now and then about self-driving cars, when such technology would be technically much easier to operate in trains, due to the moving restriction imposed by the rails.

In a short, the socialist way of looking into the transportation sector made trains less competitive with the airplane and with the automobile, which is a technical paradox, considering the huge costs of operating an airline and the enormous costs of the road network and infrastructures. Though in the airlines industry the market is very active, companies come and go, competition is ferocious, which forces prices to go down, without losing on safety. Indeed travelling on the high competitive private airlines is safer per passenger-distance than travelling on the highly subsidised public trains. In Europe that is clear, as the big train companies are almost all public and the airplane companies are almost all private. Furthermore the car driver is far away from paying the true externalities of automobile usage. Contrary to what drivers often say, cars are highly subsidised with public funds for roads and highways, very expensive viaducts, tunnels, semaphorisation, police road patrols or paramedics, not excluding the high economic costs car users don't pay with the huge car fatalities on roads. And that economic distortion provokes a low cost for car usage which also contributes to the high price of trains, since trains also compete with cars. And if car usage were more expensive, train usage would be more intensive and the train price per passenger-distance would be lower. Trains also allow higher comfort as compared to airplanes since there's no need to check-in or go through security control and normally train station are in the city center, not in the suburbs.

Again the answer to the question is politics. Further, trains have a "politico-economical defect" as, contrary to cars or airplanes, the majority doesn't run on petrol. By being independent from fossil fuels and being extremely efficient on energy consumption per passenger-distance, the train system provoked a setback to the economic paradigm based on consumption, mainly fossil fuels. Trains may be thirty times more efficient than cars, when energy is compared per passenger-distance and for standard vehicle occupancy, the energy in trains being normally electricity, which means trains are also much less pollutant. Thus, a true environmentalist doesn't promote electric cars, promotes electric trains, as trains consume much less energy per passenger-distance. And if trains are not flexible for small routes, like cars are, they are very efficient for passenger transportation between cities, now more than ever, as cities become more compact, dense and with more population. I.e., trains make economic sense between urban areas with high density of population, and cities in the last centuries demonstrated a tendency to become more compact. Trains also occupy much less space for transporting people, as compared with cars or buses, theoretically lowering costs, since land is an expensive asset in urban areas. So why are trains so much expensive, when compared for example with buses or airplanes? As stated, whilst buses and airplanes companies are mainly private without impositions from the state to operate on routes which have financial deficit, trains are obliged to do so. Trains normally run without concurrency and thus the companies may apply any tariff. The staff in many cases has benefits comparable to public servants, which means there's less labour flexibility as compared with the other private sector transport companies. And buses run also on highly subsidised motor-ways, since bus users are also far way from paying the true costs of road construction and usage.

In a short whilst the technical grounds tell us trains should be much cheaper, politics made trains unreasonably expensive. By the promotion of fossil fuels and an economic paradigm based on consumerism as the key factor for economic growth, highly inefficient means of transport such as the automobile had to be promoted, and efficient means of transport such as the bicycle for urban transport or the train for inter-city transport had to be demoted or even socially ostracised. The ideological approach made by the states was the most efficient one, since sophistic and pseudo-humanitarian argumentations would be highly valuable by the public opinion, forcing then train companies, normally public owned or with a high amount of regulations and impositions by the state, to have a low margin for profit. Yield management for instance is a common practise in all airliners, but not in all train companies. The states, mainly in the western world, also made huge and enormous public investments on roadways, practically neglecting investment on new railway. By being extremely safe, efficient and environmentally friendly, the train is undoubtedly the transport of the future. Let the politicians provide the train the same economic means and economic players we see operating in the bus or airline companies, and the prices will go down sharply and quality of the service will rise up. If we force a system for the railway more based on political, romantic or ideological approaches, and not based on technical and pragmatical points of view, we'll always have a decaying means of transport, even if the technical evidences per se tell us that train is one of the best, when analysing energy efficiency, safety, confort and emissions, system of passenger transportation.