Workers in Brazil are being given money to spend on culture. Yes, people are being paid entertain themselves. It’s a pretty awesome deal, only available to those making minimum wage. But why is there a need for such a program?
“In all developed countries, culture plays a key role in the economy,” Culture Minister Marta Suplicy said in a nationally-televised interview. And Brazil wants those with lower incomes to be able to experience all that the country has to offer. Middle-class folks don’t need to be given stipends to go to museums or to buy books. They have an extra $20 that they can scrape up. Many people don’t, and this opens the door for new opportunities.
The program makes a lot of sense in how it is organized. Employers are in charge of distributing electronic cards with the money on them, and each minimum wage worker will get $25 a month to spend on movies, music, and other cultural activities. Employers can decide if higher-paid workers receive payments, too.
Given the fact that entertainment costs keep rising, $25 seems like a good amount of money to dish out. It’s a movie for two people, really. And you’d have to sneak in your own food. Or you could go to the museum with your spouse – but only on cheap night. Really, $25 doesn’t go very far – and yet, a bit of money to spend on culture is better than having the funds to do nothing.
Under this program, employers will cover 90 per cent of the costs of the electronic card. The employee is responsible for the other 10 per cent, though they can opt out if they would like. But who in their right mind would opt out of spending two dollars and fifty cents when it means receiving ten times that amount for doing nothing?
I don’t see us adopting a similar program anytime soon, but I think it would be nice if we put more of an emphasis on “culture” and making sure that everyone has access to the rich variety of experiences, activities, and opportunities that Canadian culture has to offer. There’s no reason why this couldn’t happen here, too.
What do you think about Brazil’s new cultural allotment? Would you support a similar program in Canada?