Porto Alegre, Brasil

Brazil is an amazing and interesting country. The people are friendly and beautiful, and they’re so willing to take time out of their day to help you out, share their food and just make you feel welcome. I had amazing time here this week. (It really helps that I didn’t have food poisoning this time around. Good start to the year!)

Some interesting things about Brazil:

  • The largest population of Japanese people outside Japan.
  • Lots of folks from Germany and Italy too. Many came here after the second world war.
  • Incredibly complex tax structure in terms of calculation, exceptions, and flux. With 5,000 taxing authorities, it’s estimated that a tax rule changes every 1.5 hours. (It’s intriguing for me since I like the complexity and I enjoy thinking about how the government is driving behavior through incentives and taxes.)
  • Very generous retirement benefits when you work for the government, and generous benefits for workers. My favorite is the 30 day vacation policy – you’re paid an additional 33% of salary when you’re on vacation, you’re allowed to “sell” 10 days back to Dell, and the remaining 20 days are sold back to Dell at double the rate. Managers have an incentive to make sure their employees take vacation. Oh, and you get an extra month’s pay in December. (The high tax and costs of living really eats into the perks. The same car as mine costs almost twice as much in Brazil.)
  • Folks at Dell are interested in practicing their English. Several folks mentioned something about this. While they learn English in school, many have private tutors. I was surprised when my colleague described her trip to Miami and New York as very fun and “a good chance to practice my English.”