Is Italy Dying?

The answer to that obviously is no. Countries do not “die,” people do. Still, with a zero population growth and an economy stopped dead in its tracks by decades of mismanagement, Italy’s Government for Change would do better to snap the Country out of its infatuation with Keynesian economics and concentrate on the business of leading EU’s No. 2 Manufacturing Giant, rather than try to go head-to-head with Frau Merkel over deficit spending and budget issues.

A number of personal and public events have intervened this year to increase the Author’s concern that Italy may be in worse shape than anyone can imagine. Foregoing personal events, the following public events are shocking and should suffice:

1) The near catastrophic accident on the Bologna beltway near the end of July, which witnessed a truck transporting “GPL” (or Liquid Propane Gas) plow into a line of vehicles moving at a snail’s pace due to heavy traffic causing a massive explosion that blew a hole in the highway bridge above Borgo Panigale causing death, destruction and widespread panic throughout the area. Despite the horrific scene, the number of casualties were thankfully limited.

2) The collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa on August 14 during heavy winds and rain marked by thunder and lightning sent a chill down the spines of Italians as cars, buses and trucks fell hundreds of feet into the mostly dry Polcevera River below. The death toll numbered a staggering 43 people, including children going on vacation with their Moms and Dads.

The sequence of negative events have reinforced the Author’s conviction that the “system” is fast approaching the end of the line. The “stato” is running out of money. In its quest for a “people’s democracy” that takes care of its citizens from cradle to grave in the best traditions of socialism, the “stato” has failed primarily because Italian individualism worked to prevent the “collective” brainwashing of Italian minds.

Despite it all, Italians did not become the socialist autobots that Italy’s progressive leaderships would have liked. In almost 100 years, socialism (be it “national” or “international”) has not changed Italians, which remain fiercely individualistic and uncompromisingly self-centered. The “system” plays lip service to solidarity but few are actually willing to sacrifice for the common good. People that can hide their incomes continue to benefit from Italian welfare, which excepting health services, works more on paper, regardless.

Inherited wealth means that some people can be in private or public sector jobs earning an honest wage that allows them to benefit from Italian welfare programs, despite being worth millions in assets, including real estate passed on from generation to generation, while the majority of workers that inherited little more than poverty from the generations that went before them try to get bye on heavily taxed incomes that are ridiculously low by western standards. Inherited wealth vs. inherited poverty. The “system” has always played the ones against the others successfully until March 4, 2018, when the “Government for Change” was voted into office.

The political pitch from all sides is that the “stato” may be penniless but individual Italians are rich (thanks, mostly to inherited wealth). Unfortunately, it does not take much to be considered “rich” by Italian standards. The “yellow-green” coalition government currently in office intends to apply a 15% “flat-tax” to self-employed tax-payers that gross less than € 65.000,00 per annum. Few get rich in their lifetimes. And the number of people that successfully climb to the top of the social ladder in one generation are too few to make a dent in the mind set of Italians, most of whom sit back, resigned to the fate that awaits them. The more “ambitious” or “wise” try to get into government or look for civil service jobs, which in Italy are truly numerous and include teachers and doctors but not dentists.

The Communists thanks to the Red Brigades, seemed poised to overthrow the government and usher in a People’s Democratic Republic in the late 1970s, when someone realized “they” already controlled the “stato” and whatever parliamentary governments could be formed. The “stato” already controlled and or heavily influenced the economy also by limiting property rights and the rights of private enterprise, naturally for the “public good” as determined by the “stato”. Banks and industries did not need to be nationalized because they had long before been coopted into a “system” that saw the Italian “stato” as the main or controlling share owner. The “stato” or in English terms, the “Italian Government” is Italy’s biggest employer. Its business interests are widespread and include heavy industry and most of Italy’s multinationals, making the Italian Government directly or indirectly responsible for about 70% of Italian GNP.

Italians should, nevertheless, be wary because the prevailing belief that the “stato” is poor unlike individual Italians, which by contrast are rich, can in time lead a “Government of the People” to the following conclusion: If the people and the “stato” are one and the same, then the “national debt” belongs to the people, who are legally bound to honor it. Caveat emptor!

4 thoughts on “Is Italy Dying?

  1. Excellent points! Two quick observations of my own: 1) The state isn’t running out of money; it is already out of money. The once great roads in Trento Province are now pot-holed reminders of the past. 2) When I try to organize volunteer projects I always hear, “That’s work for the state.” My refrain is always, “WE ARE the state!”

    There is so much potential in Italy, from farmers to factories but the mindset has to change, and very soon, or the word “crisi” will continue to be heard for decades.

    1. Thank you for this Allen, I hope someone “up there” listens to people like us and starts doing things “by the book”! You and I say the same things as many on the left, including Alan Friedman who also went to JHU and is a “progressista”. You would think Italians would get “wise”!

        1. Read about your odyssey from North Carolina to Italy, unbelievable! … I have been thinking about writing a post or article entitled, “Pet peeves of living in Italy” but given the Italian propensity to take offense and personalize anything one says, why bother, right?

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