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All Cost and Little Benefit – Italian politics

Heading in a better direction?

As you might know, Italy is in the hands of a weird grand coalition. Those who used to be arch enemies are now in bed with one another in one of the most unholy alliances in Italy’s history.

Italy is stumbling, as usual, and ignoring, as usual, the vast number of assets which sit right under its nose; more of which later. What a shame. What crass stupidity.

So, what’s the government up to at the moment? Talking a lot but not a fat lot else and its prioritising all the wrong things, as usual.

On one side, the left leaning faction, which is supposed to be in charge, is making lots of proposals and saying some odd things.

Italy’s constitution is beautiful, claimed Italy’s current prime minister Enrico Letta, adding in his next breath, that it needs changing. Letta appeared to have contradicted himself, but nobody in Italy really noticed.

The Enrico Letta led left lot – well, Letta is the prime minister but not the leader of his PD party – are aware Italy has quite a few problems and are talking about coming up with solutions, except so far there have been lots of words but no real action. To tackle the issue of spiralling youth unemployment there’s talk of tax and VAT breaks for companies who take on people under a certain age. But this proposal is not much more than gossip and may not end up as legislation. Very vague.

Nobody appears to be looking at sorting out Italy’s reams and reams of useless red tape, for example. Sorting out this issue, or at least starting to take a look at it would be appreciated by one and all and would be a vote earner too. But sorting out the Boot’s excessive bureaucracy is far too sensible a move for Italy.

Bickering Over Nothing

Lots of time has been wasted bickering over the IMU property tax thing but the situation is far from unclear. Dumping the tax on primary residences is something the dark side of the unholy alliance  – read the Silvio Berlusconi PdL fan club –  would love to do, but it would not be a benefit for the nation at all.

In actual fact, dumping what is a hard to evade tax would be utter insanity in tax-shy Italy, but this simple fact is not comprehended.

Raising one hard to evade tax and lowering another easy to evade tax would probably be an intelligent thing to do, but Italy’s governments have never been renown for intelligence, it has to be said.

All Cost, No Benefit

Italy’s over paid, inefficient political class and all their hangers on, barbers and the rest, cost the Boot somewhere in the region of €1.5 billion a year. Nobody seems to know how these people benefit Italy, but the politicians do seem to have nice haircuts.

If anything all Italy’s politicians seem to do is dig Italy into an ever deeper hole. This has not escaped the attention of millions of Italians, around 9 million of whom voted for Mr Change the Nation Beppe Grillo and the other 10 million or so who appear to have given up all hope and stopped voting. Italians who don’t really know any better keep voting for the warped pseudo right Berlusconi PdL or the bumbling, forever bickering, lukewarm PD left. Neither party has done much, if anything, positive for Italy, yet people keep voting for them!

The other half of the current unholy alliance – Silvio Berlusconi’s minions and King Silvio himself – spend all their well-paid time protecting Berlusconi’s interests. Around 10 million Italians blindly keep on voting for Silvio. In actual fact they voted for Silvio initially because they hoped he’d reform Italy, except he didn’t.

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If anything Silvio, who does very well at keeping his own income stratospheric, made Italy much worse and set the nation back about 20 years in time, probably further. All the Berlusconi mob are doing now is, wait for it – yes, protecting Berlusconi’s interests. Dubious business as usual.

Ably misled by one Angelino Alfano, who also happens to be Italy’s deputy prime minister, the Berlusconi fan club party is angling for an elected president of Italy – probably so Silvio Berlusconi can propose himself for the position. Well, just about anyone can stand for election in Italy, even those who reduced the nation’s international image to tatters.

Having Berlusconi as Italy’s president would be like ringing a death bell for Italy as he’d turn the country into a huge building site with lots of casinos and probably more than a few brothels.

Irrelevance

Instead of messing around with trying to convince people Italy needs an elected president, Italy simply needs electoral laws which work.

Limiting MPs to two terms of office, which is something Beppe Grillo and his 5 Star Movement would like to do, would make lots of sense seeing as all Italy seems to be capable of doing is regurgitating, year in year out, the same old useless politicians who are totally and utterly incapable of helping Italy move forward.

A two year term of office limit would remove lots of the distinctly mouldy deadwood and breathe new life into Italy’s expensive but unproductive parliament. But no, such a move would be far, far, too sensible for Italy where politicians keep going until they literally drop dead. Italy really does excel at perpetuating incompetence, alas.

Huge Potential

The really annoying thing about Italy is that it has enormous potential, only much of its human capital is so sick of the situation it’s leaving Italy. Bright Italian brains are being scooped up by other nations such as Germany. Madness, but certifiable Italy is incapable of exploiting its many resources – both in terms of brain power and all the rest. It is, on the other hand, rather adept at destroying its valuable resources such as crumbling Pompeii, to name but one example.

China and India are potentially massive markets for Italian goods. But has Italy adopted some kind of coordinated approach towards profiting from this potential? Nah. Forget it.

Meanwhile Italy is being led towards an abyss by its army of overpaid incompetents.

Pockets of Inspiration

It should not be this way, there are pockets of inspiration in Italy. I saw one last weekend – Italy’s Le Marche region is a great example of what can be achieved without destroying Italy’s heart and soul.

The Emilia Romanga region is not far behind, nor is the autonomous region of Trento with its Bruno Kessler foundation. These are model regions which set good examples – but the examples they set are totally ignored.

Then there are the so called ‘virtuous’ local authorities which belong to Italy’s Association of Virtuous Councils – local authorities which work – areas which may well appeal to foreign investors, or would, if Italy’s central government actually bothered promoting them.

Gordon Bennett, Italy. Get your act together! And for heaven’s sake, get people in government who love Italy.

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