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Confusion reigns

Just what Prodi and his government are up to is anyone’s guess at the moment.  Reforms, or rather changes, are being discussed right left and centre, but the nature of all the proposals seems to change from one day to the next.

Proposals for new taxes or changes to existing taxes seem to come and go.

It all smells of the previous Berlusco Italian government: one man is trying to keep all and sundry happy, but failing (You have to hand it to Berlusco – at least he managed to keep one government in power for a whole 5 years – a real record in post war Italian politics – I think Guinness have written it into their famous book and I would dearly love to know just how he did it, or maybe I wouldn’t!!) .

All the little factions which make up the current government cannot agree on anything.  And so, as is the way here, enter the no-confidence vote.  This vote has traditionally brought down dilatory and ineffectual Italian governments countless times since WWII.

The trouble is one dilatory and ineffectual Italian government is usually replaced by yet another.  Rinse and repeat.  With Prodi back in the chair Italian politics seems to have gone back to its usual old tricks – revolving door government.

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Italy could do with a bi or tri-party system so at least everyone could be forced to tow the party line and actually get something done.  This, however, would be far too simple and totally goes against the Italian propensity for complexity.  Many Italian managers still believe that KISS was some old US ‘hard’ rock band, I suspect.  Many Italian politicians, on the other hand, would not even know that KISS was a US rock band…

Now we have Alitalia and the national railway system in dire straits.  How on earth they were allowed to get into such a state is beyond me, I mean, they are effectively state enterprises, so what has the state been doing?  Not keeping an eye on things, that would seem evident.

A ‘closing my eyes and hoping for the best’ style of management seems to have been in the business plan.  Except someone kept his eyes closed for too long.  Have you ever played the share market?  If you have you will know that when the prices go down you have two possible courses of action – sell as fast as you can and cut your losses, or hold on in there in the hope that the price will recover, only, more often it does not, at least not in the short term.  Well, holding on and hoping would seem to have been Alitalia and the railways bosses tactics, er, possibly.

This country has phenomenal potential and has got lots of good brains, but it does not seem to be able to exploit either – with the possible exception of the brain power being employed to creatively funnel money off into offshore accounts, that is.   You cannot really blame them seeing as so much public money is wasted or not accounted for.  I suppose the theory is the less you give them, the less the governments can waste, thereby ensuring that what does enter state coffers is spent more wisely.  A nice theory, but the government is becoming better at collecting taxes.  Craxi did a great job of keeping lots of public money to himself, or so it would seem, and letting the government have more money could be quite a dangerous move, unless some new and honest faces appear on the scene, fast.

Beppe Grillo is having a field day at the moment – he seems to have enough material to write around two daily posts on what is not going right.  This is a little worrying.

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