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Rambling on About Happenings in Italy

Writers block?  No.  Not a problem for me generally.  Quite the opposite.  I start tapping away thinking that around five hundred words or so will do, and end up writing over a thousand.  Sorry about that.  Anyway this evening, actually it’s well past midnight, I’m going to ramble.  Italy will be at the centre of the rambling, as usual.

So, what to ramble on about?  Plenty.  Berlusconi, yes, stories of Italy’s media mogul tend to take up a lot of space on this blog from and about Italy, but he does not really seem to want to go away, sorry, I digress – another bad habit of mine, I know, anyway, dear Silvio does not seem to have learnt his lesson and is, once again, pushing for legislation which will keep him free of legal problems.  Ideally, Mr B would like this legislation to reach back into the past, and thus keep past, present and future commie judges at bay.  Yes, dear Silvio is still convinced that Italy’s judges, prosecutors and Duomo statue throwers are out to get him.  Well, he does keep on repeating this over and over again, ad nauseam, so it must be true.

Now though, Mr B has surprised a few people by saying that he never really asked for immunity from prosecution – it was his party faithful who want it to protect their esteemed leader, or something like that.  Berlusconi says he does not want the law.  This has confused a few people, in that if he does not want it, they why doesn’t he drop the proposal?  He is the boss – so he could go do something more constructive.

Talking of being constructive, to try to get this convenient piece of legislation turned into another of Italy’s many laws, Italy’s constitution needs to be changed to ensure that it no longer reads ‘all are equal in the eyes of the law’.  Italy’s President Napolitano is not too happy about anything which re-words Italy’s semi-sacrosanct constitution.  Berlusconi, reportedly, is not too happy that Napolitano is not too happy.  Surprise, surprise, Italy’s Minister of Justice, Alfano, stated yesterday that the retrospective aspect of the regurgitated immunity law is not set in stone.  In other words, Mr President Napolitano (Italy has two presidents – the real one, and Berlusconi, who also has the title ‘president’), please can Silvio have his little law, which he needs, but does not want, so we can all get on with our lives?

The battle rages on and it is by no means clear whether Silvio will win, unless, of course, he’s given a few well-placed judges some nice expensive early Christmas presents, such as impressive looking mansions on the island formerly known as a tax haven, Antigua.

Taking of islands in the Caribbean, the naughty Report people who dared to pry into Berlusconi’s Antigua affairs, and, shock, horror, ask questions, came up with another humdinger of a documentary.  This time they quietly pointed out that Italy’s crisis beating austerity measures, orchestrated by the great Mr Tremonti, may not be as wonderful as Tremonti seems to think they are.  Report also noted that since Berlusconi came back into power, Italy’s spiralling public spending has continued to spiral, upwards.

I’ve already spiralled over the self-imposed five hundred word limit, in case you’ve been keeping count, and, I’ve digressed too.  I guess I’m trying to distract myself from thinking about that Report documentary, and the story of a businessman who killed himself after his company lost a ‘fixed’ public tender.  The poor chap danced with glee when the ‘clean hands’ court cases looked as if cancerous cells of corruption were, finally, going to be removed from Italy’s black heart.  His celebrations did not last long.

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Sadly, the businessman took his life in 1997, as soon as he realised that the fiddlers were back, stronger and more furbo than ever before.  A senior Italian judge; he must be a commie; bemoaned the fact that levels of corruption in Italy are spiralling, in much the same way as Italy’s national debt.

Changing the subject, Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne set the cat amongst the pigeons by claiming that Fiat’s Italian operations don’t earn a bean for the Italian car maker, implying that Fiat would be better off without Fiat Italy!  Way to go Sergio!  But he has a point.  Fiat’s Italian workers don’t really, er, work, well, not compared to their counterparts in Brazil and Poland.  Of course Sergio does not understand, he is half-Canadian, after all, so he does not understand that Fiat’s Italian workers don’t really need to work.  It’s true – I mean every time Fiat Italy has come close to collapse, taxpayers’ money has been used to bail out the company.  At least Fiat cars are half-decent now.

It’s all depressing, and frustrating.  Italy could do so well, but, for reasons unknown, does not want to.

It’s the Alitalia syndrome possibly.  It’s what?  One of my students at Il Sole 24 Ore told me about the Alitalia syndrome.  Basically, despite Alitalia being a chaotic airline, which loses luggage (and money) right, left and centre, amongst other little foibles, Italians love their national carrier – warts and all.  It’s a masochistic form of brand loyalty, is Alitalia syndrome.

One gets the impression that at the end of the day masochistic Italians are happy with the way their country is.  They have a point, life here is not too bad when all is said and done.  The trouble is, life could be so much better, but if nobody really wants change, then it will not happen.  Therein lies the problem, very, very, few people really want change, even if some say they do.  Funny how entire populations become apathetic, isn’t it?  Plenty of mind numbingly dull Italian TV quiz shows and big brother episodes serve to keep Italians suitably apathetic, it has to be said.

Italy will bumble on, as it always has done.  Somehow, it will muddle through, as it always has done.

There, I’ve managed to ramble on for over nine hundred and fifty words.  I’m off to bed, but not before having a quick Italian snifter. Here comes the genepy.

(Rats! Tinkering has taken the word count to over 1000 words. Just call me verbose.)

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