THE BLOG

Happy New Year Italy!

As the year ends, Italy is not living through a great time. Berlusconi is still here and the Italians somehow seem to have become increasingly more "resigned" to this regime. There are also those who have become increasingly more angry, and while this can get dangerous it is, from another point of view, the only sign that some self-respect is left.

Families are poorer by the day, the economy is blocked, industry held back, the GDP is down, government has cut public school and university funding in favour of financing private institutions -- Italy's public schools and universities rank higher than the few private institutions -- consequently students are protesting every week and workers and immigrants are, too. Nobody is happy. To top it off, we have to face an appalling display of vulgarity and effrontery from the government on a daily basis. And as the "operetta" continues, the country's wealthy minority "invariably" manage to prosper as the remaining majority have been diluted into "plebs".

This picture has just recently been confirmed by the latest report of the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). The figures are as follows: "In 2009 in Italy the fiscal pressure has grown to 43,5%, + 0,2 compared to 2008. In OECD countries Italy reached third place, after Denmark and Sweden." But do you know what kind of welfare exists in those Scandinavian countries? And do you know that their rate of tax evasion is among the lowest of the world?

"But the Italians," as the movie director Mario Monicelli said in one of his last interviews, "wake up, need a revolution". Maybe, but the problem is that there will not be any true and long lasting change unless the people, one and all, become more respectful. Italians park their cars anywhere, throw their trash wherever, ask and obtain recommendations, cannot wait in a line after others and, generally, totally lack a civil sense of "the common good." Not to mention corruption and mafia. Just last week, the 2 biggest municipal companies of Rome, Atac *public transport and Ama* garbage management for Rome and Province, hit the news. Almost 2000 people were employed in the last 2 years and most of them were connected in some way with the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, of the Berlusconi party. The mayor played innocent and "proclaimed" that if any irregularities are found these people will loose their jobs. So there will be 2000 more unemployed. But the Italians have already forgotten the news: "And so, what scandal? Oh, these kind of things always happen!".

In the meantime, our prime minister continues his campaign to buy the consensus of more and more parliamentarians. Before December 14, listening to the rumors, his "basic" offer to get the vote of a representative was to pay 5 years of parliamentarian salary (about 20-30.000 euro per month plus benefits) to each one who, by leaving the opposition, was bringing their vote to the government. Now that he won, by a difference of 3 votes, his job continues in order to try and create a new coalition that allows him to maintain power till the end of the legislation in 2,5 years. As his ex-ally and actual enemy Gianfranco Fini said: "The only interest that Berlusconi has to remain in politics is to maintain his parliamentary immunity".

But in the meantime as we witness this atrocious ballet what will happen in Italy where everything, not only Pompeii, is crumbling? Maybe the Italians are waiting for Santa Klaus to come and adjust the country, not realizing that to get out of this global crisis everyone has to contribute with a personal sign of responsibility. And in the meantime the young brains are emigrating, as it was stated by a report on www.repubblica.it last month. It was asked to young to write their stories and the reasons why they left the country: more the 90% had left to find a job or to continue to study as in Italy there is no future. And so Italy will remain a country for "oldies", where you can find the 73% of world art treasures, most of which is in danger as politics thinks that culture is not bringing any benefit. Happy New Year Italy, you need it.