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Reflections on Italy

Italy, where too many cooks spoil the broth for everyone but themselves!

Italy remains the least governable and most unstable member of Nato, not to mention the UE. Despite being one of the original six Founding Members and one of the principal financial supporters of the UE, Italy does not carry the political weight one would expect of the EU’s second major manufacturing Power. A question of leaders and leadership?

 

Fourteen months ago, despite an electoral law hastily redesigned to encourage multi-party politics as opposed to the bi-party politics of the Berlusconi “era," Italian voters, clearly sending a message to their leaders side-stepped the traditional parties and voted resoundingly for two up-starts known as the M5S and Lega parties. These two parties subsequently formed the first two-party coalition government in the history of the Republic. Known as the “Government for Change," that government was put into sudden-death overtime by Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega on August 8, 2019. 

 

After a little more than one year, Italians stand aghast as Italy’s leaders once again seem intent on playing “craps” with the lives of their fellow citizens. Naturally, for the good of all Italians, but most of all for the good of the Country’s numerous and highly paid bureaucrats and, of course, for the thousands of MPs and politicians required to represent a shrinking Italian electorate now down to about 50 million people.

 

No one on the right or left of the political spectrum can deny Italy needs “a better mouse trap”. In the age of real-time communications, smart phones, computers and broad-band internet connections, Italy needs a political machinery that    is democratic, quick to decide and cost effective.

 

The present Constitution and Institutions do not seem to guarantee any of the above. What to do?

 

  1. Reduce the number of MPs. It makes little sense for Italians to pay for 1000 legislators when half would be more than enough to adequately represent Italy’s decreasing eligible voter population of some 50 million. An example? Italian Representatives represent 80,000 people each compared with 733,000 people each by their American counterparts. Italian Senators, which are less than half in number, represent 200,000 people each. However, in the US Senators represent the individual States and no comparisons are possible.
  2. Cut the outrageously high cost of Italian politics. Italian MPs earn more than € 190,000.00 per year. They are the highest paid politicians in Europe or the Americas. The cost of running Italy’s Quirinal Palace (where Pres. Mattarella and retinue live and work) is five times that of Buckingham Palace and twice that of the White House! For most Italians, politicians are not worth the money they get, especially in these times of diminishing returns. Something must be done to stop the gouging of taxpayers.
  3. Encourage the formation of a manageable two / three party system by rethinking voter districts, raising thresholds for winning seats in parliament and adopting a first-past the-post majority electoral system. The error is believing that more parties in Parliament equals more democracy. In the Italian case the proliferation of parties has brought nothing but confusion and hegemony often by parties representing but a majority only marginally superior to their own.
  4. Neutralize the Italian Magistrature’s bid for political power by constitutional amendment where possible and/or by making the Magistratura accessible to lawyers and Notaries in private practice; the present closed system does nobody any good; civil servants and bureaucrats become more responsive to the needs of society when challenged by competition from the private sector.  

 

All systems are self-preserving and naturally Italian politicians believe the answer lies not in the above suggestions but in going even more proportional (in efforts to stop the “populist right” from spoiling their well-remunerated fun). For the good of Italy and to make sure it is “never again” for the likes of Salvini.

 

Come Tuesday, August 27, should Mattarella not send everybody to the polls sometime this fall, Italians risk falling back into the hands of the old cold-war leadership that nearly bankrupted the Country. If that were allowed to happen, self-determination could become the North’s only option. Caveat emptor!

 

Mattarella, a “cold-war” leader with the power to propel Italians forward or backwards in time

The present government crisis was brought about by the Lega, one of the two political allies dubbed “populists” or “extremists” by the Country’s “mainstream” press and traditional parties. Moved more by fear of the unknown than any real threat to democracy, the "mainstream" press and traditional parties, can’t wait to return to the familiar multi-party government coalitions of the past.

 

Yesterday, the so-called “Premier”, Mr. Conte, resigned after a fifty minute speech in Parliament during which he did nothing but compliment himself for a job well done, blaming the crisis entirely and solely on the Minister of the Interior and Leader of the Lega Party, Matteo Salvini.

 

The issue today went before President Mattarella who this morning accepted Conte’s resignation tout court, i.e. without the customary “with reservations”. The Government is therefore officially defunct and in caretaker mode now and Conte is out of the picture. The Lega Party, while still in the caretaker Government, is unable to rally round enough support from potential allies in Parliament to challenge a return of the traditional Left to power, should the ex-Communist now PD or Dems and M5S reach some kind of agreement.

 

Mattarella will be meeting with political leaders of the various parties and groups represented in Italy’s 1000 - man parliament to sei if there is any possibility of  expressing a majority strong enough to form and carry the Executive for what remains of this Legislature’s 5-year Term. If there is little or no possibility, Mattarella should send Italians to the polla ASAP. All eyes will be on the Dems and M5S and Mattarella to see what is ultimately decided.

 

In a departure from what customary in Italian politics, the two coalition partners had worked together for about fourteen months, generally without airing their differences and behaving like gentlemen in public. The Premier, Conte and two Vice-Premiers (Di Maio) and (Salvini) had mostly behaved in a civil manner. This in contrast to the quarrelsome history of the sixty-five shaky governments during the first sixty years of the Republic.

 

It is unlikely that the PD (Dems) and the M5S will be able to reach a strong enough agreement for a return to the days of the “Divine” Giulio Andreotti. Luckily for Italians, Zingaretti and Di Maio do not quite measure up and General Elections are probable.

 

The risk, however, is that Mattarella opt for a “government of the President” and call in someone like Cottarelli to head an “institutional government”. Such a government would have the limited scope of legislating a new Budget and a new electoral law with even lower thresholds for electing MPs to Parliament in efforts to reverse the present, quasi-bi-polar system, and return Italy to the weak multi-party system of the Fifties and Sixties under cold-war leaders like D’Alema, Prodi, and Berlusconi. Such a move could backfire and rekindle centrifugal forces calling for an independent North.

Italy, France and the EU

Few countries in Europe have influenced each other more throughout the course of history than Italy and France. It is not by chance that France and Italy are so alike in language, culture and even in some foods and wines. The beauty of their respective countries has the Italians singing about the “Bel Paese” and the French about the “Douce France”. Indeed, had the francophone Dukes of Savoy looked more towards France than towards Italy for territorial aggrandizement, the two might very well have become one: their languages while different are extremely close in grammar and many words differ slightly in spelling and pronunciation. Had the “Langue d’oc” prevailed over the “Langue d’oeil” even such minor differences would probably have disappeared over time. French comedy is similar to Italian comedy. French films translate well into Italian like few others. The French and Italians share many of the same proverbs and sayings. In short they are more alike than one would think at first glance.

The Dukes of Savoy were vassals of the Holy Roman Emperor and could not take lands that belonged to the French Monarchy short of an all out war between the Empire and France. Still the Dukes of Savoy were the powerful gatekeepers of an Alpine State that at one point (ca. 1180 AD) governed over wide areas of present day France and Switzerland from the Franche Compté, Geneva and its lake, the Valais, the Dauphiné and most of Provencedown to the Mediterranean Sea. From Savoy proper and the Vallée d’Aoste the Dukes would subsequently acquire all of Piedmont, whose people spoke franco-provençal or Piedmontese, a language considered by many a bridge between French and Italian. This relatively big and militarily important State straddled the Alps and for centuries was an important economic and cultural gateway linking Italy and France together.

In the arts, music, science and literature the reciprocal contributions and exchanges between these two major linguistic areas have never ceased. La Comédie Française built upon and continued the traditions of La Commedia dell’arte. The Medici gave France a number of Queens (Catherine De Medici and Maria De Medici) and Kings (Francis IICharles IX and Henry III). Together Florence and France shared the Fleur-de-Lis on their respective coats-of-arms. Catherine De Medici is credited with making French cuisine great, thanks to the contributions of her staff of Florentine cooks, then considered the best in Italy. Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last productive years of his life in France at Château Clos Lucé near Amboise at the invitation of his young admirer, King François I.

Towards the end of the 1400s, the Italian Renaissance began to exhaust itself under the blows of larger political units with “national” aspirations. Until then, the Holy Roman Empire had proven to be medieval Europe’s greatest, most successful and  longest-lasting, political construction. The peoples of the Holy Roman Empire enjoyed freedoms and liberties unknown to other Europeans. Culture, arts, and the sciences flourished as never before. After the Battle of Fornovo (1495) the Italian states of the Empire began to show signs of political and military obsolescence as Italian decentralization succumbed to the centralized power of a nascent France.

After Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, religious wars and the plague would greatly reduce the Empire’s population thereby continuing to further weaken what in retrospect had been a medieval form of European “Union” or Reich largely based on self-governing political units in accordance with the traditions of the Germanic peoples, including the Lombards of Italy.

By 1648, the Holy Roman Empire, had been ravaged by the Thirty Years’ War, fought mostly on German soil for religious and political reasons that pit Catholics against Protestants and involved practically all of the European powers large and small from France, Spain and the Empire to Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Russia. As a result, the Treaty of Westphalia would recognize the independence of Switzerland and the Netherlands. Henceforward, the power of the Holy Roman Emperor would be greatly reduced. Still the Empire would survive well into the 1800s, a testament to the resilience of decentralization.

Both the German and the Italian states of that Empire would survive until Prussia and Piedmont finally unified Germany and Italy respectively in the 1800s. While Prussia intelligently maintained the federal architecture that had made great and long-lasting the Holy Roman Empire, Piedmont unwisely chose French-styled centralization to unify a diverse people that in many cases had not lived together politically for hundreds of years. The glorious Italian states that had given the world the Renaissance were wiped out in one fell swoop and replaced by an enlarged Piedmont called “Italy”.

Those that wish to govern these peoples today would do well not to forget who they are and whence they came, for what they are today they owe to those that have come and gone before them.

Statute of Limitations according to Italy's Government for Change

taly's justice system has long been one of the most dysfunctional in Europe, especially when it comes to putting away alleged mafia or white-collar criminals.

Prosecutors say it is all but impossible to reach a definitive sentence for a multitude of financial crimes within the prescribed time frame, which is seldom more than eight years. That's partly because legal cases take so long in Italy. But it is also because Italy is unique in Europe, even among the other civil law systems:

Its statute of limitations starts from the moment an alleged crime is supposed to have been committed rather than from the point it is discovered, and the time limit is not extended when a defendant is put under investigation, indicted or judged. No other country has both rules!

In 1988 the Italian criminal process underwent substantial reform modeled on what done in common-law jurisdictions to bring Italy's outdated inquisitorial system more in line with modern legal thought and practice. Indeed, Italy's criminal law judicial system and process was rooted in long-standing legal tradition heavily biased in favor of the state's virtually unlimited financial resources (if compared to those of individual suspects) and absolute monopoly of law enforcement, including police, public prosecutors and judges. What the reform did or tried to do was to increase those institutions that make a trial "adversarial" as opposed to "inquisitorial" among the "parties" (to a trial), i.e., the public prosecutor, the accused or defendant and judge. Today such "parties" thanks to the reform have theoretically been placed on an equal footing with equal access to the evidence gathered by the police and prosecution.

Notwithstanding the reform of 1988, Italy remains light years away not only from common-law criminal trials but from civil law criminal trials of other EU jurisdictions as well! Despite the Italian Constitution, heralded by comic Roberto Benigni as the "the most beautiful in the World" the concept of a speedy trial is virtually unknown. The Constitution, which Benigni swears by, talks of a "reasonable duration" (art. 111). That, in a country where case law does not have the same place, authority or purpose as it does in common-law jurisdictions and where the principle of stare decisis is non-esistant, "reasonable duration" is practically meaningless, as are other institutions known to Italian law but either defined differently or applied "loosely" as opposed to "strictly" such as, habeas corpus, ne bis in idem (latin for double jeopardy) or what under Italian law constitutes a legal search and seizure by the police, just to name a few. The Government for Change seems intent on completing the reform of the Italian criminal law process begun in 1988.

The Italian Judicial System: an anomaly unto itself!

Italy's justice system has long been one of the most dysfunctional in Europe, especially when it comes to putting away alleged mafia or white-collar criminals.

Prosecutors say it is all but impossible to reach a definitive sentence for a multitude of financial crimes within the prescribed time frame, which is seldom more than eight years. That's partly because legal cases take so long in Italy. But it is also because Italy is unique in Europe, even among the other civil law systems:

Its statute of limitations starts from the moment an alleged crime is supposed to have been committed rather than from the point it is discovered, and the time limit is not extended when a defendant is put under investigation, indicted or judged. No other country has both rules!

In 1988 the Italian criminal process underwent substantial reform modeled on what done in common-law jurisdictions to bring Italy's outdated inquisitorial system more in line with modern legal thought and practice. Indeed, Italy's criminal law judicial system and process was rooted in long-standing legal tradition heavily biased in favor of the state's virtually unlimited financial resources (if compared to those of individual suspects) and absolute monopoly of law enforcement, including police, public prosecutors and judges. What the reform did or tried to do was to increase those institutions that make a trial "adversarial" as opposed to "inquisitorial" among the "parties" (to a trial), i.e., the public prosecutor, the accused or defendant and judge. Today such "parties" thanks to the reform have theoretically been placed on an equal footing with equal access to the evidence gathered by the police and prosecution.

Notwithstanding the reform of 1988, Italy remains light years away not only from common-law criminal trials but from civil law criminal trials of other EU jurisdictions as well! Despite the Italian Constitution, heralded by comic Roberto Benigni as the "the most beautiful in the World" the concept of a speedy trial is virtually unknown. The Constitution, which Benigni swears by, talks of a "reasonable duration" (art. 111). That, in a country where case law does not have the same place, authority or purpose as it does in common-law jurisdictions and where the principle of stare decisis is non-esistant, "reasonable duration" is practically meaningless, as are other institutions known to Italian law but either defined differently or applied "loosely" as opposed to "strictly" such as, habeas corpus, ne bis in idem (latin for double jeopardy) or what under Italian law constitutes a legal search and seizure by the police, just to name a few.

Having said that, what does exist much like in common-law or other civil law jurisdictions are "statutes of limitations" known in Italian by the term "prescrizione" (i.e., prescription [of crimes]. Despite generous time limits provided as a matter of Italian law in respect of more serious crimes known as "delitti" (i.e., felonies), the slow pace of the Italian justice system winds-up favoring defendants accused of complex mafia-like and white-collar, financial crimes that often take more than eight years to "try". Here, one must remember that in Italy a judgement does not become final or "res-judicata" until all three instances have been exhausted, i.e., "trial, appeal and a second appeal to the highest criminal court." Having constitutionalized a citizen's right to "three degrees of jurisdiction" effectively means that what constitutes a trial in this Country includes a first appeal and a second appeal to the highest court, which have become practically automatic. This explains why civil law cases can last a lifetime. The criminal justice system is quicker but ten years or better are not unusual in the case of complex felonies. It is probably for this reason that Italy's Government for Change proposes freezing (or suspending) the statute of limitations at the end of the "trial" or processo di prima istanza upon the Court's issuance of its first judgement.

In common-law jurisdictions, the first, and often only instance, is the trial. Once a court starts a proceeding such court remains in session for the duration until a final judgement is rendered, which judgement is said to be "dispositive", meaning the judgement becomes immediately enforceable. With that an accused begins to serve his time if found guilty. And, if found not guilty, the person is immediately set free and such facts (determined in the verdict rendered not by a court but by a jury of twelve peers) are almost impossible to overturn, especially a verdict of not guilty!

Defendants found guilty immediately begin serving their sentence and, if entitled thereto, may lodge an appeal. Defendants are the only ones who may appeal a verdict of guilty. Public prosecutors may not appeal guilty verdicts. For example, unlike in civil law systems, like the Italian, a public prosecutor cannot appeal a verdict of guilty for the purpose of increasing the jail-term decided by a trial judge. Common-law systems bar public prosecutors from appealing a verdict of guilty for lack of interest and because barred by the principle of double jeopardy strictly applied. Remember in the Italian system double jeopardy (of Roman origin) exists but is neither defined, nor applied strictly but relatively, which means, 'as conveniently as possible for the state', hence, the lesser degree of impartiality and fairness in Italian criminal proceedings.

There are those that would like to confuse the ideas of the Government of Change. These people know or should know that even in comm-law jurisdictions there are three (possible) known degrees of jurisdiction (the trial, an appeal and a possible second appeal to a higher or highest court equivalent to the Italian Court of Cassations). The difference is that in common-law jurisdictions the trial or processo di primo grado is often dispositive and final, lightning quick by Italian standards. The Government for Change seems intent on completing the reform of the Italian criminal law process begun in 1988. But how?

Well, it may take changing the Constitution and a number of legal definitions and procedures and of course, key to the whole conundrum is a redefining of when the statutes of limitations begins to toll. No longer from the time a crime is presumed to have been committed to when such crime is effectively discovered to have been committed, for example, as ascertained by an official judicial act of accusation, indictment or arraignment as is the case in France. Furthermore, in Italy the statute of limitations are not suspended when an accused is investigated, arraigned or judged.

What can Italy do to remedy the situation? First, all efforts should be concentrated in the trial (of first instance), which judgement should remain firm in each successive phase of the proceeding, as least as far as the facts ascertained in the verdict of "guilty" or "not guilty". Therefore, other than for the aforesaid "facts" pertaining to the defendant's "guilt" or "innocence", the appeal should only concern itself with possible error(s). If the purpose is to accelerate the time of Italian trials without any loss in accuracy, first instance Italian judges presiding the trial or processo di primo grado will need to remain "in session" until a final judgement is rendered, meaning once convened the hearing will continue every day for as many weeks as required to arrive at a final judgement. This will mean a major overhaul of current procedures and logistics. In fact one of the many aspects that distinguishes Italian proceedings from fellow proceedings in other civil law jurisdictions is the excessive fragmentation. If a civil law trial can be defined as a series of fragmented hearings as opposed to the continuous uninterrupted hearing of common-law trials, the Italian judge can and often does set hearings at intervals of one year. Obviously, such once-a-year hearings often lasting an hour or two, makes difficult the collection and production of documentary evidence, let alone remembering events by "witnesses" after so much time has elapsed. Another problem is Italian judges are subject to frequent changes. The end result is judges are rarely able to acquire a full and complete command of complicated cases.

The above changes would help make the Italian system a better one for honest citizens that do not have the economic resources to continue the uneven battle with the state all the way to the third and final phase of the present Italian criminal process, which by definition includes two appeals beyond the trial. Even now the length of Italian processes are unbearably long for creditors in commercial cases and for honest citizens caught up in the maze of Italian criminal proceedings.

If some or all of the above changes could be enacted, Italy would become more intelligible for other civil and common-law jurisdictions. Perhaps then the many friends of Italy around the World might consider once again investing in this amazing Country, helping the Government for Change to increase Italian GNP and to make Italy's mammoth national debt manageable again!

Di Maio says Italy will not be bullied around!

By the world financial markets of course! Nor by the big three Credit Rating Agencies (Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch). If Italy prefers not to cut its national debt, that’s her business and nobody else’s except perhaps Italian voters and taxpayers. Hey, what can I say that hasn’t already been said? Not much. Di Maio alternates between the tough guy act, which is out of character with his boyish looks and demeanor and disbelief (“I do not believe Italy will be “attacked” in September.”) The guy may be right as by most accounts the unloading of Italian bonds is expected to begin sooner rather than later. Already a major auction a few days ago of some 600 Million Italian BOT’s (short-term Bonds) went deserted. A no sale at current interest rates. The real question is why do Italian leaders of all persuasion repeatedly put themselves behind the eight ball of a huge national debt (of 2.3 Trillion Euro)? Consider that economics is not taught in the Italian public school system. In the end only “ragionieri” and “commercialisti” (book-keepers and accountants) study the subject matter and know something about macro and micro economics. And, since the Italian constitution does not require candidates for parliament to meet minimum standards of education relatively few Representatives and Senators have any clue either as to what economics is all about. A recent survey by Italian financial services established that the average Italian has little or no financial training, and possesses but rudimentary notions of how a market economy works. The average Italian used to keep what little money he managed to save in the bank or in Italian Bonds. So what you have here is very much like the proverbial “blind leading the blind”, at least on economic issues.

A question nobody in the media (mainstream or not) seems willing to ask point blank at guys like Di Maio or even more competent politicians like Tria, Girogetti or Savona is why? Why did this government that bills itself “of change” also fail - like all that have come and gone before it since the Republic was founded in 1947 - to immediately address and put foremost at the top of its Program a few clear measures aimed at cutting back the national debt? Why do they continue to dribble the issue? What keeps Italy’s “Government of Change” from announcing and taking steps to cut the national debt by at least 25 to 30 percent to avoid gouging Italian taxpayers with further tax hikes? For example, by selling a fraction of the Country’s huge gold reserves (third largest in the World) and / or by selling Government Assets, including some if not all of the Government’s Multinationals or Real Estate within the Public Domain.

Why do “they” insist on sending the wrong signals to investors the world over such as, waiting until the end of August to close the “ILVA” deal with the new ownership? Why do “they” insist on making world investors laugh after all has been said and (not) done to nationalize again the bankrupt Alitalia by somehow merging it with the Government’s Railroad holdings?

Do “they” think the Chinese are going to applaud such solutions and agree to buy Italian Bonds against vague Italian quid pro quo concessions in seaports and other infrastructure?

I remember how years ago people would smile (in admiration) at the incredible news of the discovery of isolated Japanese soldiers found still armed and entrenched in their pacific island dug-outs, unaware that Japan had lost the war and surrendered some twenty years before.

I doubt people will smile (at all) should the irreparable happen, when the incredible news leaks out that it all could have been avoided as late as August 2018, simply by reducing the national debt by 100 to 200 Billion Euros.

Like the Irish, the Italians consider themselves to be a “lucky” people. Let’s hope they are right.

What would you rather take, "their money" or "their lives"?

Highwaymen were robbers who stole from travellers. In England the practice reached its peak between 1660 and the early 1700's. They would attack defenseless stagecoaches and solitary travellers on horseback often yelling, "Stand and delivery your purse (or your money)" or the concise but equally significant, "Your money or your life"! In Italy similar occurrences dated from the mid 13th Century with Ghino di Tacco and other famous "bandits". In those “uncivilized” days and in both venues, the punishment for highwaymen was death! But what do highwaymen have to do with the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa and Italy's new Government? Read on and see for yourselves.

(Piece)

Italy's Government for Change faces a legal conundrum the solution of which could create lasting precedent

My last post on Italy’s Government of Change ended in the hope that Italy’s lucky star shine brightly this fall. But that was before the tragedies of Bologna and Genova and more recently, Pollino in Calabria.

The first catastrophic accident wreaked death and destruction on the perennially overcrowded Bologna Beltway on August 6 when a truck carrying Liquid Propane Gas plowed into another truck and exploded. The second catastrophic accident struck Genoa (or “Zena” as the locals affectionately call their City) on the vigil of Ferragosto, which since the days of Ancient Rome marks the peak of the summer holiday season for all Italians.

On or about Noon in the midst of a terrifying thunderstorm with lightning and strong winds the Morandi Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning the Polcevera River on the A10 highway that cuts Genoa in two on the West end (also nicknamed, “Zena’s Brooklyn Bridge” because of the similarities with New York’s Brooklyn Bridge), suddenly collapsed sending the many cars and trucks crowded onto the bridge high above Genoa down into the shallow almost dry river-bed, hundreds of feet below. The death toll stands at 43 and it could have been even worse.

When things have a tendency to go wrong, Italians will sometimes say: “Piove sul bagnato”, (literally, “it rains on [already] wet ground”. Unfortunately, Italians also have another saying, “Non c’è il due sense il tre”. And sure enough, after Genoa on August 21 down in Calabria a group of hikers mostly parents and their kids decided to go visit the Pollino Park and its deep gorges and canyons. The morning seemed promising but suddenly as the group of some 10 to 20 hikers entered the park it started to rain. Before you know it a flash flood had raised water levels to over 2.7 meters, catching a group of tourists by surprise in a tight gorge. The death toll stands at 10.

In light of the above exceptional circumstances, Moody’s the financial rating agency announced postponement of its decision on wether or not to downgrade Italy, until October.

When disaster strikes in a civil law Country like Italy, the tendency is to look for the person or persons responsible in order to start criminal investigations. Italians are literally obsessed with criminal proceedings Italy has practically constitutionalized three degree proceedings (meaning a first instance [trial] and two appeals) for everyone, including public prosecutors that get three darts with which to nail their suspects. Since incorporating into Italy’s former inquisitorial system many aspects of the common-law adversarial system, the outcome of this "new" criminal process has been less than satisfactory. Italian “trials” take forever and after ten or twenty years of less than continuous hearings rarely do the courts issue convincing sentences. Mass murderers are unlucky if they get sentenced to twenty years in jail. There is no death penalty and rarely is anyone sentenced to life. Most crooks are in and out in a matter of months. Still Italians prefer throwing the criminal code at someone rather than sue for damages. Why? Probably because civil law suits take even longer and damages are relatively skimpy compared to what one can expect in a common law jurisdiction in less than half the time.

This Monday, Italy’s heralded “il Corriere della Sera”, a “mainstream” newspaper that in its insert on the economy ran an article on disasters similar to the collapse of Genoa’s “Brooklyn Bridge” and how other Countries handled similar emergencies. Italy’s Government for Change seems hell-bent on making sure catastrophic accidents do not happen again in the future and has threatened to take away the highway concession granted “Autostrade”, controlled by Atlantia a Benetton Group Company responsible for the A10 and Zena’s Brooklyn Bridge, built in 1967. The bridge was one of the few concrete suspensions bridges in the World. When it collapsed it had just turned 51. And Benetton has said it is ready to rebuild the “Morandi Bridge” but in steel not in concrete, within eight months from the Government’s go ahead.

In the Corriere’s long article on “The Catastrophes that Change Capitalism” (betraying its anti-capitalist bias), the Corriere inadvertently does the Government for Change a favor. The author Massimo Gaggi describes the terrible Union Carbide disaster of 1984 in Bhopal, India, where some 3,800 people perished as a consequence of the negligent leakage of deadly chemicals by the Multinational. At that time the Indian Government fined the Multinational 100 Thousand Rupees worth then Two Thousand Dollars (US). In 2010 British Petroleum was fined 20 Billion US Dollars for its negligent spillage of oil in consequence to the explosion of one of its oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico off of Corpus Christi, Texas. In 2015 Volkswagen was fined 1 Billion Euros for tweaking the software on their diesel cars to get around the EU CO2 emission ceilings. And Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals will have to pay some 4.7 Billion US Dollars in damages to 22 women that used its talcum containing the cancerous substance of asbestos.

However, in 2007, ThyssenKrupp of Germany owned and operated a steel plant in Turin, Italy, where a fire broke out killing 7 workers. The Company reserved itself the right not to invest in safety measures because the plant was destined to be decommissioned and closed down, which it was shortly thereafter. Six managers were nevertheless investigated by Italian Public Prosecutors and brought to trial. Found guilty, they were sentenced to jail terms for second degree murder.

Everywhere else but in Italy, criminal negligence if and when ascertained carries heavy fines or damages. People are rarely incarcerated for negligent acts that are not malicious or willful. Even in other civil law jurisdiction like Germany. To the contrary, the message in Italy seems to be we would rather throw you in jail than take your money. In the end, in an inefficient and ineffective legal system, the risk is the highwaymen go free doing little or no time in jail and what’s worse paying insignificant fines or damages. A highwayman's dream come true! The deterrence of which escapes me. What say you, friends?

Keeping Migrants Out Of Italy Might Not Be Enough

For weeks Italian newspapers have been talking (for and against) the Conte Administration’s position on the issue of Migrants. But too much may not be enough! In the sense that even were Italy to consolidate an alliance on the issue of "migrants" - a eupheemism for "illegal aliens" - with Austria, Hungary, Poland, The Czech & Slovak Republics, it is Germany that calls the shots in the UE and, regardless, for the average Italian the most important issues lie elsewhere.

The real issues confronting Italy are an economy that has begun to shrink even before what little growth there was in 2017 could be consolidated in 2018, let alone make a dent in Italy's growing poor and unemployed, many of whom voted M5S and Lega!

The Country’s problems are reflected in its Constitution of 139 articles that attempt to minutely govern the political, social, institutional and economic life of the Country without giving any of the three branches of government (but in Italy only two are officially recognized by the “system”) sufficient power to check and/or balance the others, most importantly, the Judiciary.

Because of the Fascist Legacy, the Executive Branch (other than for Switzerland, is the only Executive in the West organized as a collegiate and collective organ) was not entrusted with any more power than the bare minimum needed to define and manage the State machinery and bureaucracy subject to the general directives of the President of the Council. The only real power was vested exclusively in the Parliament, which was to elect a Head of State to run for seven years. This Head of State, but not of Government, was vested with express but poorly delimita powers to choose and entrust an MP from one of the Major Parties represented in the Parliament with the task of forming a “Government”. Unfortunately, the Parliament was made weak by electoral laws based on proportional representation set so low that even large, extended families were able to candidate and get one or more of their members elected to one House or the other. Such procedures wound up creating a “Tower of Babel” effect that made government stability a pipe dream. To make matters worse someone got the bright idea that an independent Judiciary was just what was needed to balance (sic!) the institutional mess conjured up by the Founding Fathers that included representatives of the two major parties of the post-war years (the Catholic, Christian Democrats and the Communists).

In another departure from Western tradition, the Founding Fathers kept the Judiciary outside of the “Government”. The term “governo” as used and understood in Italy is almost exclusively used in connection with the Executive Branch, whereas the other official branch of government is the legislative or Parliament.

The Magistrature, Judiciary or Corps of Judges is an independent organ of the State bureaucracy, formally not considered a part of the “Government”. This makes the Italian Constitutional system the only one of its kind in the West to have two weak and poorly coordinated branches of government, often at the mercy of a highly politicized, unelected Judiciary wielding great power and ready to fill power vacuums from the safety of their Ivory Tower, uncontrolled, independent and unaccountable.

Come on guys, time's-a-wasting! You can do better that that because if you can’t well then  step aside and “avanti il prossimo”, or better yet, why not issue a public tender for a real fat Government Contract: that of “Country Manager” with unlimited powers to higher and fire Cabinet Ministers and achieve government objectives, a sort of “roman-like Imperator / Dictator” under a Public Law Contract with the State. For sure, nobody from the left or the right would lobby for an unlimited term employment contract in such an instance. A term employment contract, perhaps renewable, at substantially the same terms and conditions, upon the attainment of pre-determined and agreed objectives would probably be seen as more than sufficient by union leaders and politicians alike.

Occhio ragazzi, tenere i migranti fuori dall'Italia potrebbe non bastare!

Da settimane i giornali italiani non fanno altro che parlare (pro e contro) la posizione del governo Conte sul problema dei migranti. Ma il tanto ciarlare potrebbe non essere abbastanza! Nel senso che, anche se l’Italia dovesse stringere accordi sui “migranti” - un eufemismo per “stranieri clandestini” - con Austria, Ungheria, Polonia, Repubblica Ceca e Slovakia, è la Germania che detta legge nell’UE e, pertanto, per l’italiano medio i problemi più importanti sono altri.

I veri problemi dell’Italia sono un’economia che ha già innestato la retromarcia prima ancora di poter consolidare nel 2018 quel poco di crescita che c’è stato nel 2017 e, quindi, senza dare alcun sollievo ai milioni di nuovi poveri e disoccupati, molti di cui hanno votato per Lega e M5S!

Il retaggio del Fascismo portò al riassetto istituzionale e ad un esecutivo collegiale e collettivo diretto da un pari grado (unico caso in Occidente oltre alla Svizzera) con compiti e poteri limitati a definire e dirigere la sola politica nazionale e la macchina dello Stato con la sua Burocrazia secondo le direttive generali impartite dal Presidente del Consiglio (“PdC”). Il potere vero fu concentrato esclusivamente nel Parlamento che avrebbe non solo eletto un Capo dello Stato per una durata di anni sette, ma anche un Capo del Governo scelto dal Capo dello Stato tra le figure più rappresentative delle maggioranze possibili in Parlamento. Sfortuna volle che pure il Parlamento fu nei fatti indebolito dal sistema proporzionale che per favorire l’elezione di rappresentanti anche da parte di partiti piccoli spesso poco più grandi di una famiglia estesa, finì per creare un effetto “torre di babele” che rese la stabilità dei Governi ancor’ più che un sogno, un incubo. Come se ciò non bastasse, a qualcuno dei Padri Fondatori venne la brillante idea che una magistratura indipendente era proprio ciò che ci voleva per bilanciare (sic!) il casino istituzionale immaginato dai Padri Fondatori che comprendevano rappresentanti dei due maggiori partiti degli anni postbellici (la Democrazia Cristiana e i Communisti).

Una ulteriore deviazione dalla tradizione Occidentale è costituito dal potere giudiziario che i Padri Fondatori vollero tenere fuori dal “governo”. Infatti con il termine “governo” come compreso e usato in Italia, si è soliti riferire quasi esclusivamente al ramo esecutivo, mentre l’altro ramo di “governo” è costituito dal potere legislativo, ovvero dal Parlamento.

La Magistratura, potere giudiziale o corpo dei giudici che dir si voglia, è un organo indipendente della (Burocrazia) di Stato, formalmente non fa parte del “governo”. Ciò rende il sistema costituzionale italiano l'unico in Occidente ad avere due poteri di governo deboli e mal coordinati tra loro, spesso alla mercé di un potere giudiziale altamente politicizzato di burocrati non eletti ma di carriera, dotati di grandi poteri e pronti a riempire vuoti di potere politico dalla sicurezza che la loro Torre d’Avorio gli garantisce, liberi ed indipendenti, senza pesi o contrappesi esterni alla magistratura, ma anche senza responsabilità.

Su ragazzi, tempus fugit! Potete fare di più e di meglio perché se proprio non ce la fate, rinunciate ed “avanti il prossimo”, o meglio ancora, perché non indire una gara pubblica per un vero e ricco contratto pubblico: quello di “Country Manager” con poteri illimitati di assumere e licenziare i propri “ministri” pur di raggiungere gli obiettivi di governo, una sorta di “Imperator / Dictator” d’ispirazione romana, però sotto contratto pubblico con lo Stato. Di certo, nessuno a destra o a sinistra si sognerebbe di chiedere un contratto a tempo indeterminato per una tale figura. Per il nostro Superfunzionario, un contratto a termine, magari rinnovabile sostanzialmente agli stessi termini e condizioni al raggiungimento di obiettivi predeterminati e concordati verrebbe visto come più che sufficiente ed accettabile da tutti, compreso sindacalisti e politici di sinistra.

Italy's Government for Change gets off to a slow start on the Economy

The Corriere della Sera of June 25, 2018, in its insert on “L’Economia” proffers its suggestions to the present coalition government on how best to breathe new life into an Italian economy chloroformed by seventy years of labor-biased economic policies that have worked well to impoverish the presumed beneficiaries, all the while encouraging employers to sell out, close or migrate to more business friendly venues. Italians are still stunned by Fiat’s migration to the USA.

In the first of two interesting articles, Mauro Marè and Nicola Rossi address the issue of taxation and current plans to simplify the system by scrapping non performing tax credits held by Italy’s IRS, “The Agenzia delle Entrate," which thanks to Italy’s non performing judicial system would, regardless, find difficult to make good in the event delinquent taxpayers resisted prosecution in the courts. Hence, the Conte Administration is contemplating cancelling all outstanding tax credits under € 100,000. against upfront cash settlements of 6%, 15% and 25% of total amounts due.

In the second article, Guntram Wolff, Simone Tagliapietra and Alessio Terzi provide insights on how better management of human resources, the State Bureaucracy, and investing in the so-called green economy (all “sacred cows” of the “ancien régime” for which the Corriere’s heart still bleeds) are needed to grow the Italian economy. Of course in Italy’s situation, doing just about anything would be helpful; nevertheless, a few of the Authors’ suggestions are worthy of note.

That Italy is below the EU average in education is a known fact. But how to remedy a situation based almost exclusively on the near monopoly afforded the State’s Public School System? The Authors make no suggestions here other than to underscore the problem, suggesting that more public funding, especially in the forever underprivileged south, is urgently needed. Money alone, however, is not going to change the reality of a “system” based almost exclusively on public schools.

This Author suggests Italy and the Vatican may want to revisit the current Concordato and renegotiate the respective roles of Church and State in the education of Italians. A model for such an undertaking might be the USA, which integrates well a system of education based on state and private schools of all denominations, including privately funded lay and religious organizations. Competition is one sure way of breathing life back into Italian education. For sure it will take courage and vision for an “out of the box” solution such as the aforesaid, one that would be seen as breaking with established tradition, requiring the abandonment of old political and religious prejudices. Who better than Italy’s new Government for Change? The American Catholic Church, which successfully runs a parallel system of education from the elementary to the post-graduate level, numbering Universities of excellence ranked on a par with the best of America’s Ivy League Schools could be of help to Italy’s Government for Change, should they want to break with a long-standing tradition that has failed Italians.

Getting the Italian State Bureaucracy up and running is going to be a challenge that will require more than money or the idea suggested by the Corriere’s journalists in the second article that the time has come to invest in the “digitalization” of the State Bureaucracy. It is true that Italy is finally getting around to laying down a network of fibre optics destined to hook-up most cities and outlying areas, making possible high-speed, broad-band connections. Still, Italians are more into smartphones than computers and of those having access to a computer few are Internet savvy. And of the few with Internet experience, even less go online to interact with the State Bureaucracy. The idea of the Corriere evidently still lies in automating, rather thai cancelling the countless number of (mostly) useless certificates that Italians are still forced to request from their State or local Statistics Bureaus whenever applying for  the issuance of licenses, permits and the like.

The present Government of Change has promised to repeal hundreds of laws that while officially still in force have fallen into disuse and are no longer enforced or enforceable. Likewise, rather than automate the State Bureaucracy, much thought should go into rethinking what Italians really need in terms of civil servants and the services they provide. Putting the State Bureaucracy online and getting a still mostly paper and pencil organization used to working with computers will take more time than money and the effects will not be felt on the economy any time soon.

Anyone that has opened a checking or other bank account in this country knows the incredible amount of paperwork involved to comply with Italy’s complicated laws and privacy statutes. People are forced to sign their names untold number of times, which is irritating and outright silly considering the inefficacy of the judicial system and courts.

The second article suggests that investing in the “green economy” would be of great help in boosting economic growth. Renewable energy and the like are industries dear to the Corriere and the Dems from even before Renzi and Gentiloni. If they alone had the power to spark growth, Italy would have felt the effects long ago.

In Italy business is done mostly via the State and its multinationals or it is not done at all. Before growing again, Italy will need to rethink the State’s role in the economy: how much State vs. how much private enterprise does the Country need / want. Today, practically 70% of GNP is generated directly or indirectly by the “State," meaning the Government and / or its agencies. Since the financial crisis of 2007, Italy has lost 25% of its GNP. To me that would have been reason enough to warrant a complete reversal of the State’s role in the economy. But for a country hooked on Big Government since the first post war years, it is not realistic to expect a complete reversal. Government is Italy’s biggest employer and not much more can be expected from the State in terms of finding and / or employing additional financial resources in order to stimulate the economy. State resources are already stretched far too thin. Like it or not the only alternative, short of taxing Italians to death, is enlisting the aid of private enterprise, domestic and foreign, in making the investments required to get the Italian economy growing again. How? The options are not endless but varied enough to give the Conte Administration some leeway.

To get Italy growing again at a significant rate is going to take all of the available State / Government resources plus whatever resources can be mustered from a long neglected private sector.

N. B. The term “Government” is used above as a synonym for “State” and vice-versa. For Italians the term “Governo” is used almost exclusively in connection with the Executive Branch.

Il Governo del Cambiamento parte piano sull'economia

Il Corriere della Sera del 25 giugno 2018, nell’allegato intitolato “L’Economia”, si permette di suggerire al nuovo governo di coalizione alcune ricette per riportare a nuova vita un’economia italiana cloroformizzata da settant’anni di politiche economiche “pro-lavoratori”, tanto da aver impoverito i presunti beneficiari ed incoraggiato i loro datori di lavoro a vendere, chiudere o migrare a lidi più favorevoli alle Imprese. Gli italiani sono ancora shoccati dalla migrazione della Fiat verso gli USA.

Nel primo di due interessanti articoli, Mauro Maré e Nicola Rossi si concentrano sul problema della tassazione e dei piani attuali per semplificare il sistema fiscale rottamando, pare, cartelle esattoriali incagliate sotto i 100.000 Euro a fronte di transazioni cash al 6%, 15% e 25%, a saldo e stralcio dell’ammontare totale dovuto.

Nel secondo articolo, Guntram Wolff, Simone Tagliapietra ed AlessioTerzi ci forniscono una serie di dati su come una migliore organizzazione delle risorse umane, della pubblica amministrazione (PA), nonché investimenti in sostenibilità e nella green economy (tutti “totem” dell’ancien régime caro al Corriere) sono necessari per far crescere l’economia italiana. Certo è che nella situazione in cui si trova l’Italia, qualsiasi cosa può essere di aiuto: ciononostante, alcuni suggerimenti sono degni di nota.

Che l’Italia sia sotto gli standards dell’UE in materia di educazione è un fatto noto. Come rimediare ad una tale situazione quando la scuola poggia quasi esclusivamente sul monopolio concesso allo Stato in materia? Gli Autori si guardano bene dal profferire soluzioni, limitandosi a segnalare il problema e suggerendo che bisognerà spendere molto di più, specialmente nell’eternamente povero Meridione. Comunque non sarà di certo una maggiore infusione di denaro pubblico a cambiare la realtà di un “sistema” basato principalmente su scuole pubbliche.

Per il sottoscritto, l’Italia ed il Vaticano potrebbero cogliere l’occasione per rivisitare il Concordato in vigore e rinegoziare i rispettivi ruoli di Chiesa e Stato nell’educazione della prole italiana del 21esimo secolo. Un modello per un tale sforzo potrebbero essere gli USA dove funziona bene un sistema educativo multi-canale basato su sistemi scolastici misti composti da scuole pubbliche e private di ogni denominazione. Non c’è niente come la concorrenza per soffiare vita nuova in un sistema educativo ormai logoro come quello italiano. Certo che occorre coraggio e visione per una soluzione fuori dagli schemi ed anticonformista che, però, richiede l’abbandono di antichi pregiudizi politici e religiosi. Pane per i denti di un Governo del Cambiamento. La Chiesa Cattolica Americana, che dirige con successo un sistema educativo parallelo che spazia dalle scuole elementari alle Università anche di eccellenza che sono spesso alla pari con le migliori “Ivy League” Schools degli Stati Uniti, potrebbe soccorrere il Governo del Cambiamento, qualora fosse intenzionato a sfidare una tradizione di lunga data che ha servito male gli italiani.

Far in modo che la PA si alzi in piedi e si metta a correre costituisce una sfida che richiederà molto di più del vile denaro o l’idea suggerita dal Corriere che basterebbe investire nella digitalizzazione della burocrazia di Stato. E’ vero che finalmente l’Italia si appresta a cablare le città e contrade con una rete in fibre ottiche in grado di consentire agli italiani di viaggiare su Internet a velocità inimmaginabili e su banda larga. Meglio tardi che mai, ma gli italiani sono più per gli smartphone che per i computer. E di coloro che hanno accesso ad un computer, pochi hanno una buona conoscenza dello strumento Internet. E di quelli che navigano su Internet, meno ancora vanno online per interagire con la PA. L’idea del Corriere rimane ancorata all’automazione più che alla cancellazione delle miriadi di inutili certificati che gli italiani sono ancora costretti a richiedere allo Stato centrale o periferico che sia.

Il Governo del Cambiamento ha promesso di revocare centinaia di leggi che sono ancora ufficialmente in vigore, ma che cadute in desuetudine, non sono più né rispettate, né fatte rispettare dalle autorità preposte. Similmente, piuttosto che automatizzare la PA, faremmo meglio a ripensare ciò che serve veramente agli italiani in termini di burocrati e dei servizi che erogano. Mettere la PA online (cioè, su Internet) e trasformare una organizzazione ancora basata sul cartaceo, in un servizio informatizzato, richiederà più tempo che denaro e gli effetti sull’economia del Paese non si avvertiranno presto.

Chiunque abbia aperto un conto corrente od altro conto bancario in Italia ha sperimentato l’incredibile volume di carta che un tale procedimento richiede per essere in regola con le complicatissime leggi che in Italia disciplinano tali rapporti nonché la privacy. I correntisti sono costretti a sottoscrivere il loro nome innumerevoli volte su voluminosi incartamenti, il che, oltre ad essere irritante, è anche sciocco tenuto conto dell’inefficacia del sistema giudiziale preposto alla tutela legale delle parti.

Il secondo articolo suggerisce che investire nella “green economy” costituirebbe un importante aiuto alla crescita economica. L’Energia rinnovabile e industrie simili sono care al Corriere ed ai Dems dai tempi precedenti a Renzi e Gentiloni. Se avessero un tale potere di infondere una spinta all’economia, l’Italia ne avrebbe sentito i benefici già molti anni fa.

In Italia le attività economiche sono determinate, incanalate e filtrate attraverso lo Stato e le sue multinazionali o non lo sono affatto. Prima di tornare a crescere, l’Italia dovrà ripensare il ruolo dello Stato nell’economia: quanto Stato, paragonato a quanta impresa privata, sia necessaria o auspicabile per il Paese. Oggi, in pratica il 70% del PIL è generato direttamente o indirettamente dallo “Stato”, inteso come Governo o sue Agenzie. Dalla crisi finanziaria del 2007, l’Italia ha perso il 25% del proprio PIL. A parere di chi scrive, già ciò sarebbe motivo sufficiente per giustificare una completa inversione di indirizzo nel ruolo dello Stato in economia. Ma in un paese con una tradizione di “Big Government” che risale al primo dopo guerra, non è realistico aspettarsi un netto cambiamento di rotta. Lo Stato è il principale datore di lavoro in Italia e non ci si può aspettare che esso trovi e impieghi altre risorse finanziarie per stimolare l’economia.  Tali risorse sono già state sfruttate al limite. Che piaccia o meno, l’unica alternativa, a meno che non si voglia uccidere i contribuenti con aumenti ripetuti di tasse, è chiedere aiuto al settore privato, interno o esterno, per fare quegli investimenti necessari affinché l’economia italiana torni a crescere. Come? Le opzioni non sono infinite, ma abbastanza varie da dare al Governo Conte un ventaglio di possibilità.

Per far sì che l’Italia torni a crescere a un tasso significativo, bisognerà avvalersi di tutte le risorse disponibili allo Stato / Governo, oltre a tutte le risorse che potranno venire dal settore privato troppo a lungo trascurato.

N.B. Il termine “Governo” è usato come sinonimo di “Stato” e vice-versa. Per gli italiani il termine “Governo” è usato quasi esclusivamente in relazione all’Esecutivo.

The First Populist Gov.it

Yesterday the Conte Administration received a vote of confidence from both houses of the Italian Parliament and with a comfortable majority to boot, despite the usual sour grapes from Italy's Establishment.

To make sure the public takes notice of the change in substance of this Italian government, the hope is Conte and Partners will work to achieve and enforce party discipline a concept alien to the Italian Constitution and Parliamentary rules and practice. In a Country where the Constitution officially holds the people's representatives unaccountable by virtue of Article 67 of the Italian Constitution discipline is long overdue. Another hope is that Ministers should talk by their actions, not with their mouths: The only ones authorized to speak in public and address the press on policy issues should be Conte, Di Maio and/or Salvini. This would be a welcome break from past governments that saw Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament holding press conferences, releasing interviews to journalists and participating on TV talk shows on an almost daily basis.

In a Country where “form” is often “substance” the behavior and demeanor of MPs is of the utmost importance. Presence especially that of government MPs should be the rule and strictly enforced by economic sanctions: no show, no pay. The Conte Administration has a bare bones majority in Parliament and will have to be very careful not to loose it (above all in a system where more governments were forced to step down after waking up one morning to discover the majority they had the day before had vanished over night). Enforcing party loyalty in order to avoid "ambushes" somewhere down the line in the House or Senate, especially by Populist MPs is crucial to the government's survival. Only the two Romano Prodi governments fell by a vote of no confidence as prescribed by the Italian Constitution and since Unity only two other governments are known to have been voted out of office by votes of no confidence. Evidently MPs are shy when it comes to tendering a vote of no confidence. Why? Well because tendering a vote of no confidence carries an element of risk regardless of the form. Better therefore to hide behind the anonymity of a secret ballot and shoot down a government perhaps on an insignificant bill catching everyone by surprise by withholding the necessary votes required to maintain its majority, thereby forcing the government to resign for lack of the majority needed to remain in power. "Ambushes" are much more Italian and preferable to an open showdown in the Parliament. Too risky a business given the money and perks at stake. After all, politics beats working, right guys?

Italy&'s "Five Star Movement" and "The League" Team Up to Form a New Government

On June 1st, 2018 Italy’s new Government was sworn in by President Mattarella, a 76-year old survivor from the cold-war era, which in Italy lasted until the day before when Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini closed the deal on their “agreement” to give Italians a new Government and, let’s hope, a better deal. Today, June 2nd there were 19 new smiley faces at Italy’s Military Parade in honor of The Italian Republic, which today turned 72. At the helm, was PdC, Mr. Giuseppe Conte, Esq. and “his” 18 cabinet Ministers, 25 Ministers less than Berlusconi’s government of 11 June 2001 to 23 April 2005 the longest lasting Government of the Republic.

A first consideration is to be found in the title of this piece. Teamwork comes hard to Italians. In sports Italians are at their best in one-on-one disciplines like swimming, skiing, boxing, fencing and swordsmanship, tennis, track and field, etc. Team sports, including soccer are often a source of disappointment for fans of “The Blue Teams” as the Italian national teams are called. The teamwork displayed during the long negotiations by Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio were exemplary and come as a welcome change that bodes well for the future.

A second consideration is the friendly relations entertained by the leaders of the two maverick parties (Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini) during three months of hard-nosed negotiations.

Team-work and respect bordering on friendship in the past have never entered into the picture of Italian politicking. This too is a welcome sign and could be an indication that change may truly be in the making.

True, the two parties have little in common other than their “grass roots” constituencies, which Italy’s cold-war leaders prefer to brand as “populist” forgetting that populism lies at the very roots of western democracy. Of course, many Italians are still searching for a third way and are still not convinced “West is best”. Be that as it may, team-work, respect and a bare-bones Cabinet are all novelties compared with past Italian Governments.

The Germans, in one of their EU promo videos broadcast some time ago on Sky Italia, explained how in time there is a good chance the EU will go federal, that is, if it survives Brexit and other centrifugal forces that risk pulling it apart. Oh, and how so? Well, because the leaderships of most Member States are of germanic origins (the Franks in France, the Visigoths in Spain, the Lombards in Italy, etc.). Italy’s (new) Government for change, in fact, marks the return of the Lombards at the helm of North Italy since 1495. This time, however, the Lombards have shown little or no indecisiveness.

Back in the 15th Century North Italy was the economic muscle that powered the Holy Roman(o-Germanic) Empire. Today, Italy is one of the founding Members of the European Union. With a huge manufacturing base, Italy is on a par with France and, since Brexit, second only to Germany itself. It is Germany’s largest trading partner and foremost competitor. Like in the 15th Century it rivals Germany for the manufacturing lead but is hamstrung by its 2.3 Trillion Euro National Debt. Since the 2007 financial crisis, Italy has lost 25% of its GDP thanks also to Mario Monti’s cure by taxation that gouged Italians and brought their economy to a halt. Over the past year or so Italy has begun to grow again against all odds and with no help from their German cousins.

The new Government needs to quickly do what the Establishment has never had the courage to do before, i.e., significantly cut the National Debt by some 100 to 200 Billion Euros as soon as possible. For example, by selling some of Italy’s huge gold reserves and/or State Assets such as Government - owned multinationals, real estate in the public domain, or similar solutions calling for the selling of municipal companies for cash without raising taxes and with attractive tax and other benefits for foreign investors and their families willing to relocate and/or invest a minimum amount of say, at least Two Million Euros in Italy and hire a minimum number of Italians against free health care for the Investor and his family, residency papers, etc.

The possibilities and options are not endless but varied enough to give the new Government a number of options. Italy is a wealthy Country with a strong Army and conventional Navy and it should start behaving like one. Hefty Gold Reserves and Government Assets will do Italians no good if the Country is pushed into default by its enemies, domestic or foreign. The important thing is to move quickly before the Establishment get their allies in the EU bureaucracy to mobilize against the Italian Government. If Di Maio and Salvini move quickly, there is little doubt that the Italian economy could regain the 25% drop in GDP over a relatively short span of time, making Italy once more an important Member of the EU.

To ensure success, Italians need to start looking for allies within and without the EU: the French and Spanish are our hermanos. Remember that we Italians invented the term “Latini” from whence comes the American “Latinos”. Few countries are more alike in custom and language than Italy and France. The two countries even share the same proverbs and sayings. No two European nations have influenced each other more over the centuries than “la Douce France” and “il Bel Paese”. Leonardo Da Vinci put his talents to work for France during the last decades of his life and helped France become a military superpower. The Kings of France owed much to Leonardo Da Vinci and the Medici Family. The Fleur de Lis became a symbol of Florence and later of French Royalty by intermarriage with Medici noblewomen. The first powers to congratulate The M5S and The League were the USA, Russia and China.

Start networking guys and be quick about it. Remember time is of the essence.

© The Unedited 2018
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