Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Time to lynch the clown

Italy has something of a history of being led by posturing clowns, or at least by corrupt and evil men who hid their vice under a mask of clownish buffoonery. Yes, the priapic Berlusconi was such a one, as was the absurd Mussolini, but also Andreotti, a Mafia stooge convicted of murdering a journalist and Craxi, mired in graft and corruption, within the recent past. Some had a jackdaw-like compulsion for geegaws, like Francesco Cossiga, who scrounged sovereign orders from just about every State on Earth, including our own Bath, to the point where his entire torso from neck to groin was not big enough to wear them all. None have failed to provide the average Englishman with an innate sense of moral superiority and greater worth.

Hatfield Girl has remarked that the wealth ghettos are intact; the streets are filled with gleaming new cars, the women are beautiful in their Autumn fashion, the restaurants are full, the sparkling shop windows bursting with actinic lamp glare and expensive goods. In fact just as I report the state of the City here - just the same. In fact what we're both seeing is the financial crisis itself, in which financial sector profits have been privatised but losses nationalised. We're looking at the privatised gains and not the socialised pains. 

No doubt Berlusconi will manage to avoid jail, like Andreotti before him. Perhaps he is already suffering from Saunders' Syndrome, an Alzheimer's-like condition brought on by judicial proceedings. Italians haven't used the Gadaffi  solution since Benito and Clara were hung upside-down like rabbits in the game larder. 


Nick Drew said...

I'm not so sure ... look carefully at HG's pic here

Anonymous said...

Why worry about Berluscummi when we should concentrate our fire power at mafiosi style scumbags closer to home. What about Bob Crow...I've seen some estimates put his annual salary north of £250K - what is going on in Britain?

Liberista said...

you clearly know nothing about italian politics, which are hard to understand for an italian, let alone for an englishman.
your opinion and historic knowledge about mussolini is also very, very superficial. and his summary execution, ordered by people who has been in the italian parliament for decades afterwards, a dark time for italy.
it really looks like you get your italian info from the MSM. really not the best place.
best regards

Sean said...


Sounds spot on to me.

Maybe if you held your political class to account better you would realise that your low growth rate of the last decade is a direct result of membership of the euro, and then you might even conclude that not having a lender of last resort is not the best idea you can come up with, and thus against your national interest (such a dirty concept for you)

YES we have many problems here in the UK but the simple fact is public debt if far more dangerous and toxic than private debt.

At least Silvio will have plenty of time to spend with his billionaire pal Vladimir Putin, comparing girls and swiss account numbers.

But he really got to the nub of the problem with tha bunga parties. At a 1.2 woman to child birthrate the idea that you will have a workforce to pay the ten year gilts is "speculativo"

Blue Eyes said...

Presumably the "real" Italian economy itself is doing well because nobody pays their taxes. So cause and effect are indeed the same thing.

I read somewhere that if the Italian government collected all the taxes which have been enacted it would collect over 100% of GDP...

Elby the Beserk said...


You have a wonderful country, your art, food, friendliness and passion for football without compare. However, the fact that since WWII you have probably had more govts than years have passed suggests that whatever the truth about that posturing fool Mussolini may be, Raedwald is not far off target regarding your politics. Especially that you then went and elected another posturing buffoon in the form of Berlusconi.

It is in many ways healthy to ignore ones' government. It keeps blood pressure down, and in most countries if not all the government is full of fools and knaves. The UK is another. But poor Italy, with the Mafia bundled into it as well (and surely Berlusconi has the Mafia sitting on his shoulder?) means that you are a basket case. Which is a huge shame - I hope your people are not made to suffer as the Greeks are being, from their Northern occupation. Ciao. I look forward to another visit to Italy.

Sean said...

One advantage of having your PM constantly tied up with fighting so many personal fires is that he has rather less time to f*ck up anything genuinely useful to the country. Idle hands, and all that.

There's a popular misconception that Italy is like the UK or France: one big, happy, nation. It isn't. One of the major parties is the "Lega Nord" which, like Scotland's SNP, wants the northern (wealthy, industrialised) half of Italy to secede from the southern (poorer, agricultural) half.

The regions of Italy—remember, until the 1860s, there _was_ no nation called "Italy"; it was all just a bunch of city-states, like San Marino, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg—have _very_ strong identities and retained much of their old administrative powers. The politicians in Rome get to pass laws and decrees, but they don't get to actually run the country in the way the UK's Whitehall mandarins do. There's no such culture of centralisation and micro-management here.

So Silvio really is a side-show. Italians don't trust politicians any more than the British do, but their electoral system does encourage a lot more political activism. Everyone gets heard.

There are very few chain stores here. Most of what appear to be chain stores are actually franchises, managed and run entirely by locals. (Closer to the Londis approach than McDonalds.)

Nor are there many massive, nationwide financial institutions like, say, Barclays or HSBC, which are "too big to fail". The banks here are mostly regional (very similar to the pre-deregulation local Building Societies of the UK) and many are actually cooperatives. E.g. the Bank of Bologna is a cooperative and is required by its statutes to invest heavily into local businesses. So that problem the UK had where banks simply clammed up and stopped lending any money at all didn't happen here. (Well, it did a bit, but nowhere near to the same extent.)

Italy's economic weakness is its lack of natural resources. It imports most of its electricity, gas and oil products, for example. Many of the primary materials it needs have to be shipped and trucked into the country for processing in its factories. This means there's always been an imbalance in its imports and exports that varies wildly according to factors well outside the control of any Italian government. That Italy has managed any growth at all is pretty much a a miracle in itself.

I could go on about Italy's investment in infrastructure improvements. Two new metro lines are under construction in Rome, plus an extension to an existing one, and a new 'ring' railway line. And that's on top of the just-completed re-routing / widening of the city's orbital motorway! And that's just Rome!

Note that construction costs here are much lower than in the UK, so Rome never had to choose which projects it should build. It got to tick the "All of the above!" box. This is normal here.

I won't deny Italy has plenty of flaws—its planning laws are utterly bizarre—but the suggestion that Berlusconi has been able to do much, if any, real lasting harm to the nation is simply not tenable. He's just the latest contestant in Italy's 60-year-old national reality show.