Friday, November 11

Italy's Reforms...Let's start with the Politicians

Compare Parliamentarian 
w/yr avg Giuseppe
Annual Pay - Benefits -
Annual Working hours
Yrs til pension - Vacation Days
While everyone's waiting for Italy's boot to drop...I'd like to offer my own version of a panacea (or utopia as the case may be).  Can we really expect to get centuries of political patronage, immovable chauvanism, decades of socialist perks wiped away with one flick of a wand?  The revered “ViaMedici Spell?”  Add a pinch of eye of meritocracy too?  Good luck Mr. Monti.  But, unless you’re Dumbledore (and if he’s gay I don’t think that would ever pass muster with the church…they want Harry in the Inquisition Room already), I don’t think the EU’s quick-fix reforms can help Italy so much today (see my previous post as to how open many of them lead to more graft & corruption), but, certainly they might put the country on the right track for the future.  But still, entire mindsets have to change.  It’s as if the entire country needs to take one grande leave of absence and go immigrate to Australia, Canada, the UK or the USA for awhile.  And see just how fast those time-held traditions fall away.  Ask any brain who’s left Italy (the only country in the EU exporting graduates at this accelerated rate) and they will quickly tell you, they did it to get ahead; young, ambitious, and talented (and often female) due to meritocracy.  Heck, even Florentine Bini-Smaghi just left the European Central Bank for a position at Harvard rather than return to the den of thieves back home.  But I digress.
As promised, what are some ways that Italy could cut costs without forcing the middle management to pay the entire country’s way?  [Regular employees of companies & the govt get regular paychecks and so taxes are taken out at the source and therefore the middle can’t hide the income, thus supporting all the millions who do].  And, at the same time become more competitive?  I don’t have the magic spell here, but, every little potion might help.  Here’s a dose of my Monti Magic that would cut audacious spending, add in some sense of responsibility (a word that lost its meaning in the Berlusconi years), tackle corruption, and maybe, by example, make the citizenry proud of the Paese again.  But, it has to start with the leadership.  So, that’s where I’ll start too:

-       Cut the Numbers    The EU has asked that they “try” to cut Parliament.  I say, Napolitano dissolves it and only allows half of them back in the front door.  To this, we add a clause that they must be elected officials and not hand-picked by the party.  How will we monitor the success?  Holding them to a UK bar.  The countries have similar sizes & similar GDPs, yet it doesn’t appear the UK politicians are going hungry (in fact…the opposite might well be true)…A corollary to this is, if you’re under investigation or have already done time, no party.  Of any kind. (This would be nice in the USA as well).
-       Cut the Costs    If you’re gonna raise the retirement age to 67, then it’s gotta be across the board.  Politicians too.  And, for good measure, and to increase morale (which is at an alltime low), it has to be retroactive.  All you under-67 politicos currently living high on the hog are getting a paycut.  Today.  Wait your turn, and don’t despair, Italy has such a long life expectancy, you’ll still be able to enjoy the dough when it's given to you like everyone else (and besides, you have all your kickbacks to live on – tax free).  So no complaints.
-       Cut the Cars    All the limos going to all the boys in office (and they’re almost all boys except when their lovers are being picked up from a shopping spree) from local City govts to Regional ones to State (national) ones lose their multi-car/multi-policeman chauffeur services.  Again, the number and position of the people who do get an escort (not in the Berlusca sense) will be based on the UK.  And, the policemen get to go back to policing the streets and not policing your soirées.
-       Cut the Perks    No, the Italian people will no longer subsidize a barber who makes more than Bank Directors and whatnot.  Pay for your own haircuts, your own gourmet lunches, and no, you can't charge it back to us.
-       Cut the Pay    I call this the Obama Test:  No politician nor government hack is allowed to make more than the Leader of the Free World.  Retroactive.  You want to be a public servant?  We’re going to put the "Servant" back into the name (think of it as getting 'closer to your people' - most of whom--especially the youth are working as slave labor).   Low-level minions (even if you’re a hooker like Nicole Minetti) must make the same as a Post Office teller (you can still turn tricks on the side, it's not a felony here).  Managers paid like Bank Tellers, then Bank branch managers, and up we go to Leader of Italy (population size: ¼ of the USA, so you get ¼ of Obama’s pay).  Besides, you’re getting free apartments and bribes so just put up or don’t go into politics to begin with.  But our tax revenues are no longer paying for your nights in Ibiza.
-       Cut the Red Tape    This is a proposed clause in the current package, and I’m all for it, as long as your nephew, son or lover isn’t the one hired to see them through.  In fact, I would make it a mandatory 10 yr jail sentence for nepotism (applied to Universities as well where it's rife) and see how fast you want your lobotomized offspring to fill your shoes (this should be the case with any companies in which the State is a partner, so Agnelli's 20-something nephew would no longer be at the helm of FIAT.  He can go start his own company if he's so talented - and then we'll see how well he fares).
-       Cut the Spoils System    It’s no wonder Italy has so many political parties.  They reap gazillions (pre-lira!) in payments from tax revenues directly into their coffers.  It's so much you'd think that none of them would be trying to cash in on more govt handouts than they already get. This should be stopped immediately.  Parties can fund themselves from their patrons instead of lining their own pockets and their own walls with masterworks.  Let the struggling citizenry and companies decide, just whom, is going to help their cause.  It's a rotten system as well, but it's better than what we've got.  Italians shouldn’t have to pay to sustain the parties at the expense of education and the elderly, our trash pickup and tiny tots. 
-       Cut Absenteeism    You want mobility in State jobs?  While I applaud the clause for making it easier to fire people, what about our representatives?  Not showing up for votes?  Falling asleep on the job?  Checking porn on your iPad?  Three strikes and you're out.  You would be if you were in a private job as well so…why can’t we make an example of our public officials?
-       Cut the Machismo   Everyone knows by now that women in politics and in the community do more for its growth and sustainability than anything else.  Stop the pussy-footing (perhaps post-Bunga Bunga that’s not the best word choice) and make it mandatory for 50% women representation.   Quotas would not have given us 42 male managers of the Milan Expo, women shut out of the political discourse, and only invited in if our clothes are off.  Can't you see that there's a direct link to being the last in Europe for women in politics and last in Europe?  Don’t worry, you can still make it contingent on sexual favors…because as we saw with the Berlusconi vote, sometimes even a whore has a heart.  Women may just step up to the plate and not behave like the men in the process. 
-       Make Money   Get those parties to pay their fair share for advertising, to pay for the mind-boggling tonnage of posters that rest 8 feet thick at any given bus stop or construction site, and pay for the cleanup (just like the mercato people do).  While we're at it, pay for the recycling of said posters as well.   Maybe they’ll stop littering the city with their nonsense if they had to actually foot the bill for their eyesores and abject waste.
-       Google It – Sign up the entire country for Google Government or Google Tracking App for Public Policy.  (click on title)  We get to follow the money.  So, Naples just got $2 million for that new trash can?  Or, money for education went to a modelling school in Parma?  I don’t think so.  Scoundrels, when caught would have to pay back three-fold in penalties.

If the politicians kick-started this, I think the rest of the country would start to pull itself up by its bootstraps.

p.s.  Alex of Italy Chronicles details the record-breaking pay of Italy's politicians...Making well over 3 times the EU average.  This is meritocracy at its absolute worse.

I’ll tackle the rest of the country tomorrow…(I'm starting to feel like Tremonti myself)...
And, if you agree with this, please spread the love (hey-it is 11.11.11 after all) and "Like" my new Burnt facebook page!


Lindacakes said...


Irreverent Italy said...

p.s. Alex of Italy Chronicles details the Record-breaking pay of Italy's politicians...Making over 3.5 times the European Average.
This is meritocracy at its absolute worse.

Dave514 said...

There are two possibilities of your suggestions being adopted---slim and none and slim left town.

I'll reiterate what I posited in the previous post, what has been adopted are minimal cuts and increased taxation insuring No Growth. This keeps Italy on a downward spiral and eventually leading to Italy's bankruptcy and withdrawal from the EU. The EU will in the long run collapse of it's own bureaucratic weight.

Think about it, even Charlemagne, who was a lot smarter than the lot in Brussels couldn't keep it together.

The Lira is Baaaack!

Dave514 said...

Don't take my word for Italy's real problems, read the following article printed in Canada's National Post today:

Italy is still best described as it was in the Renaissance as, "Rich, divided and weak."

Dave514 said...

Just to add to my comments about the future of the EU, read this short article again from today's National Post/Financial Post:

You accuse me of being an alarmist, I can handle that. Rather an alarmist than play the ostrich.

Anonymous said...

excellent !

Gianni Falcone said...

The cuts you suggest are the only way, and a clean break with the past