|- The EU starts backseat driving -|
As for me, I'm more interested in the three-card monty he's been playing with the EU and IMF authorities. He promised the EU reforms, but again, there was the typical Italian vagueness to his document that today provoked a 39 page letter asking for actual details on each of them.
So, while everyone is rejoicing with a Ding Dong Berlusconi's Gone chorus, what has he wagered with his bargaining chip that the Italians are going to end up paying for, in spades? [His last reform package was deemed unhealthy by the President, not for the reform content ingredients, but because all the pork he had ladened it with benefitting only him and his constituents: his party cronies.
So, here's a brief summation of the Legge della Stabilità - Stabilization Law and its later addenda submitted by the EU, color-coded for easy reference.
Human Capital /
This supposedly takes on schools and research, including new doctoral programs (like at Gran Sasso lab) along with clauses for 'digital innovation' like automated paychecks.
I can't for the life of me figure out what with kickbacks how any of this, at least as presented, leads to austerity measures. It looks like throwing new money to resolve old problems.
Small businesses get three years' tax breaks for hiring young people as apprentices, trying to give a leg up for hiring women, and letting people telecommute.
Again, all I can see are businesses saying they've hired the young just for the breaks and then firing them the day the contracts expire. Taxes will be higher to pay for the breaks.
Word on the street (but not yet in the final document) that the retirement age would be raised to 67 yrs for both men & women [Women in Italy used to get a few year's break given that they have double the workload (home & office) and the burden of taking care of their offspring until well into their 80s].
This is good & well, but of course, lawmakers can receive their pensions after only 35 months in office (and at any age). Where's the belt-tightening?
Liberalization of Markets /
Reorganization of local transport??? Forgive my ignorance, but what does that have to do with the price of pasta in Parma? It looks like we're having a hey-day of issuing new government contracts for politicians to grease their palms further...
Reform of Professional Orders Like Judges, Lawyers, Doctors and whatnot and of course, Healthcare Reform (read: cuts)
Aside from closing hospitals and firing staff (already in progress), I'm not sure how the rest saves us money, but, I'll give it a pass for now.
Here we have a reform of the (grossly incompetent, overblown, over-staffed, under-achieving ridiculous arm) ICE (Istituto Commercio Estero), a monstrous octopus whose job is to "promote Italian goods abroad". I don't believe in these parking lots for political cronies and their extended families and would be all for it, if I didn't think it would end up as 'more of the same'.
I would suggest instead (oops, that's supposed to be tomorrow!) a swift course in building user-friendly websites without Google Translate, made by professionals and not some html dropout, along with figuring out how to get items delivered without getting them stolen in the mail or without having customers spend a day home from work waiting for the delivery guy...
This would go far further in promoting Italian products abroad than anything any government agency could ever pull off. Not to mention that a "reform" sounds like whoever is in power in 2012 gets to put his buddies in place. I cite Berlusconi's pal Stanca from IBM who breezed through 58 million euro (that's over $85 Million) just to build the www.italia.it website (click here for my writeup). This is the true reason why Berlusca wants to stay in power to "see through" the reforms and his party pals don't want elections.
Italy's the no. 1 exporter of wines in the world, no thanks to ICE.
In this category, they are looking at initiatives to improve Italy's bandwidth and subsequently, e-commerce. Sounds good to me, but...I still don't see how we're saving money here...
They're also planning on going after fake companies offering auto insurance (but as of this reading I don't see them going after the fakes getting pensions, the false invalids, the fake companies, the companies faking receipts, the companies and people faking their taxes)...Sorry, ahead of myself again.
There's a provision for simplifying the tourism sector. How about just butting out? People love to visit Italy. See www.Italia.it website above. 'Nuff said.
Other provisions include incentives for auto dealers, improving energy efficiency & distribution, and other improvements for ports and highways.
So, how are we going to pay for all this?
For starters, they've already raised the VAT tax on a few items (like highway tolls), although they left businesses alone as it would have put another dagger into the already-dead economy.
Gas prices are through the roof because of additional taxes levied to help pay for the devastation from the flooding of the towns (now dozens and counting) in Cinque Terre, Genoa, Matera, now Messina. I'm sorry, but if I want to donate €90 to Genoa, I'll do it by my own volition -- I absolutely abhor this "taxation without representation" -- the basis of which created "These United States." And besides, if they didn't ruin the landscapes by over-construction to begin with, we wouldn't have to cough up the gazillions now to resurrect these places...
I've found a few mentions of selling off State properties both in Italy and abroad, and others still occupied by the Defense Dept. [but no mention of halting orders on say, the 17 Maserati's recently purchased by the Ministry of Defense. "They're Italian-made, before they were Audi's", the Minister stated in his defense. So are FIAT 500s. And besides, perhaps Audi's last longer.]
One thousand teachers will be let go (none in Parliament, however). State employees will no longer get a free lunch (but Parliamentarians will).
Unemployed who want to apply for State job bids will have to pay for their admission (€10-€15).
Cuts to Carabinieri & Police (most of whom are used to escort politicians anyway)
Cuts to the Monopoly Administration (insert your own joke here).
Different use for monies coming from Telecoms bids (4G).
Cuts to administering all the pay & pensions schemes & their over-loaded bureaucracies.
Tomorrow, I will give you my own list of proposed cuts that most every red-blooded Italian could not only live with, but would embrace wholeheartedly. If only the EU would force Italy's hand in this direction (along with Greece's and their own corrupt systems) instead of relying on thinking debt goes away by raising the retirement age and other half-measures as the ones above suggest.