Tuesday, June 10

Italy: Bribe City & More - Same Time Next Year

Per quest'anno, non cambiare, stessa spiaggia stesso mare...
Per poterti rivedere...per tornare quest' estate insieme a me.
E come l'anno scorso....Sotto gli ombrelloni, lontano, lontano nessuno ci vedrà

This year, don't change a thing...
Same sand - same sea
So to see you again and relive this summer again with me.
This season, like the last one....
Under the large umbrellas, out of sight, out of sight, no one will see us...

This summer the headlines have been filled day by day of the titillating stories of the millions upon millions in bribes that our dear political hacks and their cronies have been pocketing over the large construction projects going up around Italy. Especially scintillating, since Milan ("Bribe City" of yesteryear) and Venice, the supposed scandal-free serenissima, are the locations of such sculduggery [for Milan's Expo2015 and Mose - Moses water divider project in Venice].
And while people seem to be aghast at the breadth and depth of these particular scandals, I am always astonished by them for a number of reasons:  

First off, it is not the untold millions stolen from hospitals, or school kids, or the elderly that I find stunning: It is the fact that people still find it surprising when it happens (or maybe, justifiably, that they get caught at all with their grubby hands in the till).
Secondly, that people actually believe that pursuant to the events of 1992-1996 Tangentopoli-Bribe City that took place in Milan and (supposedly) rid the country of a rotten political class, that the country was on the mend. I, for the life of me, cannot fathom the extent to which Italians live in such a state of marked denial.  And they say we're pessimists here. Al contrario, this is either raging optimism or, I'm afraid, hopelessness and lack of faith in our institutions; the first symptom of a failing State.

I mean, this is a country where you have to pay a bribe to get your driver's license.
• Where families pay off doctors to get a bed in a hospital room.
• Where the clergy have been shown (thru Vatileaks) to be on the take from everything from catering a concert to running illegal funds for deposit in Switzerland.
• Where people I know, from someone selling pencils to companies or someone building bank branches, have to pay someone off in order to seal the deal, large or small.

Moreover, people still are wont to believe that if we pay politicians (including low-life city councilmen) twice as much as U.S. Presidents, more than every other European country, shower them with perks, per diems, apartments and chauffeurs, that this would dissuade them from stealing from the pot. Not so.
As a former Wall Street trader put it, the more you rake in, you become addicted to getting even more, by any means possible.

But the one thing that irks me no end, is that, with all their oodles of money, (almost) nowhere do you see Foundations, University Chairs, Hospitals, et.al. being named after someone who cashed it in. At least our Robber Barons left us a few choice universities, innumerable foundations, hospitals, even abroad.  In Rome, even the founder of Kodak built a dentistry hospital. Do you see anything but villas and a generation of women with fishlips that Berlusconi has left as a legacy? He's just a regular Bill Gates, alright. Except that instead of vaccinating Africans, he started his very own training program: to teach Ghedaffi's Woman Guard how to Pole Dance.
No, these criminals and, sadly, the public at large, expect 'The State' to take care of it all. Really? After you've stolen all the public money? Again, citing a recent article about America's 1%:  The problem is, these people, with all their money, will still only be able to buy so many shoes (unless, of course, you're Imelda Marcos). By taking the money from millions, millions of sales are lost. Companies fold. Everyone loses. I've been inside Senator's houses that could be free-standing museums. Sadly, the works stashed away and hidden from cameras are never bequeathed to the public when the patron's free-wheeling ways and days come to an end.  And yet, we still believe. Year in and year out.
- Wasn't that Moses contraption supposed to divide the waters?
-  Yeah-but for now, it's only divvying up the bribe money.
The Fiamme Gialle financial police who uncover these crimes deserve a Shout Out from each and every honest Italian. But still, check out the bank accounts of any purchasing dept head in any company in Italy; there's still more to find, year after year, after year.
And, now, I'll close with another song lyrics that aptly portrays this new rendition of Bribe City:

Second verse, same as the first -- but a whole lot louder and a whole lot worse! 


Anonymous said...

I don't understand these two words together: honest italians. I don't think that exists. There is an Italian psychiatrist who did a survey. She piblished the results. She asked Italians how many times a day they lied. The answers showed that Italians lie between 5 and 10 times a day. I'm sure you already know that, perhaps you are only trying to make a joke when you write those two words side by side?

Irreverent Italy said...

I think it's the case in many cultures, and I've been ripped off or know people who have been ripped off just as much in the USA. The difference is...We have recourse there. Heck - even Small Claims Court!

Having said that...In my book, Burnt by the Tuscan Sun - I have an entire chapter on Honest Italians...!
It is simply not a value here...and I think it starts with the Leaders...
As Italians love to quip, "A fish rots from the head down"...