Nicholas Farrell is an English writer who lives in Rome and has written a book about Mussolini and is busy on another one discussing how a left wing socialist became a fascist dictator. he also writes for La Voce di Romagna and The Spectator in the UK.
He is rightly banging on about the need for Italy to wake up and smell the coffee as the Americans would say. I hadn’t hear Renzi’s nickname Il Rottamatore the demolition man before but he is unconvinced that Renzi really has the will to get to grips with the reforms that he talks about.
I love some of the examples he uses in his well researched article. Did you know there are 28,000 forestry police in Sicily ? That is more than in the whole of Canada. I must find out how many there are in Puglia . There are 950 ambulance drivers there with no ambulances to drive but they still draw a gold plated salary and will look forward to a pension paid by the tax payer of about 80% of their final salary. They can also retire after 20 years of “working”.
Italian M.P.s are, we know, the best paid in the world but as most are also men there are barbers employed by the State to shave the M.Ps when they want and to trim their hair. The salary of these barbers? €136,120 a year gross !!!
This is just the tip of the iceberg of course almost every writer uncovers amazing facts about the waste in Italy and the profligacy of the State and the Regional councils.
Everyone knows the solution but Italy lacks the political will and Renzi alone can do little as the position of PM here is severely curtailed by the Constitution which for fear of dictatorship gives the prime minister little executive power to act. We all know that the euphoria of the passing of a bill to do away with Article 18 that prevents people being fired from their jobs will over the next three years as it moves through parliament become unrecognisable as the bill being lorded today.
What would be a start is for the government to follow the lead set by the Rome Opera House a few weeks ago. The musicians are of course State employees. They work less than 28 hours a week and over half of that is given over to “study” . Like most State employees they receive not 12 months salary a year but 16 months and if they have to perform in the open air they receive double pay because the union considers it a health risk ! They also spend much of their time on strike and this summer on several occasions the conductor found himself about to perform la Boheme at the Opera House with just a pianist present as the musicians had called yet another lightening strike.
Apt really for the musicians if they were performing outside at the moment. Your tiny hand is frozen
A couple of weeks ago the opera house board did something that is completely amazing in Italy. They fired all 200 of them ( 200 strong orchestra the mind boggles !!) and closed the place down to start again next year. Enough finally was enough.
Would that il rottamottore would do the same and start to get Italy back on it’s feet again. The debt is now €2.2 trillion or 135% of GDP despite the last three leaders promising to bring it down ( 2011 it was 128% ) .
I still can’t get over 200 musicians trying to squeeze into the Rome Opera house ! I found a fun band today that plays todays hits in a style of a certain decade. They are rather fun and have 4.4 million hits on youtube which can’t be bad.
Who needs two hundred musicians !!