Saturday, May 24, 2008
The title of this book translates to "Unpunished: Story of a incapable, wasteful, and happy system ". Caporale is writing about the political system in Italy. This book has not been translated into English and I doubt that it will be. I have spent a large part of my mental efforts over the last seven years in attempting to understand modern Italian history. If I had wisely dedicated my intellectual resources to the forces of good instead, who knows what I may have accomplished - perhaps there would now be nuclear fusion test station in my basement.
When writing about Italy the most difficult task is being able to do so in under 3000 words. I am greatly fascinated by the post WWII history of Italy and will certainly (attempt to) write about it more in the future. To briefly summarize the political and economic situation in Italy right now, it is a near disaster. You can forget about the rolling Tuscan hills and barolo wines if you attempt to unravel this political ball of yarn.
Caporale is a journalist for La Reppublica, a left-leaning major newspaper in the country. In this book he travels the peninsula exposing how numerous politicians have managed to waste billions of Euros mainly on large-scale infrastructure projects that were never realized. However, more important than these countless examples of politicians abusing their power at the expense of the Italian taxpayer, is the fact that these same politicians are rarely held accountable in court; are never forced to look into a camera and say "I made a mistake"; and are not turned on by their peers.
This lack of accountability is the theme that runs through this book and which represents the missing element in the modern political system. Italy can no longer hide in the shadows of the rest of Europe because they now are part of Europe. This means that the country will be held to the same standards as other European Union members. The vast majority of national and local governments are more than capable of improperly managing vast sums of money. I have no problem there. But heads have to roll every now and then to at least strike a little fear into the heart of the politicians. And this happens in modern democracies, not including Il bel paese.
The fact that a member of parliament in Italy is the highest paid in all of Europe while the average Italian wages are among the lowest speaks for itself. Politicians are concerned about preserving their caste. It does not matter if they are from the left or right. This "caste" has become the talk of the country over the last year since a book with the same title was written by Gian Antonio Stella. Caporale's book is an offspring of Stella's. The question is for how long can you talk without action? And here is the core of the problem, these politicians are capable of outlasting the talk because the action, mainly judicial, simply takes too long. They know that they will not have to face the fire because the average Italian can only be appalled by the amount of inefficiency and waste a certain number of times before they simply tune it out. I know because I am quickly reaching that level and I am not even Italian - nor do I live in the country!