Amato, the little Turin scribe


Giuliano Amato has put pen to paper in response to the article in the New York Times, explaining that the description of Italy was merely a parody. The well informed amongst us say that his defence of italianness was without equal, above all as a result of the efforts of the politicians, and that the letter written to the most important newspaper in the United States was drafted directly in English.
The Minister of Home Affairs’ new career risks becoming a full-time job. In fact, in future he will be obliged to correspond with all the world’s press in order to protect his own reputation and that of his colleagues.
The most important of the British dailies, The Times, yesterday published an article of the Beautiful Country: ”La dolce vita turns sour as Italy faces up to being old and poor”, a description that is even worse than that of the New York Times. I have translated it and now provide you with a summary.

Read the complete article.

“There is a sense of national angst in Italy as 2007 comes to a close. The self-lacerating mood goes far beyond prices and incomes, reaching into the heart of Italy’s debate with itself over soul and identity.
There is a sense that while the past is Italy’s glory, it is also its prison, with politics and business dominated by a gerontocracy and the younger entrepreneurs and politicians held back.
When Romano Prodi, the centre-left Prime Minister, held a summit in Rome this week with Nicolas Sarkozy and Zapatero, commentators noted that while Mr. Zapatero was 47 and Mr. Sarkozy a bouncy 52, Mr. Prodi was 68 and Mr. Berlusconi 71.
The best-seller entitled “La Casta” points out that Italy has the highest number of official chauffeur-driven cars in Europe, and that the presidential palace, the Quirinale, cost four times as much to run as Buckingham Palace.
Confesercenti, the trader’s association, says that sales this year of clothing and electrical goods are down 15%, and perfume sales down 10%. Yesterday Coldiretti, the farmers’ union, announced that even sales of pasta were down 5% and bread by 7%.
One key reason for Italy’s woes is the rising energy costs. Another is the strength of the Euro against the Dollar. Even the luxury sector, for which Italy is renowned with names such as Gucci, Armani and Versace, is feeling the squeeze as orders drop. Globalisation and cheap competition from Asia are undermining traditional exports such as textiles.
The last straw for many was the news that Spain had overtaken them in terms of GDP per capita. According to the European Union statistics office, Spain’s GDP per capita climbed to 5% above the 27-member EU average last year, from 3% above the previous year.
Italy moved in the opposite direction, with figures falling to 3% above from 5%. Spain already has its sights on the next goal. Mr. Zapatero wants Spain to match the economy of France.
The Italians are the least happy people in Europe, according to a poll conducted by the University of Cambridge... The Danes turned out to be the happiest.
Italy’s figures
- 0% population growth rate
- 42.5 median age, compared with 38.5 in Britain
- one in five Italians is over 65
- 1.29 children born per woman. 2.1 needed to maintain current population levels
- 120 days lost each year to strike action per 1,000 employees from 2001 to 2005, compared with 26 in Britain
- 20th place on the Human Development Index, the UN measure of factors such as education, wealth and life expectancy, four places below Britain and seven below Spain. Italy dropped three places in the past year.
- 7% unemployment rate, higher than 76 countries, including Romania, Nigeria, Cambodia and the Ukraine.
- 106% public debt as a proportion of GDP, the sixth-highest in the world, higher than Zimbabwe
Sources: UN, CIA, National StatisticsRichard Owen

I wish to point out to Amato that the German, Australian, French, Spanish and even the Turkish headlines have described Italy’s decline. I will send you the translations so that you can respond without delay.

Free press in a free Country. V-day 25 April. V-day 25 April.

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 02:17 PM in | Comments (9) | Comments in Italian (translated) Post a comment | Sign up | Send to a friend | | GrilloNews | listen_it_it.gifListen | TrackBack (0) |
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Why is the London Meet-up closed to new members? Not an healthy sign...

Posted by: Francesca Campalani | January 4, 2008 10:49 PM

Some Italians are undoubtedly self- hating, and I might well be one of them. However, I think that what has been written on the NYT and Times is true. About moving out from Italy and coming to live in London, I regret only one thing: I should have done it earlier and not when I was well into my mid-thirties. I emigrated as soon as I could because I was utterly fed up with the Italian system; not only with politics and bureaucracy, but also with some proverbial national characteristics. Being clever as opposed to intelligent, making a mockery of honesty, telling one thing in your face whilst thinking another, evade taxes a much as you can, “thinking of me and me and me and to hell with all the rest”, etc. etc. This is not a parody; these are faults that you can see everywhere, not only in politicians. They are not from Mars; they show publicly what the average standard of a population is. Life here is certainly not perfect but at least is more transparent, truer. And there are much less “cazzari” (ridiculous and superficial, lie-tellers buffoons) around, more seriousness and discipline. Most important, more work, which doesn’t come by chance but from an overall different approach to life and law, which is then channelled into concrete actions. There is less meaningless talking and more practice. I nearly forgot: this country is no wonderland at all, but I think it is safe for me to say now that there is here much more of a thing that Italians should assume by the truckload: respect for the community, the public money, the others and their opinion.Sometimes life here can be a bit boring and predictable, no doubt about it, but the trade-off, believe you me, is to the advantage of all.It's easy to blame the usual suspects, I know I am being rethorical, sorry about that, but it is true the first reform starts inside each one of us.

Posted by: roberto | January 3, 2008 07:00 PM

Although we all know that the situation in Italy is not perfect, American and English journalist should always keep into consideration the historical contest.
Italy with its problems and inept politicians is still a relatively young country. Poor by birth and lacking natural resources, we can call ourselves a nation since the end of WWI only
On the other hand both USA and United Kingdom have a long stable political history that coupled with a naturally rich environment, have helped the development of these two countries (as well as France, Germany, Canada, and more to come)
Furthermore, colonialism has played an important part in US-UK fortune. Mr Owen should be aware of the role of his country in last century world order…it is easy to be rich by exploiting other countries…
Both US and UK are ready, even these days, to wage war against foreign countries to put their hand on oil and to secure supply for the years to come.
However, despite past and current fortunes, a rich environment a stable government and a more manageable population the United Kingdom is not economically that superior to Italy. Most of the British industries have either been closed or sold to the Germans or Chinese. The UK does actually manufacture very little on its own. Most of goods are imported, many from Italy, and the whole economy is based on private spending and consequent debt that so far as been offset by the increased equity of the housing market. Now that the housing market is in trouble we may have to face a harsh time.
I say we because I live in London.
Surely the City financial market is something British are proud of and that generate an immense amount of money.
But this is because London is still benefitting from its past as capital of the old world order.
Luckily enough the new world order is run by the Americans that speak English and are using London as the gateway to Europe and Asia. London fortunes are also secured as the next world order will be based in China and India that are traditionally well linked with London and United Kingdom.
But lets go back to Mr. Owens comments on Italy. Although Italy has an ageing population, the United Kingdom has a the European highest teenage pregnancy rate , the highest teenage venereal disease rate, the highest alcohol related problems, the highest teenage violent crimes rate, the highest rate of divorce and so on. I am sure also Mr Owen will agree that this is nothing to be proud of.
I believe that given the circumstances Italy has come a long way since 1800. United Kingdom has instead decreased its world relevance from number one spot to number five.
It is only sad to see that a nation full of human resources like Italy, is lacking behind other nations. However, we shall only be judge by history. And history itself shall take its course.

Posted by: Andrea Ceccanti | January 1, 2008 07:35 PM

Answer to Fra Coppola.

I believe the USA-lead era of Oil is going to gradually disappear versus a "solar" (and other alternatives energy) era.

In this scenario China, India, Brazil, Spain & Germany are leading now.
But Africa is full of sun!
Indonesia, Malaysia and ASEAN are full of Palms and tech for biodiesel.
Also deserts of Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia are full of sun.
So why don't look more to East(and South)?

Posted by: fabrizio | December 29, 2007 04:01 AM

Very true Fabrizio!
Let's not forget the historical relationships with Libia (where ENI always had major interests), Russia, Saudi Arabia or China

Posted by: Fra coppola | December 26, 2007 10:55 AM

Why always look and compare only with "small"
Europe and USA?

Maybe all together they have 1B population. Most olds and naturally disappearing.
But the world actually have about 6,5B population.
Many youngs and builders of present and future.

So in the cultural decadence of West you ignore 6/7 of present world.

Posted by: fabrizio | December 25, 2007 03:21 AM

Io credo che dietro la Mafia e la malagestione del paese Italia ci sia il progetto politico di mandare allo sbaraglio l'Italia, rispetto agli altri paesi Europei e nel mondo da un punto di vista Economico e Sociale.

Da un punto di vista sociale, la Casta sa che per rimanere tale deve fare terra bruciata della giustizia, della meritocrazia, dell'informazione etc...

Da un pto di vista politico ha l'appoggio di paesi quali l'America alla quale da' sostegno Politico da una parte e la gestione di societa' e banche dall'altra. All'inghilterra, svende ai suoi cittadini terreni in Toscana e in altre belle localita' turistiche, cosi' si garantiscono una serena vecchiaia al sole. Alle mafie del mondo intero garantisce un terreno per la libera circolazione di droga, denaro sporco, traffico di clandestini e magari chissa' anche uranio, armi, etc etc...

Siamo diventati la Puttana Europea!. Una vecchia puttana che si svende cosi' magnaccia puo' "tirare a campare"

Posted by: Fra coppola | December 24, 2007 11:53 PM

The Italians' appetite for self-deprecation is only matched by the anglos' capacity for xenophobia. Apart from the fact that Owen's article was little more than a poor copy of Fisher's ridiculous travesty of an article, the stats are all wrong. Someone, in reply to Owens bad photocopy, quoted the following export figures: Germania (9,7%),Stati Uniti (8,6%), Cina (8,4%), Corea+Singapore+Hong Kong (7,3%), Giappone (5,2%), Francia (4,2%), Italia (3,6%), Regno Unito (3,2%), Canada (3,1%), Russia (2,3%) e Spagna (1,8%). Unemployment rate is 5,2 % the lowest one since '92, and not 7%. Needless to say, 0% population growth and 1,29 fertility rate are good things. Only a couple of decades ago, we used to castigate ourselves because of our high population growth and we used to admire Scandinavian countries because of their low population growth. Can't have it both ways! Anyway, I've figured why Owens stats are all wonky: the sources are UN, CIA and National Statistics. The same CIA that spotted weapons of mass destruction!

Posted by: Giancarlo Contrafatto | December 24, 2007 09:17 PM

Hello everyone,
I am not sure about you, but I speak for myself and I am quite fed up with these Pompous Dinosaurs decision makers lecturing and describing the Society that they manage to the people living in it.
Mr. Mastella, Minister of Justice, defending a Non-existing Italian Justice System while when investigated, get’s rid of the judge in charge of the inquiry?
Mr. Amato, Minister of Interior, countering Credible World Publication about the demise of Italian Institutions. When he moves, he travels with 5 body guards, by Private Jets and every individual approaching him has to frisked or wear a badge?
Mr. Prodi, Prime Minister has single handedly supervised and wasted so much, to the point that everyone is looking back at Mr. Berlusconi as the Pope Savior of Italy?
Or Mr. Pecoraro Scanio, Minister of Territory&Ambient, refusing Nuclear Energy while Italy pays the highest rates for Electricity from France (Nuclear!) refusing to build Gasifies Plants, and his own Region is sinking in trash.
Mr. DiPietro, Minister of Transports, gasoline at the highest level in Europe, freeway cost increased by 3.9%, strikes everywhere, all this while Italian infrastructure are crumbling from Train to Freeway to TAV?
Are these Idiots for real?
Which world do they live in, to whom are they talking too?
Their rhetoric and description of Italy, hasn’t change since the Election Campaign, while the Country has spun out of control for the last two years.
Someone please, tell these Idiots that making Law’s is not working, have to be implemented and good work is judge at the end by the results not by words!
Take security and body guards and armored cars away from them, make them fly coach on commercial airlines, and make them pay for their own cars tolls and gasoline, and by the way cut their salary to the average Joe Blow andlet’s see if they still give you the sermon.
The future looks bright wear dark shades

Posted by: Giacomo Chiametti | December 24, 2007 03:58 PM

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