Text of Eugenio Benetazzo’s address.
"Hello to all the readers of the Blog. Today I want to talk about the so-called Dodo Economy theory, but what is the Dodo? It was a cute, strangely shaped bird, about 50 to 60 centimetres and flightless, which lived on the Island of Mauritius until the 17th Century. It served as inspiration for many characters in feature films and numerous Walt Disney cartoons, starting with Alice in Wonderland and continuing through to “Emil Eagle”, the famous scientist that competed with Gyro Gearloose and used to help the “The Beagle Boys” to rob Uncle Scrooge.
Why am I talking in the past tense, you ask? Well, because the Dodo became extinct, apparently back in 1681, the year of the last human sighting of this bird. But why did the Dodo become extinct. It became extinct after the arrival of the Portuguese or Dutch colonialists on the Island, who introduced new, non-endemic species of fauna, aggressive species such as dogs, cats, rabbits and pigs, which fed voraciously on the Dodo’s eggs. The Dodo habitually nested on the ground and each individual specimen usually laid only one single egg in its 50-year lifespan. It became extinct simply because, at that time, the authorities did not think about or realise the risk posed to these cute birds by the arrival of non-endemic species on the Island. On the Island, the Dodos had never come across any species that could make life difficult for them or with which they would come into conflict. The Dodo got its name from the Portuguese, who adopted an adjective from their own language, namely “Doudo”, meaning naïve to describe the bird because, when the Portuguese landed on the island, they saw this cute bird that would approach them without any hesitation. Worse still, the bird would stand and watch while their young and even their eggs fell pray to the invaders. Naivety, therefore, is what led to the Dodo’s extinction.
So what has the Dodo Economic theory have to do with the economy? A hell of a lot if the truth be told because, unfortunately, precisely the same thing that happened to the Dodo is now also happening to the “Made in Italy” brand. Let’s think about that for a moment. What would it mean for the tourism appeal of the Island of Mauritius today if the Dodo was still around, a species that is found nowhere else, just like the kangaroo in Australia. Similarly, in Italy we currently have something that is an extraordinary resource for this Country, namely the “Made in Italy” brand, which is found nowhere else. But not for long, given that there is no right-wing, left-wing or centrist political force that is making a stand up and be counted as spokesman for the custody, protection and support for what is essentially the unattained potential of this Country. The “Made in Italy” brand no longer means anything because everything possible is being done to change products and to attempt to recreate a product to make it appear to be “Made in Italy”. There are numerous manufacturing establishments where the bulk of the production is outsourced abroad and then, all they do, with shoes for example, is re-import soles, uppers and complete shoes and apply the labels in Italy, after which, thanks to our totally criminal laws, this becomes a “Made in Italy” brand product. The brand has totally lost all of its original meaning so, today, it makes more sense to talk about “Designed in Italy" products, which is precisely what is actually happening, because, the product is still conceived here in Italy, then the construction, the manufacturing and the packaging of the product takes place elsewhere, miles and miles away.
What should be apparent to everyone is the fact that, here in Italy, the so-called industrial districts that are the cradle of the “Made in Italy” brand are being sold out by the very people that are governing the Country and those that governed the Country previously. There is no industrial policy that is aimed protecting our origins and now, four centuries later, we are discovering that the Dodo idea is alive and well here in Italy and it lives in those Italians that naively stand back and watch as their originality is destroyed and taken to the verge of extinction.
Anywhere you go in the world, the “Made in Italy” brand, or at least the possibility of selling goods or products bearing this brand constitutes a source of pride for anyone that is able to buy or wear them. I was left totally embittered and speechless when I recently heard the fanfare that accompanied the joint venture, with the full backing of the Ministry of Agriculture, which will enable a company, indeed a multinational corporation like Mc Donald’s to associate its products with certain typical local products supplied by the Italian food and agricultural industry. You will have noted from my accent that my origins lie in the Veneto Region and I must say that I was extremely distressed to note the existence of the "Mc Italy", a hamburger that, in place of the usual slice of Ementhaler or American processed cheese, now has a slice of Asiago cheese, which, I’m sure many of you know, is produced on the mountain plateau of Asiago, in the Province of Vicenza.
What is lacking in terms of political governance, precisely as it was in the case of the Dodo some 4 or 5 centuries ago, is the will to safeguard and protect our Country’s resources and its major opportunities, which are entirely linked to our ability to conceive and create products that exist nowhere else in the world. We Italians are becoming a new race of Dodos, of naïve fools who meekly accept this future that is being laid out before us. What is very clear is that the Government has a hidden agenda, aimed at de-industrialising the Country and, just as Tito Boeri says, five or six years from now, we will have lost 40 to 50% of our manufacturing potential, which means the loss of millions and millions of jobs that we will never be able to replace in Italy! My sincere hope for myself and everyone else is that, in the next few years, some or other force will rise up, some or other public movement that will raise its voice in defence of, and above all to guarantee support for that which is one of this Country’s greatest resources and which will perhaps not be around for much longer, namely, on the one hand the “Made in Italy” brand and on the other the industrial districts that were the pride of our industry until a decade ago! Thanks to all of you, good luck and see you again next week!”
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Posted by Beppe Grillo at 06:25 AM in Other
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