Balls from space

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Below, I’m publishing the transcript of Marco Travaglio’s video broadcast today:

”Do you want to have a good chuckle? Read Francesco Alberoni – sociologists of nothing, climber of descents, expert in what’s obvious – in today’s il Corriere della Sera. On the front page of il Corriere, where Pasolini once wrote, today there’s Alberoni. And Alberoni says: “I am convinced that Italy will have a rapid recovery. Even before everyone thinks it will.
And it will recover because at last it has reacquired its sense of reality. Today everyone asks for security, they want “thermo-valorisers”, they think it’s right that the head of the government meets with the leader of the opposition, they condemn teenagers that rape and kill young people – (before that however we were all standing by the rapists) – and they accept that a Minister proposes that those civil servants that don’t work can be sacked.
Newspapers and TV channels are starting to objectively describe the news about crimes, about corruption and poverty without getting us overburdened with a hundred political-ideological opinions.” (It was done by Berlusconi winning the elections, just see how many miracles in two weeks) – “People can reflect and make up their minds on their own, using common sense. Naturally there are characters that haven’t yet understood that society has changed and they behave like those Japanese who continued fighting even after the war was over. But they will disappear.”
The words of Francesco Alberoni. So there. The heading is “The country is reacquiring a sense of reality”.

And let’s have a look straight away at some examples of this reacquired sense of reality. For example, the abolition of the ICI tax. It was anyway already abolished for the houses of limited value. But those that abolished it didn’t even talk about it, because they didn’t know how to communicate. OK, well now they have abolished it even for the rich and they say that they want to do fiscal federalism.
In reality, there is no tax that is more federal than a local tax like ICI, that is based on the value of property and not on income, and so it necessitated the payment of some tax even for those who completely or partially dodge paying taxes on their income.
And above all it was a breathing space that provided finance for the local administration. That is, it was the most federal tax that could be imagined. The federalists cancelled it and now they will tell us that we will all live in a better world because we will all save so much money.
In fact that’s not at all true, because if ICI disappears there will be gaping holes in the balance sheets of the local authorities. The government has already said it will pay back to the towns the lack of revenue from ICI and what will it do? It will increase other taxes to make things even.
That is, we won’t pay one tax called ICI, but we will pay another that will be called “replacement for ICI”. In the town hall of Palermo in the last few days, they have doubled the income tax and the Palermo authorities are in the vanguard of this new form of fiscal federalism by taking people for a ride.
Removing taxes from overtime pay. Another great conquest. And everyone believes it. And everyone is talking about it. In fact, as explained by Scalfari yesterday in la Repubblica, there will simply be a move in the pay slip from the fixed part to the variable part so as to be able to pay and get the cash, let’s say, in the amount that will not be subject to tax, and this will increase the tax avoidance and the tax dodging. Anyway the removal of tax from overtime pay does not apply to those employed by the State, so for example to the police forces, who are paid very little and who do a job that is often difficult and they won’t get any benefit.
What’s more, most women will not be involved because women rarely do overtime. Those working unofficially won’t be uncovered, because the companies will continue to pay them under the counter without social security payments and without taxes. There will be an effect that will block job creation even more and will make even more use of precarious working and the use of more overtime hours for those who are already employed.

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Another announcement that has no relation to the facts. The great saving that we’ll have with the renegotiation of mortgages. In fact, as the consumer associations have already shown us, to go back to the 2006 fixed rate and renegotiate the mortgages, does not mean that we will save. It means that we will be paying off the mortgage over a longer period and so in the end, our mortgage will cost us much more that it is costing us now.

The banks don’t do anything to make a loss, thus they will gain. It’s just that we will be paying in a longer time frame and we won’t be aware of it. Perhaps someone will get the idea that they have saved while a few extra hundred or thousand euro is taken from their pockets.

The announcement about nuclear: “We will have 4 new nuclear power stations.” No one notices that we will have these perhaps in 15 years time and when they start to work they will already be old or dead as they will be using third generation technology while the whole world is already talking about the fourth generation. No one knows where to get rid of the waste material.

Because we do zero-cost reforms, without working out the consequences of what we are doing. And all this with the hypothesis that then these power stations will start to work but it seems that they cost 30 billion, that they will give us really costly energy and absolutely out of the market and in the end, even if they do get off the ground, they would provide 7% of our energy needs.

So basically, another announcement thrown into the air that everyone is taking seriously, but that probably will not be converted into reality.

It’s all a fiction. Fiction. Like the Bridge over the Straits of Messina, that once more is being re-proposed so that a bit of money can be thrown away in planning and preparatory work and that then no one even knows if it could stand up. But we can safely say to each other that the bridge will never happen.

It will just be used as a way of throwing away more public money. Anyway, the company that won the contract was Impregilo, the one that behaved so well in the non-disposal of Naples’ refuse.

In the end, the apotheosis of the reappearance of facts, as professor Alberoni tells us: the crime of “clandestinity” for immigrants, that should guarantee great security for Italian citizens, as it will finally take on the hard line in relation to those who are moving around Italy without documents and with the “permission to stay”.

It’s not me saying this, as I’m a well known rascal, one of those Japanese destined to disappear, according to professor Alberoni. This is said by professor Valerio Onida, who is the former President of the Constitutional Court and the judge and Turin prosecutor, Bruno Tinti, in an article that we have published on the blog and in another article that appears in today’s edition of Turin’s La Stampa. OK. What do they say?

That the crime of “clandestinity” that everyone is talking about, discussing, arguing about, splitting into opposing camps (pro/contro) and so on, in reality does not exist. It has been announced, but if you look at the articles of the law presented by Maroni and by the Berlusconi government there is no crime of “clandestinity”, that is of staying in Italy clandestinely.

There’s another one that seems to be the same but in fact is completely different. The relevant article says: “Illegal entry into the territory of the State. The foreigner who comes into the territory of the State in violation of the Bossi-Fini law is punished with from 6 months to 4 years of imprisonment and must be obligatorily arrested and put on trial using the immediate route.” Anyway, they will never be put on trial using the immediate route because the tribunals are already overstretched using the “immediate route” for much more serious crimes, like drug trafficking, murder and so on. And anyway the law does not talk about the presence in the territory.

It talks about the entry into the territory of a foreigner into Italy. What does entry mean? That, either you get the immigrant as he is coming in, and then you can’t see why you have to arrest him and clog up the justice system by putting him on trial: you turn him back directly at the frontier.

You just need the police. The border control service is enough. There’s no need for an intervention from the magistracy, lawyers, interpreters, bureaucrats, and so on. If you get him as he is coming in, you send him back. On the other hand, if you find him half an hour after he has come in, how will you know that he came in after the law came into effect and that he has thus committed an offence? Because obviously the law is new and is applied only from today onwards and it cannot be applied retroactively.

Naturally since he doesn’t have an entry stamp on his skin, (thank goodness) he could say that he came into Italy a month ago, 6 months ago, 2 years ago, when there was no law of entering Italy clandestinely. So what happens? He will not be put on trial, nor arrested, nor convicted.

He will simply be told to go. He won’t go either because his country of origin doesn’t want him, given that it’s not possible to demonstrate that he actually comes from there, or he won’t go because he’s been told to go and he doesn’t have the resources to pay the air fare to go back to his country, and the Questura should pay it, or the Prefecture, but as is well known, they don’t have the resources to finance all those who should go. And so he’ll stay here to swell the ranks of the clandestines who very often are simply irregular workers because yes they are working but the only difference is that they are not on the books.

So here is a typical example of how you can take people for a ride by telling them something that doesn’t exist but by giving announcements that sound good and using ferocious words so that people feel reassured. “Zero tolerance”, crime of “clandestinity”. The crime of “clandestinity” does not exist. What exists is a crime that is impossible to prove as it is very difficult to catch an immigrant at the very moment that he is immigrating into our country.

It’s the “placebo effect” for the gullible, for those who don’t read the laws but talk about them. And this relates to many politicians on the right and the left who have spoken in favour or in disfavour of this law without ever going to have a look what happens.

The former President of the Constitutional Court and judge Tinti have had a look and they got the impression that it will change nothing apart from increasing the load on the machinery of justice that is already at breaking point. From this point of view, Berlusconi is an expert. Every day he takes a hare and he throws it in the sure knowledge that everyone will start to chase it without realizing that it is a shadow, that the hare is a mirage.

It’s an enchantment. And meanwhile he wins out even though he resolves no problems. But he continues to be in the limelight, to make announcements, and the people, including poor Alberoni, think that the mirage is reality.

So there you are. If many people ask me what we have to do: be informed. When a person gets information for themselves, it is much more difficult to take them for a ride.”

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 07:50 PM in | Comments (6)
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Good Evening Marco,

Recall the higher-politician (Minister of Foreign Affairs) whose wife (actually girl-friend, it was later reported) was connected with criminal bikers? Well, it turns out that the reported revelation triggered an investigation and that it, in turn, triggered an embarassing, scandal for the government.

best wishes

Posted by: Louis Pacella | May 29, 2008 01:36 AM

Last night, on Ballaro', Mr. La Russa was explaining mortage renegotiations. As I listened I got the impression he was explaining it as if it were a great idea sent from heaven to cash-strapped Italians. Where I live, renegotiating a mortgage is nothing new. It has always been considered as something to fall back on should mortgage payments become burdensome. It's no big deal. Actually, banks love mortgage renegotiations: the longer it takes to pay a debt, more money for the bank. To that extent it makes one wonder who is Berlusconi helping? Silvio will answer that he is helping the people. Yes, the people. And then we will hear him mutter, "coglioni". And La Russa? He said that nobody cares who benefits from mortgage renegotiations in the long term. "Help is needed today; today help is coming"! It's easy for him to say that. He is well remunerated. He doesn't take into account that more time to pay is more time to swim in the middle of the ocean with the sharks circling around. Is that a life? Living for the house? In any event, renegotiating mortgages is a band-aid solution for a country with a systemic economic illness. The salaries are so low that any increase changes little, if anything. And, as far as abolishing ICI, Italy will be the shabbier for it. I think La Russa should explain the logic (rest assured that he will have some kind of explanation) in the cuts for badly needed infrastructures in Calabria and Sicilia while planning a useless, monumental bridge.

Posted by: Louis Pacella | May 29, 2008 01:07 AM

Italians (in Italy) don't think you are alone!

The risk of creating an untouchable
Malcolm Turnbull
May 28, 2008

How's this for a financial nightmare: the governor of the Reserve Bank is discovered to have been engaged in insider trading - using his position to influence the outcome of a takeover of an Australian bank.
When the news breaks, the market drops 10 per cent. The governor refuses to resign. Confidence in the Australian financial system plummets. The International Monetary Fund refuses to admit the governor to its upcoming meeting of central bankers. Calls are heard from around the world for the governor to be fired. As every week goes by, the situation at the top of Martin Place gets worse. But the law does not allow him to be sacked.

Fantasy? Well, it happened in Italy in 2005. Antonio Fazio had been the governor of Banca d'Italia since 1993. He was a pillar of respectability - as noted for his devotion to the central bank as he was for his religious piety.

Then he was found to have been improperly involved in a takeover of a commercial bank. The scandal was overwhelming. He refused to resign and under Italian law could not be sacked.

The Fazio affair was absurd. Who in their right mind would have a central bank with an unsackable governor?

How about Wayne Swan?

This week the Treasurer introduced a bill that would give the governor the same exemption from being fired by the government of the day that the Australian statistician and the commissioner for taxation enjoy.

Under the law as it stands, the Reserve Bank governor and deputy governor serve "subject to good behaviour".

The act also provides that if the governor or his deputy becomes "permanently incapable" or bankrupt, or engages in outside paid employment, the Treasurer shall terminate their employment.

Of course, bankruptcy or having an outside job are simple factual matters, and even "physical or mental incapacity" is unlikely to be contentious.

A court order demonstrates bankruptcy, a doctor's certificate incapacity and outside employment is proved by a contract. So automatic termination makes practical sense.

On the other hand, if the tax commissioner or statistician were guilty of "misbehaviour" they can only be removed by a vote of both houses of Parliament.

Mr Swan's bill removes the mandatory obligation on the Treasurer to sack a Reserve Bank governor who is incapable, bankrupt or engaged in outside employment. It makes those three conditions the only grounds on which both houses of Parliament may, if they choose, vote to request the governor be terminated.

So why would Mr Swan want to give the Parliament the right to keep in office a Reserve Bank governor who was bankrupt?

So poorly is Mr Swan's bill drafted that no less an authority than the Parliamentary Library has concluded in its official Bills Digest that the consequence of the new provisions is that there is no longer any power at all to terminate a Reserve Bank governor if he or she is guilty of misbehaviour.

In other words, the fantastic scenario I painted at the beginning of this column could be made possible by this incompetently drafted piece of legislation.

If in the future a governor is bankrupt, or in a coma, both houses of Parliament will have to meet and deliberate on whether he or she should stay in office.

On the other hand, if the governor is caught inside-trading or taking bribes, there is considerable doubt whether anybody - Treasurer or Parliament - will be able to remove him.

Mr Swan says the library is wrong. He agrees the Government could not terminate a governor for misconduct, but argues it would be able to go to a court to seek a declaration that "misbehaviour" had occurred. Why would the legislation allow any element of doubt as to its effect?

And why, in the cause of greater Reserve Bank independence, give Parliament the right to consider whether a bankrupt or incapacitated governor should stay in office but not whether allegations of misconduct are validly made?

The Government has used its numbers to carry the bill through the House of Representatives. A Coalition amendment to double the number of Reserve Bank meetings with the house economics committee was defeated.

But on Friday the "Enhanced Independence" bill is being considered by the Senate committee and then the Senate itself. One hopes this will see Mr Swan's bungling exposed and rejected.

This story was found at:

Cheers from "down under"

Posted by: Adriana Mian | May 28, 2008 01:43 PM

Francesca Albanese, I appeal to you to write in English as requested by Sr. Grillo so that those who do not have a good command of the Italian language can benefit from your comments. I'm sure that we would all enjoy that privilege.

Posted by: Rolly Wheeler | May 28, 2008 02:52 AM

Caro Marco,

sono d'accordo con te su tutta la linea circa i fatti riportati nel tuo commento di questa settimana. Ho pero' un'idea divergente circa la possibile introduzione nel ns ordinamento del reato di immigrazione clandestina. Che si nomini o no come tale, prevedere un processo per direttissima ed il carcere (in certi casi fino a 48 mesi) per delle irregolarità amministrative (perche' a furia di ingurgitare le polpette mediatiche avvelenate della banda berlusconi gli italiani hanno davvero perso la capacità di distiguere il falso, dal vero, dal verosimile e dal ridicolo e come tale che la clandestinità e' un'irregolarità amministrativa) e' una situazione che ha rilevanza penale oltre che un peso morale enorme. L'esempio da te citato nel video del migrante che riesca ad arginare l'applicazione delle norme con sotterfugi- non provando momento di ingresso nel nostro paese e paese di provenienza non mi sembra una prova provante del ragionamento che questa legislazione sia inopportuna. Innanzitutto il migrante che sfugge una tantum all'applicazione della legge non avrà sanato il vizio legale della propria permamneza e non avrà la possibilità di inserirsi nella nostra società da pari, con degli obblighi e dei diritti. Sarà discriminato, marginalizzato e sfruttato, e lo stato non avrà fatto nulla per metterlo in condizioni di non diventare una componente positiva e costruttiva del e nel nostro sistema. Le opportunità a sua disposizione gli imporranno scelte in stile 'i sommersi e i salvati' e spesso per non affondare l'unica mano tesa che troverà sarà quella di fome di criminalità (piu' o meno) organizzata. Si aggiunga che la migrazione che interessa l'Italia e' un fenomeno globale e che ha cause complesse (povertà, violenza, dicriminazione, guerra) e radici profonde ed espanse (su una regione che va ormai ben oltre il mediterraneo, fino ad interessare tutta l'africa sunbshariana) : Regaire con moti d''ordine e disciplina' alle sfide che tale migrazione comporta non solo finisce per trattare orde di disperati alla stregua di criminali, ma rischia di aggravare la piaga del traffico di esseri umani e di sfruttamento dei clandestini. E' triste vedere che l'unica preoccupazione degli italiani (quelli genuinamente preoccupati dalla minaccia di una legge che criminalizzi la migrazione irregolare) sia per il sovraccarico delle carceri e dell''obesoberato' sistema della giustizia italiano. I migranti sono uomini donne e bambini, prima che grattacapi, pratiche e fattispecie criminali. Un caro saluto e coraggio per il tuo impegno.

Posted by: francesca albanese | May 28, 2008 02:02 AM

"An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody will see it"

"Even if you are in a minority of one, the truth is still the truth."

"There is no path to peace, Peace is the path"

- Mahatma Gandhi -

Posted by: silvia intravaia | May 28, 2008 01:18 AM

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