Thursday, February 02, 2012
Moneta di Popolo!
President Giorgio Napolitano's salary is a case in point: the head of state makes €230,000 per year. Yet a senior shorthand writer in parliament can earn up to €270,000 annually. Such sky-high wages for non-elected staff make up 25 percent of the total cost -- more than €400 million a year.So let's face it - you don't want to be Warren Buffet's secretary. You want to work for the Italian Parliament. Or better yet, the Sicilian parliament. Sicily is unique. You honestly could be a school teacher there and retire with a pension in your forties.
No one can quite pin the cause down, but apparently the Italian public is a bit miffed. Occasionally this happens, and when the Italians finally stop drinking and cursing and decide to do something about it, politicians wind up swinging from the lampposts. The rest of this year in Italy should be very interesting. There has been some wild speculation that increases in the retirement age may have irked a few people, but personally I think the labor flexibility rules are going to cause more havoc. Pissing off a Sicilian cab driver is hardly the safest measure.
No one says that much about Sicily, because they are more efficient at these things than the rest of Italy. Instead of wasteful mobs decorating lampposts they just leave a few neat bodies when things heat up. That happens about twice a week on average, but the mood has been somewhat intransigent ever since they attempted to crack down on money laundering through the Vatican. That just wasn't cool.
I don't know what will happen this year in Italy, but I am sure that Italy will not wind up being anything like Germany. Most of the announced changes are actually up for negotiation later.
I'm not joking about this - the current unsettled status did start in Sicily, the control of the usual umbrella labor/social groups has completely broken down over much of Italy, and the situation will continue to develop in baroquely fascinating ways. Whenever the hard core Catholics, the Stalinists and the Sicilians get together, something's gonna happen. In most countries, it would be difficult to form such a coalition, but in Italy it just happens.
Forzanuova's current cry is "Moneta di popolo!" As far as I can make it out, the communists are wanting that to be a fixed allocation to citizens of internal money, and Forzanuova isn't even bothering to call for a national currency - it seems to want to issue local currencies. It sure looks like an increasing number of shopowners, farmers and those all-important truckers and cabdrivers are willing to go with it. See, this is why you should not try to really collect taxes in Italy. If the local shopowners sign up and accept the script, that's it. Game over. You]ve got small business against big business and rural against city, and they might well develop a dual monetary system. All those lovely policies about limiting cash transactions become ever so theoretical.
So my conclusion is that the the Italian government's pronouncements have very little to do with what is going to happen. Bondholders, beware. We have gone straight to Defcon 4, which in Italian is something quattro equating to 1 nuovalira = quattro Euro.
Draghi = dragons. monti = Mountains. This looks to be turning into the Dragon's Mountains of Debt, and it really doesn't look as if it is going to be paid.
That gravy train is about to derail.
So I think baroquely. The form this takes in Italy may be a monetary regression to former periods. It wasn't that long ago that there were several different coinages in Italy.
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