Italy

Vesuvius Caused Less Damage Than Italian Labor Laws

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Via Hot Air comes this terrifying report of what it's like to live and try to work in contemporary Italy. The eruption of Mt. Vesuvius caused less damage the Italian labor policies.

Writes Nicholas Farrell in the (U.K.) Spectator:

The youth unemployment rate here is 43 per cent — the highest on record. That figure doesn't factor in the black market, which is so big that the Italian government now wants to include certain parts of it — prostitution, drug dealing and assorted smuggling — into its official GDP figures. The contribution is thought to be sizeable enough to take the country out of its third recession in six years.

We should remember that Italian companies get state money to pay workers to do nothing and not sack them — currently about half a million workers are in what is known as 'cassa integrazione'. So the real unemployment rate in Italy must be at least 15 per cent, and that does not include all those who have given up trying to find work. Just 58 per cent of working-age Italians are employed, compared with an average 65 per cent in the developed world….

There is another Italy — the state-financed one — where life is, if not a bed of roses, still fine, all things considered…. Italian MPs are the highest paid in the civilised world, earning almost twice the salary of a British MP. Barbers in the Italian Parliament get up to €136,120 a year gross. All state employees get a fabulous near-final–salary pension. It is not difficult to appreciate the fury of the average Italian private sector worker, whose gross annual pay is €18,000.

The phrase 'you could not make it up' fits the gold-plated world of the Italian state employee to a tee — especially in the Mezzo-giorno, Italy's hopeless south. Sicily, for instance, employs 28,000 forestry police — more than Canada — and has 950 ambulance drivers who have no ambulances to drive.

Farrell opens with an anecdote about the state-funded Rome Opera House, where "the musicians at the opera house — the 'professori' — work a 28-hour week (nearly half taken up with 'study') and get paid 16 months' salary a year, plus absurd perks such as double pay for performing in the open air because it is humid and therefore a health risk."

That anecdote provides the only upbeat moment in the story: 200 members of the Opera's orchestra and chorus were recently fired.

And note that according to the BBC, parliamentary barbers have had their pay reduced to only 99,000 euros. Times is tough all over!

Read the whole thing.

It's a rare day when I don't thank my maternal grandparents for getting the hell out of Italy in the 1910s. I think I'll thank them twice today after reading that Spectator story.

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  1. Speaking of Italy, our decision to quarantine our soldiers returning from the Hot Zone over there is causing an uproar among the locals. And frankly, I’m not surprised.

    More “smart diplomacy” from the Lightbringer.

  2. And note that according to the BBC, parliamentary barbers have had their pay reduced to only 99,000 euros.

    Austerity takes its horrible, horrible toll.

    1. Nohair left to cut.

  3. That figure doesn’t factor in the black market, which is so big that the Italian government now wants to include certain parts of it ? prostitution, drug dealing and assorted smuggling ? into its official GDP figures.

    So, in a few years are we going to get a bunch of articles on Buzzfeed about how some totally unrelated policy of the EU or Italian government fixed a broken economy because everyone will ignore that they started using a completely different metric at this point?

      1. I’m pretty sure just asking that question is libelous. HOW DARE you suggest that I read Buzzfeed.

        I just see the headlines quite a bit on Facebook and die a bit each time I do.

    1. No, there’ll be some article about how the “free market” in the form of the black market is stealing honest jobs and tax money from the government and that’s why their labor market is so fucked. Remember, jesse, it’s never the government’s fault. Ever.

      1. Though in Italy it seems to be the corrupt official market that steals jobs and wealth from the more honest and respectable black market.

      2. I love basic econ principles especially the most basic: Produce more than you consume. Soon the guv parasites will cease to exists.

        1. The host usually dies before the parasite.

  4. From the Spectator link:

    Financed and managed by the state, and therefore crippled by debt, the opera house ? like so much else in Italy ? had been a jobs-for-life trade union fiefdom. Its honorary director, Riccardo Muti, became so fed up after dealing with six years of work-to-rule surrealism that he resigned. It’s hard to blame him. The musicians at the opera house ? the ‘professori’ ? work a 28-hour week (nearly half taken up with ‘study’) and get paid 16 months’ salary a year, plus absurd perks such as double pay for performing in the open air because it is humid and therefore a health risk. Even so, in the summer, Muti was compelled to conduct a performance of La Boh?me with only a pianist because the rest of the orchestra had gone on strike.

    It’s almost surreal enough to be unreal, and yet terribly reminiscent of something here in the States.

    1. I’m curious to know what the strike was over.

      1. I suspect it is mostly that they couldn’t find any good reason not to strike.

    2. It kind of scares me to think that this is our future.

  5. Was it race-based favoritism when you hired Tuccile, Mr Gillespie? Signs point to yes. For a YouTube channel called Reason…

  6. Sicily, for instance, employs 28,000 forestry police ? more than Canada ? and has 950 ambulance drivers who have no ambulances to drive.

    Progress! Look at that socialist paradise, Murika! We could have this here if we could finally reach that permanet Democrat super majority! March on, comrades!

    1. and has 950 ambulance drivers who have no ambulances to drive.

      Many ambulances are 24/7 operations, and have multiple shifts and thus multiple crews.

      Now, these folks may be on the payroll as drivers and aren’t even assigned to a shift. But, its possible they are just the night shift.

      1. and thus multiple crews

        Why assume things work in Italy the way they work here?

        “This ambulance owned and driven by Pasquale Giancana.”

  7. It’s so funny how even when people are rightfully outraged at things like this, like the Italians should be and probably are – they take a pittance of a concession instead of real change.

    No one is willing to push hard on things before it’s too late. It’s amazing what people can get used to, and what misery they can accept as long as “the other guy” gives up something.

    People, humans, in general seem to be so willing to back down from their goals as long as they can save face – it’s no wonder violent, terrible revolutions have to happen throughout history in order to enact real change.

  8. Weird part of that article, after spending most of the article describing the disfunctional Italian environment he then declares:

    “Most Italians still don’t get it: the euro is the problem, not the solution ? unless, that is, they go for real austerity in a major way, which they will not do unless forced to at gunpoint”

    The Euro is the problem? As if its ok to have a totally hopeless labor force so long as you can inflate your currency? I think a certain segment of the populace has come to have so much faith in currency devaluation that it has to be name-checked even when it obviously cant help.

    1. I think the idea being that the Euro papers over many of their problems, and that real change will only come about when the Italian mafia–er, government–must reckon with their shattered economy.

      1. I take it back. From the Spectator article:

        Italy can’t blame all its problems on monetary union, however. The euro did not cause the catastrophe, but it deprived Italy of a means to combat it and exposed its fatal structural weaknesses.

        1. I thought the EU was a structural weakness?

          1. Yeah, but Italy has its own too.

        2. The Euro exacerbates the problem. In good times, bad Greek and Italian debt is treated like good German debt. This sets up the boom which potentiates the bust.

        3. Explain to me again how inflation combats bureaucracy and regulation?

      2. The Euro doesn’t paper over anything. It’s merely a scapegoat, which is what the rubes really want anyway.

  9. A pretty good article, spoiled by a couple of factors:

    1). The author bemoans that the Euro prevents the Italian state from devaluing its currency. Seriously?

    2). The author brings up the Keynesian Klown boogeyman of deflation, and incorrectly diagnoses it as the cause of Japan’s two Lost Decades. Derpity derp.

  10. I’ve been told by more than one liberal colleague that Europe is a paradise where everyone is happy and without worry because they are completely taken care of by the government, unlike here in the barbaric and primitive USSA.

    1. I’ve been told by a friend who lives in Trieste that the Italian north should split from the south, as the north simply cannot afford to float the south any longer.
      He also mentions that his daily transactions are largely under the table.

      1. I think that under the yable stuff and cheating on taxes has been standard practice, especially in Southern Europe for a long time.

  11. I expect to see some people to be kidnapped and brutally murdered, because that is what has coincided with general strikes by Italian workers historically.

    Trade unionists throughout Europe are openly Marxist servile scum, but the Italians sink it to an all new level of scumfuckery.

  12. Barbers in the Italian Parliament get up to ?136,120 a year gross. All state employees get a fabulous near-final?salary pension. It is not difficult to appreciate the fury of the average Italian private sector worker, whose gross annual pay is ?18,000.

    Where’s the “income inequality oh noes” crowd?

    1. Busy watching Serie A footballers pull in 200K and 300K a week.

  13. Italy’s main structural weakness is Italy. That country should not even exist it is a mistake of Napoleon and an idiot 19th-century pan-nationalist. Italy needs to break up and it just might start doing that in Venice. Restore the Serene Republic!

  14. Rome Opera House, where “the musicians at the opera house ? the ‘professori’ ? work a 28-hour week

    While I don’t know the exact particulars of their rules, it always makes me cringe when reporters discuss classical musicians’ work hours, because it’s always misunderstood. It’s a very physical activity. If you required orchestra musicians to rehearse 40 hours a week, everyone would be out injured within a year or two. Imagine requiring football players to run full contact 40 hours a week. It’s just not physically possible.

    Also, obligatory Fellini:
    Orchestra Rehearsal

    1. Working 28 hours a week and being paid for 16 months worth of work per year though…

    2. When I hear “28 hour work week”, I assume that includes everything related to the job. I.e. the rest of the week is yours.

      1. I’m not sure what the “half taken up by study” means in their context, but in the states you’re expected to practice (keeping one’s playing in shape, including during vacations) and learn your part of the music on your own time. It’s a profession that’s about 50% clocked work hours and 50% you’re paid to do a job and however long it takes you doesn’t matter to anyone as long as long as you do your job well.

        It’s just not a profession that translates well in terms of the traditional work week.

        1. Indeed. Being a high level orchestral musician is certainly a full time job.

          The part to focus on is the ridiculous perks and going on strike in spite of clearly being quite well paid.

        2. Meh, I don’t have that kind of ambition anymore – I did my time teaching myself my career already. Nowadays, pay me or it ain’t getting done.

  15. I’m afraid to ask what ‘bunga bunga’ is.

    1. You never heard about Berlusconi’s parties?

    2. Its fucking.

      1. Oh, that’s all?

  16. Thankfully its not a problem for Italy, because they can easily borrow money to pay for it all. Euro and American banks will purchase Italian debt and hold it as a rock solid asset with mild returns. If it appreciates in value they will then be able to sell the debt at a profit. If it falls in value they will then be paid at face value for the assets by the EU and US central banks. These banks literally cannot fail.

  17. You know, we all work for one simple goal – to earn enough money for a life of ease. Many people hate their jobs and consider this to be perfectly normal while this is absurd! Confucius once sais “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” You shouldn’t be afraid to search for perfect job, because the idea of spending more than 5 years (for example) for a work you hate seems to me to be an act of criminal. I would recommend to use help of resume writing professionals, different resources to find job, effective tips. Perhaps, you will have 28 hour work week, too.

  18. This is hilarious how unwilling they are to bring the change in the labour laws.Their laws must be according to the convention collective which are agreements including both labours and owners.

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