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!
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.