Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Italian Economy: Day 5

We spent the day outlining the sad truths of an economy where government has a heavy hand: many bribes, little room for advancement, a mafia-esque dedication to connections. We focused on the healthcare and education sectors.

We also talked about the decline of the family in Italy and State's ability, or inability, to fill the void.

According to my professor, Italians pay 43% of their income in taxes. I'm guessing that isn't a flat income tax but I need to ask him where that figure came from. Does it include the EU VATs? Capital gains taxes? In any event, it justifies their high expectations for government to provide an array of services.

Lastly, we had a little discussion on why there aren't high ethical standards in Italy. Everyone here double parks, drives like an idiot, etc. Essentially, they all have skeletons in their closet. So when it comes out that a politician was embezzling money, the reaction is generally to allow the person without sin to cast the first stone. Punishment by voting isn't a big part of Italian culture and that excaberates the problems of poorly run government-provided services.

And on that note, I'm off to Milan!

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Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty