Notwithstanding the fine words of theEstablishment that the recovery is underway, the latest data show an Italy on the brink of disaster. More specifically the south of Italy which has been abandoned by all governments since the 90’s. As of yesterday, what we have all known for sometime has become official. Growth in the last 15 years in the mezzogiorno – the area south of Rome, is half of that of Greece. The risk of absolute poverty is real for 1 in 3 people. In the south the birth rate is nonexistent, occupation has been in freefall for 10 years, and now there is unofficial agreement that unemployment amongst the young is well over 50%.
It’s not just the effects of organised crime, but seemingly government policy which creates a bureaucracy that is designed to strangle the economy. Despite Renzi’s promises, those companies that work for public administration at local level are not paid for anything up to 5 years.
In Sicily, where i live, a snapshot of my local community is as follows. Council workers work almost continually 4 months in arrears. The tendered contracts for services such as rubbish collection can be anything up to 6 months in arrears. Even local supermarkets, bars and shops are now not paying their staff – who are now putting in time one or two months in arrears. This is ignoring those who work ‘in black’ who are given half of their agreed wage and told to like it or leave. The fear of losing your job makes people work for free to all effects and purposes. It is a viscious circle from which there is no way out. The fault is at regional level, European and national level, with a total disinterest and a llicenced financial rape by devolving spending to local level but without supplying the funding. Towns like mine, with an agricultural base, are failing. Record numbers of young people leave to find jobs, any jobs elsewhere. The tax burden in some cases can reach 70% and this is not for the super rich, but for someone who earns more than 10.000 a year. It is economic suicide, and nobody seems to have a response.