Apparently It Is Tough to Be Italian

The New York Times reports today that the entire country of Italy is in a funk. A recent poll reports that they are the least happy people in Western Europe. So what’s the deal? Was Under The Tuscan Sun selling us a song-and-dance?

Much of it can be summed up by “it’s the economy, stupid.” As Ian Fisher reports, Pensions, public debt and the cost of government are among the highest (in Europe). The latest numbers show a nation older and poorer — to the point that Italy’s top bishop has proposed a major expansion of food packages for the poor. Worse, worry is growing that Italy’s strengths are degrading into weaknesses. Small and medium-size businesses, long the nation’s family-run backbone, are struggling in a globalized economy, particularly with low-wage competition from China.”

There’s also the government, still riddled with corruption and slow to face the tough choices that must be made to in order to usher in prosperity. Italy is also aging and has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe. But Fisher finds that, “the old are not letting go.”

He talks to a 36-year-old Roman man who says: “The generational problem is the Italian problem. In every country young people hope. Here in Italy there is no hope anymore. Your mom keeps you home nice and softly, and you stay there and you don’t fight. And if you don’t fight, it is impossible to take power from anybody.”
(Photo by Nancy Robinson)