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What do members from Italy think about this article, and what might it mean for the Italian motorcycle industry?

In Italy, a winter of discontent

By Ian Fisher
Published: December 12, 2007

ROME: All the world loves Italy because it is old but still glamorous. Because it eats and drinks well but is rarely fat or drunk. Because it is the place in hyper-regulated Europe where people still debate with perfect intelligence what, really, the red in a stoplight might mean.

But these days, for all the outside adoration and all its innate strengths, Italy seems not to love itself. The word here is "malessere," or malaise, and it implies a collective funk - economic, political and social - summed up in a recent poll: Italians, despite their claim to have mastered the art of living, report themselves the least happy people in Western Europe.

"It's a country that has lost a little of its will for the future," said Walter Veltroni, Rome's mayor and a possible future prime minister. "There is more fear than hope."

The problems are, for the most part, not new - and that is the problem: They have simply caught up to Italy over many years to the point that no one seems clear how change can come - or if it is possible anymore at all.

Italy has long charted its own way of belonging to Europe, struggling like few other countries with fractured politics, uneven growth, organized crime and a tenuous sense of nationhood.

But frustration is rising that these old weaknesses are still no better, and in some cases worse, as the world outside outpaces it: In 1987, Italy celebrated economic parity with Britain. Now Spain, which had joined the European Union only the year before, may soon overtake Italy.

Its low-tech way of life may enthrall tourists, but Internet use and commerce here are among the lowest in Europe, as are wages, foreign investment and growth. Pensions, public debt, the cost of government are among the highest.

The latest numbers show a nation older and poorer, to the point that Italy's top bishop has proposed a major expansion of food packets 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.

Doubt clouds the family itself: 70 percent of Italians from the ages of 20 to 30 still live at home, condemning the young to an extended and underproductive adolescence. Many of the brightest, like the poorest a century ago, leave Italy entirely.

The stakes have risen so high that Ronald Spogli, the U.S. ambassador with 40 years of experience with Italy, warns that the country risks both a diminished international role and relationship with Washington.

America's best friends, he notes, are its business partners, and Italy, increasingly, is not. Bureaucracy and unclear rules kept United States investment in 2004 to $16.9 billion. The number for Spain: $49.3 billion.

"They need to sever the ivy that has grown up around this fantastic 2,500-year-old tree that is threatening to kill the tree," Spogli said.

But interviews with possible prime ministers, business people, academics, economists and ordinary Italians suggest that the largest reason for this malaise seems to be the feeling that there is little hope the ivy can be cut - and that is turning Italians both sad and angry.

There is a connection between the nation's errant political system and its worsening mood: Luisa Corrado, an Italian economist, led the research into a study at the University of Cambridge that found Italians the least happy of 15 West European nations. They link happiness, as measured in 2004, with trust in the world around them, not least in government.

In Denmark, the most happy nation, 64 percent trusted the Parliament. For Italians, the number was 36 percent.

"Unfortunately we found this issue of social trust was a bit missing," Corrado said.

Two best-selling books - both sparked months of self-probing debate - capture the current distrust of large powers that cannot be controlled.

"The Caste" sold a million copies (in a nation where 20,000 makes a best-seller) by exposing the sins of Italy's political class, how it became privileged and unaccountable. Even the presidency, considered above the fray, was not spared: The book put the office's annual cost at $328 million, four times that of Buckingham Palace.

"Gomorrah," which sold 750,000 copies, concerns the mob around Naples, the Camorra. But politics, the book argues, allows the Camorra to flourish, keeping Italy's lagging south poor and organized crime, by one recent study, the largest sector of the economy.

cont.

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http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/12/news/italy.php?page=1
 

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all true unfortunatelly, my friend!
i'm italian, i left my country 13 years ago, bur my family still lives there and i can assure you, the situation is sad, really sad!
something is gotta happen, sooner or later (i hope sooner than later!), because things can't keep going like this, the country is collapsing!
 

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Oh, that's too bad. I was hoping this article was just an exaggeration. Hopefully the motorcycle industry will be one of the bright spots that survives.
 

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Well I work since two Years in Italy and must agree to it widely. All boils down to Globalization, Share Holder Value,... The Working Class, the Business is suffering in all western countries, one more, the other a little less. You could write about the US Reality and You would break out in Tears either.
 

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ALL TRUE!!!
Si ragazzi,scusate se scrivo in Italiano ma questa è la verita'!!!
Oggi in Italia la maggior parte degli Italiani fatica ad arrivare a fine mese,il ceto "medio" sta scomparendo,o siè ricchi o si è poveri.
Proprio oggi è terminato uno sciopero Nazionale degli autotrasportatori che persisteva da lunedi scorso!L'Itali era gia' in ginocchio,la benzina era finita dai distributori e i necozi stavano finendi il cibo!
Il nostro governo sta sbagliando tutto!
Io personalmente mi ritengo fornutato per il mio ottimo lavoro e per l'Azienda di mia moglie che va molto bene.
Dannata Italia di oggi!!!
Pier



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pigiolino said:
ALL TRUE!!!
Si ragazzi,scusate se scrivo in Italiano ma questa è la verita'!!!
Oggi in Italia la maggior parte degli Italiani fatica ad arrivare a fine mese,il ceto "medio" sta scomparendo,o siè ricchi o si è poveri.
Proprio oggi è terminato uno sciopero Nazionale degli autotrasportatori che persisteva da lunedi scorso!L'Itali era gia' in ginocchio,la benzina era finita dai distributori e i necozi stavano finendi il cibo!
Il nostro governo sta sbagliando tutto!
Io personalmente mi ritengo fornutato per il mio ottimo lavoro e per l'Azienda di mia moglie che va molto bene.
Dannata Italia di oggi!!!
Pier
Pigio has got to be pissed about this one ... he didn't even bother to try & translate to English for us ... It's just a shame that we didn't get to see the "hand waving" that went with it.

Lemme see. As a guy the first thing that I look for is a "solution".
Without knowing too many born Italians & having my head filled with too many stereotypes I can't really comment on this one.
Those Italians that I do know are genuinely beautiful people. Intelligent, articulate, caring, motivated ... they are also all here in Australia ...
Could it be that thousands of years of culture, heritage and ethos be holding the Italians back?
Could it be that the Italians are the ONLY country in the world who have denied the push for "globalization"?
I think this could be a good thing. The world doesn't suffer too much from National Imperialism anymore ... but "Economic Imperialism" does seem to be the "in thing"
Italian STRENGTHS will always be strengths. But without the ability to get out & test them ... the old saying "Familiarity breeds contempt" seems to ring true.
If there is to be a renewal of Italian pride & Italian motivation it needs to come from the ground up, for surely the Italian Government (like every other government) isn't providing the leadership, it needs to be one saying to another "we're better then OK. we're in the best place, living the best way"

How many stereotypes are in that last lot? dunno. How many Italians have I offended? dunno.
I do know that I like & value the Italian culture; & while cultures do change over time, some changes are not for the best.

Italian Chics ROCK, Italian bikes RULE, Italian architecture is a major part of the basis for the REST OF THE WORLD, Italian FOOD!!!!!, Italian ART, Italian MUSIC, Italian FASHION ... how much further do you want me to go?
 
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