giovedì 29 gennaio 2009

Subsidizing Inertia

Italian car industry is waiting for a 3ooml € plan necessary for its rescue. This action is likely to be justified first of all to rescue thousands jobs at risk and the consequent fate of as many families at risk to be thrown in the nightmare of poverty.

Yet I wonder: are these subsides an effective and efficient tool to face the collapse in car sales? What are these 3000ml € really subsidizing?

It is true that car industry at international level is coping with a particularly severe crisis. It is also true that all those productive sectors dealing with consumers' goods are coping with a similar problems: not only FIAT hence. Italian case shows however specific peculiarities: our economy and politics have never look at innovation as a priority. Even in the current crisis, which should stimulate innovation, creativity and competitiveness as critical tools for firms' and the related jobs surviving, innovation is never really at stake.

What's the percentage of these subsides to be directed to firms' innovation, research and development toward the production of really innovative cars?

Italian car industry is claiming subsidies just to make the "existing" survive without any consideration for the future. They are trying to finance "inertia" and postponing the effective solutions of these issues "one day"...

Even in this case, the negative effects of severe distortions in our productive tissue are clearly emerging: free market is good for others, but it is rejected when liberalizations may threaten privileges hampering at any occasion, with the support of italian politicians, the definition and implementation of development strategies and paths really innovative and sustainable.

It is important not to forget that many components and sectors of italian economy are still massively "addicted", too much depending on the favours of powerful subjects. Too many firms do not rely on their own capabilities (well knowing that it is completely no-use) because they hope in someone' protection: surely italian firms acknowledge the importance of quality and capabilities but, in the meantime, it is better to be provident with "right contacts" in order to have special attentions and pokes. While advanced economies are based on "knowledge", it Italy we rely on "acquaintance"; "know who" rather than "know how". Furthermore, italian firms try always to privatize profits and socialize costs.

These perverse mechanisms show everyday their bill and as usual, when recessive crisis are triggered, the weakest social sectors in our communities have to heaviliy pay for it. Nonetheless, italian politics, which stimulates these perverse mechanisms in economy, keep on dealing with these conditions with emergency short term measures with scarce or no attention for long term processes.

Italian economy and politics have not understood yet we are coping with the agony of forms of economic develoment based on "oil": we are facing the exhaustion of an entire system being however unable in Italy to adequately replace it. The possibility to let forms of innovative economy emerge are linked to research (in technologies as well as in social sciences) and to those political forces capable to recognize the change potentials today totally blocked by conservative positions of the "oil" economy. We've got in Italy a XVIII century political class still discussing in terms of looms and gears, based only on "know who" logic and this political class will continue, notwithstanding formal declarations, to look at education, university and research only as "costs" in the State budget.

It is thus necessary to avoid that these rescue plans will be translated into a clear renounce, unwillingness and inability in italian politics, in the name of a confusing idea of "liberalism", to provide economics with a "democratic" direction.

A crisis period is always a provocative moment because crises force us to cope with problems and to solve inertial pushes. This crisis may thus represent a chance for political and economic changes. So taday the urgent problem in Italy is to opt for the emerging of "something new" in politics and economy or keep on surviving as usual (maybe waiting for a miracle...)

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