martedì 28 luglio 2009

Southern Italy

Quite regularly, in Italy as usual explodes the "South Affaire". Italian politicians discover the dramatic problems in southern Italy only when these problems can be exploited for political scopes rather than to analize and solve them.

In this more recent case, some politicians are complaining about the scarcity of economic resources to support southern Italy's development without which, they say, these regions would lag behind remaining separated by the rest of the country by a huge development gap.

It is true that without investments no development can be adequately undertaken. So far, so obvious. But it is important to remind that southern Italy for decades has been receiving an impressive flow of domestic and european financial resources which not only have produced scarce or no development impacts, but in the worst cases they have contributed to heavily "intoxicate" the economic and social system in southern Italy as a whole.

The real problem is thus "how" and "what" to invest, rather than "how much" to invest. The great investments in infrastructures or for the creation of new firms and jobs opportunities finally have fattened up organized crime and a corrupted political class without producing any benefit for local communities. Often this intoxicated development (linked also to a sense of fear, mistrust and cynicism) has provoked immense social, environmental and economic devastations whose evaluation is extremely hard for the presence of high extra-economic costs (not quantifiable in monetary terms).

It is clear that Italy is suffering these distortions as a whole, but in the southern regions these problems often show macroscopic dimensions and features.

Probably and paradoxically, Italian "Mezzogiorno" needs less investments rather than more investments just to break this negative chain of the "Dependence and Favour Economy" which shows always remarkable electoral implications.

Effective and efficient preconditions for a real and sane development should be linked to the reconstruction of a sense of equity and legality, respect of law, transparency and simplification, fighting corruption in local administrations, promoting local talents (often humilitated and marginalized), creating a culture of respect, mutual trust and decency.

But there's nothing like this in sight...

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