Here’s an interesting fact: The Italian government employs 27,000 people to manage the small island’s wooded areas—more than Canada employs for British Columbia’s endless forests. This is only one item off a long list of government waste, corruption and nepotism in the Mediterranean described in this article by the German magazine Der Spiegel:
. . . politicians have proven particularly adept at finding public service jobs for their friends. Today, some 144,000 Sicilians get their salary from the state, and one in eight of them is the head of something or other. Many administrative offices are full of people who have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing.
The end-result of all this waste is painfully predictable for anyone following the news out of Southern Europe these days: looming bankruptcy, increasing regional and international tension, and the possible disintegration of the Eurozone.Much has been made of the cultural and economic tensions between northern and southern Eurozone members. On top of this, however, there are often strong regional differences within countries themselves that inhibit reforms:
Alarmed at the €21 billion in debts Sicily has accumulated, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti wants to dispatch a controller and has demanded that the president of Sicily, Raffaele Lombardo, step down. The Sicilian government has retorted that Rome should pay up and stay out of it, or face a ‘civil war.’
There are similar internal divisions in Spain, with its various autonomous regions, and in Portugal’s municipalities.If even the Italians can’t reform Italy, how can the Germans expect to do better?