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A deafening silence September 26, 2008

Posted by dorigo in news, politics.
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And besides, it was a deliberate choice. In May this year, italians voted to give the center-right coalition a large majority of seats in the parliament. It was a vote towards a reduction of taxes, a vote for the privatization of social services like instruction and medical care, a vote against immigration.

So, who can blame Berlusconi‘s government for realizing the promises that brought him to power?

Sure, his minister of Finances Giulio Tremonti has been quick to say that a reduction of taxes, in this sorry financiary situation, will only be possible in the last year of the government’s mandate. They did, however, cancel the one and maybe only italian tax on estate, the one that everybody, even total tax evaders, had to pay: ICI, the tax on the possession of real estate. Everybody cheered: evidently, people in Italy do not want taxes, and plaud at tax evaders. Evaders got richer by this measure, others got poorer.

And of course, the idea of taking fingerprints of children in Rom camps has horrified the whole European Union and brought the incredulity of the Vatican itself, which has started to criticize those recent actions against immigrants which have already been taken.

Of course, small towns and communities in sparsely populated or mountainous areas are now complaining for the closing down of small peripheric hospitals. Theirs is the problem of having to travel for an emergency, after all, so this is not a complaint that can make damage.

One thing really surprises me however. The silence after minister Maria Stella Gelmini decreed a cut of 132,000 employees in the primary and secondary public schools is deafening. She is cutting expenses by 10 billion dollars a year to public schools, and very little is heard about it. The democrats in our country are silenced by their own demotivation and their demoralization, they are feeling impotent to stop this destruction of Italy’s social infrastructures.

Many, instead, will be happy to see the public schooling system go down the drain. The reduction in teachers of primary schools means that the level of instruction will decrease. Primary schools in Italy in many cases run full-time, from 8AM to 4PM (Filippo’s schedule), and pre-school is 9AM to 3PM (Ilaria’s schedule). My family can manage it if they get their time at school cut -we have some help- but many mothers and fathers will be forced to spend more time at home with their kids. The poor will get poorer. Meanwhile, in the face of the planned reduction of teachers, minister Gelmini tries to reassure us: she actually claims that she will increase by 50% the full-time in primary schools. That really appears like a magician’s trick.

Polls show that italians generally believe this is a government that does. The image projected on media and newspapers (largely owned or controlled by the premier) is clear. And maybe I myself have been brainwashed, but I have to admit, I feel it is much easier in Italy for the center-right to pass laws, since they are so much less constrained by ethical obligations and the need to hear all dissenting voices before taking decisions. They act swiftly. They, too, curse each other now and then, but this does not cause ripples in the cohesion of the government. Am I too malicious if I think they are too attached to power to risk it for an ideal?

Beware, I am not saying the center-left government we had in 2006-2008 was much less attached to power. However, their manouvering was much more constrained -by the small margin of parliament votes they had, and by the many different souls, some of them conflicting, that made up the democratic coalition. But this also meant that minorities would be heard. They were much less effective in carrying out their program, and succumbed in last May’s elections.

So, bit by bit, I see a plan coming together. I am awed by observing the convergence of several independent ideas on how to make an authoritarian turn in our country. That, while securing our premier’s businesses. Thirty years ago, a secret mason sept called P2 (for “Publicity 2”) was discovered. It had more than a thousand members among journalists, politicians, notables. The master of the sept, Licio Gelli, had a plan called “Piano di Rinascita Democratica” (plan of a democratic rebirth), which included many of the reforms we see put in place today.

Let me translate a small part of that plan, concerning the control of the press, for you (the full text is available here, in italian).

It will be necessary to create a list of at least two or three elements, for each daily newspaper or periodical, such that none of them knows about the others. The action will have to be managed chain-like, by not more than three or four members who know the business.

To the acquired journalists will have to be given the task of “sympathize” for the political figures chosen above in both hypotheses 1c) and 1d). At a later stage it will be necessary to:

a) acquire some battling newspapers;

b) coordinate all the provincial and local press through a centralized agency;

c) coordinate many cable TV networks with the agency for local press;

d) dissolve RAI-TV [the national TV -t.’s n.] in the name of the freedom of antenna, ex art. 21 of the Constitution.

Berlusconi‘s P2 card was number 1816.


1. goffredo - September 26, 2008

After a long series of excellent posts and threads, I find this one in defect. But it is not a statistical fluctuation. It is a systematic bias. Oh well….

2. estraven - September 30, 2008

It seems to me to parents and teachers are protesting loudly. But maybe you mean that little is heard in the media about our protest.

@goffredo: I don’t know what you mean by bias. I have kids about the age of Tommaso’s, and I’m seriously worried about the future of their school education. As Tommaso correctly points out, not everybody has grandparents nearby.

3. dorigo - September 30, 2008

Goffredo, well, the situation of public schools should matter to you too… Do you really think it is a good idea to cut all those teachers ?

Estraven, you’re right, but this is a government that cares zero for these kinds of protests. I wonder what can be done – probably nothing.


4. goffredo - September 30, 2008

I know that the extra teachers were introduced in about 1990 for political reasons to create jobs) and hence votes, not because of some theory of how teaching should be done. To see how shallow that decision was is before the eyes of everyone. I am worried about the public schooling of my kinds and I personally feel that the public school system in Italy, as it has been run till now, is already on a collision course with disaster with impact parameter = 0.

5. goffredo - September 30, 2008

BIAS in human judgement: a particular tendency (eg. political agenda) that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question.

BIAS in statistics is a systematic as opposed to a random distortion of a statistic as a result of sampling procedure.

BIAS in electronics is the application of a steady voltage or current to an active device, as a diode or transistor, to produce a desired mode of operation.

We are not speaking statistics or electronics.

6. dorigo - September 30, 2008

Hi goffredo,

so you think that the level of the instruction will grow if we get rid of extra teachers ? And what about full-time in primary schools ? You seem to be using a rather empty statement, collision course ? Let’s talk about concrete things here. The primary school in Italy is working very, very well (as opposed to middle and high school). Yet, it is the one which will be cut the most. For a rationalization, or for collecting moneys ?

I would really like to hear what you think on these issues -leaving politics as far as possible from it-, rather than clinging to catch words (bias, disaster).


7. Gabibbo - October 1, 2008

“And of course, the idea of taking fingerprints of children in Rom camps has horrified the whole European Union”

I can assure you that this is certainly false, unless by “the whole EU” you really mean, “a tiny minority in the EU, consisting of people detached from reality as perceived by ordinary citizens.” The truth is that many, many people in other parts of the EU would like their governments to do the same — or maybe something stronger. In the real world, the Roma are very unpopular just about everywhere. [Typical sentiment: “Those crazy Italians, only they would have the balls to try this!”] Whether governments should follow the wishes of their people is an exercise I leave to others.

8. Italian Universities and Research Institutes save Banks. Who will save italian research ? « A Quantum Diaries Survivor - October 10, 2008

[…] these cuts to Universities and research institutes are motivated by an international crisis. The 132,000 layoffs in the public school system, recently passed by another decree, are instead motivated just by the will of Berlusconi’s […]

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