by Giulio Montanaro

Italy's decline

"Living has become a bureaucratic exercise". "The political situation in Italy is dangerous, but it's not serious".. "I have such a distrust of the future that I only make plans for the past". Quotes from the great screenwriter and "elzevirista" Ennio Flaiano, considerations made in perhaps the best years for our country since the post-war period and which, almost grotesquely, sound more relevant than ever. The future picture of the Belpaese pushes me more and more to rethink not only Flaiano's satire but also Pier Paolo Pasolini's reflections on progress or Ted Kaczynski's warnings (not acts) on technology.

As a matter of fact, since I was welcomed on the pages of this blog, I still hadn't dedicated the right amount of time to our country and its culture. I won't deny it: I didn't do it out of love for myself. So I decided to start the year in a different, more responsible way by writing a few pieces on the subject.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk about the media situation during a digital talk (as they say nowadays) at our Embassy in Moscow and, in order to prepare for it, I had to find the courage to go and look into the eyes of the future of our country. Economy close to collapse, cultural backwardness, demographic decline, unemployment and poverty riding high, the picture is certainly already known to many readers.

Out of the Top 20 world economies by 2050

Let's start with the economy. One of the leading accounting firms, PWC, has recently compiled a report on the outlook for world economies by 2050. Well, to expect to see Italy in fourth place again, as it was before being sold out to Europe by the award-winning firm "Prodi&D'Alema", was clearly a pipe dream. Certainly, however, to find oneself beaten by the Vietnamese, as well as by Mexicans, Indonesians and Turks, with all due respect for their beautiful countries and cultures, is not acceptable for those who belong to the stock that created modernity and has been churning out innovation in every field for centuries.

The sad reality, portrayed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, is that Italy will sink into the abyss (with the goodwill of the Draghi Boys), leaving not the Top 10 but the Top 20 world economies.

From PWC we moved on to Istat, where, at the end of December 2019, a document is published receiving a United Nations directive that sets out the goals placed on states in order to eliminate poverty (don't tell Di Maio it's still to be done), protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.

The good intentions of the United Nations

The second paragraph of the text debuts like this: "The 17 goals are broken down into 169 subgoals that refer to different domains of development, relating to environmental, social, economic, and institutional issues, and are aimed at achieving sustainable progress". I invite you to look at the priorities mentioned in the text. One has the feeling that in Geneva as well as in New York they would have objected that covid together with the stars have conspired against a positive outcome of these policies of "realization of sustainable progress". But if you look at it, you can at least smile.

Let us review only the first 5 priorities set by the United Nations: eradication of poverty, elimination of hunger, health and well-being, quality of education and gender equality... Noting some discrepancy between the UN's aspirations and the real situation in the country, we wanted to verify with our own eyes the efficiency of the above policies by examining the 2021 report on poverty and social exclusion prepared by "Caritas".

The reality described by Caritas

The report states that "in 2020 the Caritas network ... supported more than 1.9 million people. Of these, 44% are new poor, people who have turned to the Caritas circuit for the first time as a direct or indirect effect of the pandemic". It then continues:

The social-health crisis has also exacerbated pre-existing poverty: the quota of chronic poor, in charge of the Caritas circuit for 5 years or more (even intermittently) is also growing, rising from 25.6% to 27.5% from 2019 to 2020; more than half of the people who turned to Caritas (57.1%) had at most a lower secondary school diploma, a percentage that among Italians rises to 65.3% and in Southern Italy even reaches 77.6%. We are, therefore, faced with situations in which there appears to be a strong cultural and social vulnerability that prevents the possibility of making the necessary leap to overcome the obstacle from the very beginning.

Strong cultural vulnus. A consideration that recalls one of the most famous "sentences" of George Soros on Italy in the '90s, when he prophesied that our country would always be the weak link of Europe precisely because of cultural issues.

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The report from Caritas then continues, expanding the look to 2021:

Compared to 2020, the number of assisted persons has increased by 7.6%, while those who turned to Caritas services for the first time in 2020 and are still in a state of need account for 16.1%. The number of people living in chronic poverty remains high (27.7%); more than one person out of four has been regularly accompanied by the diocesan and parish Caritas circuit for a long time. Also of concern is the situation of the "intermittent" poor (who account for 19.2%), who fluctuate between "inside and outside" the condition of need, sometimes placing themselves just above the poverty line and appearing in some way at the mercy of economic/employment events (job loss, job insecurity, working in the informal economy) and/or family events (separations, divorces, relational isolation, etc.).

I close the Caritas report with a consideration of citizenship income: "One in five (19.9%) of those accompanied in 2020 report receiving Citizenship Income (RdC).".

The macro-projections of the Bank of Italy

With public debt and inflation on the rise, unemployment on the rise and the impact of automation just around the corner, it is even harder to understand the cautious optimism that emerges from reading the Bank of Italy's December 17, 2021 macro-projections for our economy.

The demographic crisis: an extinction (in 300 years) rate

Regarding the demographic situation, at the end of November 2021 the website "Statista" publishes a projection of the demographic situation of our country predicting, between old age and therefore mortality and demographic decline, a decrease of 10% of the Italian population by 2050, from 60 to 54 million. To be pernickety, is a trend not very promising. A rate that if maintained steadily could potentially eradicate from the planetary genetics much of our DNA within three centuries.

And it is to be assumed that automation, a topic of true national interest almost ignored alas even by right-wing agendas, will not help reverse the above demographic trend.

The problem of automation

Although Italy, by virtue of the nature of its entrepreneurial fabric, predominantly made up of small and medium-sized enterprises that are not inclined to include technology in their companies, will be less affected than many other nations, as many as 7 million Italians are at risk of unemployment in the coming years due to automation, as reported in a recent study by the University of Trento.

We will see in the years to come which litanies will address to the poor Italian people the bosses of Brussels' bosses, presumably to stimulate yet another promising change and at the same time justify the latest unpredictable and inevitable cyclical economic crisis.

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He debuted as a reporter in 2000 for the group "Il Gazzettino" and collaborates over the years with various newspapers and magazines. Talent scout and agent in the electronic music sector, he cultivates a deep passion for history, philosophy, languages and technology. Author of the blog "Rethinking Intelligence" on Substack.