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The Political Courage on the Migration Compact Will Determine the Future of Europe


Image Courtesy of Chappatte: http://www.globecartoon.com

Premise: we must not forget that when we talk about migration we are actually talking about thousands of human lives–innocent children, women and men–that get lost every year in the pursuit of a normal life. The humanitarian aspect of migration in the Mediterranean is dramatic and should by itself be sufficient to allow EU countries to take unprecedented measures to curb this tragic reality. This is definitely what should have already driven EU countries to put forward a long-term plan. The incapacity or political unwillingness from certain member states to come up with a solution has been, however, evident so far.

The issue of migration flows is the next imminent threat to the unity of the EU. Considering that the number of attempts to cross the Mediterranean multiply over the summer period, the crisis requires an immediate resolution.

It’s the time for a political turning point. The best way to demonstrate the relevance of the EU in face of Brexit is to push for a courageous Migration Compact à l’italienne rather than the watered-down version that came of out of the Commission.

If the EU comes out again with its renowned half-measures (at best) on the migration issue, it will be a further confirmation of its inability in decision-making, thereby reinforcing euroscepticism.

Immigration policies have played a crucial role on Brexit. The EU needs to show it is able to provide timely and courageous responses to those global challenges. This is the only way to demonstrate that “together we are stronger.” This may really be the last call to keep the EU together.

Political instability, wars, the spread of ISIS, climate change, failed states are all factors telling us that the magnitude of migration flows is not a contingency and we must expect such massive flows to be a constant for many years to come. In order to face such a long-term global challenge, the EU needs to show its unity.

Three main aspects are worth analyzing. The crux of the matter remains first and foremost political. There is a need to find a mechanism for co-responsibility with the other member States. This was the core message of the Italian proposition in the original text of the Migration Compact that called for a Eurobond, which would signal the shared responsibility in facing the crisis. Mario Giro, Italy’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, has recently stated that “Italy is not ideologically attached to the idea of Eurobonds” and that “alternative measures are welcome” as long as the political message of mutual responsibility remains the same.

Second, the financial resources to be put on the table are the indicator of the political will to find a credible solution. The departure from Italy’s original Migration Compact is not a good sign. The New Migration Partnership Framework of the Commission replicates the same (ambiguous) “Investment Plan for Europe” scheme a.k.a Juncker Plan according to which an investment package of €60 billion would trigger and leverage (quite magically) investment in the “real economy” for €315 billion. The economic think tank Bruegel analyzed the Juncker Plan a year after the beginning of its implementation and noticed that: “since it got underway a year ago only €11.2 billion worth of projects have been approved, just over half of the target for the first year.”

It is, therefore, unclear how the New Migration Partnership Framework will actually benefit from “building on the experience of the successful Investment Plan for Europe.” In fact, the New Migration Partnership Framework announces resources for €3.1 billion for several African partners–against the €3 billion made available for Turkey alone in order to curb the contingency of the migration flows caused by the Syrian War–that are “expected to trigger total investments of up to €31 billion and the potential to increase to €62 billion.”

Vice Minister Giro is right in stressing the need of an holistic Europe-Africa agreement to create a win-win situation that focuses on investment in energy and infrastructure where European companies can play a key role as well as agri-business–a crucial area of development for the sustainable growth of the African continent and its security. In order to shape up a similar grand partnership, the real financial resources on the table have to be significantly increased.

The third important aspect of the departure from the Italian version of the Migration Compact is the re-emergence of the old-fashioned Western idea of providing financial resources with strings attached. African partners, instead, have to be empowered through co-ownership of the framework.

Imposing conditions to your counterpart is by definition not a partnership. Historically, this has been the approach included in the European aid policies. The “carrot and stick” approach evokes the paternalistic vision to provide funds in exchange of proof of performance–in this case the African partners’ ability to demonstrate to be able to curb the massive flows of migrants.

The effectiveness of the New Migration Partnership Framework is, however, extremely dubious when the mutual security of the EU and African counterparts is at stake. Moreover, it is not clear how long-term investment on strategic sectors such as energy and infrastructure could take place if the disbursement would be tied to periodic reviews.

The strongest answer in the aftermath of Brexit is implementing courageous policies instead of getting stuck with the usual techno-politics EU leaders got us used to so far. I hope the European leadership will surprise us with the necessary rush of pride and put the migration issue at the core of a new spirit of the EU.

All six foreign ministers of the founding members agreed on Saturday that Europe needs to do more to solve pressing issues like the migration crisis. The European Council that will take place tomorrow and Wednesday is the only golden opportunity to show the braveness that has been lacking to EU leaders for a long time now. It’s time to put your money where your mouth is.



Comparative Politics Vol 2: Ease of Doing Business. Malaysia vs Italy

Malaysia ranks 6 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2014.

Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank


One of the key variables to make sure to become the location of choice of foreign investors is the ease of doing business. As you can see, one of the indicators in the table above is “Paying Taxes.” So let’s take tax incentives and regulations for instance, as I’ve had the opportunity to interview the CEO of the Malaysian Inland Revenue Board, Tan Sri Shukor.

In Malaysia it is possible to file taxes online, through an e-filing system. The e-filing system not only guarantees efficiency for the government and companies in terms of cost and time savings but it also ensures fair treatment to the public (for instance you can get tax returns within 30 days).

Moreover, in line with the government strategy to develop strategic economic activities (e.g. biotechnology industries, operational headquarters, international procurement centers, regional distribution centers, real estate investment trusts, treasury management centers, 4 and 5 Star Hotels in Peninsular Malaysia, private and international schools, provider of industrial design services in Malaysia, child care centers and pre-school education), international investors allocating resources in specific geographical areas or sectors enjoy tax holidays and don’t have to pay income tax for a certain number of years. Dividends are tax-free and companies willing to re-invest in R&D in Malaysia may be eligible to double-deduction.

Companies that are recognized with the Pioneer Status are eligible to a tax exemption ranging from 70 to 100%. In alternative, another tax incentive is the Investment Tax Allowance (ITA) for projects that imply long-term large capital investments.

The government has created a conducive ecosystem for business to thrive and the private sector aligns profit-making with innovation and socio-economic development. All the ingredients are there to make Malaysia an economic case study of excellence.

Italy ranks 65, after all European countries except for Greece, Romania, Czech Republic, and Malta.


If we don’t want to get stuck in this recession for decades this is definitely an area that we must reform. We need to simplify procedures and digitalize systems. This is also a way to cut public spending. Let’s get rid of red-tapes and reduce excessive costs (e.g. notary fees); a good idea could be to create a one-stop center for opening up a business where you take care of all paperwork/procedures at the same place. Should there be a need to communicate with different offices, this should be done internally and electronically.



Source: The World Bank



Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank


Let’s compare the “Paying Taxes” indicator. Besides the fact that our tax rate is equal to 65.8% of profits, while in Malaysia is 36.3%; the time and labor tax and contributions are 2/3 times higher in Italy than the average in OECD countries and Malaysia.

In Italy it takes 269 hours per year to pay taxes against 175 as an average of OECD countries and 133 in Malaysia. Labor tax and contributions stand as high as 43.4% in Italy. It’s 23.1% in OECD countries and 15.6% in Malaysia. How can we expect our unemployment rate to go down? It’s simply impossible for many companies to hire more workers with these labor costs.



Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank



Source: The World Bank

Source: The World Bank


In order to be more competitive in the global market we need to increase significantly what here is referred to as “ease of doing business.” Regulations must be simplified; procedures must be streamlined; and systems must be digitalized. A reform in this direction will not only attract foreign investors, but also help us cutting public spending.

Oh, and I almost forgot… English…Because nobody else speaks Italian besides us.

Shamelessly Treacherous

Image courtesy of Roberto Mangosi

Image courtesy of Roberto Mangosi

Newspapers announce another government crisis. This afternoon Berlusconi ordered to his Ministers to resign and they replied to their lord with a “Yes Sir.” Berlusconi knows the vote in the Senate will force him to relinquish his seat after his conviction for fiscal fraud this Summer. This is his last attempt to extort the President of the Republic a pardon, namely an act of clemency to forgive his crime; or to try to convince the Senate to save him by voting down the relinquishment of his seat.

To add insult to injury, we are witnessing for the umpteenth time Berlusconi and his political and news servants turning reality upside-down. For two months now, we’ve been listening over and over again that Berlusconi’s conviction was a product of Communist Judges trying to get rid of him with a sentence because of the inability of the Left to defeat him politically. Then- after Cassazione, the Court of third instance, confirmed the sentence of the Court of Appeal- we saw Berlusconi’s video message where he shamelessly stated in front of the whole country that he was innocent. Now MPs of Berlusconi’s party affirm that the reason they resigned is to avoid a tax increase that will occur starting from Tuesday. The tax increase, however, is a direct consequence of PdL’s (Berlusconi’s party) MPs refusal to sign a bill that would have avoided it yesterday.

It is unbelievable how these irresponsible MPs and their absolute master/owner mystify reality. Listening the Minister of Internal Affairs saying publicly that Berlusconi’s conviction and the subsequent relinquishment of his seat at the Senate is against the rule of law and that we now live in a judicial regime is outrageous. We are hostage of a certified criminal. In the rest of Western democracies parties such as PdL would not find place in the Parliament. Because of the subversive nature, PdL should be a mere extra-parliamentary force. In Italy, Berlusconi not only ruled the country for four (and a half, considering this grand coalition government with the Dems) times, but he also loves to define himself “the leader of the moderate conservatives.” Conservatives so moderate that do not want to comply with the rule of law; that pass bills ad personam to save Berlusconi from other trials; and let a country’s government collapse because they are unwilling and unable to survive without their political owner.

By the way, I started this blog during 2013 elections and it was clear since day one that this grand coalition would have been short-lived. In good faith or not, President Napolitano holds the majority of the burden of this failure. He accepted his second mandate as a result of a House of Cards-like Presidential elections with a clear idea in mind: facilitating the creation of a grand coalition. The whole political architecture built up by the President looked extremely weak and incapable of sorting out the huge Italian political, social, and economic challenges. This government should have simply been avoided. Berlusconi couldn’t wait to influence the daily political activity for his own interest and his MPs couldn’t wait to go along with their lord’s wishes. They have little, if any, political stature. They just repeat whatever the boss says, like parrots. No trace of deception in PdL, not even after the conviction. No sign of criticism to the line held by the supreme leader. Ever. Dems have no excuses. After twenty years, it’s no longer possible to believe in their good faith. Now that this new crisis erupted, they seem to fall from the sky. What the hell did you expect from Berlusconi?? He’s there only for his personal interest and he’s there with you as long as you save him. You don’t, you fall with him.

Krugman vs Alesina and the Italian Stalemate – Krugman contro Alesina e l’impasse italiano

What is the economic policy of the new Italian government? I bet no one can answer this question. On the one hand, the Democratic Party (PD)-or at least some of the ministers- emphasize the importance of cutting taxes on the labor market in order to boost employment. On the other hand, B (that just stands for Berlusconi since it’s hard to believe the existence of a structural party behind him) is obsessed with the repeal of IMU (a tax introduced by Monti on real estate). The problem is that PD and B are sitting at the same table, the Government. Both, however, stress the importance of maintaining the promises made to the EU (i.e. keeping the budget in order, whatever it takes) but at the same time say we need more investments to shake up the real economy.

Well, guess what? The two policies are mutually exclusive, especially in times of crisis. We either expand spending or we cut it. We either choose Keynesian economics or we go for Austerity. This choice mirrors the debate going on between Paul Krugman and Alberto Alesina, the first being of course the Keynesian and the second the Austerian from Bocconi. Krugman criticizes Alesina and Ardagna’s paper arguing that there is no evidence that spending cuts lead to economic expansion. In the Euro area, indeed, austerity has produced the situation in the graph below:

Alesina, in turn, replied Krugman saying “My paper has never claimed that every fiscal adjustment is expansionary. It just claimed that there have been examples in which some well-designed policy packages, based on spending cuts and other measures, have been associated with a positive impact on the economy.”

As I already pointed out in my previous post, the bottom line stays the same: it’s the boom, not the slump the right time for austerity. We all know how badly Italian governments have blown up taxpayers money for the past 30 years or more, and how much money ends up in corruption. I do believe there are sectors where spending must be cut (one example above all, eliminating provinces, a useless administrative layer that sucks money and makes our infamous bureaucratic system even slower).

Yet, do we really think that lying off thousands of people right now will help boosting our economy and keep our budget in order? With an unemployment rate at 11,5% and a big credit crunch, our priority is creating employment and this is why we need more spending now. The US went that way and they are getting out of this mess. We, in Europe, are falling even deeper into it.

So what is the incumbent government doing for our economy? Absolutely nothing. First of all because of its inherent weakness (Left and Right can hardly agree on what the recipe should be, assuming they have any idea about what should be done at all). Second, because we don’t have the guts (and the credibility, since the rest of Europe laughs at us seeing Berlusconi once again) to renegotiate the Fiscal Compact within the EU.

The priorities of our politicians are clearly different. While PD proposes to ban “movements” from running for the next elections (clearly targeting the Five Stars Movement), the Five Stars can’t discuss anything else than how much their own elected MPs should spend for lunch or dinner; B, of course, has a more compelling priority in times of crisis and proposes to halve the term of imprisonment for the people charged with association with the Mafia. This will definitely help restore our economy. 


Qual è la politica economica del governo Italiano? Scommetto che nessuno abbia una risposta a questa domanda. Da un lato, il PD⎯o almeno alcuni ministri⎯mettono al centro la questione della riduzione delle tasse sul lavoro al fine di sostenere l’occupazione. Dall’altro lato, B (perchè tanto è inutile di parlare di PDL dato che non c’è alcuna struttura partitica dietro di lui) è ossessionato con l’abolizione dell’IMU. Il problema è che PD e B sono seduti allo stesso tavolo, il Governo. Entrambi, tuttavia, sottolineano l’importanza di mantenere le promesse fatte all’UE (tenere i conti in ordine, a qualsiasi costo) ma allo stesso tempo dicono che abbiamo bisogno di più investimenti per dare una spinta all’economia reale.

Ebbene, indovina un po’? Le due politiche sono alternative l’una all’altra, specialmente in tempi di crisi. O aumentiamo la spesa o la tagliamo. O scegliamo una politica economica keynesiana o continuiamo con l’austerità. Questa scelta rispecchia il dibattito tra Paul Krugman e Alberto Alesina, il primo naturalmente rappresentante di Keynes e il secondo dell’austerità bocconiana. Krugman critica un paper di Alesina e Ardagna affermando che non ci sono dati empirici a testimoniare che tagli della spesa corrispondano a crescita economica. Nell’area euro, infatti, la politica di austerità ha prodotto la situazione del grafico qui sotto:

Alesina, allo stesso tempo, risponde a Krugman dicendo “Il mio paper non ha mai affermato che ogni misura fiscale porta crescita economica. Dice solo che ci sono esempi dove pacchetti politici ben strutturati, basati su tagli della spesa, hanno un impatto positivo sull’economia.”

Come ho già descritto in un post precedente, la morale della favola è sempre la stessa: il boom economico, non la recessione, è il tempo appropriato per l’austerità. Tutti noi sappiamo come i governi italiani abbiano sperperato denaro pubblico negli ultimi 30 anni o più e quant’altro denaro sia stato mangiato dalla corruzione. Anch’io credo che si debbano fare dei tagli (un esempio su tutti, le province).

Ma siamo sicuri che licenziando migliaia di persone proprio in questo momento di crisi possa aiutare la ripresa economica? Con un tasso di disoccupazione all’11,5% e in una situazione di ristrettezza del credito, la priorità è creare occupazione ed è per questo che dobbiamo aumentare la spesa adesso. Gli USA hanno preso questa strada e stanno uscendo dalla crisi. Noi, in Europa, ci stiamo sempre più dentro fino al collo.

Quindi, cosa sta facendo il nostro governo per l’economia? Assolutamente niente. Prima di tutto a causa della sua debolezza interna (Destra e Sinistra difficilmente troveranno un accordo sulla ricetta, ammesso che abbiano alcuna idea di cosa si debba fare). Secondo, perché non abbiamo gli attributi (e la credibilità, dato che ci ridono dietro in tutta Europa vedendo ancora una volta Berlusconi) di rinegoziare il Fiscal Compact a livello europeo.

Le priorità dei nostri politici sono chiaramente diverse. Mentre il PD cerca di mettere al bando i “movimenti” (ostacolando chiaramente l’M5S), l’M5S è tutto rinchiuso nella sua discussione su quanto debbano spendere per pranzo e per cena i propri eletti in Parlamento. B, naturalmente, ha un’idea ben chiara delle priorità del Paese e propone di dimezzare la pena detentiva per il concorso esterno in associazione mafiosa. Questo sì che aiuterà l’economia del nostro Paese. 

Occupy PD contro la “rendita da posizionamento”

La politica italiana è ridotta da anni a mera politics. Non vi è alcuna traccia di policies. I programmi politici sono inesistenti. Nessun partito riesce a dire come e da dove vuole prendere risorse per portare avanti quelle generiche e stringate promesse elettorali. E l’informazione non riesce mai a fare quella benedetta “seconda domanda” che dovrebbe inchiodare i politici.

Si discute solo di posizionamento politico, di alleanze, di cariche e nomine. I dirigenti discutono la linea politica da intraprendere in funzione a ciò che fanno gli altri partiti. Inevitabilmente ci si sposta tutti sempre più verso il centro, cercando di diventare quel “partito pigliatutto” in grado di proiettare su di sé la maggioranza dell’elettorato italiano.

E’ così che ragionano all’interno della dirigenza del PD (e anche qualche leader emergente). Se passiamo una linea più centrista, pensano i dirigenti, riusciremo a pescare nella gran parte del bacino moderato, anche quello più conservatore, tradizionalmente di destra. Ma questo è un ragionamento ormai lontanissimo dalla realtà italiana. La grande vittoria del M5S ha dimostrato che ormai gran parte dell’elettorato non è più affezionato alle vecchie nomenklature dei vari partiti e partitini di Sinistra e di Destra. Ma la gran parte del quadro dirigenziale del PD non si è accorto di questo cambiamento e si è affossato da solo durante l’elezione del Presidente della Repubblica, proprio a causa di quei vecchi veti incrociati di varie correnti che gli elettori vedono oggi come l’ennesima dimostrazione dell’autoconservazione della politica, ormai rinchiusa nella politica di palazzo.

Il conseguente governo con B. (che tanto sa di “inciucio”, termine che utilizzo con parsimonia) è la testimonianza di questa paura di cambiare e di seguire i propri valori. Meglio fare un governo con B e spostarsi un po’ più al centro che tentare un governo con il M5S (che comunque sia, non è un partito di Sinistra). Come si può pensare che dopo tutti questi anni l’elettorato di Sinistra possa digerire un governo a braccetto con B.? Mentre B. organizza manifestazioni contro istituzioni dello Stato e manda sui propri canali Ruby a farsi difendere dalle accuse di prostituzione minorile, cosa fa Letta? Si cuce necessariamente la bocca. Uno, perché sa che le sorti del governo dipendono da B. Due, perché non ha più un briciolo di legittimazione per poter contestare le sue azioni. Sartori ha pienamente ragione, B. ha preparato il “trappolone” perfetto.

La Sinistra, invece, deve recuperare la propria visione e sviluppare il proprio orizzonte attorno al suo programma e ai suoi valori. Ma i Dirigenti PD vedono un programma progressista come necessariamente minoritario, non in grado di raggiungere la maggioranza degli italiani. La miopia non ha permesso ai dirigenti di carpire quanto sia cambiata la società italiana. Lo scollamento tra la società civile che vuole cambiamento e la politica che ragiona ancora secondo schemi da Prima Repubblica rappresenta il bivio a cui è arrivato il PD. O si cambia o si muore. O si dà voce alla base, al gruppo dei Giovani Democratici e a Occupy PD, o il partito non sarà che un contenitore vuoto.

Il PD deve rinascere e avere un’anima laica e progressista. Il tatticismo all’insegna del riposizionamento verso un centro vuoto, immobilista, conservatore, solo per cercare di sfruttare questa “rendita da posizionamento” è una logica sciocca e, se deciderà di prendere questa strada, il PD continuerà a non rappresentare alcuna forza di cambiamento e innovazione nell’orizzonte politico italiano.      

The great American sense of community (and the Italian omertà) – Il grande senso di comunità americano (e l’omertà italiana)

Ask yourself this question: “what is a key feature when you think of American society?” I bet a lot of people answered: “Individualism.” This is typical if you are European, or probably just a non-US citizen. This is also what I expected to find the first time I came to the US.

One definition I found of ‘individualism’ reads as follow: the action or principle of asserting one’s independence and individuality; egoism.” In contrast, ‘sense of community’ can be referred to as: “the feeling of closeness and friendship that exists between companions.” I spent some time in the States and I have to say that the sense of community here is pretty strong and it’s one of the thing it makes me love American people.

This sneeze is a little different from my previous ones for three reasons: first, it’s been Saint Patrick’s Day so my hangover demonstrates I had better things to do this weekend than being nerdy and write on political stuff at home. Second, I like to believe in karma, so this is my way to give back something to the gentleman in the picture. Three, I guess it’s a good way to talk about American (and Italian) society from a different perspective.

On Friday morning, I went out to take the bus to go to work. Unfortunately, I saw it passing by ahead of time, so I started running to the stop, but I missed it. Steve, the generous gentleman, saw me cursing in all the languages you can find on a McDonald’s cup and rolled down the window of his car and said: “Hey dude, do you want a ride to catch the bus?” So, he picked me up and dropped me at the closest bus stop from where I could catch my bus. Steve is a real estate agent and told me he was on his way to meet a client but he couldn’t avoid offering me a ride, because he also had some bad experiences with unreliable public transportation in the past.

Steve really made my day. It’s little things like this that make me feel positive about people and I couldn’t stop thinking how cool Steve was. Since I felt very grateful and you can’t mess up with karma, I want to dedicate my weekly sneeze to Steve, and seize the opportunity to talk about the cliché of ‘individualism’ in American society. It is not the first time that random people turn to be very nice to me here in the US. I remember one gentleman letting me use his card to get discounts at a supermarket in California; and other people taking detours from where they were heading to literally walk me in front of the entrance of places I was looking for. In general, what I love about Americans is their open-mindedness and positivity. It just puts a smile on my face every time I go out.

There’s an interesting TV show called “What would you do?” that stages ethically controversial scenarios (about racism, homosexuality, etc.) in public places to see how people react. A lot of times I am amazed to see how positively people react- meaning that they step up and say something. Of course, many people just don’t care, but I am still convinced that the rate of the average American reaction would be higher than the Italian (I can’t speak on behalf of Europe as a whole, as it would be intellectually dishonest given the cultural differences among the countries).

In his last docu-film, Girlfriend in a Coma, Bill Emmott showed a very cruel scene of a homicide in front of a bar in Naples. As the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano comments in the video, what is shocking apart from the cruelty of the scene itself, is the complete lack of reaction of the people. They look at the dead body for a second and then they walk away, totally inured to that crazy violence, as if it was part of their daily routine (and for some people especially in those areas it probably is). I recognize that the example I brought here does not really exemplify the sense of community in Italy nor it is comparable to the scenes staged in the American TV show. That said, however, I found the video emblematic of the Italian omertà and social values in general that I perceive to be completely adrift in Italy. By the way, I just sadly found out that there is no translation for the word omertà in English, which makes me assume that it is a word originated and immanent exclusively to the Italian context.

I’d love to see “What would you do?” replicated in European countries. I think it tells a lot about the society we are living in and it’s extremely educative. Topics like bullism, homophobia, racism, and cheating should be discussed in schools, because education is the heart of change.


Domanda: “Qual è la caratteristica principale che ti viene in mente quando dico società americana?” Scommetto che molti risponderebbero “individualismo”. La risposta è tipica soprattutto se sei europeo, o più in generale non un cittadino americano. E’ anche ciò che pensavo anch’io prima di venire per la prima volta negli States.

Una definizione che ho trovato di individualismo è la seguente (tradotta dal link della versione in inglese): “l’azione o il principio che afferma l’individualità e indipendenza di un soggetto; egoismo”. Al contrario, senso di comunità viene definito come (vedi again link in inglese): “il sentimento di vicinanza e amicizia che esiste tra compagni”. Ho trascorso un po’ di tempo ormai in America e mi sento di dire che il senso di comunità qui è molto forte e è uno dei motivi per cui amo gli americani.

Questo starnuto è un po’ diverso dagli altri per tre motivi: uno, è stato Saint Patrick’s Day e a giudicare dal mio rincoglionimento direi che ho avuto cose migliori da fare questo weekend che rimanere a casa a fare il secchione e scrivere di politica. Due, mi piace credere al karma e quindi questo è il mio modo per ricambiare il favore del gentiluomo in foto. Tre, penso che sia una buona opportunità per trarre spunto e parlare di società americana (e italiana) da una prospettiva diversa.

Venerdì mattina, sono uscito di casa per andare a prendere il bus e andare a lavoro. Sfortunatamente, l’ho visto passare di fronte a me in anticipo rispetto al normale orario, e quindi ho iniziato a correre verso la fermata, ma l’ho perso. Steve, il gentiluomo generoso, mi ha visto imprecare in tutte le lingue che puoi trovare su un bicchiere del MacDonald e, abbassando il finestrino della sua macchina, mi dice: “Hey amico, vuoi un passaggio per andare a prendere il bus?” E così mi ha portato fino alla prima fermata disponibile per riuscire a riprendere il mio bus. Steve è un agente immobiliare e mi ha detto che nonostante stesse andando ad un appuntamento con un cliente, non ha potuto fare a meno di fermarsi e offrirmi un passaggio, perché anche lui, in passato, ha avuto brutte esperienze con il trasporto pubblico locale.

Steve mi ha cambiato proprio la giornata. Sono le piccole cose come questa che mi fanno sentire ancora positivo e non sono riuscito a smettere di pensare a quanto figo sia stato Steve. Dato che gli sono molto grato ed è meglio non incasinarsi col karma, voglio dedicare questo mio starnuto settimanale a Steve e cogliere l’opportunità per parlare dello stereotipo dell’Individualismo nella società americana. Non è la prima volta che gente a caso sia stata davvero gentile nei miei confronti qui negli States. Mi ricordo di un signore che mi ha fatto utilizzare la sua carta per ottenere degli sconti al supermercato in California; e altre persone che allungavano il loro percorso per accompagnarmi letteralmente all’entrata di posti che stavo cercando. In generale, ciò che amo degli americani è la loro apertura mentale e positività. Mi mette un sorriso ogni volta che esco.

C’è un interessante show televisivo, chiamato “What would you do?” (“Cosa faresti?”) che mettono sul set scene eticamente controverse (che riguardano temi come il razzismo, l’omosessualità, etc.) in spazi pubblici per vedere come reagisce la gente. Molte volte sono stupito per come la gente reagisca positivamente, nel senso che intervengono. Ovviamente, molte altre persone se ne fregano, ma sono ancora convinto che la media di reazioni da parte degli americani sia più alta di quella degli italiani (non posso parlare a nome dell’Europa perché non sarebbe onesto intellettualmente date le grandi differenze culturali nei vari Paesi).

Nel suo ultimo docu-film, Girlfriend in a Coma, Bill Emmott mostra la scena molto cruenta di un omicidio di fronte ad un bar a Napoli. Come commenta Roberto Saviano, ciò che è scioccante a parte la scena in sé, è la completa assenza di reazione da parte della gente. Guardano il cadavere per un secondo e poi se ne vanno, completamente assuefatti a quella violenza pazzesca, come se fosse parte della loro normale quotidianità (e probabilmente per alcune persone che vivono in quelle aree lo è per davvero). Riconosco che l’esempio che ho portato qui non esemplifichi il senso di comunità in Italia né può essere comparato alle scene del programma TV americano. Detto ciò, però, credo che il video sia emblematico dell’omertà e dei valori sociali più in generale, che penso siano completamente alla deriva in Italia. Tra le altre cose, ho appena dovuto constatare molto tristemente che non esiste un vocabolo che traduca ‘omertà’ in inglese, che mi fa dedurre che sia un termine originato e immanente esclusivamente al contesto italiano.

Mi piacerebbe moltissimo vedere “Cosa Faresti?” replicato nei Paesi europei. Penso faccia scoprire molti aspetti della società in cui viviamo ed è estremamente educativo. Temi come il bullismo, l’omofobia, il razzismo, l’imbrogliare dovrebbero essere discussi nelle scuole, perché l’educazione è il cuore del cambiamento.