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cyprus, Italy

From Cyprus to Italy: nothing to laugh about

By Alessandro Robecchi

‘In our country, the most common form of recklessness is to laugh, considering absurd things, that then happen.’ Of all the sayings of Ennio Flaiano this is perhaps the most frightening and also, unfortunately, the truest. Every ‘absurd’ case generates palpitations – and what if it really happens?

So it is better not to imagine ‘absurd’ scenarios about which to laugh and then, one day, to cry.

The Cyprus crisis – and its temporary solution – is a good example.

It is true that here in Italy hands already did their dirty work on current accounts (1992, Amato government), but it is also true that just the thought of the Troika robbing you of 40 percent of your lifetime savings to save the banks and crooks in finance makes your blood boil.

So – if only for good ‘flaianesca’ luck – it is best not not to imagine Cyprus as a model for Europe, as Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the President of the Eurogroup, let slip. A genius with just a few little words has burned tens of billions of euros across the Continent.

The Troika rings the bell at night and steals your silverware. The Troika demands your firstborn, or virgin daughters, as hostage. The Troika that steals you car, etcetera, etcetera.

Exaggerate as much as you want: the allegory, paradox, are basic elements of satire and can also give you a comforting laugh. Then, later, when we read that the big pharmaceutical companies do not provide medicines to Greece because it is not profitable enough, the smile from that paradox disappears.

Of course, a burglary at your neighbour’s is always greener. And so we are faced with a country (us) looking on in dismay at the situation in Cyprus and yet we seem to care very little about Italy. Because here, though not with the expropriation of bank accounts, the great robbery has already happened, and is still in progress.

Just read, picked up by a few newspapers, the European Commission study on cuts to education , which describes in detail the treatment that the diabolical Tremonti-Gelmini* duo reserved for Italian schools. Between 2008 and 2012 eight billion euros of cuts and a further billion or so slashed from universities. Nearly one hundred thousand less teaching posts, from kindergarten to high school. And while in Germany the number of teachers increased by 13% (not to mention the increase by 12.9% and 21.9% in Finland and Sweden), here in Italy they fell by eleven percent.

But the fact that state education has been cheated by 10 billion euros (ie twice as much as Cyprus will steal from depositors to save itself) seems forgotten, accepted as a necessary sacrifice. It is superficial to think that the public money for community they have robbed is not “our money”, for it is, as much as the money in our bank accounts. And this is a very severe form of blindness. Then, of course, the fact of having already been widely robbed, does not exclude new robberies. Because, as Henry Kissinger said, ‘Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean everyone’s not out to get me.‘

Blog of Alessandro Robecchi 27.9.2013

*Former Italian finance and education ministers

Translation/edit by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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