After Greece, Will Italy be Next?

The capital of Italy is said to be on the verge of collapse.

Spain or Portugal may go first, but this story in the Telegraph about the situation in Rome makes me wonder if Italy is going to be next to follow Greece despite the competition for that “honor”: “Rome is on the verge of collapse and needs urgent repair, leaders warn.”

The Eternal City is facing crisis, with its administration engulfed in corruption scandals and debt, its roads scarred by pot-holes, the main airport partially closed and a growing immigration crisis.

For generations, the Italian capital has rested on past glories rather than built on them but now its multiple problems have come to a head.

Drivers on the metro system are on a go-slow in a protest over pay and conditions, hundreds of flights into Fiumicino, the main airport, have been cancelled due to a fire that broke out in a terminal back in May, and temperatures have soared this week to over 100F (37.7C), making daily life even more hellish than normal.

“Rome is on the verge of collapse,” Giancarlo Cremonesi, the president of the Rome Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters.

“It is unacceptable that a major city which calls itself developed can find itself in such a state of decay.”

A survey by the European Commission two years ago placed Rome last out of 28 EU capitals in a ranking for the efficiency of city services.

Despite great food, superb coffee and an enviable climate, on an index of quality of life, the capital came second to last, with Athens at the bottom.

You can see why I thought of Greece. Saying that Rome is second from the bottom with Athens begs for the comparison.

And it doesn’t matter that Rome has a great history or that it is a “major city” or that it is “developed.”

When you act like a third-world country or city, you become a third-world country or city.

The article claims that Rome can recover just like New York did under Mayor Giuliani. But the problems described in the story sound a lot more dire, including gangsters skimming money off of public services and even refugee camps. Not only is there no money for needed repairs, but the people in charge are taking the money for themselves.

Naturally, the article pretends that the city is a victim of an inexplicable economic malaise.

Everything has been exacerbated by the effects of Italy’s longest recession since the Second World War, with homeless people on the street and youth unemployment over 40 per cent.

I’m willing to bet that the recession is so long partly because of the rotting infrastructure and the debt and the corruption.