Yet another judicial investigation is supplying shocking information to the Italian public. This time it is the curriculum vitae of Mr Antonio Mastrapasqua, the President of the National Social Security Institute, who in the meantime holds twenty-five very senior positions in various public and private Entities.
Mr Mastrapasqua was labeled by the press as a typical figure of Italian baron, the owner of a patchwork of fiefs in both the public and private sector on the basis of some sort of divine right. Indeed, former Minister of Labor Elsa Fornero has stated that, when she was Mr Mastrapasqua’s supposed superior, she tried to sack him, but was stopped by a bureaucratic obstruction fire. Now Mr Letta is rumored to be willing to finish Mrs Fornero’s work, but for the time being Mr Mastrapasqua is still in office and has already warned that he is not going to resign.
The traditional Italian elitism is particularly difficult to stomach for the public in a moment when the crisis is taking Italy back to Fifties, when the mainly agricultural economy was controlled by a small clique of aristocratic landowners. According to a recent report by the Bank of Italy, nearly 50 percent of the national wealth is owned by 10 percent of the families.
And this is were the Italian problem becomes global. The world economy is more and more dominated by emerging giants like Brazil, Russia, India and China, marked by a huge social inequality. The same inequality is growing, day by day, in the old North American and European Powers, whose population was more or less used to some form of welfare state.
For the time being, we see no signal of social upheavals, except the so-called “Arab Spring” which has already sadly derailed. People are probably still hoping to get their share of the growing wealth, especially in the emerging countries. Moreover, the failure of planned economy in the former Soviet bloc and its abandonment by China has created a belief that there is no real alternative to the free market.
But how long will this frame of mind last ? Italy, where economic inequality is aggravated by a political and administrative oligopoly, could be an interesting laboratory to assess that. Let’s hope it is a safe laboratory, too.