Worse than NAPLES???


There was a  story in the Gazzettino a few days ago of a very interesting, even if amazing,  inconceivable, really embarrassing revelation:

Cheating the State: The Brunetta Report Shows that the Veneto is  Worse than Naples

Renato Brunetta (Venetian, as it happens, and touted as a new contender for the next mayoral election) is currently toiling away in Rome as the Minister of Public Administration and Innovation, which also concerns itself with  financial transparency.   I sense the  urge to make a disquisition on the  ongoing bulletins from the Guardia di Finanza (the Finance Police) which, among other things, is always on the hunt for tax evaders.   They are bulletins from a quest compared to which the search for the philosopher’s stone is as nothing.   But I’ll just stick to this story; it’s enough for you to know that tax evasion is ubiquitous.   Shocking, I know.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but as it continues to rise and set I wonder if there might not be some surprise, even a tiny one, somewhere on earth.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but as it continues to rise and set I wonder if there might not be some surprise, even a tiny one, somewhere on earth.

You should also know, if you   haven’t intuited it, that any place south of Rome (Naples, Sicily, etc.)  is generally scorned by those in the North as being a quagmire of corruption, where waste and crime cling to each other like doomed lovers on a cliff.   At the same time, people in the North (especially those belonging to the political party, the Northern League, who have made a religion of decrying the South) are convinced that only Northerners  embody the best traits of any Italian groupage — industrious, independent, no nonsense, no slacking, real workers with real results.

The fact that a northern Region could be worse than Naples is pretty hard to grasp.   But the numbers don’t lie.

Here are some details of the research over the past five years:

Worst: Sicily.   Better not to comment, I’ll merely observe that this did not come as a surprise to anyone.

Next worst: Veneto.  

Next worst: Lombardia.   (A second blow to the North, it being the Region next door to Veneto and home to Milan, a city which some people believe was stolen at birth from Germany or Switzerland, in terms of attitude.)

In descending order from there: Campania and Puglia (South), Piemonte (oops, North again), and Calabria (South).

The Veneto’s sins are of the private-entrepreneur type:    773 fraud, 32 corruption, 27 bribery, 264 abuse of authority, and 65 misappropriation of funds (I think that’s also called embezzlement).   All transgressions which could be interpreted as “Well nobody actually got hurt.”  

While we’re on the subject, here’s the rest of the rundown:

Puglia: Most cases of embezzlement.

Campania (Naples): Most cases of abuse of authority.

Lombardia (Milan): Most cases of corruption and bribery.

Grand totals over 5 years:   More than 20,000 crimes scattered liberally across the Boot.   Fraud: 6,000 cases.   Embezzlement (of State as well as EU funds): 3,000,   Abuse of authority: 5,700.  

I don’t know if any of this strikes anyone but me as droll — I mean, that the North shares just about equal dishonors with everybody else here  in the Cradle of the Renaissance.   I suppose  the ordinary Venetian on the street would have assumed that anyone who gets the chance is going to cut a corner, but  would have thought Northerners were at least more clever in concealing it.

In any case, the thought of somewhere in the North outranking Naples is pretty startling.   Now all I need to do is find out how the news has struck the Neapolitans.   If I were them I’d be  laughing like crazy.

I wanted to pass along this information because I think it’s useful to recalibrate one’s stereotypes every so often.

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Categories : Problems


  1. John Garrett says:

    If “fraud” means lying about taxes, Italians should perhaps be given credit for taking direct action when they don’t trust their government with money. I wonder what comparable rates are in other countries.

  2. Erla says:

    “Fraud” means “Any act, expression, omission, or concealment calculated to deceive another to his or her disadvantage.” It’s a crime, especially where money is concerned, in any country which has a formal legal system. Therefore your observation — facetious, perhaps? — that Italians should be “given credit” for committing a crime because they might object to the alternative (seeing their government misspend public funds) isn’t a concept that I can either grasp or defend. Unless you’re assuming that it’s appropriate to justify one criminal action because other people are also doing the same, and worse. Presumably in most countries where a law exists for defining fraud, laws also exist for punishing fraud. I don’t believe there is a special exception made for citizens who take pre-emptive measures to prevent government fraud by committing private fraud. Or have I misunderstood you? As for your curiosity about other countries, you might want to have a look at the Global Corruption Barometer published by Transparency International at Their summary says: “Globally, respondents perceived political parties as the single most corrupt domestic institution, followed closely by the civil service. Aggregate results, however, mask important country differences. In 13 of the countries sampled, the private sector was deemed to be the most corrupt, while in 11 countries the respondents identified the judiciary.”