this interesting piece from this morning's WaPost by Steven Pearlstein about some of the problems bedeviling the Italian economy as it attempts to reform itself. Then, read the comments that follow. Was there a disconnect between what you had read and understood and what most of the comments had to say?
As I read the article and the sins it laid out, I thought to myself "wait--that's us too". Read this passage in particular and tell me if it doesn't describe our bifurcated economy too:
"There’s the one that is composed of several thousand large and
medium-size firms, mostly in the northern half of the country, that are
innovative, efficient, internationally competitive exporters that
generate wealth and high wages and whose productivity and employment
have been steadily growing. And then there is the part, much of it
in the south, composed of government, small family companies,
government-owned enterprises, utilities, banks and lumbering corporate
giants that largely operate in protected or uncompetitive domestic
markets. Their productivity has fallen every year for decades." Then there is this: "Worse still, the trend lines are going in the wrong direction: The
unproductive parts are growing while the productive parts — the people
and the companies — are moving elsewhere."
I read this and I think "Obama". I think of public sector unions, or unions in general. I think "California", "Illinois". While there may be cultural aspects to how the problems manifest themselves in Italy, the problems are not that much different than the problems that bedevil us.
Then one reads the comments, and it is like a whole different story was being discussed. A great deal of anti-Republican, anti-Capitalist, anti-Romney, anti-Bush and....anti-American rhetoric is there. How DARE the author criticize a system in which the family is so venerated. How DARE he criticize a society that gives its people productivity strangling vacation time. The comment section turns largely into a venue to criticize OUR system, while looking at the perennial basket case that is Italy and holding it up for praise.
We may be doomed, folks.