British MP Derek Conway has stated in today's newspapers that "I did nothing wrong".
[The photo is of course not Derek Conway, but Silvio Berlusconi]
This relates to the discovery that he allegedly paid money from public funds to both his sons, and a boyfriend of one son, for work they never did. Many families are really struggling to help their children get through university, and then pay off their student loans after university.
The news that Conway's children were paid by the taxpayer, and he does not think he did anything wrong proves conclusively that we are really in the heart of Europe. [hat tip to Peter at Detectives beyond Borders for this idea]
The culture of clientelismo in looking after your friends and family, and keeping outsiders out of the loop, and the importance of having the backing of a famiglia importante seem endemic in Italy.
Millions compete in Italian society for the soft clerical jobs, a poltrona, an armchair, which offers the prize of a contract for tempo indeterminato, time immemorial.
If you go into some provincial post offices, and you will see the beautiful daughters of the local famiglia importante draped behind the counters.
We used to laugh at this European behaviour in the UK, but now it seems government avarice and bureaucratic incompetence have become fully established here.
What happens eventually when the people no longer trust their rulers to deal fairly with them?
"Instead we see Italian ministers of every party setting the example by engaging in those interested transactions that are the ruin of Sicily...." Lepoldo Franchetti 1876
In the short stories in Crimini [I have only read the first two so far] corruption is the major theme. The search for the "quick buck" and also the creeping moral corruption with the subsequent removal of any limits to behaviour if it brings rewards.
The other two themes of the foreigner, as a disruptive criminal force rather than an invigorating benefit to a jaded society, and the obsession with success are well developed in the UK.
The desire to be a celebrity is all pervasive with talentless people becoming famous for sleeping with some other talentless individual, or even just for taking heroin.
The ordinary hard working person feels desperate as the government even awards medals to these "glitterati" and the dangers are clear.
The IRA, Mafioso, and even the Klan cultivated an image of helping the poor and downtrodden from the "carpetbaggers" and other oppressors, but in fact never hesitated to use violence to further their own interests.
"The desire to prevail over the competition, combined with the lack of a credible state, cannot bring about a normal marketplace: the common practice is not to do better than your rivals but to do them in."
Paolo Borsellino, anti Mafia prosecutor killed with his five bodyguards by a car bomb in Palermo 19 July 1992
Sources: Excellent Cadavers,The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, Alexander Stille; The Dark Heart of Italy, Tobias Jones and Crimini edited by Giancarlo Cataldo.