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Off the Beaten Path in Italy

The big Italian story this week is that one of the country's most prestigious banks, indeed its first bank, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, was raided by the Feds because it turns out that they overpaid for an acquisition a few year ago.  Why did it take so long to be noticed?  Good question.  Probably both the sin and the delayed response are part of the corrupt system that is inevitably created when so much power is left in the state's greedy hands (it alo explains the central government's reflex of raising taxes while pretending to shrink its activities).  The bank was very much part of the system, being part of the municipal government, etcetera, etcetera, and so forth...

Some folks will go to jail in a few years, after the slow judicial process unfolds, but the basic problem is unlikely to be addressed.  And that's a great pity, because some of the explosive forces at work over here are very healty, and in some ways even magical.  If you get the chance, go to the little city of Cortona and visit the museum oppoite its fabulous Gothic cathedral.  In that museum you will find a fresco by Fra Angelico that looks to have been painted a few hour ago, full of blazing reds and golds, vibrating with deep faith and true genius.  It's amazing.

That sort of creativity is still alive here, but it's been suffocated for generations.  I hope the Europeans manage to open pathways for creative energy rather than asking the pols to solve all their problems.  It's tough, and there are some dark sides to the enterprise.  The Neapolitans largely ignore their governors and find amazing way to beat the system.  But one of the most successful of those amazing ways is to resort to organized crime...which indeed creates "jobs," generates enormous wealth, but...destroys any hope of law and order.

Stay tuned.  It's fascinating.  And while you watch and listen, remind yourself that this is what Obama Inc. is trying to build in America.  We don't want that, and we're frighteningly close to it.

Faster, please!