Sicily’s Fiscal Problems Threaten to Swamp Italy

I was shocked, shocked, to see the above headline in the New York Times on 7.22.12 and I am certain you will be shocked as well. Seems that the autonomous government of Sicily has been spending too much money, way too much money, and hasn’t fessed up to it until recently.

A prince of a guy by the name of Mr. Lombardo, is the head of the government in Sicily. He is under investigation for ties to the Mafia. (Like duh.) And has also been in jail for corruption. Were it not for his legal problems, I’m sure he would have kept better records and in general run a tighter ship.

One of the big problems in Sicily, besides the deep traditions of corruption, thievery from the public purse, bribery of officials, vendettas, the Mafia, and a few more, is this: too many people work for the government. Certainly we are all familiar with towns or cities or states or departments of the Federal Government which seem to have some extra people but the following is truly astounding.

Once again from the New York Times:

…Sicily’s regional government…employs 26,000 auxiliary forest rangers; in the vast forestlands of British Columbia, there are fewer than 1,500…

“Of course that’s too many,” Mr. Lombardo said of the forest rangers. But he said it was difficult to cut back because state workers have job protection. “We have to wait for them to retire.”

Too many? Too many? That’s an under statement. The entire island only amounts to 25,700 square kilometers. This means that in Sicily, there is a forest ranger for each square kilometer of land. And you have to wait for all of them to retire? How long will that take? Fifty years? This is corruption on a breathtaking scale. Tammany Hall would have been proud.

Allow me to end with these figures: the US Forest Service employs approximately 28,000 people, including forest rangers, to oversee 780,000 square kilometers of Federal lands. But there are 9.83 million square kilometers of land in the USA. We could solve our unemployment problem by creating 9,830,000 new Forest Ranger positions which would bring us to the same ratio as Sicily. We can and we should learn from other nations.

[Sources: The New York Times and the US Forest Service.]

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

Leave a Reply