October 24, 2011

Living 'La Vita Bella' (and Other Stories)

Medieval Florence (miniature, Vatican Library)

Not Just the Weekly Grind: Last Week’s Roundup

  1. Living “La Vita Bella.” Italians Leave Fears of Debt Crisis to Others

    After living with the problem for hundreds of years, most Italians don’t really worry. Not the way the other countries do. After all, no other country has such a long history of involvement in debt... That’s why no other country knows as much about getting in and out of debt. High debt levels and little growth have been part of the status quo in Italian budget policy, and the Italians have survived even more serious crises…

    After so many centuries, the secret door sticks a bit. But it still exists, hidden behind an image of Italy in the “Hall of Maps” of Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. “Eccolo,” says Francesca, the custodian. “It happened here.”
    This is where it all began. Starting sometime in the mid-14th century, the leather-bound ledgers the city of Florence used to record its debts were kept hidden in this secret place. Someone in the city government had apparently hit upon the idea of using the citizens' money to fund the next military campaign. After Florence’s (supposedly certain) victory, the city would simply repay the debts—and with interest.
    The wealthy Florentines, who were required to buy their city’s debt securities, had their names recorded in the ledgers at Palazzo Vecchio. But, for them, paying up was still preferable to putting on their own suits of armor to defend the city. Besides, they could also sell these new debt securities to others.

    Yes, that’s where it all began. But this is just the beginning of a long Spiegel Online International article that is very much worth your time (interviews with the mayor of Florence and leading economists included).

  2. Herman Cain Blames The Unemployed, GOP Debate Audience Cheers (VIDEO) 

    As everybody already knows Herman Cain recently criticized the Occupy Wall Street protesters, saying, “Don’t blame Wall Street. Don’t blame the big banks. If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself.” As it was not enough, at Tuesday night’s CNN debate, he stood by his comments.
    In response, Ron Paul criticized Cain: “I think Mr. Cain has blamed the victims. […] There’s a lot of people that are victims of this business cycle. We can’t blame the victims. But we also have to point—I’d go to Washington as well as Wall Street, but I’d go over to the Federal Reserve. They create the financial bubbles.”
    Now honestly, how can you disagree with that?
  3. Cain's latest bizarre abortion comment

    Herman Cain took another shot at clarifying his abortion stance on Fox News today, but in the process only added to the confusion.
    Cain attempted to argue that when he said in a CNN interview earlier this week that the decision was ultimately up to the family, what he really meant was that it was up the family as to whether they wanted to break the law.
    “I do not think abortion should be legal in this country,” Cain said on Fox today. “Abortion should not be legal. That is clear. But if a family made the decision to break the law, that’s that family’s decision.”
    On its face, it's completely bizarre for a presidential candidate to say that families should decide whether they want to break the law, but either way, it's difficult to square with previous comments.

    I’ve got a headache coming on...
  4. Why There’s No Way Cain Will Survive His Abortion Gaffe

    Herman is a smooth operator with the soul of a born salesman, but this time his silver tongue may have undone him. Tax plans can be written or unwritten. For people who think legalized abortion represents an ongoing American Holocaust, however, the correct position is always the same, and any wrinkle or nuance that complicates “No!” is just going to get the candidate in deep trouble.

    Not a minor affair...
  5. Steve Forbes on Rick Perry’s Flat Tax Proposal: It’s the Best Tax Proposal Since Ronald Reagan (VIDEO)

    Things change. “Nothing endures but change” (Heraclitus).


  1. I found you from http://bloggers.com/blog/wind-rose-hotel-15738, I have not been to Italy but my parents have visited there many times. I am so glad to be able to see this and learn here. I am in the USA, Jackie~

  2. Hi Jackie, thanks for your kind words. I'm very glad to welcome you here. I'm also glad to know about your blogs. Let's keep in touch and keep up the good blogging!

  3. Nice to know how the first neighbors are doing.

    We don't have lots of news from Italy, only on the world level, and I think it's a shame.

    I'm from Croatia, so you know what I mean.

  4. @Aschatria:

    Dear Neighbor, I'm very glad to welcome you here!
    I'm sorry to hear that in your Country there is not that much information available on Italy. Generally speking, I think there's a surprising lack of information in English from Italy. The major Italian media --State-run Television included -- seem not to be very interested in taking part in this task (and I cannot understand why). Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you here again very soon.