Jun 14 2011
07:30 am

Italians went to the polls and told the Berlusconi administration NO on several referenda items. The WSJ focuses on the nuclear power, but there are several items that are well worth the read.

First, let's note how the WSJ article states how Berlisconi was actively telling Italians not to go to the polls, and the specific referendas.

Mr. Berlusconi's administration had in past weeks urged people not to vote in the four referenda, which were organized by center-left opposition parties and which asked voters whether they wanted to overturn government laws on reviving nuclear energy, privatizing Italy's water supply and giving top government officials partial immunity from prosecution.

So this story isn't just about following in .Germany's footsteps and abandoning nuclear power, not by a longshot!
However, it is interesting that the Italian people are not interested in reviving nuclear power.

Italy abandoned nuclear energy in 1987—shortly after the Chernobyl nuclear accident—by voting against it in a referendum similar to Monday's. In the current vote, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis in Japan drew people to the polls. As in other European countries, Italy earlier this year imposed a moratorium on its nuclear plans, but Mr. Berlusconi's government was hoping to resurrect them longer term by building several plants across the country. Early on Monday, as the results were coming in, Mr. Berlusconi said that without the possibility of nuclear plants, Italy would have to "strongly commit" to renewable energy.

It seems to me that the Italian people will not be bamboozled by the Berlusconi administration any longer -- note the very last sentence of the article.

The government has argued that handing over water management to private entities would make it more efficient. Critics argued successfully that it would lead to higher prices.

Knoxvillians and Tennesseans might want to start really looking at what privatization of government-run entities is really costing us a lot more than we are told. I can only hope that this starts catching on in more countries, particularly the US.

R. Neal's picture


rikki's picture

On the subject of

On the subject of privatization, the USDOJ yesterday withdrew its case against Thomas Drake, a whistleblower who exposed an NSA privatization scheme that was costing the federal government almost $1 billion for services it could perform in-house for under $10 million.

Anyone who cares to look (which is apparently never Republicans) can see that privatization is just window dressing for cronyism and graft.

CE Petro's picture

One of the biggest

One of the biggest privatization schemes (think pyramid schemes) in this state comes from Corrections Corporation of America.

However, in February 2010, the Florida-based Private Corrections Working Group issued a press release
stating that CCA had lost contracts for 7,594 prison beds in the previous 16 months, and could lose 3,696
by the end of the year.3 As it became clear that some states were canceling prison contracts out of budget
and safety concerns, the private prison industry became more aggressive in seeking ways to fill beds (the
measure by which private prisons companies gauge their profitability). A prime example of this surfaced in
late 2010 when National Public Radio exposed the role of the private prison industry in crafting and
passing SB1070—Arizona's controversial immigration-enforcement law.4
The Republican sweep of the mid-term elections in 2010 provided the private prison industry with new
friends on the state level and in Washington. The upshot is a broad network of powerful private prison
companies and pro-privatization legislation and budget initiatives linked by thousands of dollars in
political donations to the party in power. This year, the industry is betting on these newly-elected allies
to deliver the contracts they were losing under former state leadership.

EricLykins's picture

On the subject of cronyism

On the subject of cronyism and graft, I support a new measure by Republican Darrel Issa who supports an important provision (introduced by Dem. Clair McCaskill, I think) of the ARRA (stimulus act) by making it permanent.

To combat the tracking and transparency issue, DATA will establish a single electronic platform consisting of financial information reported by agencies and information reported by recipients.

The Federal Accountability and Spending Transparency Board (FAST Board) will permanently succeed the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (Recovery Board) and track federal spending including grants, contracts, loans and agencies’ internal expenses.

An Executive order by PBO yesterday may or may not streamline reporting more quickly than this congressional effort.

(b) Not later than 6 months after the date of this order, the Board shall submit a report to the President that identifies implementation guidelines for integrating systems that support the collection and display of Government spending data, ensuring the reliability of those data, and broadening the deployment of fraud detection technologies, including those proven successful during the implementation of the Recovery Act.

The effectiveness of either will only be as good as the people required to supply data, and the learning process has been a bit... slow. Ellen Miller will speak today to the oversight committee chaired by Issa:

OMB has not only denied ourrequest to produce [data quality analyses], but has yet to fulfill a subsequently-filed FOIA request that has been pending for the last nine months. It is ironic that the agency responsible for promulgating the Open Government Directive and spearheading the government’s transparency efforts is standing in the way of better financial transparency.

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