I shared some of my immediate thoughts concerning the earthquake the other day. We live in a similarly sized town about 40 miles away, close enough to have felt the big quake and all the aftershocks. The airwaves have been flooded, both radio and television. The death toll is approaching 300; on the fourth day they're still finding bodies. It's pretty dramatic stuff.
Tonight I heard about a special unit of the fire fighters that is accompanying people to their half-destroyed homes to retrieve valuables. These are people who fled in the middle of the night with just the clothes on their backs, and they were the lucky ones.
One of the first reports was of a hospital, 90% destroyed in which five children died. The problem is it was built just 15 years ago and the immediate implication is that contractors and local politicians conspired to take short cuts on the building codes. Seismic regulations had already been in place at that time. Our friend Il Principe has a scathing indictment of this form of Italian corruption.
A few years ago in a town called San Giuliano, a school caved in killing 26 kids. The country was outraged. Investigations discovered that some frighteningly high percentage of the schools were in jeopardy. Then it went away. I doubt if much has changed.
My own experience with it was a certain road I used to use driving to work from my old house. When I first started using it, I saw them paving the road. After six months they were back doing it again. By the third or fourth time, I realized they were paving the road so poorly that they'd have to come back within a year and do it all over again. I kid you not, this particular crew of pavers had practically a lifetime's work right there, and no one seemed to care. I multiplied that by what must have been going on in other parts of the city, this is Rome we're talking about. No wonder nothing works.
Anyway, people who choose to live here don't do so because Italy is so organized. They say if you want that you move up to Switzerland or Germany. No thanks.