Thursday, December 25, 2008


Thanks to Il Principe for a fascinating analysis, I guess we can say Italy is not all good food and museums. There are terrible problems here with the organization, the bureaucracy is almost impossible to navigate, for example. But it's in the political world that the major problems exist. Corruption, they say is rampant. And in the article I've linked to, it's nothing less than Freedon of Speech we're talking about.

...due to the Prime Minister controlling over 45 percent of the private airwaves, power to appoint directors to the public television stations, and the related print media Silvio Berlusconi controls, anyone can see why the people are not marching in the streets demanding a change in government.

What's your opinion? Is the 1st Amendment right to Freedom of Speech unique to the United States? Do other 1st world countries, even if it appears in their constitutions ignore it for all practical purposes? Is America still the bastion for this type of freedon in the modern world?

Regardless of those questions, I do love living here, as I've said before.

Please let us know how you feel.


  1. It's my personal feeling that many of the rights inumerated in the Bill of Rights are "Natural Human Rights" meaning that they should never be infringed.

    But what are rules that can't be broken?

    I do think it is sad when a govenment thinks it can run the people's lives better than the people can.

  2. Mike,

    Figured this would be up your alley if you want to read the whole thing.

    Is There a Relationship between Guns and Freedom? Comparative Results from 59 Nations

    Includes the corruption index that you mentioned in a previous posts.

    A few select statements from the article.

    Such non-compliance with registration is not unreasonable from the viewpoint of someone who wants to keep her gun, since registration lists have been used for confiscation of some or all guns in China,63 communist Poland,64 Australia,65 Great Britain,66 and New York City.67 Gun registration lists were also used by the Nazis to disarm Jewish citizens.68

    Here is a great section showing how registration isn't effective...
    Great Britain serves as an example of how registration records can result in a massive undercount. Great Britain‘s gun controls are among the strictest in the democratic world.69 Every legally owned rifle and handgun in the nation has been registered since the passage of the Firearms Act of 1920.70 Before registration records were used to confiscate all handguns in 1997, there were about 50,000 pistol licenses extant.71 In the four decades after World War II, over 300,000 illegal handguns were voluntarily surrendered nationwide—an indication of a large pool of illegal guns.72 Late 1980s estimates put the number of illegal guns at almost one million, compared with two and a half million legally owned.73

    So, what does the long article boil down to:
    Finally, we tested the data for statistical significance.114 We found three statistically significant relationships:
     more guns, less corruption;
     more guns, more economic freedom; and
     more guns, more economic success.

    These statistically significant associations do not indicate the cause-and-effect relationships—such as whether guns are a cause or a consequence of prosperity, or whether the relationship runs both ways. That topic is discussed in the next Part of this Article.

  3. the causal relationship hinted at in Bob's analysis probably runs backwards. corrupt nations certainly have much greater incentive to ban guns than ones with less corruption; economically stable, prosperous nations are likely more peaceful (and thus less likely to ban guns out of fear and moral panic) than poor countries.

    even so, the important relationship is between gun bans and peace --- or would be, if such a relationship could be demonstrated. has there ever been a place, at any time, when disarming the common citizenry has served to make them any safer?

  4. ...and on freedom of speech...

    seems to me that's not likely the problem in Italy at all. most of the western world has perfectly adequate guarantees of freedom of expression, both in theory and in practice. the problem in Italy seems to be twofold:

    (1), the large majority of the mass media are under the ownership and/or control of nearly monopolistic interests that naturally lend those media to being propaganda mouthpieces for the government, hence any dissent has no obvious channels to express itself through; and, possibly worse,

    (2) that control is in the hands of one single individual, the prime minister. it'd be plenty bad enough if the single individual controlling the majority of any given nation's media was just a private citizen --- far too easy for such a person to become corrupt on the economic and influential power involved --- but to have that person be in charge of the government as well is an obvious conflict of interest.

    the Italians would be well advised to march in the streets with pitchforks and torches until they damn well got a change in government. quite frankly, it'd be a kindness to Berlusconi to remove him from the temptation of corruption he surely must be faced with. if by some chance he hasn't succumbed to it, he'd be practically a saint; but it isn't wise for any nation to rely on its head of government being (and remaining!) saintly.