Italy is no slouch when it comes to the competition. I’m sure you already know that. There’s a reason brands like Prada, Giorgio Armani, Ferrari, Lamborghini are global brands. Italy does a great job competing when it comes to quality. The problem is: where is the competition?
As awesome as these brands are, these are brands that do well outside of Italy. When you look at Italy itself as a closed ecosystem, you get a totally different picture. Prices are too high, there’s not enough jobs, and economic mobility, as well as the wealth gap, are disturbing. This really all boils down to how competitive our markets are internally.
The boosters of the current system would waste no opportunity making a big deal of the fact that consumers the world prized Italian products. That’s not an issue. Dolce & Gabbana will always be a global brand. The problem is it’s a global brand. It’s doesn’t speak to our competitiveness within. For our intrinsic problems to be solved, maybe we can let the cream rise to the top not outside of Italy per se but within our society. Again, I’m just floating a trial balloon here. I’m not wedded to this idea.
Our people do a great job competing with the very best. That’s why Italian fashion is to die for. Italian fashion is the gold standard of the global multi-billion dollar fashion industry. However, that is neither here nor there within the internal insular Italian context.
This is why we have to look at the things that work so well for us outside of our country to start working for us inside our country. Otherwise, we’re basically developing a low-birth-rate feudal country where there’s a tiny film of truly rich in a fast-disappearing layer of middle class and everybody else. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it is not sustainable, in any way shape or form.
Safety nets have to be there, but we have to reward risk as well. A safety net cannot be allowed to be transformed into a hammock, or can it?
These are the questions that continue to baffle our republic. It seems that, to this very day, the same problems that hobbled us in the past continue to bedevil us today. There seems to be some sort of ideological or cognitive straitjacket we can’t get out of whenever tricky questions like liberalization and competition and the social contract are discussed. I am hopeful that these won’t be eternal Italian questions. I am hopeful that the solution is at hand. Maybe it is just over the horizon. But something tells me that we will get to a lasting answer sooner rather than later.