Italy: Et Tu, Garibaldi

"Henceforth, not only the prosperity of the Italians is in danger but their very freedom," fumed Bestselling Author (and Deputy) Luigi Barzini in the weekly L'Europeo last week. He was denouncing not a new law but an institution that has been tightening its hold on Italian life for centuries: the nation's cumbersome bureaucracy.

Today, 50 million Italians spend much of their lives filling out official forms. Permission in triplicate (as a minimum) is required for practically anything: installing electricity in one's house in Rome, 21 different applications; exporting textiles, 200. One Rome resident reported that getting auto license plates took...

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