Italy: Manning the Lifeboats

The founders of modern Italy established a strong central government 100 years ago to unify a collection of hopelessly disparate cities, petty principalities, provinces and kingdoms. Mussolini centralized further to solidify Fascist power, and since World War II, the government has been unable to break the habit of taking everything upon itself. As a result, its power is so centralized that Rome rules on everything down to road repairs and hunting licenses, delegating authority through weak provincial governments and even providing funds for local government.

This kind of grip eventually strangles. Every...

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