Officially, Italy has a no longer a “Ministero delle partecipazioni statali” (“Ministry of State Shareholdings”) since its suppression by referendum in 1993. The Italian government has privatized much since–but politics do not understand privatization as relinquishing control on a particular business.

Our national air carrier was privatized, in a very controversial manner, in 2008–and now, in spite of service overall improving, Alitalia is on the edge of bankruptcy. So, what is the government supposed to do? Isn’t the beauty of privatization that once a company is privatized, the gains but also the odds stay with the private investors?

Not quite. The Italian government plans to have the postal service to become a shareholder of Alitalia. Poste Italiane is public company with total Italian government control. Whereas other countries are privatizing their mail service, the Italians will use it to re-nationalize their national carrier.

We have a reputation of being a creative people: but typically this pertains to painters, musicians, and couturiers. I would say the story of Alitalia may suggest however, that unfortunately politics attracts the most creative of my fellow countrymen. What marvels would they do, if only they had joined the productive sector!