Thursday, June 1, 2023

Vogon Today

Selected News from the Galaxy

The Marattineide, or the glitch. Tragi-comic drama in an impure act.

Premise first

"Today we decided to dedicate this episode to Europe Day, but in a different, non-celebratory way…".

Good idea!

Too bad I had received a different input: I should have spoken for a few minutes on the stability pact, no interlocutors had been announced to me, I hadn't really heard of Europe Day (I was unaware and unaware that it exists and I will continue to ignore it until it will no longer be necessary), and I should have started at 18:30.

Let's be clear: I have nothing against the interlocutors, just like a cheetah has nothing against impalas, an orca has nothing against sea lions, or Alberto Sordi has nothing against maccaroni . They provoke me, and I eat them. Fair enough. What would life be without a little fun?

On the other hand, however, given that by joining a team I have abdicated my freedom, that I cannot do exactly as I please, and that I have accepted to enter a controlled circuit of relations with the media, then however I have to know things, I have to I too have them under control, for the simple reason that by giving up "expressive sovereignty" I have restricted my margins of action, and working within narrower margins perhaps I need complete information to understand how to recover impact.

Put another way: I have nothing against the interlocutors, but I have a lot against things done to shit.

In a life with very tight joints like mine, imagine my joy when at 18:22 the call came from the anonymous number while I was below I don't know anymore whether Matteo or Edoardo. Obviously I cut them off, they call me back, I cut them back, etc., until I hurry up and I call them back on Wapp, and we leave (before 18:30).

The entire introductory part (exposition of the new European rules, Marattin's speech, etc.), which can be retrieved from the podcast for those who care so much, I had therefore lost. As the only foothold for orienting myself in a program different from the one I had expected to participate in (a program essentially co-hosted by Marattin) I had what I had been able to capture: the host's summary of part of what Marattin said.

Needless to say, my ellipsoids began to rotate in a whirlwind, as you can tell from my debut, but don't worry: I've already forgotten everything…

(… maybe …)

Second premise

Perhaps it would also be the case, before getting to the heart of it, to draw your attention to the data. You know them, but insisting doesn't hurt:

where Eurostat data are taken from the MIP Scoreboard , and IMF data from the World Economic Outlook Database . Keep them aside, they will come in handy. Ah, you only see one because the IMF data cover exactly the Eurostat data. There is only one statistical truth about the trend of the debt/GDP ratio in Italy.

I sing first

Alberto, the massacrer, loved by Zeus, advances and addresses the conductor with the following words: "I am delighted to participate in this fresh and absolutely unprecedented debate on tax rules… We are paying close attention to the direction that the discussion takes, beyond of the details "we insert or not insert this item in the budget", because in fact in Italy the debt decreased rapidly when the rules were suspended, this is the gist of the matter, and from 1995 to 2007 the debt decreased to more than one point a year, almost two points a year, at a time when the rules existed but hadn't been applied with all this rigidity".

(… in the three years of suspension of the rules (2020-2021-2022) the Italian debt/GDP ratio fell by 10.5 points, from 154.9 to 144.4. In the years from 1995 to 2007 the debt dropped 15.5 points, to average 1.2 points a year, from 119.4 to 103.9 …)

Marattin replies: "But that's not true! Look at the first Prodi government, from 1996 to… and following… to 2000! The debt rose from 120, from 125, to 100% of GDP, then it started to grow again.. ."

(… the first tragic Fantozzi lasted from 1996 to 1998. In those years the debt dropped by 5 points, or 1.6 points per year, then continued to fall… )

Second chant (the glitch)

Embarrassed conductor: "I have the curve here, Marattin, and I must say that it's not like that. But, um…".

Marattin lost: "The debt, when does the debt go back?".

Surgical Alberto: "The debt dates back to 2008".

Grave conductor: "Exactly".

Brief considerations

We save ourselves the rest, such as the absurd thesis that the only good expense is the dead one, i.e. that since it cannot be said that all investment expenses are better than current expenses, then we do not make current expenses, but neither do we investments. Similar theories have the elegance, but also the importance, of those who pronounce them: you, voters, inspired by Athena, have had the good sense to place so much science in the dustbin of history, and we leave it there.

We will not devote any more time to the young colleague's impure mental acts, because it is not about such nonsense that I wanted to entertain you, but about the real novelty, the real glitch of the Matrix: for once a journalist, instead of lying shamelessly and shamelessly about the data, as we have here seen done on innumerable occasions, he cited correct data, instead of harassing those who tried to bring the debate back within the context of historical truth with a squad-like attitude, he intervened ad adjuvandum .

I don't know if you have other examples to produce, but honestly in this blog which doesn't exist, and which is the Debate, they don't remember it (unless you prove otherwise), which raises so many questions.

Why did he do it? How did he come up with the idea to do it? And then: did he really have those data at his disposal, or did he simply apply to Marattin the discriminatory technique that for so many years was applied instead to us, that of quoting data that we do not know and which we do not have to give wrong to one of the interlocutors? But above all, you will say: what do we care?

Eh, no, we care a little bit.

It is not entirely indifferent, for tactical and strategic purposes, to ascertain whether the casual, unexpected emergence (a glitch ) of a true datum is the result of professional scruple or political opportunism. I have no reason to believe that it is the second case, and I don't even know whether to prefer the first. I tell you very frankly: perhaps I would prefer the latter. In other words, I would prefer that information operators, given that the tide is changing, would stop siding with no ifs and buts for the losing party, perhaps on condition that they uncritically support the new prevailing party (which, if embodied by the writer, bogus data mentions it: and therefore supporting it does not make a bad impression). I would prefer this, for the simple reason that while I, who am a professional and have scientifically studied the issue of public debt, unlike certain economists specialized in something else, have very clear numbers, and therefore getting into trouble is a difficult task ( it is in general: they tell me that Lilli Gruber tried , but I didn't even notice it. By the way, is her show still there!?), maybe not all my colleagues, coming from other experiences, would be able able to face the bold arrogance of certain sinister talkers. And in similar circumstances, receiving the support we've seen the aforementioned quack claims lend for years would likely help re-establish a level playing field .

But in short, whatever it is, it is a change of wind (I would like to be able to believe it), which leads us to a world in which the conductor is not an implicit political opponent who supports the explicit political opponents he has invited, or is a happy exception in a world that bears deep responsibility for the degradation of our democracy, in any case it was a very enjoyable moment, which is why I wanted to share it with you.

Another question, if we want to be complementary and dual to the one we asked ourselves above is: is it really possible that an economist who, moreover, is a politician (and does so with a fetishistic attention to the public debt, with a monomaniac obstinacy, with a psychotic reductio ad unum of the complexity of the parameters and variables that can and should be used to assess the health of an economic system), is it really possible that I know less than a third of a half of a damn thing about what I What happened to your country's public debt? In other words: did the esteemed and authoritative colleague really believe in the abominable bullshit slight inaccuracies he was uttering on the trend of the debt/GDP ratio in Italy (not to mention his rather approximate knowledge of the history of our last enlightened governments)? And then, even here: what do we care?


As you know, I have always (that is, always) maintained that the good or bad faith of certain figures, from Prodi down, was not a subject of debate, for at least two sets of reasons: because the subjective elements cannot be ascertained (it is not possible read the thoughts of others or leave a trace), and because if someone does harm to me or my country, my last thoughts are his motivations: the first is to neutralize him. And it is here, however, that knowing if that of Marattin and many others like him is malice or ignorance would help. Because if it was malice, then the most effective way to fix it would be to cauterize, as I cauterized. But I assure you that the more I go on, the more I realize that these things simply don't know them: they are just functional illiterates of economics and politics, incapable of drawing meaning from the signs that even in theory they know how to read, and totally ignorant of the more elementary notions on factual circumstances determining the strength of their reasoning. And then, if this is the case, that is, if theirs is not malice but ignorance, they are at the same time more dangerous (fortunately, also for themselves) but also more fragile: because at this point it is useless to neutralize them, and indeed it is inadvisable to be aggressive. It is enough, with pious solicitude, with human compassion, to have them read the true data. Or rather (and here we return to the first point): it would be enough, if we were in balanced dialectical contexts, in which the referee did not play systematically in the opponent's court.

But in short, I'll get back to the point: let's enjoy the moment, and as for you, don't waste time: click day is active and there aren't many places…

This is a machine translation of a post (in Italian) written by Alberto Bagnai and published on Goofynomics at the URL on Sun, 14 May 2023 20:28:00 +0000. Some rights reserved under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 license.