From Matteo Renzi to Giorgia Meloni, the anti-citizen income front is back in charge. Professor Domenico De Masi, can you explain to us why there is so much resentment towards this measure against poverty?
“The hatred is not so much against the measure but against the poor. Let’s face it, this money was destined for the last of the last. In 2019, when the Citizenship Income entered the scene, there were five million absolute poor in Italy. Yet a million of them worked but earned so little that they were in fact poor enough to need a subsidy, in addition to their very low wages, to survive. Another million people would have wanted and could have worked but could not find employment. Keep in mind that these were not graduates but, for the most part, people without educational qualifications and, more often than not, even without a driving license. Finally there were three million people, the largest portion, who did not work, were very poor and could not even work because they were minors, disabled and elderly people. These people who are totally unable to work, without the income what will happen? The solutions proposed by the various Renzi, ie creating jobs in companies, have no value for them because in addition to being poor, they are often also unfortunate. What alternative is there besides providing them with a subsidy? Could a rich country like Italy, the eighth gross domestic product in the world, have three million people who literally die of hunger or who live so poorly that they have such a penalizing existence? No, it’s not possible. Look, Citizenship Income replaces what in the Catholic world was charity, that is, it is based on the concept that those who have more money must help those who otherwise would die of hunger. I do not know with what courage Matteo Renzi, who calls himself a Catholic, is so much against the income of citizenship. And it must also be clear that this measure works because of the million poor who could work but could not do it, over 400,000 have found employment thanks to navigators. It seems self-evident to me that the real problem with income is that it was proposed by the 5 Stars who are so hated that they completely ignore how – and how much – the measure is positive. I underline that Mario Draghi, as an economist, said that income cannot be touched ”.
Meanwhile, the Center-right propose to eliminate income to cut the tax wedge. Is this the right way?
“But what’s that got to do with it? Excuse me, but if we give bread to a person who needs water, what do you do with it? The tax wedge concerns the employed workers while the Income points mainly to the last of the last, those who cannot work. That these are two distinct arguments is evident from the fact that if we solve the problem of the poor, that of the tax wedge is not solved and vice versa. Since I don’t think anyone who talks about these things is stupid, then I have to think they’re doing it in bad faith ”.
Italia Viva proposes to cut the subsidy to give 200 euros more in paychecks. But by doing so, what would happen to the over 3 million Italians who receive income as they have no income?
“They will become delinquents or beggars, they would have no alternative. Mind you, it is right to think about raising salaries but this has nothing to do with those who do not have and cannot have a job ”.
Among other things, with regard to Renzi’s proposal, it does not seem to add up. The former prime minister approved an 80 euro bonus that cost the state nearly 10 billion. The income, on the other hand, costs less than 8. Despite this, he claims that by cutting the subsidy you can give 200 euros. How is it possible?
“Look, it is neither in heaven nor on earth. These statements do not work either logically, ethically or financially. I would love to sit down with Renzi to talk about it calmly and ask him: ‘where does this idea come from?’. This is because I really don’t understand what we are talking about ”.
In light of the assaults by parties opposed to income, do you think M5S will be able to defend it?
“At the parliamentary level they defend it but more needs to be done. In any case, the income will remain because we have Mario Draghi as prime minister, a liberal who should be very opposed but since he is an intelligent person he said that he does not touch himself. This is because he is very clear that otherwise there would be a revolt. And we must be careful because next October the poor will double with the famine that will come due to the international situation ”.
Recently in Italy there is a furious debate about the minimum wage. At what point is the discussion?
“We are on the high seas. The problem with us is that the union doesn’t want it. And they are joined by Minister Brunetta who is the most retrograde in Italy since he is against smartworking and against any other innovation. Returning to the unions, especially the CISL, they boycott it because they believe that their bargaining power is diminishing. But it is a lie because there is talk of inserting a minimum ceiling, that is a starting point, from which the contractual negotiation must then start, which obviously would continue to exist. I wonder what are we discussing? The minimum wage exists all over the world and in Germany it was raised a few days ago. Instead of us who have the lowest wages in Europe, there are those who say that we do not need them. It is absurd to even think so. The reality is that we are making such spurious excuses that there is not even rationality to oppose, so much so that they do not want to reason “.
Do you think we will ever be able to get the minimum wage in Italy?
“They will try to prevent it but sometimes lucky situations happen, like with the Citizenship Income, where astral convergences make such reforms inevitable. Let’s hope something happens even with the minimum wage. But now it is also time to talk about the next battle, that of working hours. Is it possible that we have the longest working hours in Europe? Is it possible that we work 1800 hours a year while in Germany only 1400? “.
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