Young Italians: Only Economic Freedom can Stop Brain Drain – Higher Taxes won’t!

The poor will always stay poor unless, of course, they decide to fight for a substantial wealth tax, the apparent solution of all evil. This is the message of Ricchi e Poveri (The rich and the poor), report of the TV show Presa Diretta aired on Monday 2 September 2013 on the Italian state-owned TV channel Rai Tre (starting from minute 36).

When they contacted me for the interview I was told that Presa Diretta was planning a TV show on young Italians, which study abroad and look for a better future. I was thus very happy to show my fellow Italians that it is possible to have quality education and a good job perspective even without rich parents or political connections. The journalists of Presa Diretta had the opportunity to convey a message of hope for all young Italians, which struggle to get quality education and a good job after graduating.

I am the student in the show, which has been interviewed in front of the London School of Economics and, thanks to the skillful video editors of Presa Diretta, appears as the descendant of super rich parents able to finance the most expensive studies and a luxurious life in London, for several thousand pounds per month. The reality is different. I am not the son of rich or super rich parents. As I told the journalist Elena Stramentinoli, English law firms pay the Legal Practice Course tuition fees to the students who will start working for them. The law firms pay them also additional money in order to finance living expenses (however, I am able to survive in London with approximately £800 per month, not the several thousand referred to in the TV show). Moreover, I had told the journalist that I am working during my studies and I have worked before graduating in law at the University of Munich at the age of twenty-four. That allowed me to get some work experience and put some money aside.

My experience did not interest the Presa Diretta journalists. It was actually not supporting the arguments in favor of the wealth tax the TV-Team intended to force on the Rai Tre audience.

The majority of young Italians, among them many friends of mine, go abroad in order to escape a country where economic liberty is very low (Italy ranks 83rd in the Index of Economic Freedom, just behind Saudi Arabia and light-years behind Germany and the United Kingdom). Without economic liberty there cannot be social mobility. Those who are already on the top or occupy guaranteed positions, like public servants with their guaranteed workplace, benefit from low social mobility. Hence, it does not surprise that public television conveys a message in favor of more taxes, so that the State has more resources to allocate among its employees and the myriad of bankers and businessmen who, instead of working in a free market, prefer shielding themselves from competition and living out of reciprocal favors exchanged with the political class.
I had the illusion being able to tell a different story, but the journalists of Presa Diretta used me for their purpose. To all my fellow Italians in search of a better future, in which only their merits count, I want to say that they should not be discouraged: catch the opportunities offered by the global world and work for a better future.

Young Voices Advocate Alexander McCobin Talks Syria on RT

On Thursday afternoon RT News Anchor Kevin Owen interviewed Young Voices Advocate Alexander McCobin about his views on the situation in Syria and a possible military intervention by the United States.

McCobin recently published a well-received post on Syria, Military Intervention in Syria Serves Obama, Not the People:

The pro-interventionist alliance of Democrats and Republicans is another illustration how the mainstream parts of both parties try to push for more policing around the world and neglect the people’s opinion on these issues. It is now up to the American public, dovish Democrats, and non-interventionist Republicans to prevent another war. Real liberal Democrats are hopefully starting to understand that the Obama administration practices a style of foreign policy which is diametrically opposed to their fundamental ideas.

It’s about time to finally overcome the neoconservative direction of U.S. foreign policy. Congress and the President have to understand that stability in the Middle East can’t be brought by additional U.S.-led intervention.

Moscow Voters Will Determine Whether Alexey Navalny Will Be Mayor or Go to Prison

Mayoral elections in Moscow are a matter of national, not local, politics. It is often said by both Muscovites and rest of Russians that Moscow and Russia are two different countries. And the Moscow mayor is supposed to be the third most influential person in Russia (after President and Prime Minister).

One of the candidates, Alexey Navalny, is regarded as the leader of the Russian protest movement. The outcome of the race will determine not just the former lawyer’s occupation for the next few years, but whether he remains a free man. He is currently facing five years in prison on trumped-up charges that are even more openly absurd than Khodorkovsky’s. His appeal comes right after the election. If Navalny gets lot of support from Muscovites he will probably remain free. If his supporters stay home instead of voting in one of the bravest persons we know, he will go to prison for a long time.

The opposition in Russia is very diverse. So whoever heads it has to be populist to a certain extent. Navalny is not definitely left or definitely right. That’s why he is supported more or less by most of protesters. At the same time, whoever wants to become a leader in the Russian opposition must have a number of other values. He or she must be persistent enough to build some institutions from ground zero in spite of administrative pressure and in spite of the fact that allies will say now and then that their efforts are in vain. And people here are too frustrated to believe that the Kremlin doesn’t control everything political, so any opposition winner will probably be accused of being a Kremlin spy.

A leader of the Russian opposition, official or unofficial, needs to be very brave. He needs to be ready to go to prison for an uncertain period of time. President Vladimir Putin prefers to not set his personal enemies free. We can see it by Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s case. Alexey Navalny has probably become another of Putin’s enemies. We know that the Russian president is too afraid to mention his name. Even when criticizing Navalny on TV, he says “a popular blogger” or “a fighter against corruption” or “an opposition leader” without saying his name!

Many people said in the beginning of the campaign that “they” wouldn’t let Navalny take part in real politics. “They” wouldn’t register him as a candidate. “They” wouldn’t let him on TV and radio. “They, they, they…” Navalny and his team have destroyed the idea of a powerful “them” who controls everything. He became the first Russian politician to carry on an American-like campaign. He attracts volunteers, he accepts donations, he involves his supporters in dozens of activities – things that are ordinary for the West but absolutely innovative for Russia. His rivals try to copy this but it usually looks ridiculous. No matter how many votes he gets, Navalny has already changed our view on what politics should look like.

Some say Navalny has no idea of what municipal economy is. But this election is not about ideology but about changing the whole political system. According to some conspiracy theories he may be even Putin’s secret successor, but actually he is the only candidate who is not subordinated to Kremlin. Few people believe he can win. That’s why there is no use debating over his political platform now. But if he gains lot of voice it will be a kind of signal to the authorities that the Muscovites want real changes.

During the latest press conference Alexey Navalny was asked whether he thinks that his case has influenced President Obama’s decision to cancel his meeting with President Putin. Navalny answered he wouldn’t overestimate his own meaning in the relationship between the two countries. Moreover, he said, the Russian opposition which is now subject to repression would prefer President Obama and other Western leaders react to what’s happening in Russia. And not only by some symbolic act like refusing to meet Vladimir Putin but by some real steps like Magnitsky Act which make “them” feel really uncomfortable.