Why do some Italians complain about living in Italy? I.e. What makes life hard to live in Italy? I’ve heard many say that if they were young they’d leave the country.

Italy is a fantastic country to live in, as long as you do not need a job or to carry a business.

A. Bureaucracy & taxes

The Italian State genuinely hates entrepreneurs: it is basically impossible to do business in Italy. Those doing a business in Italy should be considered modern heroes, in my opinion. There is a constellation of bureaucratic hurdles, inefficient public officers, notaries, accountants, lawyers, whatever, that you are forced by the law to consult (and pay hefty fees to) even BEFORE you start a business. After you start it, there will be a multitude of completely irrational tax deadlines with draconian penalties (that change every year), bureaucratic checks, useless controls, etc. that actively make your business frankly impossible. Bureaucrats will do anything in order to take no responsibilities, live in medieval times, detached from reality, and they hate businessmen & risk-takers. This impacts all Italians as beaurcrats infiltrate more and more areas of the daily life and are largely unaccountable for their inefficiency, nepotism and, oftentimes, corruption.

B. Never in my garden attitude

Closed market sectors: this is the elephant hiding behind the curtains of the room.

In Italy, entire market sectors are purposely closed to competitors (i.e. newcomers) in order to maintain the good life of the incumbents.

No political party is willing to touch the incumbents’ privileges because any action against them would be politically very pricey. Pharmacists, Notaries, University Professors, Taxi Drivers, etc. are just a few examples of ferocious pressure groups that have been able to blackmail and eventually force the legislator for decades to prevent or outlaw any potential innovation in their relevant sectors so to close their markets to any potential competition.

Many excellent Pharmacy Graduates, Law Graduates, or would-be Taxi Drivers (these are just examples, there literally hundreds of “gardens” where competitions is legally obstructed in every possible way) are not able to enter the market and do their job they have studied hard for because there is a totally artificial limit legally set forth by the State to the lucky few “members” who are allowed to practice that profession.

The psychology of the Italians is that they only advocate for competition, free market, etc. as long as their small business niche is not touched and exempted. For Italians, the market niche where they already work always has already enough competition.

The European Union is trying relentlessly to enforce legislation allowing more competition in these lucrative market sectors, but the local politicians, pressure groups, and professional associations are fighting back in every possible legal (and, oftentimes, illegal) way in order to prevent this to happen.

As a result, Italy is currently only the 69th Country in the world for Economic Freedom: Economic Freedom of the World – Wikipedia

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