A stranger entered a cafe in Milan and puzzled its occupants by saying:
"I'm neither a foreigner nor Milanese."
"Then what are you?" they asked.
"I am an Italian,'" he explained.
Gian Rinaldo Carli
Della Patria Degli Italiani
It took another one hundred years before this nationalistic tone resulted in Risorgimento, or the Kingdom of Italy, which was completed in 1871. These days, nationalism is a four-letter word, and patriotism is being tested by policies that turn the concept of fairness on its ear.
The western world is being torn apart by (past) success and complacency, which is a deadly combination that has resulted in welfare societies being unable to denote the difference between tough love and real love.
Moreover, the argument is further complicated in America where any talk of asking fellow citizens to use their wit and determination to change their lot in life is greeted with cries of racism. Nonetheless, there is a movement gaining momentum in which the makers are essentially saying "enough," we just want our own thing.
For the most part, most nations have been cobbled together throughout the years, formed in the aftermath of war. While lines on maps can be erased or redrawn, and language and costumes can be stifled, the burning desire that dwells within a people for the love of their roots cannot be extinguished. Still, such passion can be expressed along with a greater love of country, when things are good, or when the entire nation has a singular purpose. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore.
Big problems are not about slight differences in political opinion.
Veneto has five million people, and it is one of the richest regions of Italy. Recently, an online vote revealed 89% of residents want to break away and form an independent nation. These rumblings have existed in Northern Italy for a number of years, creating political tension that some see as a powder keg. Hardworking and industrious regions including Lombardy, Piedmont, Tuscany, and Emilia-Romagna are all worked up over the confiscation of their sweat to placate the non-working south.
Last year, the residents of Veneto paid out €30.0 billion more in taxes to Rome than it received in benefits.
Catalonia has made the most noise as of late on the topic of separating to form its own nation. Absorbed into Spain and beaten into submission by France, the region had to suppress its culture and language (and only in 1979, has the dual language with Spanish become official). Catalonia has overcome such treatment to become an economic juggernaut in a nation with 20% of adults under age 30, who have never held a job. Now, the residents of Catalonia send €17.0 billion more in tax payments to Madrid than they get in return as benefits.
Flanders was the runt of Belgium, but it has been forged into a vibrant economy, while its French-speaking neighbors seek to suck up more and more welfare payments and government jobs each year. I have long suspected that a successful independence movement here is possible, and it could still happen, as Dutch-speaking people demand autonomy, and a celebration of their language and culture. Then there is the money rub. According to reports, transfer payments from Flanders to Wallonia in 2007 amounted to €5.7 billion, and when taking into account debt and interest payments, this amounted to €11.3 billion.
Bavaria is the second most populace region of Germany, and an economic powerhouse. With 12 million people, it would have a population larger than 20 members of the European Union. Its €440.0 billion GDP would be the envy of most of Europe as well. Religion (Catholic) and dialect also separate the region from the rest of the country.
There are several other independence movements at various stages throughout Europe, including Madeira in Portugal and Scania in Sweden, where proponents of independence continue to fret over its 1658 takeover. The movement and vote in Scotland could be monumental in how other attempts for independence in Europe fare, in which I plan to write about at a different time as I get a better handle on the lay of the land. However, there are enough examples of burgeoning movements, where hard working people are tired of being ripped-off by their government.
Of course, the powers that pull the strings are worried sick over the possibility of a wave of successions in Western Europe, just as Russia is reclaiming former regions. Even though most would-be breakaway regions have hinted at staying in the EU, these industrious people understand the immense trade-off that comes with joining a common currency, a common legal structure, and common taxes, which might negate all they would have worked for, especially on the tax front.
Looking for Love
I was lookin' for love in all the wrong places
Lookin' for love in too many faces
Searchin' their eyes, lookin' for traces
Of what I'm dreamin' of- Johnny Lee
If Gian Rinaldo Carli's work applied to America today, it would go something like this:
A stranger enters an internet cafe in New York City and puzzles its occupants by saying:
"I'm neither well-rested nor evil."
"Then what are you?" the patrons will ask.
"I'm a hardworking success, looking for love and appreciation in the land of opportunity."
While there are succession efforts in America, the fact is we are so intertwined with each other, and it is impossible to get wide swathes of like-minded people to push the issue. Instead, we have to rely on economic reality finally hitting home with those that have bought into the idea that a punitive tax policy is smart when it is designed to punish one group, while making it even more difficult for the other group(s) to improve their own lives. Moreover, I am rooting for hardworking people around the world to fight back governments that mistakenly think it is fair to confiscate their wealth, while dismissing their sacrifice in an effort to promote anger and retain power. Maybe some are looking for love in all the wrong places, and maybe some do not have a choice.
Equity futures are edging higher on a mix of earnings results and acquisition activity. Last night, Netflix posted an impressive earnings result with strong momentum internationally, and announced a price hike. Management offered strong guidance for the current quarter as well. Watch the stock closely as the shorts are pissed, offering a lot of backhanded compliments overnight, and this morning, and stand ready to pounce if the stock stalls as this is their only chance to avoided getting crushed.
The following is a list of Dow stocks that reported this morning: