To satisfy the whims of Berlusconi and his cronies, we (s)sell our heritage

A reflection on the (s)sale of public assets from which the government wants to derive revenue for lowering the deficit.

On our Facebook page, whenever we try to draw the attention of our thousands of fans to current political events, we always receive criticism (by now it is mathematical) related to the fact that we should deal only with art and not politics. It is not necessary to remark here how strong the link between art and politics (understood in the highest and etymological sense of the term) is instead, due to the fact that this article wants to deal not with the noble art of politics, but with the much less noble Italian politics of today: as we all know, a few days ago the manoeuvre that will have to bring the deficit under 3% of GDP1 was passed by the Council of Ministers.

This maneuver, to the tune of 1.6 billion euros, will be ensured by cuts in ministries and local government transfers (1.1 billion euros) and the sale of public real estate (property owned by the State Property Office and the State) worth 500 million euros2. It really makes one smile (not to say that it really makes one cry) that this government on the one hand is doing everything not to tax large private assets and on the other hand is instead working to (s)sell its public assets. Tomaso Montanari was already pointing out a couple of days ago, from the pages of Il Fatto Quotidiano, that "in order not to make even millionaires pay IMU, they are selling off real estate that belongs to everyone."3 and although IMU is a municipal tax whose revenues would not have served the goal of reducing the deficit anyway, it goes without saying that the elimination of this tax (an elimination so much advocated and desired by the prejudiced Berlusconi and his acolytes) poses the problem for the state of having to guarantee to municipalities those same revenues that IMU previously guaranteed, and if the state on the one hand takes away to give to municipalities, it must perforce seek new revenues to cover what was spent to ensure, in turn, the coverage of IMU.

IMU, which, of course, since it is a tax on real estate (albeit with several unfair aspects, since it is calculated on the cadastral value of the property, so the increase in the market value of the property would not be matched by an adequate increase in the tax, and also since IMU does not take into account the owner’s income4), tends to affect the wealthiest, although in recent days our politicians (including the PD: the day it does something left-wing will be an event to mark on the calendar) have worked well to ensure that not even the rich have to pay it5. And IMU, which from next year will be disguised as a Service Tax, which will probably, although still being defined, be even more inequitable than IMU (since, just to give an example, tenants will be asked to pay part of the tax owed by property owners6).

Having made these trivial considerations, let us turn to the (s)sale of public real estate assets. In the Fatto Quotidiano, which in turn cites an article from the Corriere (which I have not been able to retrieve, however), a series of state properties are listed that, among others, could be put up for sale in order to reach the 500 million target. Thus, it starts from the famous Orsini Castle in Soriano nel Cimino near Viterbo, passing through historic villas such as Villa Mirabellino in Monza and the Favorita of Herculaneum, arriving even to historical-landscape assets such as the island of San Giacomo in Paludo in the Venicelagoon7. All assets, as can be clearly seen, of high cultural interest, which are in danger of being sold off because of a political class that can only be either incapable or colluding with those who do not want the good of the state (but nothing prohibits us from thinking that it could also be both at the same time), if it allows us to get rid of the wealth that belongs to everyone because we are unable to think of a truly fair system of taxation, to eliminate waste, to recover at least part of the underground without rewarding evaders with tax shields and other such nefariousness.

Preventing the loss of the pieces of the state is a definite duty of the state itself, a state unfortunately currently governed by politicians who do not realize that public heritage is synonymous with participation, culture, growth, awareness, and this is also demonstrated by the recent and continuing demonstrations for the opening (and in some cases reopening) of public spaces to be used for cultural activities: by geographic proximity, the first ones that come to mind are those for the Teatro Rossi in Pisa, an eighteenth-century publicly owned theater that has been abandoned to decay for decades, and recently occupied by university students and precarious actors to bring attention to the theater itself. But how to make politicians who have probably never set foot in a museum or theater (except perhaps for ostentation, or to attend some “exclusive party”) understand the importance of a theater, a museum, or a cultural space? Thus, linking back to my opening remarks, I hope I have explained as best I can to those kind Facebook fans who criticize us whenever we talk about politics (“you should only deal with art, you are a site that talks about art!”) that the links between art, politics, and current events, are much deeper than one might think.


1. Cdm green light for maneuver. Saccomanni: hedges from public property sales and spending cuts, from Il Sole 24 Ore, Oct. 9, 2013.

2. See footnote 1

3. Tomaso Montanari, Italy (s)sold. As always, from Il Fatto Quotidiano, October 12, 2013.

4. Chiara Bocci, Sabrina Iommi and Donatella Marinari, Imu fairer with market values, from, November 8, 2012.

5. IMU on luxury homes, PD about-face, from La Tribuna di Treviso, October 9, 2013.

6. Service tax starts at 3 per thousand rate, from Il Sole 24 Ore, Oct. 14, 2013.

7. Luigi Franco, Manovrina, the hunt is on for buildings to pass to the Cassa Depositi, from Il Fatto Quotidiano, October 11, 2013.

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