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Is there a link between the recent scandals relating to the management of Italian state resources for political parties, and the continuing crisis of productivity and inefficiency of a government corrupted and unable to pursue the public interest above party interests? There is. We are convinced that moral and economic decline are two sides of the same coin. The moral issue, the productivity of labour, and the system of rules are intersected spheres that influence each other, to the point that their concomitant weakness makes clear the state of anthropological devastation, economic decline, and disrepute rules under which we have been suffering for too many years.
It is an illusion to think that economic growth will magically appear in our lives without a policy action able to focus on the moral, political and economic importance of “human capital.” In other words, a policy program that is able to project a clear vision of the link between productivity, innovation, and economic creativity.
By “creativity” we mean the virtue of initiative that from the perspective of Christian anthropology is closely related to the “creative subjectivity” of the human person. It is, to use an analogy made by the neo-Austrian economist Israel Kirzner, the ability to see the profile traced by the earth’s surface in the ocean over the horizon, where others, throughout centuries, had only seen clouds. By “creativity” we mean that ability to discern between a large number of options and locate one to give life to with productive effort.
The main form of wealth was believed for centuries to be land; today, there is no doubt that in a politically and economically healthy system, knowledge is the most reliable source of wealth that mankind has ever known. The best way to express such a virtue seems best summed up in the words of Peter Drucker. He emphasized the notion of knowledge and returned the human factor to an economic science: “Now we know that the source of wealth is something specifically human. If we apply knowledge to tasks we already are able to do, we call it ‘productivity’. If we apply knowledge to tasks that are new and different, we call it ‘innovation’. Only knowledge allows us to achieve these two goals.”
The translation of these ideas as part of a policy program for the next Italian parliamentary term may therefore be summed up in a series of concrete actions that can lead our production system to a complex process of restructuring and competitive realignment.
On one hand, it is necessary to clean up political ethics as well as aesthetics–focusing on a serious and responsible leadership rather than on Emulating improbable cartoons. On the other hand, we should look at creativity and knowledge as public goods used to promote and safeguard, supporting the establishment of university centres of excellence, encouraging merit and competition in schools and among schools, and appreciating the most innovative companies.
In the front of the dynamism and competitiveness of the global economy, rather than looking forward to talent and training as levers for competitiveness, for too many years we have been chained to the defense of myopic advantageous positions. Only if we walk on the path of knowledge can we expect a slow but necessary awakening of our beautiful (though still sleeping) Republic.
Flavio Felice is Adjunct Fellow American Enterpise Institute and President of Tocqueville-Acton Centre Studies
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