22 October 2014

Italy's Economic Woes: After 35 years "without hardly ever working," an Italian has retired with a pension

When I tell people back home in the United States of America that the number one goal for many - if not most - Italians is not to work right now (with no real thought to increased work in the future), they are baffled and cannot imagine how this could be the case. Today, I can offer an example (even if a bit extreme).

Consider this story from The Telegraph of a coal miner who admits that, after 35 years of "work" for the coal company, "I reached the pensionable age without hardly ever working." He has now retired at the age of 52:
An Italian coal miner's confession that he is drawing a pension despite hardly ever putting in a day’s work over a 35-year career has underlined the country’s problem with benefit fraud and its dysfunctional pension system.
Carlo Cani started work as a miner in 1980 but soon found that he suffered from claustrophobia and hated being underground.
He started doing everything he could to avoid hacking away at the coal face, inventing an imaginative range of excuses for not venturing down the mine in Sardinia where he was employed.
He pretended to be suffering from amnesia and haemorrhoids, rubbed coal dust into his eyes to feign an infection and on occasion staggered around pretending to be drunk.
The miner, now aged 60, managed to accumulate years of sick leave, apparently with the help of compliant doctors, and was able to stay at home to indulge his passion for jazz [more]. 
I suppose, in some ways, it's a dream come true. It's also a prime example of the serious difficulties underlying Italy's economy.

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