The European Union has paid out vast sums since 2001 to improve Sicily’s infrastructure. What has Sicily to show for it? Nothing. No, less than nothing:
€700 million to improve the water supply? In 2000, the water supply was “stop-and-flow” for 33% of Sicilian households, now 38.7% have water worries. Incentives to entice off-season tourists? Cost €400 million, enough to buy up an airline. And yet the ranks of those thankless tourists haven’t swelled, but petered out: from 1.2% in 2000 to 1.1% in 2007. And as to the €300 million invested in alternative energy projects great and small: it’s true, there isn’t a single hillock without its windmill now, but Sicilian output is stuck at 5% of total consumption, as against an average 9.1% for Southern Italy as a whole.
The quote is from a translation of an article in the Italian daily La Stampa and I found it via Jim Miller On Politics. Jim Miller himself comments:
And we should recognize that the best money of all to waste — from the point of view of a pork-barrel politician — is someone else’s money. There would have been less wasted in Sicily if the money had come from Italy, rather than the whole European Union, and even less wasted if the money had come from the places where it was spent.
The European Union, corrupt as it is, is on average less corrupt than Sicily. Idealistic Sicilians possibly hoped that getting their state largesse via the EU would result in less theft and waste. A vain hope, as Mr Miller or Professor Friedman could have told them.