“We are not looking forward to completely shutting down the Ticino social machine in the name of liberalism, we just need to adjust its goal. This is shown by several indicators that have grown again in a worrying way ”. The indicators it refers to Paolo Pamini, UDC deputy in the Grand Council and president of AreaLiberale, are the 90 that make up the so-called Welfare Index, prepared together with his colleague from Parliament and party Sergio Morisoli. It is an Index that, in the minds of the two creators, allows to measure the social discomfort of the population considering its possible manifestations “to 360 °”. To form six thematic macro-categories there are variables such as the dropout rate, the number of divorces, the number of arms sales, the percentage of precarious workers, the number of empty flats, with data extrapolated from official, weighted statistics. according to subjective criteria, “but constant from 2011 to 2021 to allow comparability.”
Yesterday the updated figures of the Welfare Index for 2021 were announced, the total value of which reached 123.09 points compared to 100 points in the reference year 2011. This would indicate in the course of a decade a worsening of general social unrest of 23%. Looking more closely at the macro-categories, Pamini identifies two extremes: “There is an area that everyone is looking at but where there is no need to intervene, that is, financial aid to the needy. While the elephant in the room that few care for is the world of youth and in particular of crime. Before we get into the merits of this evaluation, let’s take a step back.
By 2020, the index had fallen by 6.74 points over the previous year, indicating a decline in social unrest in the midst of the pandemic. It seems counterintuitive. Isn’t this a somewhat reclusive evaluation system that brings together overly heterogeneous indicators?
We accept some criticisms about the methodology because like all indexes, ours is also built manually. What matters, however, is that the weighting of the indicators does not change over time, so once the recipe is established, the data for each year can be compared with each other. By the scruples of the technicians, a factor analysis with varimax rotation confirmed the presence of 5 or 6 homogeneous zones that can be interpreted in a similar way to ours. Again for technicians, Kronbach’s alpha is also very high. In short, we are not “cooking the data” ad libitum. Arriving at the definition of social unrest, in all honesty we are not able to give a precise one, and that is why we rely on a multitude of data instead of speaking from personal and partial feelings. What the numbers tell us is that by 2020 the unrest as we have measured it for nine years would seem to have diminished. Fewer offenses in general, fewer convicted minors. But to have locked the population at home by forbidding them to interact is not surprising. It is also noted that there has been no explosion in the use of social assistance, and this is due to the fact that the situation has been contained with the financial help of Covid.
In your opinion, by 2020 confinement “with its prohibitions” had managed to temporarily manipulate reality “to make one believe or expect that deprivation of liberties and state dirigisme were something useful and good”.
It’s an ironic comment with a bit of truth. The question for the government is: given that in 2021 we are returning to the trend of continuous worsening of the situation, what do we intend to do? Closing the population again to curb unrest? Or is it time to completely rethink the welfare state of Ticino?
He points the finger at state spending “which is growing more and more than the wealth produced, but which is ineffective and inefficient in reducing social unrest,” which “is not influenced by financial needs but by other non-monetary problems.” Consideration due to the fact that the poverty rate in Ticino according to your indicators remains quite stable. However, does the fact that it is the highest in Switzerland require attention?
Right now it’s not the priority. We do not see any deterioration in the purely economic plan, there are no people who end up under the bridge and there is no need to increase financial aid. In fact, the sociality understood in the old way should probably be reduced. Without reducing social spending as a whole and staying within the limits of federal law, we should reimagine what to do with the available resources. What the data tells us looking underwater is that the storm is moving to other areas. Particularly in the world of young people, who express discomfort at being treated as soon as possible for not having even bigger problems in 15 years. If young people get lost and start behaving differently, they first become people who cannot enter the job market, which puts them at risk of finding themselves in unstable family situations. The easiest conditions for falling into economic precariousness are usually divorce with dependent children and the parallel lack of education. We do not hide that we have a liberal-conservative orientation, so in our opinion, the best and most robust social institutions remain the family and jobs.
Specifically, how do you see the most redirected resources to help young people?
With regard to the growing unrest among young people and the growing crime we detect in the data, industry experts – in the cantonal administration but also in the parastatal and civil society – could, in the first place, provide their own interpretations of the hard, dirty numbers we picked up. Practical advice would probably come out of it. A look at the other 25 cantons would also help you find the inspiration you need.
But they also argue that the cause contributing to the growing unrest is a “looted” Ticino labor market. From whom? Isn’t the wage spill the son of liberalism?
As we have always said, the responsibility lies with the free movement of people. Of course, an economic activity like the one in Ticino would not be possible without the collaboration with the border citizens because there would not be enough people to do all the work. But with the permeability of borders a balance that had been established in recent decades has been broken. Then it is clear that there is a question of supply and demand: in the south of the border there are 8 million people ready to work and here we are 240 thousand. With a situation of oversupply from abroad, it is not surprising that wages are falling. On the other hand, when there was a contingent system this pressure was dampened.
The Index is born out of the hope that it will be used to the fullest for open political discussion. Did it go as you expected or was it not taken seriously enough?
Unfortunately, for now, hope is still a dead letter. We have already talked about these numbers several times in parliamentary debates, classmates listen, but the discussion does not begin. The brutal reality is that sociability is an activity that employs several people from the cantonal and parastatal administration, often with very strong party ties, who have little interest in sawing the branch where they sit. Precisely because we are not political deceivers, here we propose to keep the same resources and use them better. We also keep the current public employees in the social field, but we rethink the internal organization and especially the areas of intervention. All as required by the Morisoli Decree voted by the majority of citizens on May 15, which does not cut but contains and reorients public spending. AreaLiberale as a conservative liberal think tank makes its contribution by sounding the alarm and sharing these analyzes that the government and especially the Department of Health and Social Affairs should have done a long time ago. We will not give up and we will go on to thematize this urgency in the electoral debates and perhaps also with very directed parliamentary acts.