WACKY WELFARE SYSTEM
The root of Italy's problems, the Wall Street Journal argues today, is that the country "financed generous entitlements with high taxes and towering piles of debt," and now finds the money running out as the economy sputters. Indeed, Italy has more pensioners than workers and currently spends about 14 percent of GDP on pensions -- more than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Silvio Berlusconi pledged to raise the retirement age in Italy to 67 as part of his raft of austerity measures, but it's a controversial move. In late October, two Italian lawmakers exchanged blows in parliament during a debate about whether to revamp the country's pension system. House Speaker Gianfranco Fini had noted on television that the wife of the Northern League's Umberto Bossi had taken early retirement at 39 and cashed in on Italy's generous benefits.
Above, Italians in Naples vote on pension reform in Oct. 2007.
Mario Laporta/AFP/Getty Images