“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder,” said British historian Arnold Toynbee. We’re seeing exactly that today in Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland. In all those cases, the ineptness of government and the mismanagement of domestic economic policy have turned once-great nations into beggar states. In Italy, bloated levels of government spending, rising levels of red ink, political opposition to any meaningful austerity package, and the prospect of a debt default have spooked investors, ignited a capital flight from Italian bonds and raised borrowing costs. In August, Italy paid buyers of a new 10-year bond a yield of 5.22 percent. By October, the rate was 6.06 percent. In early November, the price of borrowing to Italy via the same 10-year bond rose to 6.73 percent, an escalation in costs that only added to the red ink and deepened the debt crisis. Economist Mario Monti, a former European Union Commissioner, was named “senator for life” by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on November 9, followed several days later by the appointment of Monti as Italian prime minister after Silvo Berlusconi stepped down.