Why Would Anyone Want to Kill Pietro Ichino?

My story on Pietro Ichino, an Italian professor forced to live under armed guard for his views on labor reform, has just been published in Businessweek.

In just about any other country in the world, Pietro Ichino’s biggest career liability would be finding himself alone in a corner at cocktail parties. Ichino is a professor of labor law. In Italy, that means his life is under threat. For the past 10 years, the academic and parliamentarian has lived under armed escort, traveling exclusively by armored car, and almost never without the company of two plainclothes policemen. The protection is provided by the Italian government, which has reason to believe that people want to murder Ichino for his views.

Ichino had just gotten off the plane when I met him at the airport in Rome, and he was already accompanied by his detail: two unsmiling men in jeans and black jackets and those overshined street shoes that only cops out of uniform seem to wear. Ichino wore a suit and eyeglasses. He is tall and wiry, with a thin face and a prominent nose. If a cartoonist were to draw him as an animal, he probably would choose a bird of prey. Without a word to his bodyguards, Ichino walked into an Alitalia first class lounge and let the sliding glass doors close behind us.

Read the rest.