Photo of a crazed Mussolini. His politics didn’t work out so well the last time
[This article could be subtitled, The European Press Is in Obama’s Pocket Also. Read on and you’ll see why.]
There we were, two weeks ago. Three couples in a “vaporetto”(a Venice water taxi), all strangers, sharing a ten minute boat-ride back to the Hotel Cipriani.
No matter how many times I have been on The Grand Canal, the second greatest “street” in the world, I still stare in awe. (Of course, N.Y’s Broadway is still my favorite).
After the obligatory Venetian small talk, (rigatoni verses risotto, the hot weather, the obnoxious tourists in St.Marks Square, or who has the best gelato this year), politics always takes over.
One couple was from London, the other from Berlin and we, of course, were from New York.
We all concluded that our three countries were going to be “the last ones standing”.
As usual, we again traveled to Italy independently so we could meet “the local residents”, not just the same 40 Americans, stuffed into a tour bus. As you can guess, when anyone has the “misfortune” to meet us, it doesn’t take long until the name Barack Hussein Obama comes up.
Everyone we met echoed the same sentiments; all politicians, every one of them, were corrupt and responsible for the mess that we are in.
The average working men and women we met this year were very financially insecure. Everyone, it seemed, knew someone who had lost their job or their life-savings, and most were working several part time jobs.
Their mood was extremely pessimistic, and the resolution of their economic problems, at best, seemed very far away.
I’ll let others describe the Duomo, The David or George Clooney’s Lake Como villa.
Let me tell you what we learned talking to waiters, taxi drivers, and salespeople.
Amazingly, everyone we met (that’s right, everyone), compared to Southern Europe, the United States was doing just fine!
When I offered to trade President Obama for their billionaire, ex-President Silvio Berlusconi, they thought I was nuts.
Didn’t all Americans love President Obama? No Tea Party presence in Florence. The European press was certainly in Obama’s pocket also.
Our political discussions always started with some “unimportant” and “irrelevant” revelations.
These all came as a huge surprise to all of my new Italian friends.
Some examples which really astonished them were that:
1 – Obama has amassed the largest debt in U.S. history! Really? ” I didn’t know that.” When I said that the debt-increase accumulated during Obama’s 4 1/2 years, was more than ALL the previous American presidents combined, and that his solution was higher taxes, they were in total disbelief.
2 – You should have seen their faces when I told them that our GDP remained a minuscule 1-2%, not much better than theirs. Really? Impossible! After 4 years? ” I thought he was doing well?”
3 – They really sympathized with our 14% underemployment rate (this rate includes full time workers having to take part-time jobs). They all thought that only Italy, Greece and Spain had those terrible numbers, not the U.S.
4 – Of course they all knew that ObamaCare was exactly like their own socialized medicine, but they didn’t realize that it was paid for by increases in every worker’s taxes and by cuts in the Medicare program. They found that hard to believe.They thought that only millionaires would pay for this new socialized medicine. You get the point! They were totally unaware of how bad it is here, “across the pond”!
When I told them that if we applied to join the EU today, our debt to GDP ratio would totally disqualify us:
1 -They all felt that every elected official was corrupt and solely in politics for their own personal gain. Politicians were responsible for the mess! Sound familiar?
2 – They were really furious with Obama’s hacking into their own emails, phone lines, and Internet sites and demanded an explanation. Headlines all across Europe called for strict Internet data privacy laws.
3 – His name was Anthony (surprised?) and he was a 62-year old taxi driver. “How could his government now make him work three more years before he could retire?” Retiring at 55 was what he was promised.
4 – One young man tried to explain to me that he quit working in his lucrative family business because he was “so unhappy there”. Support his family? “I’ll worry about that some other time.” For generations, the government has guaranteed the usual six weeks vacation, 35 hour work-week and full retirement at 55. Got that?? Love that socialism!
5-The most “chilling” quote came from my driver who looked me straight in the eye and said that in order to straighten things out, “Italy needs another Mussolini”. Really frightening because he really meant it!