A fine mess. Not a great week for our leader Matteo Renzi. In March he spoke to the Senate and said that he would not be back as he was going to reform them away. Well he has now found that turkeys tend not to vote for Christmas. This week he has been reduced to writing to them ( busy reforming the E.U. at the moment) appealing to their patriotism. Italy expects and all that.
It is unlikely to work as they have never voted for anything but to feather their own nests further. The plan is now to turn the Senate from a democratically elected body into a kind of UK House of Lords where political parties can reward supporters by appointing them to the new Senate. They are busy debating what it will be called and unsurprisingly cannot even reach agreement on that.
The people most affected by the reforms are of course the Italian electorate and they have no chance to vote on it. Renzi is the third Prime Minister to be appointed by the octogenarian President without recourse to a vote. Now they are to do away with an elected body and yet again no input from the electorate.
It seems the vote for European M.Ps was taken as a vote for reform in Italy.
There is a kind of Nero fiddling while Rome burns feel to this whole exercise. As M.Ps debate what the new chamber is to be called it was announced that the public debt had again increased to a mind boggling 137% of GDP up from 129% when Berlusconi was thrown out by Ms. Merkel and Monti bought in to reverse the trend. Unemployment is at 12.6% and youth at 43% ( 65% in the South) .
The solution by Renzi is the same as his predecessors more taxation. He did bring in a lower tax rate for the worse off but that has to be paid for and within the €80 bill ( the amount of money per month the poor will be better off by) there is a swathe of new taxes. Fuel will be going up by 1.5cents a litre which will increase the price of everything. The tax on smart phones, tablets and anything with a digital memory will rise from €0.90c to €4.80. There are also large increases on hard drives USB sticks etc. They certainly know how to slow Italy’s very pedestrian march towards the 21st Century in Rome don’t they.
Meanwhile over at Alitalia there is stalemate with the unions who can’t agree on salary reductions demanded by Etihad before they go ahead with their merger. Renzi says the unions must change but they show little appetite for it and remain firmly back in the 1960s.
Etihad hope to bring the airline kicking and screaming into this new century just as one presumes Renzi wants to do to Italy but Italians don’t really do change. The longer you live here the more you realise that under the surface it is a very controlled form of society very set in it’s ways and very conservative with a small c. That is why strangers are feared and outsiders not understood.
Lots of America is like that and much of it is that Italian influence. We often say to each other ” just like America” when we see people’s behavior here in Southern Italy.
Airlines in the States are almost all now “me too” ones giving poor service and lousy handling on the ground very much like Alitalia here. The difference is with the internet better developed and a generation of youngsters willing and able to use it ( unlike Italy as yet) they are being punished for it at last. Take this youtube effort that has been seen by an incredible 14 million people
It has done United no good at all. So it is refreshing to see an airline over there that has broken the mold and is focussed on both the customer and good service at a great price.
Virgin America ( in which Mr Branson luckily has but a small stake ) has spent money on the experience rather than just a huge advertising spend and relied on word of mouth and social media like Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. This is their inflight safety video
They also have enhanced the passenger ground experience as well as tons of great stuff on board like being able to view snack choices on you inflight video screen and then order it by the push of a button . The crew member then brings you your order. How sensible is that why hasn’t anyone else thought of it.
Quite makes me want to go back to being a road warrior as frequent business fliers are known as in the USA
Or maybe not !!