December 4, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Italian pocket change

By |2022-12-28T17:11:45+01:00December 22nd, 2022|Area 51|
No more credit cards?

he latest Italian government — and in Italy, “latest” seems apt, since government can be as fluid as gender — has said it will set about repealing some of the annoyingly realistic choices advanced by its annoyingly progressive predecessor.

What does this mean? In poche parole, “briefly” in Italian, this means cutting working men and women a break, especially when it comes to silly and needless work.

Take taxi cabs. The previous chief, very much a get-with-the-program Europeanist, had pushed through legislation demanding all cabs accept payment by credit cards. This, of course, meant equipping taxis with card processors, itself an outrageous imposition and, worse still, ensuring that drivers learn how to use them, which involves the time-consuming act of turning them on — another imposition. It also means depriving an entire generation of older drivers of the chance to feel the joy of having paper bills, the real thing, in their palms. In a word, the decision amounted to a rape of treasured old ways. How dare Europe or anyone else step on the toes of a country pridefully scornful of imposed change! Which is to say, if the cab drivers want to use cards, let them decide when to make the move, not some robber-baron bureaucrats.

If the cab drivers want to use cards, let them decide when to make the move, not some robber-baron bureaucrats.

This way of thinking opens a hope-chest to avid retro-ites.

To spur employment, why not remove ticket machines from public buses and replace them with a second ticket-issuing conductor stationed at the rear, thus waltzing back half a century?

And why not simply fill in the mediocre Rome subway system? It’s run-down, filthy, easily flooded by rain, and filled to the brim with decidedly un-Italian-looking patrons. Why not re-invade Libya, Ethiopia, Somalia, to make its natives a little less restless to move north, also milking a dribble of oil from Libya to keep gas prices in check? If Brexit nation has the North Sea, why shouldn’t Italy have North Africa (from which it could also harvest up-and-coming soccer players on the cheap)?

And if credit card payments in cabs go, why not abolish car insurance and driving tests? The sheer volume of autos, whether powered by gas or hot air, should make it clear Italians need no one to tell them how to behave behind a steering column.    Why these needless intrusions? Why not let Italy be Italy?  Why not hike pensions, improve universal health coverage while letting citizens decide if they need or wish to pay taxes? If cash flow falters, just print more cash — let plague behavior be the new mantra. In fact, issue bonuses simply for being Italian or, more precisely, not being Muslim or (horrors) gay.

And on that thorny subject, give the credit cards once handed to cab drivers to the gay community, to be used to pay for whatever is left to pay for through credit, which, please note, will charitably include espresso.

As for those billions of tourists who complain their credit apps work everywhere but Italy, let them know the truth: that no one tells Italy what to do — not even the occupant of the White House, Harry Truman – who, by the way, does not have a credit card.

About the Author:

Christopher P. Winner is a veteran American journalist and essayist who was born in Paris in 1953 and has lived in Europe for more than 30 years.