The life and times of a Crazy Canuck who, after only 30 years of living in Canada, decides one day to move to Italy in 1989. Where he's been there ever since...
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Are North Americans becoming more like Italians?
Is the U.S. (and also Canada) becoming a wee bit more like Italy?From a November 14th, 2011 article by Roger Cohen in the New York Times, “Generation Boomerang”:
“Silvio Berlusconi recently waved away Italy’s financial crisis as a big fuss about nothing.
“Restaurants are full”, he said, and, “it’s difficult to reserve a seat on the plane”, and holiday resorts are “fully booked”.
The Italian prime minister, who has pledged to resign as the nation’s financial crisis deepened, squeezes in his governing between dalliances and has earned a deserved reputation as one of the world’s least serious leaders. But having been in Italy in the past few weeks, I can confirm he has a point. Perhaps nobody wants Italy’s bonds, but they sure want its beaches and bella figura. There’s no mistaking a rich country when you see one.
Italy’s oldest and surest insurance policy is, of course, the family.Jobs may be scarce and times tough, but Mamma is always there. Italian children leave home at an average age of 28 (my note: and even older too!!!!).The Supreme Court ruled a few years back that a father could not cut off financial support to his college-educated daughter of 26 because young people were having a hard time finding jobs.
Americans used to laugh at this Italian penchant for staying home, which extends to some degree across all of Mediterranean Europe….Nobody’s laughing any longer. The boomerang trend in the U.S.—young people who leave home only to return—is growing as jobs prove harder to find. The share of men aged 25 to 34 living with their parents has jumped to 18.6%, the highest level since at least 1960, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.America is going the Italian route….
Whatever Italy’s faults, it is a nation of hidden solidarities.The weave in the Italian tapestry is dense; the American tapestry is frayed.Perhaps we will now get a generation of Americans who, forced to stay at home until they are 30, are also thereby obliged to learn something of trade-offs, respect, communication and sharing—and with them a country of a little less “I” and a little more “We”....
I don’t think jobs are coming back in a hurry and I don’t think the power shift in the world—away from the U.S. and toward emergent powers—is going to slow down.Family can be a dampener of hardship and frustration. It certainly is in Italy, a nation that adapted a long time ago to the loss of its imperium. In the place of its legions it found fellowship. America could do worse.
An old joke asks why it’s obvious that Jesus Christ was Italian.Answer: Because he lived at home until he was 30, always hung out with the same 12 dudes, believed his mother was a virgin. And his mother thought he was God. Now that Americans are living at home until they are 30, expect the miracles to commence”.