Old friend of mine recently wrote:
I was chatting with someone who had recently spent a fair amount of time in Italy. She said, I'm not surprised they're having economic problems. They seem to hardly work at all.I must say this made me see red, and I responded in what was probably a rather testy tone. This smug American cliche that furriners don't work hard enough always makes me want to kick the speaker in the teeth.
Furriners work plenty hard. They just don't have the hagridden ratlike darting manner of Americans, who always have to show you how busy they are.
Stuff gets done in Italy, and well done. Italian hotels are a lot nicer than American ones, and Italian food is a lot better. Somebody has to cook it. Italian public transportation is at least as good as American, and the intercity trains are a lot better. The schools are infinitely better. The roads are as good as ours, or better, and somebody has to maintain them. There's electricity in the outlets. Trash is collected and streets are swept, both a lot better than in New York. (Except in Ravenna, which was kind of a shithole the last time I was there. That was a while ago, though.)
Italian workers certainly aren't under the harrow -- yet -- the way Amurrican workers are, though the German bankers are doing their best to put them there. But what needs doing gets done, and done well. We'd be better off imitating Italy all round than Italy would be imitating us.
The problem is that Amurricans here in God's own country have to work too hard, and we don't get shit for it, and we've convinced ourselves that being exploited and slave-driven and terrorized into frantic activity in the workplace shows how virtuous we are. Sheer madness.