A few years ago, Kat, my wife, and I were enjoying a couple of weeks in Tuscany. We rented an apartment over a winery and olive oil press, on a stunning five hundred hector estate that had been in the same family since the sixteen hundreds. Very nice folks, whose company we enjoyed a couple of times while there.
Three incidents have stuck in my mind since that trip quite a long while ago.
First was the fact that, being an early riser, I was out with my camera at dawn, and ran into the estate’s owner, a gentleman about my age or maybe a couple of years older whom I had yet to meet. It figures, even in relaxed Tuscany, Italy, that the owner would be up with the sun even though no one else on the place was moving. We introduced ourselves, his English better than my Italian, so we managed to communicate.
He knew, as we were the only guests on the place, that I was from Montana, and in a very concerned tone, asked me, “do you hunt?”
I thought, here it comes, another European liberal about to attack me for slaying some poor innocent animal. I was surprised when I said “yes, I hunt,” then went on to describe my hunting for birds, deer, elk, bear, and antelope, and all he did was nod. Still, with a concerned expression, he waved me toward the huge six thousand square foot abode where the family lived in some splendor with art on the walls twice or three times as old as our republic. I followed, and couldn’t get the smile off my face as I was led through the place and shown a wide variety of African game heads and horns on the walls.
Then he went on to explain, that he could not hunt on his own estate–with lots of huge European hogs thereon, which did lots of damage to his vineyards. Although others, licensed by the nearly-communist certainly-socialistic government, could. He, as the estate owner, was banned from hunting on his own place, which had been in his family for five hundred or more years. I couldn’t help but get a chill down my spine as I thought of the 2nd Amendment, and the attacks from those who just don’t understand us in western America and our belief in self reliance, self sufficiency, free enterprise, and private property rights—currently under attack by Speaker Pelosi—and far too many of those who don’t understand are our own neighbors (on both coasts) and fellow Americans.
The second and third incidents that stuck in my mind were as a result of being invited to supper with the family who owned the estate, at another estate down the lane who cooked to supplement their income. We were ushered into a basement where there was family style seating for fifty or sixty—with excellent country cooking, by the way.
This home had been burned during WWII. Remember that Italy was on the side of the Axis during that war, and it was our troops or bombs who had burned the place…but that wasn’t what tickled my memory. I looked up overhead to see the floor of the place, the roof from my basement perspective, was made from scraped 80mm artillery shell cases, very clearly stamped in English. I envisioned a time when, after our troops had moved on into Florence, only 20 kilometers from the estate, an Italian family with a burned out villa savaging American pine left behind as empty shell cases, which was used to rebuild a home probably destroyed by the very shells that had been housed therein. In a strange way, it was free enterprise self-sufficiency at its best.
Then I engaged the university aged son of those with whom we stayed in conversation. He sat immediately to my left. His mother, who was English by the way, asked him, as he was sitting next to me, if he wouldn’t like to work in America? I was surprised by his answer. “Oh no, mother. They can fire you there.” Needless to say, I was taken aback. It seems in Italy it takes three years to fire someone who’s not doing a decent job for an employer. I couldn’t help but ask him if he thought someone who wasn’t doing a good job shouldn’t be fired, and he, of course, said “not without excellent reason, and with the approval of a long line of agencies,” etc. I was astounded. Then I went on to ask, “so, if fired, how long does it take to get another job?” And he replied, “probably never.” I enjoyed then explaining to him, as it was a time of strong economy here in the states, that if fired in the U. S., one would more than likely, if one wasn’t too terribly picky, have another job after taking a weekend as a breather. And that, the only time I was ever fired from a job, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me as I learned a valuable lesson from the experience.
I bring this up mostly as a result of watching the French revolt, and this time not because they were told, “let them eat cake.” This time because as the French economy is bankrupt, and because the government wants to extend the retirement age from 60 all the way up to 62. I, again, am amused by what this more civilized European society has come to. I wonder if they’ll be rioting when they suddenly discover that the Muslims, who are out breeding the French 10 to 1, and are already 1 in 10 in the population, suddenly say, “don’t worry about your retirement age as we’re sending you to hell long before.”
We have a great thing here in America. Now if we can only keep it.