How the Italian Budget Crisis May Impact American Military PersonnelPosted: 12/09/2011
The news is everywhere. There are many countries in the Euro Zone that are in financial trouble. Italy is one of the countries in financial trouble. The country is in debt and it is struggling to meet obligations. The former prime minister was forced out and a new prime minister is now in control. The country has a lot of work to do to improve its financial situation.
Yes, you say. That is a horrible thing. So, what does this have to do with me?
I am an American. I don’t pay taxes in Italy. I am just a guest. Military personnel living in Italy exist in kind of “friends with benefits” kind of arrangement. We get a lot of amazing experiences by living in Italy, but we don’t give much back directly to the government tax wise. (Yes, I am ignoring the fact that we contribute to the economic well-being of the area.)
This puts strain on the Italian government to find a way for the American community to contribute more financially. How can the thousands of Americans stationed here in Vicenza help to improve the Italian budget?
The answer is simple really.
Things can be pretty laid back in Italy. A number of the laws and regulations in place are often ignored. This practice is now changing to help the government out of its money woes.
I know someone who ended up paying major fines and going for weeks without a vehicle, because they drove around with a tag they to fit a smaller license plate frame. Parking tickets are being issued much more often, especially in downtown Vicenza. Police are enforcing speed limits and issuing tickets. Driving under the influence can not just get you in legal trouble, you can actually lose your vehicle. A 16,000 Euro fine MAY get your car returned to you. That is almost $22,000. Costly errors on all counts.
So….What is my point?
I just want to remind everyone that we are guests in Italy. It is our responsibility to learn the laws of the country. Even though we may think some of the regulations make no sense, we need to follow them. If you don’t know what the rule is on something, make sure you ask. In this case, what you don’t know can really hurt you.
Pay attention to the traffic regulations when you get your SETAF license. Park legally. Don’t speed, if you are not able to pay the ticket. Don’t drive under the influence. (If you have had your license less than 3 years, the blood alcohol limit in Italy is ZERO! That means nothing, not even a glass of wine with dinner!)
It sounds pretty simple just to follow the rules. It is a bit hard to do when we know some of our Italian neighbors regularly disregard some of those rules. Just do the right thing because you should, even if it is not easy!