It's election season. How do I know this? The streets of Rome, after years of neglect, are finally being paved, and out-of-touch politicians are on TV every night describing a planet called "Italia" that certainly doesn't sound like the place I live.
How out of touch are the two men vying for the job of running this country? Silvio Berlusconi, aged 69, said this past week that a vote for him means everybody over 69 gets free TV and discount train fare. Challenger Romano Prodi says a vote for him and each bambino gets 2,500 euros until their third birthday.
And what does that not insubstantial group of Italians from age 3-69 get? Nulla -- the prospect of microscopic economic growth, the least dynamic labour market in the G8 and under-funded universities. No wonder 37 percent of Italians would move to another country if they could. (Among the 18-24 crowd, the percentage who would like to live abroad is 55 percent.)
But there is hope. There is a drag queen from left-leaning Lazio on the ballot who has a good shot of getting into Parliament.