Going Dutch
May 4, 2009 7:20 AM   Subscribe

[E]ven if you are unemployed you still receive a base amount of [vacation money] from the government, the reasoning being that if you can’t go on vacation, you’ll get depressed and despondent and you’ll never get a job.
[...]
But does the cartoon image of [the Dutch system] — encapsulated in the dread slur "socialism," which is being lobbed in American political circles like a bomb — match reality? Is there, maybe, a significant upside that is worth exploring? [...] I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits might fit.
After a year and a half of living in the Netherlands, American writer Russell Shorto compares the Dutch "welfare state" to the tax, health care and social security systems of the United States.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (119 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Worked for me.

Gave my latent socialism a tingle. Wait... No it didn't.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:28 AM on May 4, 2009


Here's another "what's so wrong with socialism" article about Finland. via fark.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:49 AM on May 4, 2009


[few comments removed - please do not make this thread all about NYTimes registration]
posted by jessamyn at 7:52 AM on May 4, 2009


European income tax rates aren't necessarily that much higher, depending upon what you earn. But that EU wide 20% VAT really devastates your purchasing power.

I fairly sure the U.S. will eventually get this 20% VAT too. Ron Paul, etc. want to replace income tax with a 20% national sales tax. Republicans will happily rally behind this banner too, one day achieving the compromise of sales tax replacing some income tax. I suspect they'll even make the some fair tax like sacrifice expanding welfare. But once the income tax is reduced favoring some sales tax, both taxes can creep upwards again independently.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:52 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The tax equations are so simple, it's mystifying. The Netherlands doesn't spend 1/3 of its annual budget on its armed forces. They spend more money on their people. The Dutch live longer, live taller, and live better on average than Americans.
posted by Mister_A at 7:53 AM on May 4, 2009 [17 favorites]


The article hits on an interesting point that I noticed when the teabagging thing was going strong - Turbotax tallies up your total tax burden on the federal level, and for this DINK it was in the 10-14% range. Deductions would bring it down to 4-6% for those with kids.

Which got me wondering what my total tax burden was and I started working it out, and in the easy-to-calculate taxes, where the numbers are right on my W2, it was much closer to 40%, including Social Security. And that's not even counting the various point of purchase taxes. Add in that and what I pay for substandard healthcare and we're pushing 50% easily. 52% for the social net that Europe enjoys? Luxury!

(nb: numbers are rough, probably nowhere near rigorous enough, etc. Still, it was eye opening.)
posted by Kyol at 7:55 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


How does this guy get to live and work in an amazing old canal house in central Amsterdam while I'm stuck in the most soulless office park in Zuid-Oost with nary a 17th-century building in sight? Oh, because not everyone gets to live a Vermeer-like European dream.

(okay, whining over)
posted by transporter accident amy at 7:57 AM on May 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


The Netherlands doesn't spend 1/3 of its annual budget on its armed forces.

Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.
posted by SamuelBowman at 7:58 AM on May 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.

Utterly ridiculous. Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?
posted by nasreddin at 8:03 AM on May 4, 2009 [30 favorites]


Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.

Piffle.
posted by DU at 8:03 AM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.

I would venture a guess that the United States could cut military spending by 50% without materially impacting the safety of the Netherlands to the point where the Dutch had to significantly increase their own military spending, so I think you're way off base here.
posted by graymouser at 8:05 AM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


SamuelBowman: "The Netherlands doesn't spend 1/3 of its annual budget on its armed forces.

Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.
"

You mean because we already have a global empire of military bases, there's no point in them trying to?
posted by Joe Beese at 8:06 AM on May 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Dear SamuelBowman
Bollocks
Love
f'bang
posted by fingerbang at 8:06 AM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


So, what you are saying, is that if the US were to stop spending so much money on its military might, the Dutch would have to up their spending and start invading other countries? It is so wonderful that someone does that for us all!
posted by Bovine Love at 8:06 AM on May 4, 2009


Utterly ridiculous. Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?
posted by nasreddin at 11:03 AM on May 4 [+] [!]


The sea - I have no idea about the numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Dutch have to pay quite a lot for their flood defense system. Which is a pretty awesome flood defense system - they had floods in the 1990s as devastating as Katrina, but no one died. (From what I remember).
posted by jb at 8:07 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


The sea - I have no idea about the numbers, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Dutch have to pay quite a lot for their flood defense system. Which is a pretty awesome flood defense system - they had floods in the 1990s as devastating as Katrina, but no one died. (From what I remember).

What does that have to do with American military spending?
posted by nasreddin at 8:10 AM on May 4, 2009


Also, I'm seriously in love with conservative altruism. "Sure, we'd like to have healthy and educated citizenry who aren't homeless the moment they lose their jobs. But we have to protect the Netherlands from Nazi Germany!" So selfless.
posted by DU at 8:10 AM on May 4, 2009 [34 favorites]


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU

as this video will show, the demographics clearly indicate what is changing throughout Europe. It is useful to note that people prone to large reproduction are usually less educated than those with lower birthrates these days, and thus the social needs (tax money) for large, uneducated peoples will put a serious drain upon all the nations in Europe and the services they currently offer.
Clearly we spend a lot of our money for military things. But the by-now ingrained notion that "the free market" works has allowed a growing gap between the haves and have nots. The result of course is a continuing decline in our education system, our health provisions. The relatively uneducated will be hard put to find work now that globalization has destroyed our industrial base, and we will have a growing body of "ruined lives," 'that resemble the ruins of those industrial cities that are now in decay. Can a socialism? help? We have never come close to socialism, even under FDR, who quickly returned to the capitalistic roots we had grown used to.
posted by Postroad at 8:16 AM on May 4, 2009


But that EU wide 20% VAT really devastates your purchasing power.

Please note that the VAT rate for foods and similar "essentials" is 6% in the Netherlands.

Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.

In that case, let me say, as a citizen of the Netherlands: stop doing so.
posted by DreamerFi at 8:17 AM on May 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Defense spending took a slight dip under Clinton. The result? The most mobile and best-coordinated fighting force in the history of the solar system. There's a huge amount of fat that can be trimmed from the defense budget without compromising national interests.
posted by Mister_A at 8:17 AM on May 4, 2009


We have never come close to socialism...

We are currently living in a socialist country. You've heard of roads, schools, libraries and the army, right? You like these things, right? Why can't medical care be added to the list?
posted by DU at 8:19 AM on May 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Thanks very much gnfti, a very interesting read. I've passed the link onto my niece who is in N. Holland on exchange studying law. We had been discussing how oddly interesting is the subject of water, as a national consideration, and particularly the contrast in attitude and legislation etc between Holland and Oz, as they are polar opposites (over -vs- under abundance). And I had not heard about that polder history giving rise to a collectivist mentality. I'll even forgive the article writer his "..enfolded in civilization", which clanged loudly in my sensibility organ.
posted by peacay at 8:20 AM on May 4, 2009


Maybe we Americans have set up a false dichotomy.

You don't say.
posted by enn at 8:21 AM on May 4, 2009 [10 favorites]


I always find American accounts of Europe fascinating. It's bizarre to read such a radically different take on something you've taken for granted.

Thinking about the point about €500 tax cut vs tax rise, my take on that is that I trust the system to distribute my financial contribution more equitably than if everyone donated on their own. I don't trust free markets in charity/social security. Important areas would be missed out on due to their low profile or media unfriendliness.

As for the US security umbrella argument, well, I can only laugh. Who exactly is the US defending Europe from these days? The way I see it, Europeans seem to be more threatened by links to the US than independence from it.
posted by knapah at 8:21 AM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.

Utterly ridiculous. Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?


No one invades the Netherlands, they just drive through it on their way to invade someone else.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:21 AM on May 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


On the military front -- after the USA, at 50% of planetary military spending, the EU as a whole comes second, with 30% ... in other words, 60% of the rest of the planetary military spending.

But the overall effect of spending about half as much on defense per capita as the USA is significant. If the US were to halve its defense budget, it'd free up roughly $300Bn per year for other functions -- and it would still be the biggest single military power on the planet (the EU defense organizations aren't monolithic, spending is split 25 different ways between different nations).

Finally: healthy workers are more productive workers. Kids with decent nursery care and primary education are more likely to grow up to be useful workers. And so on. Social security programs are a good investment for the future, in purely capitalist terms: it's infrastructure spending (on human infrastructure). Let your infrastructure -- be it concrete or human resources -- decay or degrade, and your ability to run a viable economy will diminish.
posted by cstross at 8:22 AM on May 4, 2009 [11 favorites]


Can we get them to invade and conquer us? I, for one, would welcome our new Dutch state-welfare overlords.
posted by paddbear at 8:22 AM on May 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


You know what makes me feel good? Living in the US with a Dutch husband, I, and my family, still have the Dutch safety net if the bottom drops out here.

Thanks for this article.
posted by Dragonness at 8:23 AM on May 4, 2009


[few comments removed - please do not make this thread all about NYTimes registration]

Registration-free link to the FPP's NYT article (created via New York Times Link Generator).
posted by ericb at 8:23 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Social security programs are a good investment for the future...

A good investment for the what??
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on May 4, 2009


Related: The Daily Show's Cenac takes a trip to oppressive socialist Sweeden: part 1, part 2.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:28 AM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


We are currently living in a socialist country.

As of May, 2008, there were 4,820 CalPERS retirees receiving annual pensions in excess of $100,000.
posted by preparat at 8:30 AM on May 4, 2009


That's it exactly cstross. Universal healthcare coverage, for instance would be a huge boon to businesses. Big businesses like GM are drowning in expensive health insurance premiums for current workers and retirees, and many small businesses can't attract good talent because they can't pay health insurance. If the government shouldered more of the burden, it would be a huge boon for businesses large and small. HMOs might not do well, but who gives a damn?
posted by Mister_A at 8:31 AM on May 4, 2009 [5 favorites]


Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?

Norwegian Black Metallers.
posted by The Straightener at 8:32 AM on May 4, 2009 [6 favorites]


There's a huge amount of fat that can be trimmed from the defense budget without compromising national interests.

But doing so will compromise regional interests. The regions I speak of are usually known as "Congressional districts."
posted by grouse at 8:34 AM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


52. Right, my problem with that number is that if I include the things I have to buy in America that are given to me by the state in Germany (for me the 'number' is more in the upper 40's), my number in America is pushing 60.

It's a dumb thing, this whole, "don't tax me" knee-jerk-ism. The real thing to be shouting about is - "don't waste my tax dollars" - I'm looking at you Pentagon, and I hope you already know that. If I'm giving you all this money, after-all.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:34 AM on May 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Mrs Mutant is Dutch; even before I met and married her I'd spent a lot of time in The Netherlands, and when she moved to London we kept her flat in Amsterdam. Its a really wonderful place and, as my wife continually reminds me the best country on the planet to raise children in.

For Americans living and working in Nederlands the tax doesn't have to be 52%; there is a facility called the 30% ruling whereby one's nominal rate can be reduced to 30%. They aren't as tight on requirements as this article mentions, I know lots of folks working there that have gotten the ruling. Only downside is its capped at seven years, so if one is moving there that has to be factored in.

But for an American can markedly reduce his or her overall obligation by using such a facility in concert with other tools available to ex-pats.

In general, and this is of course highly subjective, folks are much happier in Nederlands that many other European countries. Also, and this is something I deeply appreciate as I've lived and worked in some very, very US hostile nations - they actually like Americans!

So at least this is one country where we haven't worn out our welcome.
posted by Mutant at 8:44 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think he hits the nail on the head in the first section. The purpose of the government is to see to the welfare and happiness of its citizens. Sad? Go on vacation! New kid? Hey, we'll teach you how to change a diaper. You'd have to be a selfish asshole to want to deny that sort of treatment to everybody but, unfortunately, the discourse in the US tends to suggest that such treatment is patently absurd.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:47 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


In case anyone's not aware the US welfare system was taken far, far away from the European model by Bill Clinton in 1996. A 1998 Washington Post synopsis of the major changes by Dan Froomkin.
posted by The Straightener at 8:48 AM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think it should be remembered that despite Europe becoming increasingly more integrated, there is still not one single 'type' of welfare state dominant, and the Netherlands example only represents what is in place there. Germany, France, and the UK, the Netherlands three biggest neighbours, all have quite different and distinct systems. Indeed, from small flat tax states in the Baltic to the gigantic NHS system in the UK, Europe is pretty much a laboratory for how demographically-challenged, post-industrial, and post-historical societies are going to work in the future.
posted by Sova at 8:52 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's interesting living in Sweden because many things are less socialist. I have now attended state schools in the U.S. and Sweden. In the U.S. a state school is pretty close to being a corporation. They have huge recreation centers, formidable sports teams, giant research labs, bus system, programs for everything you could think of etc. And even if you are a state resident, you pay a significant amount, which as many of us know, is a big burden on young people.

In Sweden you pay nothing for college. There is no gym, no counseling center, no free buses, no sports teams, no leadership rope course...just school. Some of the school that isn't used is rented out to private companies and many of the services typically provided by universities like housing is private. It's much less wasteful and stressful...and arguably less socialist.

I can think of plenty of bad things to say about Sweden, but there is much we can learn.

The Daily Show is wrong though...going to the dentist here is not free. Swedes make up a significant number of the dental tourists to Hungary.

And I think the fact that services going to the poor are performed by bureaucrats in Europe has some bad side effects in that the average European has little exposure to the underprivileged and therefore there is lots of resentment, particularly towards immigrants. If they recruited college students to distribute food to the poor here (a la Americorps, which I'm glad Obama is expanding) I think it would encourage a more charitable attitude.
posted by melissam at 8:56 AM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


What does that have to do with American military spending?

Well, the sea has plankton in it, and they're alive, and they can mobilize pretty ingeniously, so .....
posted by blucevalo at 8:57 AM on May 4, 2009


Sad? Go on vacation!

Do you honestly agree with a statement similar to this: "I agree that as a collection we the citizens of country A should pay some tax that grants any one citizen the privilege of taking a paid vacation once they have satisfied the condition of being sad."?

I'm not snarking, genuinely curious.
posted by preparat at 9:05 AM on May 4, 2009


Sova -- that's an awesome point. In fact, that's one of the things which has always confused me about the US. It's built to enable states to be those laboratories. Instead you have this awful reversion to the national mean. In Massachusetts, it may have been politically feasible to enact state-controlled health care. Instead they got an awful hybrid which wasn't terribly effective. School choice gets killed by by the NEA, and is tiny is the few states where it exists. Gay marriage somehow becomes a national issue for each state. I seriously don't understand why California isn't Sweden-socialist, Montana isn't separatist-conservative, and Kansas an evangelical Theocracy... nor why having those would be a bad thing.
posted by FuManchu at 9:06 AM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


Guys, guys, guys, you're forgetting that conservatives think anything that's left of insane far-right extremism is socialism.
posted by kldickson at 9:08 AM on May 4, 2009


What does that have to do with American military spending?
posted by nasreddin at 11:10 AM on May 4 [+] [!]


Nothing - you asked who was going to invade the Netherlands. And I thought of their age-old enemy.
posted by jb at 9:12 AM on May 4, 2009


My netherlands are invaded on a regular basis. No complaints here.
posted by troybob at 9:15 AM on May 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?

The USA will be first. It's the law. Also known as the 2002 Hague invasion act.
posted by ijsbrand at 9:20 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


preparat: Do you honestly agree with a statement similar to this: "I agree that as a collection we the citizens of country A should pay some tax that grants any one citizen the privilege of taking a paid vacation once they have satisfied the condition of being sad."?

I'm not snarking, genuinely curious.


It's more, "I agree that as a collection, we the citizens of country A should pay some tax that grants any citizen the privilege of taking a paid vacation, even if they're unemployed, as this may prevent them becoming sad and demoralised and therefore less likely to gain employment."
posted by knapah at 9:21 AM on May 4, 2009


Do you honestly agree with a statement similar to this: "I agree that as a collection we the citizens of country A should pay some tax that grants any one citizen the privilege of taking a paid vacation once they have satisfied the condition of being sad."?

Ha. Well, yes and no. Do I think "vacation" is a fundamental right? Of course not. But there is something to be said about using what probably winds up being a very small amount of tax money to give people a break every so often. I do think that the American work ethic is one of the most toxic things about the culture. Would "sad leave" fix it? No. But it probably wouldn't hurt.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:21 AM on May 4, 2009


Utterly ridiculous. Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?

One day soon, Belgium will get some payback. Not today, not tomorrow, maybe not next week. But it's coming, Dutchies. Bank on Belgium.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:27 AM on May 4, 2009


preparat, Another way to look at it: "I agree that as a collection we the citizens of country A should pay some tax that grants any one citizen the privilege of taking a paid vacation free psychiatric care once they have satisfied the condition of being sad clinically depressed."

A holiday allowance is cheaper than extended psychiatric care/medication. Which us socialists (Finland in my case) provide to its citizenry, employed or not. In answer to your question, yes, I honestly agree with your statement. As long as I agree with the definitions of 'holiday' and 'sad' which are quite loaded terms.

Also every should be aware that socialist countries are often just as divided as America on how the country should be run. A lot of people aren't happy about the fact that they get taxed a huge amounts of money to take care of people who earn less. This is especially true for anyone who can afford private healthcare, transportation etc. and gets very little 'back' from the society that their taxes are paying for. A lot of these smart, well-educated and talented people leave the country for more prosperous opportunities or vote in politicians who want to pursue free capitalism. A lot people are pro-socialism when it comes to their education, but now that they are childess, well-trained young professionals capitalism is looking a lot more appealing.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:27 AM on May 4, 2009


jb, the USA is actually in cahoots with the sea–we are making more sea! Could the point of this exercise be the drowning of coastal peoples?
posted by Mister_A at 9:27 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've read the article now and honestly I think the problem with it is that dude doesn't seem to know an awful lot about the American social welfare system, at least not given what he's written here. The most important point he could have made about the differences between the two systems is that America's social welfare system post-Clinton is fundamentally punitive. The system is set up to punish what is a perceived lack of willingness to participate in the labor market by enacting a set of progressively harsh constrictions on who can get money, how and why. The '96 welfare reforms were what most progressives perceived and continue to perceive as a racist attempt to kick the last leg of support out from under the neediest families under the guise of encouraging self-reliance.

I don't think this writer has ever dealt with a family trying to live on welfare in America. I have, many times, and as a single mother progresses through her 60 month lifetime allotment of cash benefits she eventually winds up in a scenario fairly compared to a Kafka novel where she is eventually forced to accept work at a non-living where she in fact can wind up in worse situation than being on welfare because she may lose her Medicaid benefits as the result of her employment. In the meantime, the welfare department demands that clients participate in an insane game of collecting business cards and job applications, each counting a certain number of hours towards a mandatory job search criteria in order to continue receiving a check. It's a system set up to ensure a cheap and unorganized labor base for American companies, while simultaneously punishing the poor for being poor and conveying the message to them that if you are going to receive a cash benefit from the government, you are going to basically become government chattel if you doin't become willing to take the shit jobs available to you within a certain number of months.

Where's all that at, man? That's the American social welfare system as I've experienced it, working directly with families enmeshed in it. It's actually a lot worse than its made to appear in this article.
posted by The Straightener at 9:28 AM on May 4, 2009 [66 favorites]



In case anyone's not aware the US welfare system was taken far, far away from the European model by Bill Clinton in 1996. A 1998 Washington Post synopsis of the major changes by Dan Froomkin.


As I recall, the welfare reform act was regarded as a political success for Clinton, a major part of his attempt to shed the Democrats' image (however misplaced) as the party of the much-maligned welfare state.

I believe the act imposed a two-year lifetime limit on benefits and made them contingent on participation in "workfare" programs. The act became law in a rosy economic environment, and that -- along with the terrible public image of welfare in the US -- allowed people to believe that the two-year limit was reasonable, since it was less easy to see how anyone would exhaust their benefits. Less easy, that is, than now. TheStraightener or others, any anecdotes or reports about the impact of the 1996 welfare reform measures on the poor during this depression?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:30 AM on May 4, 2009


Sorry, Straightener- I see you said 5 years (60 months) on preview.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:31 AM on May 4, 2009


Do you honestly agree with a statement similar to this: "I agree that as a collection we the citizens of country A should pay some tax that grants any one citizen the privilege of taking a paid vacation once they have satisfied the condition of being sad."?

No, but I think you're mischaracterizing the sentiment. The idea isn't that you get the money once you cross a "sad" threshold, rather everyone needs some sort of fun recreation. Even if you're out of work.

Though I do share some concern, I mean I'm depressed about my romantic failures, do I expect the government to find me a girlfriend? No. Would I want them to? Absolutely not.
posted by SirOmega at 9:31 AM on May 4, 2009


The Netherlands? Yes, if anyone loves military-backed go-it-alonism in the face of attempts to build consensus at the U.N., establish an international criminal court, and myriad instruments requiring one to look beyond their own back yard, it's the Netherlands.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:33 AM on May 4, 2009


On the one hand, I notice that just about everyone he talks to for the article is a writer, so we know that the Netherlands is a good place to live if you're a writer, but we don't know if it's a good place to live if you're, say, an accountant or waiter.

On the other hand, I am a writer.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:34 AM on May 4, 2009


Yeah, it's sixty months liftetime, cumulative. So if you use up six months now and have a child two years from now and need to go back on you're already six months towards your lifetime 60 month cap.

You can extend past the 60 month cap with what's called "good cause" which is commonly something like domestic violence survivorship.
posted by The Straightener at 9:35 AM on May 4, 2009


TheStraightener or others, any anecdotes or reports about the impact of the 1996 welfare reform measures on the poor during this depression?

Yeah, I noticed that the states are a whole lot freer with the food stamps now that white people need them.
posted by The Straightener at 9:43 AM on May 4, 2009 [9 favorites]


Sova -- that's an awesome point. In fact, that's one of the things which has always confused me about the US. It's built to enable states to be those laboratories. Instead you have this awful reversion to the national mean. In Massachusetts, it may have been politically feasible to enact state-controlled health care. Instead they got an awful hybrid which wasn't terribly effective. School choice gets killed by by the NEA, and is tiny is the few states where it exists. Gay marriage somehow becomes a national issue for each state. I seriously don't understand why California isn't Sweden-socialist, Montana isn't separatist-conservative, and Kansas an evangelical Theocracy... nor why having those would be a bad thing.

Well, off hand, there's a few reasons.

One is that there are almost no successful regional parties here. In most states, your choice in local elections is between a Democrat and a Republican — and both are financially and politically obligated to their national parties, and responsible for supporting those parties' candidates in national elections. A California Democrat who started sounding like a real socialist would be ditched by the DNC pretty quickly.

Another reason has to do with economic competition between the states. One state can't set tariffs to protect its own industries from cheap goods made in the next state over. So we get a sort of economic race to the bottom. If one state takes measures to make labor extra-cheap, its neighbors need to follow suit or lose business. That makes it hard for any one state to turn itself into a real socialist paradise.

But even if there weren't those obstacles, the states are more similar than most people realize. California is a "blue state" because slightly more than half of its residents are at least slightly left of center. Kansas is a "red state" because slightly more than half of its residents are at least slightly right of center. The far left is a tiny (but loud!) minority even in California, and the same goes for the extreme Evangelical right in Kansas. Even if California were an independent nation, with its own political system and the ability to tax and regulate trade for itself, there would be plenty of anti-socialist Californians.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:47 AM on May 4, 2009


I have to tell you, the Dutch policy of

Sad? Go on holiday!

sounds a lot more attractive than the American policy of

Sad? Shoot up a schoolhouse!
posted by Mister_A at 9:51 AM on May 4, 2009 [8 favorites]


sounds a lot more attractive than the American policy of

Sad? Shoot up a schoolhouse!


Yeah, it's not like the Dutch have any crazies...
posted by SweetJesus at 9:58 AM on May 4, 2009


The writer is very clever in reframing the universal healthcare issue f.i. as a matter of christian compassion for the disadvantaged and as such american. Instead of the universal healthcare=socialism=communism=the end of america! framing that conservatives in the US create.
posted by jouke at 9:58 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa! Look out! Here comes the point! Sweet Jesus, I think you missed it.
posted by Mister_A at 10:02 AM on May 4, 2009


That they don't shoot stuff up since they don't have guns so they use handy autos?
posted by smackfu at 10:08 AM on May 4, 2009


slimepuppy: Another way to look at it.

That reformulation makes all the difference and I absolutely agree.
posted by preparat at 10:08 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


BOSTON — Scientists have recently turned the world's most powerful microscope to the age-old problem of trying to figure out Mister_A's point. Despite the efforts of a team of highly-trained PhDs they were ultimately unsuccessful.

"This has been a pretty disappointing venture," project leader Dr. Matt West said. "I think that it is not actually possible with current technology. I have started writing a grant to develop an even more powerful microscope. Maybe at that point we will finally be able to complete this challenge."

Federal officials refused to comment on the record about the prospects of such a grant, citing the need for a neutral grant review process. But one senior grant management official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, said, "Look, rather than spending a lot more money and effort trying to figure out what Mister_A's point was, maybe he should just try to communicate more clearly. If that proves impossible, then we have some intriguing mind-reading proposals in the pipeline. Experts have been looking for the point using conventional means for years and it just hasn't worked."

Mister_A was not available for comment.
posted by grouse at 10:14 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Here's the point: The Dutch way of thinking seems to be that everyone is entitled to a little R&R. The American way of thinking seems to be that everyone is entitled to a semi-automatic assault rifle. These ideas are expressed on macro and micro levels. Ha!
posted by Mister_A at 10:20 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoa! Look out! Here comes the point! Sweet Jesus, I think you missed it.

Right, I missed the point that it's "American policy" to "shoot up a schoolhouse" when you're upset about losing your job. What an amazingly perceptive and not at all hyperbolic observation. In the same vein, it then must be Dutch policy to hop in your Renault Clio and try to mow down the Queen when you're upset about losing your job.

My soon-to-be-wife is Dutch, and I've spent a fair amount of time over the past few years in both Holland and Belgium. I think Holland is a fantastic place to live, but that article makes it sound a bit too much like Disney land. I'm emailing her this article to see what she thinks, as someone who's lived in Holland, Belgium and the US (among other places)

Now Belgum - there is a socialist paradise. They're so laid back there the newscasters don't even wear ties.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:21 AM on May 4, 2009


Belgium as well...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:22 AM on May 4, 2009


If you really think that I was expressing the sincere belief that it is a policy of the US federal government to encourage people to shoot up schoolhouses when they're a little blue, then you have indeed missed the point.
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on May 4, 2009


Now Belgum - there is a socialist paradise. They're so laid back there the newscasters don't even wear ties.

Belgium has that whole Dutch/French thing going on though. Lots of tensions there, where one side thinks the other side is taking much more from the government than they put in.
posted by smackfu at 10:39 AM on May 4, 2009




Yeah, I noticed that the states are a whole lot freer with the food stamps now that white people need them.


One issue the author only gives a nod to in this article is the question of the increasing ethnic and religious diversity of the Netherlands. I've heard more than a few people argue that Western Europe's generous social welfare programs are in part a result of and dependent upon a certain degree of homogeneity, since it makes people more likely to identify compassionately with the poor as opposed to demonizing them. Accordingly (so goes the argument) immigration and the highly visible percentage of immigrants/people of immigrant descent who are dependent on social welfare programs is eroding public support in countries such as France, the Netherlands, etc. for these programs. It's nowhere near this simple, and American attitudes toward the welfare state aren't merely a question of race, but TheStraightener's observation is intriguing.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:42 AM on May 4, 2009


Well, not our schoolhouses.... But that's another story.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:42 AM on May 4, 2009


[looks like jessamyn unregisterwalled the FPP link -- thanks jess, and ericb for the heads-up]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:43 AM on May 4, 2009


Hi Mutant,

My understanding is that it is very difficult to actually become a citizen in a European country. Is this actually the case? I've read through this AskMe, but it seems like the best way to approach this is one not available to me (family connection).
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:44 AM on May 4, 2009


I keep a $20 bill in my picket for this express purpose: any time someone bitches about welfare in the U.S., I silently dig the twenty out of my wallet and hand it to them. I then explain, "This is your tax contribution to welfare for the year. Shut the fuck up about it for the next 365 days. If you like, on this day next year I'll give you another $20 to shut the fuck up for another year." No one ever takes my money, but no one ever keeps bitching after that.

(and I know my number's off a little, but the point is made.)
posted by notsnot at 10:46 AM on May 4, 2009 [31 favorites]


If you really think that I was expressing the sincere belief that it is a policy of the US federal government to encourage people to shoot up schoolhouses when they're a little blue, then you have indeed missed the point.

Here's the point: The Dutch way of thinking seems to be that everyone is entitled to a little R&R.

My point is you have no idea what you're talking about. The truth is it's not as nearly cut and dry as you seem to think it is.

Belgium has that whole Dutch/French thing going on though. Lots of tensions there, where one side thinks the other side is taking much more from the government than they put in.

Flanders was incredibly laid back, but yeah, there is no love lost between the Flemish and the Walloons. But I felt more tension between the "traditional" Dutch and the North African and Middle Eastern immigrants in Holland than I ever felt between the Flemish and Walloons in Belgium. Maybe that's because I don't follow Belgian politics close enough to know the key issues.
posted by SweetJesus at 10:57 AM on May 4, 2009


I've heard more than a few people argue that Western Europe's generous social welfare programs are in part a result of and dependent upon a certain degree of homogeneity, since it makes people more likely to identify compassionately with the poor as opposed to demonizing them.

One interesting wrinkle to this idea is that the Netherlands in particular has a history of pillarization - which I've never fully understood but I think wound up affecting the way welfare state benefits were delivered depending on your religious & political affiliation.
posted by yarrow at 11:03 AM on May 4, 2009


It is funny how many many Americans end up using a variation of the "Why would I pay my hard earned money for another lazy person to get something good in their worse than mine life?" argument in this kind of discussions. I rarely see the "Would I like to use a part of my money to help others out so that they can help me out when I am fucked?".

Very recent history notwithstanding, most Americans seem to believe they will never be unemployed, sick, in an accident or with mental issues. They are too fucking smart for that. Too fucking hard working or something. Is this part of the whole 'entitlement' thing?
posted by dirty lies at 11:08 AM on May 4, 2009 [3 favorites]


The writer is very clever in reframing the universal healthcare issue f.i. as a matter of christian compassion for the disadvantaged and as such american.

Reframing? You mean, restoring the original frame, because the socialist movement in the United States during the progressive era was completely bound up in the Christian faith--socialism was essentially the first major political movement advanced by Christianity in the US.

The guy who wrote the pledge of allegiance was a Christian Socialist minister, for example.

It's a stunning reversal, really, considering that as recently as the 60s, progressive politics in the US (civil rights movement, labor movement, etc.) were still closely allied with Christianity. It's amazing how swiftly fascism became the de rigueur Christian political orientation of the US mega-church era. Maybe there are significant trade-offs to leveraging economies of scale in the spiritual realm...
posted by saulgoodman at 11:18 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you for posting this, it was a tremendously thought-provoking read.
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 11:20 AM on May 4, 2009


Very recent history notwithstanding, most Americans seem to believe they will never be unemployed, sick, in an accident or with mental issues. They are too fucking smart for that. Too fucking hard working or something. Is this part of the whole 'entitlement' thing?

Maybe not entitlement, but extreme short-sightedness?
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:25 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


SweetJesus, you're insufferable. Should I surround everything I write with caveats, to ensure that every possible permutation or possibility is accounted for? Or should I trust the readers of MetaFilter to understand the gist of what I'm saying, taking into account the context supplied by the linked material (the FPP) and the comments it generates?

The gist of what I'm saying is this: The United States, as a nation, has made military spending a much higher priority than spending on healthcare, social services and education. In the Netherlands, governmental spending on things like healthcare, social services, and education is a higher priority when compared to the US.

Furthermore, I posit that these national trends are expressed in some individuals within these two countries. For instance, some Americans would gladly give the military a blank check every year, and many of these same Americans are a bit fanatical about their rights to own guns, including those guns which have no practical use other than killing humans. However, I hasten to point out that not all Americans feel this way. Yet, I will assert that this martial character and enthusiasm for violence are more a part of the mosaic of American life than they are an integral part of Dutch society.

Now, you may disagree with me about this, and that's OK. It's daft, but it's alright. But intentionally misreading the general trend of my argumentation is childish. Your insistence that outlier counter-examples invalidate my central thesis reminds me of GW Bush's "What about Poland?" rebuttal to Kerry's assertion that the US was largely going it alone in Iraq. You know that what I wrote was never intended as a literal representation of governmental policy. I understand if you object to the (harsh, hyperbolic) tone of that statement, but at least do it like a grown-up.
posted by Mister_A at 11:26 AM on May 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


In the same vein, it then must be Dutch policy to hop in your Renault Clio and try to mow down the Queen when you're upset about losing your job.

Actually, it was a Suzuki Swift...
posted by Pendragon at 11:31 AM on May 4, 2009


You could implement this vacation scheme right now in America. Just make contributions to it voluntary, instead of a government imposed tax. That way, all those who like it can support it, and all those who don't won't. Regardless, anyone can use the benefit, even if they didn't pay.

And before you rush to limit the vacation benefit to only those who paid the voluntary cost, re-think your objection. You're basically arguing that someone should not be given something for free, which is the point of the whole endeavor in the first place.
posted by jsonic at 11:34 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the point: The Dutch way of thinking seems to be that everyone is entitled to a little R&R.

Isn't it more like this: The Dutch way of thinking is that the interests of the Dutch nation as a whole are better served by these policies--because there are proven long-term social and economic benefits to ensuring that everyone gets a little R&R now and then?
posted by saulgoodman at 11:35 AM on May 4, 2009


Mister_A: The Netherlands doesn't spend 1/3 of its annual budget on its armed forces.

SamuelBowman: Which is only possible because the US does spend that much.

nasreddin: Utterly ridiculous. Who's going to invade the Netherlands? Sweden?


SamuelBowman is right, people. Who else but the US military can deal with lake trolls summoned by touring US bands?
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:39 AM on May 4, 2009


Derive the Hamiltonian of...

That's in Finland. Socialist, but not Dutch. Get your Dethklok summoned ancient lake troll facts straight. It might save your life. Brutal.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:42 AM on May 4, 2009


Well, outside of highly newsworthy murders, it would appear the the American is about 380% more likely to whack his fellow man (note gender neutral usage of the term) then his dutch brethren.

Crime Stats
posted by Bovine Love at 11:43 AM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


But intentionally misreading the general trend of my argumentation is childish.

I don't have time to follow your entire argument, but I responded to what I felt was an incredibly cynical, smug and myopic statement about the differences between Holland an America. Talk about a childish...

You know that what I wrote was never intended as a literal representation of governmental policy. I understand if you object to the (harsh, hyperbolic) tone of that statement, but at least do it like a grown-up.

You get back what you put out. Make a smug, cynical observation, you'll get a smug, cynical response.

For instance, some Americans would gladly give the military a blank check every year, and many of these same Americans are a bit fanatical about their rights to own guns, including those guns which have no practical use other than killing humans.

Uh huh. So I guess The Right Wing is strictly an American phenomenon, amirite?

I would suggest, I dunno, visiting Holland before you start spouting off what they "seem" to believe on internet chat boards. It may open your eyes a bit.

Your insistence that outlier counter-examples invalidate my central thesis reminds me of GW Bush's "What about Poland?" rebuttal to Kerry's assertion that the US was largely going it alone in Iraq.

Your central thesis seems to be "America sucks, Holland is Awesome". I'd say you're about half-way correct there.
posted by SweetJesus at 11:50 AM on May 4, 2009


that EU wide 20% VAT really devastates your purchasing power.

It does. On the other hand, at least from my experience, there's less compulsion or inclination to buy the kind of consumer gear that serves as the soma of American life. I honestly didn't feel the need to buy that much stuff, because I had better ways to spend my time.

Still, discussions of the welfare state in the US cannot escape the issue of race. Public housing is for Those People. Public transit is for Those People. Unemployment benefits are for Those People, until it's you being laid off, in which they're not as generous as they ought to be because of Those People. The welfare system that the majority of Americans will most gladly pay for is one that puts a disproportionate number of poor and/or non-white Americans behind bars.

I'm not sure how you unravel the cycles here, given that the carving up of land into private property is basically the entire history of the US post-1607, but a massive economic crash based upon property speculation and investment in bullshit paper is the sort of thing that ought to make people step back a bit.
posted by holgate at 11:53 AM on May 4, 2009


slimepuppy: Do you really think that troll would have stayed in Finland if it hadn't been taken care of?

Besides, I'm guessing the Dutch have their own ancient book of necronomic spells...
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:59 AM on May 4, 2009


Still, discussions of the welfare state in the US cannot escape the issue of race. Public housing is for Those People.

Substitute "race" for "immigrants" and you have Europe.
posted by smackfu at 12:07 PM on May 4, 2009


Very recent history notwithstanding, most Americans seem to believe they will never be unemployed, sick, in an accident or with mental issues. They are too fucking smart for that. Too fucking hard working or something. Is this part of the whole 'entitlement' thing?

They're in denial. Libertarians most of all.

I would like to see a breakdown of these anti-tax attitudes by gender, women being still the gender most expected to care for those unable to care for themselves.
posted by bad grammar at 12:41 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


You still receive "vacation money" even when you get your Dutch state pension and you are not expected to work anymore. I actually saved most of my "vacation money" over the years but why not spend it on something else. I'm puzzled where this writer got his info from as I think there is no clear reason anymore for this extra money except that just everyone just expects a little extra in May/June and well in time for the holiday season (when the kids are off at least 6 weeks..) and of course it is not fair to discriminate when you have no kids, elderly or no work. That would be sad.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 12:59 PM on May 4, 2009


Substitute "race" for "immigrants" and you have Europe.
Hardly. In Britain, it's sink estates full of chav scum breeding out of wedlock, scrounging off the dole and voting BNP (in the British iteration) that are the bogeymen of the social housing debate. So the substitute would be "class," and isn't that what a lot of "race" issues are in America?
posted by Abiezer at 1:07 PM on May 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


smackfu: you've actually illustrated my point.

Because the primary example of public housing for Americans is 'the projects', you look at the banlieu or some immigrant-heavy European high-rise and seem to assume a like-for-like analogy, in which European social housing = American public housing, on a larger scale, with slightly different non-white faces. Which just isn't true.

That's not to deny that those developments exist, with all the well-known problems, but social housing done on a broad scale extends to pleasant condo-style developments and neat little suburbs as well. (I spent my entire childhood in public housing; it is very hard to explain that to most Americans.)

Outside of large conurbations or college towns in the US, renting a place to live or taking public transport (or riding a bike) while being white and middle-class all mark you out as somehow aberrant. People assume that you fucked up your life along the way, lost your drivers license, just got out of jail.

They are too fucking smart for that. Too fucking hard working or something. Is this part of the whole 'entitlement' thing?

It's actually the 'too fucking Calvinist' thing. Good health and fortune are marks of the elect; sickness and bad luck (without the means to recover) denote the reprobate.
posted by holgate at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2009


Hi Hypnotic Chick

You just have to be very motivated to become an EU citizen. The Netherlands will not even let Mutant in that easily. He will need to be on his best behavior <> for at least another 17 months.

Check out this website for conditions specific for NL.
posted by Mrs Mutant at 2:43 PM on May 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


SweetJesus, have you ever been to the USA?
posted by Mister_A at 2:47 PM on May 4, 2009



It's actually the 'too fucking Calvinist' thing. Good health and fortune are marks of the elect; sickness and bad luck (without the means to recover) denote the reprobate.


Yes, except this doesn't explain why Calvinism took a different path in Europe. Weber's Protestants built the Dutch welfare state; in America they did something much different.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 2:58 PM on May 4, 2009


Part of the reason for the tradition of Dutch tolerance is the common enemy of the sea encroaching. During the 1600s, even as the Dutch nation was emerging amidst in a battle of religions and commerce, even enemies had to work together to keep the water from taking over all the land.

You see those windmills? They pump water out of the dyke. There are laws in Holland that you have to clean your section of the dykes out to prevent silt and garbage from clogging up and affecting your neighbors' stretch of dyke. If you fail in this, the whole dyke fails. And then you lose your land. And then there is no Netherlands to fight over anyway. The sea would take it all. This created a very different atmosphere in Dutch culture, one where you had to sit and talk and even cooperate with your enemy in order to - at the least - not lose the solid ground beneath your feet. And this is the key to the difference in Dutch social-political culture. You may not like your neighbor, but you have to work with them for the common good.

While other late 20th century nations were perfecting weapons, the Dutch used their time to perfect new herring. Stuff beats sushi any day.
posted by zaelic at 3:41 PM on May 4, 2009 [7 favorites]


in America they did something much different..

One word answer: land.
posted by holgate at 3:45 PM on May 4, 2009


"It's interesting living in Sweden because many things are less socialist."

I saw an off the cuff comparison of European Football/Soccer and American Baseball highlighting how Capitalistic Football is and how Socialist Baseball is. Stuff like how Football teams have to earn their places in leagues every year (poorly performing teams drop to lower tier leagues allowing top performing teams to move up) and how American teams often get tax breaks on stadiums; tax free bonds or outright subsidies; and sometimes all three. Quite interesting. Anyone know the article? I've searched in vain for it on several occasions.
posted by Mitheral at 3:47 PM on May 4, 2009


SweetJesus, have you ever been to the USA?

I'm an American, born and raised.
posted by SweetJesus at 3:53 PM on May 4, 2009


jb, the USA is actually in cahoots with the sea–we are making more sea! Could the point of this exercise be the drowning of coastal peoples?
posted by Mister_A at 12:27 PM on May 4 [1 favorite +] [!]


It's true - but have you noticed how close to sea level large areas of New Jersey and Florida are? I think the Dutch might be better off, because at least they have fairly good sea defenses.
posted by jb at 5:33 PM on May 4, 2009


"I saw an off the cuff comparison of European Football/Soccer and American Baseball highlighting how Capitalistic Football is and how Socialist Baseball is. Stuff like how Football teams have to earn their places in leagues every year (poorly performing teams drop to lower tier leagues allowing top performing teams to move up) and how American teams often get tax breaks on stadiums; tax free bonds or outright subsidies; and sometimes all three. Quite interesting. Anyone know the article? I've searched in vain for it on several occasions."

Is this it?
posted by madh at 6:01 PM on May 4, 2009


The grim words this chorus chanted in defense of my hard-earned income I recognized as copied from Charlton Heston's N.R.A. rallying cry about prying his gun from his cold, dead hands.

So, he died. Did they pry the gun off him before rigor mortis set in?
posted by cogneuro at 6:12 PM on May 4, 2009


I think so madh, thanks.
posted by Mitheral at 6:17 PM on May 4, 2009


Here's the thing that really gets me about the socialism "debate" in the US: conflating tax-rate with an '-ism'. Out here in Singapore, the maximum tax-rate is 20%; for most middle-class incomes, the tax rate is between 3.5% to 5.5%. But no, there's no way in hell that you can ever call the government libertarian; close to 70% of Singapore's GDP is generated by government-linked companies ("GLC's"). Now that's socialism; the government is everywhere: telecom, television, cable etc etc. We don't have free primary healthcare, but it's heavily subsidised; government-run primary-clinics (Tertiary healthcare is expensive though)

The fact is that the governmental services in the US simply haven't scaled fast enough to a huge population, which is why you have such inefficiencies as a lack of healthcare despite paying 35% tax. The system _is_ inefficient, but the answer isn't to remove it altogether, but to frigging improve it.
posted by the cydonian at 8:08 PM on May 4, 2009


From article
A study by the Commonwealth Fund found that 54 percent of chronically ill patients in the United States avoided some form of medical attention in 2008 because of costs,

That makes me so angry that I feel I must avoid going to the doctor to check on the coronary I just had.
posted by JHarris at 1:38 AM on May 5, 2009


Yeah, it's not like the Dutch have any crazies...
It is also worth noting, in the context of this discussion, that it looks like the attacker did what he did because he recently lost his job and had to leave his house.

I am always puzzled when people refer to the Netherlands as some kind of socialist Walhallam, because the social security system has been so eroded over the last years/decades.
posted by davar at 1:54 AM on May 5, 2009


As a born and bred American who now lives in Europe, I must say they do have a better deal over here in many ways. I live in England, and when I hear people complain about the NHS I feel like smacking them.

When I first told my friends back home that most people here ( here being the continent of Europe ) have an average of 4-6 weeks off a year, they were dumbstruck.

When I was back home in NY, I worked with people who intentionally wouldn't take both of their two whole weeks off a year in order to give the impression that they wanted to stay at work, consequently given the false impression of some semblence of job security.

Every American also either knows someone - or is someone - that can't leave the job they have because they would lose their health insurance.

Somewhere along the line, and I don't know where, but Americans traded more time away from work for more work, more money to buy more crap.

Thing is... I don't remember anyone consciously deciding this, as a society. It just sort of happened.
posted by Hickeystudio at 7:43 AM on May 5, 2009


A California Democrat who started sounding like a real socialist would be ditched by the DNC pretty quickly.

That depends. A US Rep from CA (or most states) has a lot of freedom. Pete Stark was my Rep when I lived in Fremont, and he was great, very liberal approaching a real socialist, but he was also very much his own person and didn't really follow the DNC. A US Senator, OTOH, does have to be much more political, as you don't represent a district but a state, and only partially.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:37 PM on May 5, 2009


The article makes it sound like the vakantiegeld magically appears in his paycheck. When you're on salary, that's your own money, withheld from you, and bestowed on you twice a year (summer and Christmas). So it's really an interest-free loan out of your paycheck, to...I guess it's the government, or maybe your employer.
If you like that idea, you could save 8% of your salary and disburse it to yourself twice a year if you wanted to, plus you'd make interest on it if you put it in an interest-bearing account.
I'm not clear on the money for out-of-work people. Maybe it's just that they are getting what was already withheld from them when they were still working.
posted by ysabella at 3:26 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


The magic of vakantiegeld is that it works with several known weaknesses of humans - the few people who would save the money to disperse later - they might be inclined to do something else with it. This way the government is essentially directing large sums of cash to be spent seasonally each year - encouraging tourism and likely instigating a minor uptick in the economy. The problem with the "if you like that idea" line of thinking is the focus on the individual benefits, and not the social benefits, which these Eurpoeans prize more than the Americans. And I am jealous of this because I see the value in this sort of social engineering, and am certain that it affords a higher standard of living for everybody. I think the real rub is that it is more civilized.
posted by zenon at 7:13 PM on May 7, 2009


I do think that this article makes the NL sound a bit too wonderful. Obviously this country has flaws like any other country.
F.i. a decade ago we had a bit of trouble since our safety net was so cushy that some people didn't see any advantage in working anymore.
That conservatives mention that risk as a reason not to have any safety net doesn't mean that it's not a risk you have to watch out for when you do have one.

Btw anybody who wants to see the european socialist paradise upclose is welcome to come to The Big European 10th Anniversary Meetup around July 18th. Just see how rosy, relaxed and happy the European mefites are. Especially compared to the stressed, haggard looking mefites from the US.
posted by jouke at 3:49 AM on May 8, 2009


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