Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A democracy of dry feet

The husband sent me this link to a fascinating article about the Dutch system of "welfare" - and I am loathe to use the word because their consensus based "polder model" is so far meta-the-American-notion of welfare and public housing - basically because he knew I was checking the term "below sea level" in constructing my summary of a conversation with Andrew Holleran. Who knew that building a city in lowlands gave rise to efficient government and happy children?

The Dutch government sends you vacation money? They mandate that everyone gets a minimum of four weeks vacation? Universal health care without the labyrinthian system of deductions we accept as necessary? You will need to read this to understand why the 52% tax rate in the Netherlands is actually a better deal than what we have. Also, the article helps rectify our lockstepping and negative labeling of that type of system as socialism.

Maybe Subtle Knife will have something to say about all this?


Patrick said...

I found that article fascinating. I was particularly intrigued by the author's assertion that the church and capitalism were the two forces most responsible for constructing the Dutch system. Compelling article.

SubtleKnife said...

It's Utopia I tell you!

Being Dutch I'm not very surprised. Religion and capitalism were the major forces behind almost everything that happened here until the '60s. I'm not quite sure where it originated, but it may well have been a Dutchman who coined the phrase "merchant and minister" - it's a fitting description of how 'we' went out into the world for centuries.

But even before that, as is also mentioned, we had to organise to keep our feet dry. Another telling sign is the high literacy rate even in the Middle Ages (I believe 80% of the French couldn't read their language as late as the 1870s...)

Seriously, it's not Utopia, but the article seems a fair representation of some aspects of my country.

PS. I always found 'your' interpretation of socialist funny...

PPS. My verification word is "typen" ie "to type" in Dutch.