No, this is not a Monty Python sketch. The King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander announced the end of the welfare state in a speech written by the government. But while the population of the Netherlands has faced some of the most severe austerity measures in Europe, the monarchy has cut nothing from the £31m it receives from the taxpayer each year – overtaking the Windsors as the most expensive monarchy in Europe.
Austerity, Netherlands Style
The Netherlands’ deficit is around half that of the UK and the US. Yet, the economy of the Netherlands is disintegrating under the pressure of pay cuts, public spending cuts and tax hikes. This year, the economy will shrink by almost 2% as it continues a brutal Austerity programme under pressure from the EU to reduce its budget deficit to the EU limit – 3% of GDP. Greece, Portugal, Spain and others who have abandoned all common economic sense to chase this arbitrary limit have decimated their economies doing so.
The following are the result of Austerity programmes in the Netherlands in the five years since 2008:
- Unemployment has almost trebled from 3.2% to 8.2% in 2013
- House prices have fallen 20%
- VAT (tax paid on goods and services) has risen to 21%
- 18bn euros has been cut from public spending
- Retirement age will be raised from 65 to 67
- 1 in 10 children live in poverty
- 1 in 8 public sector workers will have lost their jobs by 2015.
The Netherlands has always adopted a more Scandinavian-style social democratic approach than the UK, and in 2008/9 had one of the most egalitarian social security systems in the world. But Austerity is rapidly turning the economy into a US/UK style blitzkrieg on the concept of social democracy. With six weak coalition governments in the last ten years, and the EU imposed Austerity, the far right Freedom Party of Geert Wilders is flying high in the polls.
Meanwhile, at the Palace
Willem rode in a horse drawn carriage made of gold (pictured above), to the 13th century Hall of Knights in The Hague, to deliver his annual speech (written by the government). The King, on behalf of the government, told the people of the Netherlands it was time to shift to a ‘Participation Economy’ where people build their own safety nets, apparently just for themselves.
“The shift to a ‘participation society’ is especially visible in social security and long-term care,” he said, continuing “The classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century in these areas in particular brought forth arrangements that are unsustainable in their current form.”
While presenting themselves as pomp-free, the Dutch monarchy has become the most expensive in Europe. The monarchy receives £31m a year from the Dutch taxpayer, four times that received by the Spanish monarchy, despite having just a quarter of the population of commoners to raise the cash. £14m of the fund received are in personal allowances for the royal family.
Before his mother, Queen Beatrix abdicated in April this year to pass over the throne to her eldest son, she stated she “saw no reason” for her family to reduce their burden on the public finances.
Irony is Dead
That a golden horse carriage riding hereditary monarch of the world’s most expensive family of benefit scroungers could denounce the welfare state, lifeline to the poor, as an unaffordable luxury – this confirms that irony is dead. Similarly, during the Tory Party Conference in the UK, a cabinet of trust fund babies, aristocrats and millionaires bemoaned the ‘something for nothing’ culture of the struggling British working class.
There appears to be no shame among the barons, baronets, billionaires and banksters who have hoarded the wealth, for the impact on the majority of people left behind. Quite the opposite, it seems to be in vogue to bash the poorest and glorify the wealthy, as if poverty was a lifestyle choice.
They promote this idea that we should operate a ‘pay as you go’ social security system for the rich, as if they were not beneficiaries of the roads, the police force, the courts, the health system that keeps their employees healthy, the railways and the billions in taxpayer subsidies their businesses receive each year.
Imagine a table full of 10 friends out for a meal. If you added up all the wealth of the table, one would have 86%. The other 9 have the remaining 14% between them. The 1 is dining out on steak, lobster, expensive red wine and whiskey – while the 9 are ordering the side salad and a tap water as they’re on a budget.
The bill comes and the 1 turns to the 9 and says ‘we must split the bill equally’.
The 9 look at each other and grimace. One of the 9 pipes up ‘But…we didn’t have any steak’
The 1 quips back ‘That may well be true…but I didn’t have any of your salad either!’
The majority of people of the Netherlands, the UK, and countries across the world are being handed the bill for the largesse of a tiny percentage of the population. The sleeping majority needs to get behind those who dare to defy the status quo, and refuse to pay the bill.
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