This is a thought that has recently come to me, in light of the fact that for some unexplained reason, we have become bombarded and inundated with various articles in the Dutch press lately, highlighting various findings from various studies, all of which have made conscientious efforts to extol the virtues of either being Dutch or living in the Netherlands.
The latest one to have hit the headlines and hot off the press was recently reported in De Telegraaf (which should set off alarms bells in its own right, given the fact that De Telegraaf goes around masquerading itself as a respected broadsheet, but whose journalistic style and content is more akin to a UK Page 3 tabloid) which spoke about how “More people are satisfied with life”. In the article, it went on the state how “Fewer Dutch people were unhappy about the state of society in 2009 than they were in 2004, according to new research from the government’s socio-cultural advisory body SGP.”
According to the SGP in 2004 “around one third of the population was pessimistic about society, but by 2009, that had gone down to 26%. In the 1990s, the figure was around 17%.”
Prior to that was an article written about the wonders of the Dutch Healthcare system and where it lay in the EU league table. When I read the article and say how HIGH in the table the Netherlands was I almost choked on my coffee. To understand why, read my other article here.
The cynic in me finds myself wondering why the government feels the need to try and flood the media with feel good rubbish, in a vain effort to try and pull the wool over the nations eyes. It’s an exercise in futility for two main reasons;
1. The Dutch are not a nation who have a strong history of aggressive unions who actively encourage or facilitate strong arm tactics or take to the streets in large, vociferous demonstrations. No, instead the Dutch unions are a bunch of lazy fat cats who cow tow to the demands of the government and make piecemeal efforts at representing their members during wage negotiations or during the annual budget preparations.
2. The Dutch have never voted with their feet, nor do I get the impression that they actually understand the concept of democracy, least not in same the terms an Irishman does, whereby you kick out a government who has screwed you over, and you try to replace them with someone better (having said that, we’ve not done a good job of that ourselves this time around) and they have never liked the idea of voicing their opinions. Instead, they sit like little automatons, happily paying their taxes and living a middle of the road middle-class existence with no real aspirations and no desire to change the status quo.
So given that the government is governing a herd of sheep, why do they feel the need to use spin on a nation who behaves like my dog lying on his back looking for his tummy to be rubbed? Maybe they understand the reality of the situation themselves, and are trying to make themselves feel better, or worse, that they’re trying to justify everything that they’re doing in the name of Government Policy.
It’s hard to believe that ANYONE could be happy when living in a nation with a such HUGE level of taxes or an even bigger Social Welfare burden. The cost of living is astronomically high, partly because the Dutch demand some of the longest paid vacations in all of Europe, and partly because they have the highest number of part-time workers in the EU (topping the European Part Time Labour league table). The price of petrol is the second highest in the EU (second only to the UK) of which 70% is made up of taxes. They have amongst the shortest school holidays in the EU. This not only serves to aggravate the school children, but also their parents who are then forced to take the family holiday along with every other family in the nation, thus resulting in astronomic prices for vacations abroad. Not only that, but if you decided to take your children out of school early, just for the sake of getting a cheap deal, you are then FINED by the Department of Education!!! Imagine that! And of course, house prices falling (1.1% in January), the hellish traffic congestion which seems to manifest itself all the livelong day, rocketing health care costs (the highest rise across Europe in 2011) and the fact that the way the government’s spending habits are going, it’ll be highly unlikely if anyone will ever get to retire and earn an pension, all seem like the ingredients for a survey that would come out with the exact opposite result.
Or maybe the people conducting the survey didn’t actually survey any normal working Henk or Rita. One can only assume that they must have carried out their survey and questioned a bunch of those unemployed Dutch/Moroccans who are getting thousands of euros in welfare payouts, hence the “happy” result.
All I know is, they never came and asked me!!