Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The Dutch childcare benefits scandal

The childcare benefits scandal that toppled the (still outgoing) Dutch Cabinet is still expanding. At least 1,115 children have been taken away from their families due to that same scandal. These parents lost everything while they were being drowned in debt, following clawback activities by the Dutch tax authorities.

A friend told me that the Belgian approach is the exact opposite of the Dutch approach: families are being (financially) supported to stay together rather than being torn apart, like in Holland. This analogy is relevant as both countries speak Dutch. Hence, cultural differences should be minimal.

What the @#$% is wrong in my country??

Most likely, “Teflon Mark” will (again) prefer to sacrifice one of his Cabinet ministers rather than assume any accountability or responsibility (for whatever topic). My guess is the guy heading the Finance (including Tax) department. In view of this moral issue, why not sacrifice a Christian Democrat fall guy?

Decades ago, my friend faced a similar situation. The Dutch social welfare system used all its force to crush her resistance to keep her family together. Her story feels like The Count of Monte Cristo, an 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas. The parents of these (at least) 1,115 children may also relate to Edmond Dantès.

Why do (some) people believe that it is justified to crush (other) people like ants?? Is it moral superiority over “white trash“?? Is it a consequence of (neo) liberalism?? Is is the anonymity caused by urbanisation?? Is it a lack of empathy for unknown others??

I’m tempted to argue that the decline in religion(s) has caused a decline in moral decency. Nevertheless, similar issues happened in the past: children were taken away from unmarried mothers (Guardian), children of indigenous peoples were being “re-educated” (NYT). You could argue that things have “improved”.

This time, I will not argue that the above is related to human stupidity. It might be far worse. Is it possible that (some) people enjoy the suffering of (other) people?? Examples: 1971 Stanford prison experiment, 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, BDSM. Also see my recent blog on introspection.

The above reminds me of two songs that represent a macro and a micro perspective:
– macro: You get what you give (1998, lyrics, video) by the New Radicals, and
– micro: If you tolerate this, your children will be next (1998, lyrics, video) by the Manic Street Preachers.

Going To A Town (2007) by Rufus Wainwright
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I’m going to a town that has already been burnt down
I’m going to a place that has already been disgraced
I’m gonna see some folks who have already been let down

Note: all markings (bold, italic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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