It is official: The Netherlands is in a recession.
The government’s macro-economic forecasting agency CPB says the budget deficit is set to hit 4.1% next year and that the economy is already in recession. (…)
CPB director Coen Teulings urged the government not to make major cuts at a time of recession. Instead, the government should take the time to make structural reforms to deliver money and growth.
This could include moderation, a faster introduction of a higher pension age and a reduction in mortgage tax relief.
As that last sentence indicates, the source of the budget cuts will yet again be us, citizens.
Wilders’ PVV is for the moment standing firm, telling the coalition they will not entertain thoughts of reduction in mortgage tax relief unless soem substantial reductions are made in the budget for development aid.
Locally we see the same phenomenon, with municipal councils increasing the rent of sport facilities of local clubs to increase revenues, presented as ‘budget cuts’ following the economic crisis. Other local fees and taxes are also set to rise (as they have for years now) without any increase in efficiency or service. A couple of weeks ago we were treated to the news (NL) that even though house prices fell by 3.4% on average, municipalities charged more OZB tax (a local tax based on the value of the property), 3.9% more on average. We pay more, yet we get less.
And it is increasingly sticking in the craw of the population, as evidenced by this bit on GeenStijl, addressing our PM in an … ehm… rather informal manner (blue language in the original):
What are you going to do about those glorified state banks that have created a feudal system? What are you going to do about those billions we keep pumping into the failed economies of Spain, Italy and Greece? What are you going to do about those sea-containers of money transferred to Brussels without so much as a protest? What are you going to do about those tyrannical health insurers that demand more money for less service? What are you going to do about that dismally failed JSF-project? What are you going to do about greedy board members, filthy rich semi-government institutions, the dike surveying mafia and the miles of retainers being paid out? It is there, and there alone, where the billions should be gotten, Mark. Our argument: Fuck you, fuck your friends and fuck that motherfucking contempt of citizens. This government deserves a barstool in the mug.
There’s nothing to disagree with there, I think.
But it is poignant that we have to point all of this out to a government that is supposedly the most right-wing cabinet in recent memory. A cabinet that promised, when it started, it would reduce bureaucracy and the number of civil servants. A government that described itself as being there for the citizens.
But now, when the shit is hitting the fan, they turn around and do what every cabinet since the early seventies have done: In their panic they can come up with no more original measure those used by all cabinets before it, either left or not-so-left: They turn and fleece the citizens for the money the government doesn’t have. They are no different from the conspicuously left cabinets of yesteryear. They’re the same. Always the same.
But they should learn a lesson from history: Those who fail to change with the times end up hanging from lampposts and bridge overhangs. History can be relentless that way.