Russell Shorto writes in the NYTimes
this weekend that he's Going Dutch
, a fascinating compare and contrast between the US and NL socio-political systems. He writes...
"For 18 months now I’ve been playing the part of the American in Holland, alternately settling into or bristling against the European way of life. Many of the features of that life are enriching. [But] then there are the features of European life that grate on an American sensibility."
Other snippets are telling assessments of the pros and cons, for instance...
"Social housing differs from much of the public housing in the United States in that the government does not own or manage the properties. Rather, each is owned by an independent real estate cooperative. The system is not-for-profit, but it pays for itself [...] these societies have chosen to combine the various entities that play a role in social well-being -- individuals, corporations, government, nongovernmental entities like unions and churches -- in different ways, in an effort to balance individual freedom and overall social security."
And on taxes: the 52% tax rate is dismaying to most Americans, but...
"...there’s more to it. First, as in the United States, income tax in the Netherlands is a bendy concept: with a good accountant, you can rack up deductions and exploit loopholes. And while the top income-tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, the numbers are a bit misleading. "People coming from the U.S. to the Netherlands focus on that difference, and on that 52 percent," said Constanze Woelfle, an American accountant based in the Netherlands whose clients are mostly American expats. "But consider that the Dutch rate includes social security, which in the U.S. is an additional 6.2 percent. Then in the U.S. you have state and local taxes, and much higher real estate taxes. If you were to add all those up, you would get close to the 52 percent."
He concludes with a very interesting social observation...
One downside of a collectivist society, of which the Dutch themselves complain, is that people tend to become slaves to consensus and conformity. The Dutch don’t do such things on their own. They believe they should be handled by the system. To an American, that’s a lack of individual initiative."
P.S. Note counterveiling opinion
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