The Dutch, Welfare and Immigration

Interesting comment regarding America liberals trying to turn an “immigrant country into a welfare” state.  Not sure its really true, but, nonetheless. A good article to focus on what the press seems to MISS.
WSJ 3/14/2017
By Leon de Winter

To hear the international media tell it, my country has changed from one of the most tolerant, affluent and easygoing nations on the planet into a zoo of xenophobes and racists—all because a politician with unusual hair has been saying politically incorrect things.

The Netherlands will vote Wednesday in elections for the Tweede Kamer, Parliament’s lower house. Twenty-eight parties are competing for 150 seats. Any of the established parties could find a niche within America’s Democratic Party; they all are basically social democrats. That includes the conservatives and the so-called extreme right-wing Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, the man with the unusual hair. Mr. Wilders is harshly critical of Islam and the country’s immigration policies, but his social agenda is as left-wing as the Socialist Party’s.

The Netherlands has changed, but it has been a decades long process. In the 1960s and ’70s, the Dutch invited guest laborers from Morocco and Turkey to work temporarily in the wildly expanding economy. The boom ended, but the workers stayed, creating an underclass of low-skilled Muslim immigrants. Photos of the original laborers show young men in suits and dress shirts—completely Westernized, it seems. Now retired, they often dress as if they had moved back to rural Morocco or Turkey. Their children and grandchildren drop out of school and commit crimes at much higher rates than the original Dutch population. Many become more religious than their grandparents; some even move to the Islamic State caliphate in Syria. Non-Western immigrants and their descendants also depend on welfare to a much greater extent than the native Dutch. They are half of all welfare recipients but only 11% of the total population. Among recent Somali refugees granted asylum, 80% are on welfare.

Holland is truly a welfare state, and the Dutch are proud of it. Over 50% of their total earnings are collected by the state, the goal being to redistribute wealth and equalize chances for everyone. It works amazingly well, producing highways, railroads, dikes and bridges, world-class schools and health care, and a cradle-to-grave social-security system. Most political discussions in today’s campaign are about the pressing question of how to preserve and expand the welfare state without going broke.

The Dutch are disciplined, hardworking, well-educated, and at the same time open-minded, tolerant and anti-authoritarian—all of this because of our Calvinist heritage. We are also the most secular people in the world. [ These two sentences CANNOT be juxtaposed! Ya think???] Lots of Dutch say they believe only in “something.” We even have a name for this postreligious religion: “Somethingism.”

This type of open and yet highly regulated society can function only if it is carried by a disciplined and well-educated citizenry with a reasonable degree of cultural homogeneity. But because of political correctness and cultural relativism, Dutch elites agreed to absorb low-educated, even illiterate, mostly Muslim migrants from collectivistic rural areas. Significant numbers of them refuse to embrace the radical, secular tolerance of their new home.

That is what the fuss is about. To put it in abstract terms: Can a welfare state become an immigration state? You know the answer: A welfare state with open borders will one day run out of money. But what moral justification is there for limiting migration in a globalized and unjust world? That’s a tough question for the politically correct mind. (Interestingly, the American Democrats’ main project is the reverse: turning an immigration state into a welfare state.) But the tensions in Dutch society aren’t only about money. We’ve had two political assassinations in the past 15 years. In May 2002, two weeks before a national election, Pim Fortuyn—the leading candidate for prime minister, a gay professor who had published a book called “Against the Islamization of Our Culture”—was killed by an animalrights activist who said he wanted to protect “vulnerable groups.” The killer, who served 12 years in prison, is now free and on welfare. The other victim was Theo van Gogh, a provocateur, filmmaker and Islam critic who was decapitated on an Amsterdam street by a radical Muslim.

These two intellectuals personified the open Dutch welfare state. They were loudmouthed and carefree children of the anti-authoritarian 1960s, unapologetic and humorous critical minds who happily provoked the sensitivities of the bourgeois establishment and as happily insulted religion in general—in particular Catholicism before they turned against Islam. They represented an extreme of the wide horizon of Dutch tolerance. Their peaceful and pacified countrymen are still recovering from the shock of their murders.

Did the Dutch really turn into xenophobes and racists? No, they are as open-minded as ever. But they have started to demand what most of their politicians (except people like Fortuyn and Mr. Wilders) until recently didn’t dare mention because it was politically incorrect: that immigrants practice tolerance, work and study hard, and teach their children to be proud and contributing members of this society. That is the least you can ask when the fruits of your labor are taxed at 50%.

This is the Netherlands in 2017. Still an impressive country, if you ask me, whatever the result of Wednesday’s election.

Mr. de Winter is a novelist and political commentator for De Telegraaf.


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