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Old 05-08-2009, 09:08 AM
Kandigol Kandigol is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 18
Default Re: observations and misconceptions

Okay, so here's a Dutchie giving a review of Russel Shorto's article and the discussion of our double bill of Matthews.

I could go on for a long, long time, but suffice to say that Russel Shorto, in explaining how our system works, had to take some (amusing) shortcuts. It is actually more complicated than he had room for in his article. And he is painting a too rosy and at the same time too bleak a picture.

The case in point being the 'holiday money', which indeed to an American must be something really weird. Shorto is a bit ambiguous about it. The holiday money is an old remnant of the workers struggle for better payment and the eight hour working day - it works out that the employer takes some of the gross salary before taxes, keeps it, plays around with it, and pays it out once a year. (in the fifty percent tax bracket. Half go-eth to the taxman, don't be fooled).
This is not a gift from employers and companies. We, as employees, 'save' for our holiday through our employer.
(One more thing that may be ambiguous: how we spend this holiday money, however, is strictly our own business. We can spend it anyway we want, its our own.)

Then we have our system of health insurance. We do not get anything for free, we pay for everything, but since some of it is taken directly from our monthly income, we do not actually notice it as much.

Maybe this is the root of the perceived difference between Holland and America. When someone is employed, a lot of tax and social security payments are taken care of automatically by the employer. Compared to a self-employed person, or maybe also compared to the average American, a Dutch person who is employed by a company has less hassle with most primary and secondary taxes.
That does not mean we don't pay them, we just do not physically sit down with our checkbooks to pay them ourselves.
And you better believe we still pay a lot of local, regional and government taxes, on a gliding scale, and a lot of hidden taxes and VAT. One can not fill a glass of water at the sink or there is a taxman holding out his hand.

Would the Dutch system work in the US?
Our welfare state is the result of a unique mixture of old religious traditions, socialist class struggle and the economic prosperity of the post-war years.
You can not transplant that to such a very different environment as the US.

But maybe there is something to be gleaned from the Dutch current Health Care system, which is actually not a form of National Health Service, but more of a private-public hybrid.
I am not sure one would want the large bureaucracy of fitting 300 million people into a system that works well for 16,5 million people. But maybe the individual States could set up something like the Dutch system, which caters for choice first, but also caters for basic coverage for all, including free care to all children up to the age of 18 and entry for all legal residents, be they foreign or Dutch. (If you want more than basic coverage, you can get extra insurance a la carte.) The State decides what's in the basic package, and provides extra funds.
On the State level, that could work.
There is but one drawback. The top medical care in the US is better than the top care in Holland. Not much, but the cutting edge of medicine needs more money than the Dutch system can provide. On average though, a Dutch person and an American will have the same chances of survival, all other things being equal. But since they are not, it is really not easy to make comparisons.
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