The Netherlands. Home to windmills, clogs, tulips, bicycles, weed cafes and legalised prostitution, oh and orange, the seemingly national colour. But that’s not all this country has going for it as Jonathan Blank (“Anarchy TV (TV)”) sets out to discover.
Blank is an American, I’m not clear if he now lives in the Netherlands or just really likes the place, who decides to take a look at the country and compare it to others, in particular his home of the USA.
What he discovers may surprise some, and not so much others. As well as having everything already mentioned, the Dutch are also paid an extra months salary each year, to enjoy their vacation time, a liberal approach to sex and sex education, work less hours than most other countries and generally come out on top of those polls that look at happiness indexes.
They achieve all of this despite a heavy tax burden of 52% for those in the top bracket (it ramps up along the way) which allows them to pay for their outstanding healthcare system for one (the Netherlands is the only country to be in the top three ranking in every Euro health consumer index published since 2005), which is a dual-system that’s complex but involves private companies although the bosses of those companies are legally not allowed to pay themselves more than the prime minister of the Netherlands.
In case you think this means that they are a bunch of layabout, workshy, do-nothings, think again. The country regularly tops polls when they look at the best places to be an entrepreneur and their per-person GDP is easily in the top-ten around the world.
This is not to say the Netherlands is simply the best place on Earth and we should all move there immediately. Like most European countries at the moment, the Netherlands is also riding a wave of ‘this is our country’ from left-wing politicians, although the main candidate still supports LGBT rights.
They also don’t like talking, or even acknowledging in some instances, their place in history when it comes to things like slavery and there is still a tradition of ‘black face’ and dancing through the streets at a certain time of the year.
The Dutch also have a reputation as being monumental complainers, “it’s our national past time”, says one interviewee. It seems, despite the appearance of having it all so good, many aren’t happy with how the country is ‘progressing’, fearing a loss of liberties and rights.
Blank takes us through the current setup with regular comparisons to the USA, which doesn’t come out on top, for anything, in a light-hearted and humorous way.
Blank doesn’t force anything on you, he simply presents the facts, with Monty Python-esq visuals in between, and, as he says himself, you should decide what is right for you. But the facts are hard to deny.
Sec, Drugs & Bicycles is a funny and quick way to look at another countries setup and how that compares. It isn’t an answer, but it should certainly be looked at as part of one.