What we already knew since quite a long time, has been reconfirmed by the latest OECD-report published on the 14th of April 2015: Belgium has the honor to be the absolute number one of all OECD member states regarding tax burden on labour.
The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) counts 34 member states and was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade. Most member states have high-income economies and are regarded as ‘developed countries’, whatever that means. Every so often the OECD produces comparative studies about its member states.
Belgium is the only state where the tax burden on labour is higher than 50%. Still it has amassed in the past decade a public debt larger than 100% of its Gross National Product. True, the Belgian citizens get a lot for their hard-earned money that is left to their politicians’ care. Belgium counts a bit more than 11 million citizens, making it about the same magnitude as London or New York.
Of course Belgian has the greatest educational system of the ‘civilized’ world. Poverty is almost non-existent, old people are pampered in modern elderly care, and medical services are top shelf. The roads are plentiful and state of the art equipped with the most advanced technologies, and public transport is abundant and cheap. Justice is fast and just, the laws are clear and unbreakable. Sorry, I’m just being sarcastic… None of these statements could be further from truth.
Schools are chronically understaffed, their buildings outdated and some classes happen in rooms unfit for the purpose because of bad heating, crumbling ceilings, old furniture and dangerous electric lines and plumbing. Some schools had to place containers to take in the growing number of students in the past, and these are still in use more than ten years later. The school system is severely understaffed. Every year again we can observe the price of our underfunded schooling system when parents can be seen camping outside schools during a week to be the first to get a ticket earning them the right to enroll their children later on in that school, as the system is on a first-come-first-served basis.
Talking about poverty and schools, more than 2000 young people are registered as students at a Belgian university while being homeless, on a total of a little bit more than 200,000 students, meaning that 1 in 100 students doesn’t have a roof over it’s head. They manage to get along by sleeping on the couch of a friend, or by spending their nights under the streetlights. Nothing much is done about this forgotten group that clearly wants to climb out of misery by studying against all odds and despite the hardship of their existence.
The streets of the bigger Belgian cities count too many beggars and homeless people. The state could not care less, except letting the police arrest them from time to time without any structural view of a solution for those people. If it wasn’t for some private organisations taking care of them with the limited resources they manage to raise via private funding, those living under the poverty line would be off worse. And even then many in need are not reached, between them a lot of children. One child in five is said to be living in poverty, where their parent(s) does not have sufficient income. In the past years poverty in Belgium has risen by 30%. Nothing much about them is done by the politicians.
More and more elderly people end up in poverty, for there is a great demand for but not enough elderly care, like affordable elderly homes and sufficient social and medical services. Yearly elderly assistants are protesting in the streets of Brussels because they are understaffed and funds are cut every year over again. Nothing much is done for them by the state.
As more and more medical services converted to private undertakings, where the making of profit is the first and foremost goal of these ventures, costs have steadily risen. When being included in the hospital the front desk asks new patients if they are covered by an extra medical insurance. If not, all services are provided at the prices dictated by the government. If they are, then the patients are charged with excessive surpluses for a room, and the bills for the consulting doctors are three- to fivefold the normal charges. Forgetting that those extra charges will have to be paid collectively by the people taking out a medical insurance, making it impossible for every one to afford such an insurance. But understaffed clinics are rife, and social workers and elderly assistants are joined in their protest by nurses. Still nothing much is done by the politicians.
The Belgian roads count the most traffic jams in the whole European Union, gladly overtaking The Netherlands who held that dubious honor in the past. In a country that encompasses a mere 300 kilometers at it’s longest point, mornings with 150 kilometers of simultaneous traffic jams are not uncommon. The public transport system is a little disaster, yearly budget cuts are rampant and trains often do not run on schedule. Getting around the country with trains, busses and trams is an adventure in itself and a sure way to provide a daily excuse to your boss for your tardiness at work. Nothing much about that is done by the politicians.
Belgian justice is… surprise!: heavily understaffed. A murderer caught red handed can spend more than three years in jail before appearing before court, some divorcing couples have juridical fights during more than ten years, and financial fraud cases are usually delayed with great priority for more than 15 years until barred. New laws are voted every day by 500 members of parliament, often contradicting previous ones, adding to the confusion needed for politicians, multinationals and the one percent to find the necessary loopholes to conduct their business in all legality. Many cases in front of courts are dismissed because of procedural errors, because the specialists in law – being the judges – cannot find their way in the labyrinth any more. Of course judges and legal staff are often protesting. Nothing much about it is done by the politicians.
So where is all that money going? Could it be that having a government with prime minister, ministers, secretaries of state, members of parliament, political appointees, staff, parliament buildings, etc.. for less than 2 million people is a bit too much? You thought that Belgium counted more than 11 million citizens? It does. Only the Belgians have 6 fully working parliaments and governments, each with their powers, often overlapping each other. Added to that a purely representative royal family costing the Belgians millions a year, for they have right now officially two kings and two queens. In 2014 they boasted three queens! Each with their rightful endowment in accordance to their title. Plus the rest of the royal family who’s not supposed to work for a living, even when not in line for succession of the throne, thus needs a yearly budget.
Of course the politicians are working hard. Too bad the people being robbed of their income are not getting much return for their money. Last year the politicians proudly announced they found a solution to a poignant problem burdening their voters: couples finding no agreement for the names of their newborn children will now give both their names to their kids. What an advancement for the people! I think that when parents cannot come to an acceptable agreement about the last names of their babies, they should abstain from fucking and having children in the first place! Especially in view of the many problems in the future they will have to come to an agreement about the education of their kids.
Meanwhile the Belgian public is slowly molded into believing they really need those F-35 jet fighters. The cost is negligible, a mere 5 billions (projected) for the protection of this grand nation with 40 pieces of nuclear capable fighters. Because they need to be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Belgium doesn’t have them, the USA did not stock them on the air force base of Kleine Brogel, but still they really need them. In case of war with IS, Al Qaeda, China or a soon-to-be-made but yet unknown new enemy. Those 5 billions are sufficient to eradicate all poverty in the whole Kingdom of Belgium three times over, but hey, those people are no real players on the political nor commercial market, and they do not represent a true commercial value for multinationals, so why should they invest that much in them when this offering to the Americans could gain a nice political appointment with NATO or something in the future?
Nothing much about it is done by the Belgians…
Well, that is not quite true, Belgians often choose one of the three following options. Most just endure the hardships and let them be robbed of the biggest part of their income (I did not yet mention that the 50-plus percent only takes into account the tax burden on labour, but there is also TVA, different levies, and a whole range of taxes bringing the total to 67% of the income being taxed by the state). They abide by the rules, by the newly imposed taxes because they believe the politicians when they tell the people they are working unselfishly hard for the profit of the citizens. And they allow the politicians to set them up between each other, brothers against sisters, left against right, workers against owners, natives against immigrants, Christians against Muslims, so that their leaders have their hands free to conduct their dark schemes behind the curtains. Protests between those people are tame, and ineffective.
Other Belgians realize ‘the American Dream’ by joining the one percent. Most of them purely by inheritance, some by working hard, getting a brown upper lip or sore vagina, and all by bending the rules and finding loopholes in the law.
Slowly a non-negligible group of Belgians decided to leave the country and find their luck elsewhere. In 2013 more Belgians have left the country than immigrants entered the country. The drama is that those Belgians leaving the country are often well educated, have bigger financial reserves, or consist of young people hence providing a good working force abroad. Their leaving numbers are often replaced by refugees, people in need, and persecuted minorities. A cultural enrichment for every country, but still needing a big investment before they can take part in the economic life of their new homeland. While those leaving take all the years Belgium invested in their education with them abroad.
Belgian politicians of every affiliation, shame on you!
Love, yann ❤️