Happy Parents, Happy Kids

There is no utopia. I know that. Imma smart girl and realize everywhere there are humans there will be human problems. That being said, DAMN but if the Nordic Countries aren’t looking good.

Studies “conducted by Britain’s Child Poverty Action Group, the World Health Organization, and Unicef International have all reached unanimous conclusions” that Dutch children are the happiest kids in the world, knocking the ball out of the park in “three out of the five categories, namely- material well being, educational well being, and behavior and risks.”

Why are the tots in the Netherlands so well off? Simple: their government actually provides for the common good of their citizens via laws & policies that protect the parents. Seriously.

One of the simplest, yet best, things the Dutch government does for their minors is allowing their parents to see them more than a couple of minutes every night before bed yet can still have a career and interactions with adult humans. “A New York Times article “Working (Part-Time) in the 21st Century” highlights the Dutch culture of part-time work. By 1996 the Dutch government gave part-time employees equal status to that of full timers, paving the way for a more balanced work-life reality for its citizens.” A whopping 68% of Dutch women  and 33% of Dutch men now work part time. They take time to be with their kids and to have happy lives outside of the daily grind. You know how they do that? Their government won’t let their employers scavenge every last drop of labor outta them like so many do here in the USA.

Americans would like to be able to work part time as well. If you read “Lisa Belkin’s Huffington Post article “What Mothers Really Want: To Opt Inbetween (Infographic)“, an overwhelming majority of moms would actually like to work part-time as an ideal balance between home and work.” Of course, being America no one thought to ask the dads. I guess dads aren’t parents the same way moms are? Yeah, that isn’t patriarchal sexism at work there.  

Dutch kids are also freed from the “No Child Left Behind” mentality that school is for testing the living shit out of small children to “prove” their teachers are churning out “educated” units.

“Dutch elementary students under the age of ten usually do not have any homework and are simply encouraged to enjoy learning. Upon completion of primary school at the age of 12, Dutch pupils take a multiple choice CITO test which determines their relative intelligence level and heavily influences what corresponding high school they could attend. Thus, Dutch high school students also do not face the notorious pressure of taking the SATs or ACTs or ever attaining academic excellence. There is, for the most part, no formal competitive university application process.”

Imagine that.

Moreover, the Dutch have a fokking awesome social safety net. “Despite the looming economic crisis and various cuts in subsidies on this side of the pond, Dutch families will still continue to get money from the Dutch government. Specifically, Dutch families will continue to receive a child allowance,  a child benefit stipend (an income-dependent allowance for the cost of children), the combination discount (a fiscal break for combining work and caring for children) and the childcare allowance.” If the parents aren’t stressed and miserable and freaking out about losing a day of work and going hungry – they are better able to nurture their children. Who knew?

When confronted with these facts, many Faux News dupes start spewing that of course the Netherlands can have a good social system because they are not “overrun with illegal immigrants” and they don’t have “large minority populations”. These are code words that allow people to be racist asshats yet still get offended if you point out they are racist asshats. Like almost everything that people think they “know” based on things they have heard on Faux News or the things they have NOT heard on the so-called Liberal Media, this is complete bullshit.

The Dutch statistics are that  “in 2010 there were 1.8 million foreign-born residents in the Netherlands, corresponding to 11.1% of the total population” while those same statistics in America is that “In the most recent decade, the ten million legal immigrants that settled in the U.S. represent an annual growth of only about 0.3% as the U.S. population grew from 249 million to 281 million. By comparison, the highest previous decade was the 1900s, when 8.8 million people arrived, increasing the total U.S. population by one percent every year. Specifically, “nearly 15% of Americans were foreign-born in 1910, while in 1999, only about 10% were foreign-born”. In fact,  America is still 77.9% white, so all racist arguments about our social ills are invalid as well as bullshit with anal sprinkles.

The bitter truth is that Dutch kids are doing so well because the Netherlands taxes its high earners at 52% (America taxes top earners at 39.6% but loopholes lower this considerably) and then plows that money back into social systems rather than a bloated military budget designed to enrich Halliburton by buying shit the military keeps saying they don’t want.

Want happy kids in America?  Give them happy parents who aren’t working like dogs and schools that aren’t built on a factory model. There ya go.

About these ads

About Betty Fokker

I'm a stay-at-home feminist mom.
This entry was posted in daughters, I like this, dammit., motherhood, shit I think y'all should know. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Happy Parents, Happy Kids

  1. sasoc says:

    It is always appealing to look to small EU countries for what appears to be well-functioning social safety-nets, and we should do that, as you have done here.

    However, before you call for higher taxes on the highest earners, take a look at California, one of the highest-taxed states in the country, and ask yourself if tax money goes as far there as you think it does in Holland (Answer: no way).

    California is the living example of why higher taxes will not solve society’s ills: it comes down to how governments spend the money they take in, and most governments are unaccountable and corrupt, whether Republican or Democrat.

    As for Holland/Netherlands, it is also important to caveat all arguments in favor of such tax/spend systems with a reminder of how small certain European populations are. Holland has a grand total of 16 million people. California alone has 38 million people (and many more unaccounted for), and a responsible allocation of tax dollars gets much harder the bigger the population being managed.

    The USA is a very large country and social programs that work in Sweden or the Netherlands of Belgium, etc., do not easily apply translate for our country of 310 million people.

    • It does indeed come down to how governments spend the money. Regardless of what definition you want to use, California is not socialist. It is part of the USA and part of a capitalist system. Capitalism favors individuals. Socialism favors society. Socialism is not communism, so please don’t even try to mention the failure of communism. If the US was more socialist oriented, money would be funneled into different programs, and different values would be encouraged through the media. So you are correct – you can’t compare socialist nations with the US, but not for the reasons you claim. You can’t compare them because there are fundamental differences in their values and priorities.

      • sasoc says:

        I never used the word socialism as I find that it does not advance the discussion. Such words have been misused over and over again.

        The road to serfdom is through a centralization of wealth via government confiscation (excessive taxation) and its associated central planning. This cannot be debated: Mao’s Great Leap Forward killed 40 million people by starving them to death, and Mao’s intention was to boost farm production to feed his grand ambition for a huge army. Central planning never works, which is why China liberalized its economy 25 years ago (towards a more free enterprise system via the sale of state-owned enterprises to private investors / managers), and why Vietnam did it 15 years ago (same model).

        You say that capitalism favors individuals, but in reality, a rising tide truly does lift all boats, as China and Vietnam know all too well. America is the wealthiest nation by far in the world, and tens of millions of people are desperate to come here for very good reason.

        The truth is that a capitalist system with proper boundaries and checks on excessive greed provides the most wealth for a society to use on its own behalf, much of it indirectly through low prices and efficient allocation of resources, and a good bit through the government.

        If you remain infatuated with central planning, just know that you are embracing a failed model and also the greatest cause of human starvation, suffering and death in human history.

  2. I also recommend looking into Finland. Finland has won best in show in terms of education for the past few years. A huge part of this is that teachers in Finland make roughly the same amount as doctors and lawyers. Because, you know, shaping the future is kind of an important thing. And, I think Fins take one standardized test when they’re 15 or 16 . Also, Norway. Did you know that anyone can attend Norwegian universities for free? It’s true. I’m pretty sure you have to speak Norwegian, however. It’s part and parcel of the whole socialist v. capitalist. Do you want to take money (via taxes) and put those into social programs that help people and create better communities, which in turn create a better society? Or, do you want to take as little money as possible from top earners and then turn around and demonize social programs and find a way to give the money back to the top earners, particularly if that top earner is part of the military industrial complex?

    • sasoc says:

      Finland?

      Finland is the second largest exporter of natural gas in the world, and the 7th largest oil exporter in the world. It is sitting on a massive amount of fossil fuels, whose revenues accrue to the benefit of………………………

      5 million people.

      That’s about as many as live in Brooklyn New York, one of five boroughs of New York City.

      Comparing the social policies of Finland to just about any other country in the world is therefore meaningless.

      http://www.npd.no/en/Publications/Facts/Facts-2012/Chapter-3/

      • I looked at the your blog, and I have no words. We’re never going to agree on anything. Ever. And I so glad about that. Anything can be debated. I don’t think socialism is always central planning. It can be. It doesn’t have to be. And we have absolutely no examples of capitalism with proper boundaries on excessive greed, so there is no way to know how that model would work. Because that type of capitalism is NOT what is practiced in the USA.

  3. I’d be curious to hear about the top-earners in these countries. I don’t hear any whining from them about how the gov’ment and lazy people are taking all their hard-earned money. I don’t hear anything from them at all. Who are they? How much do they make? How do their earning’s compare with the mass rabble’s earnings?

    I’m not convinced that this type of community can’t work in America because we are so much bigger. I’m not even convinced it would be harder to implement, at least not from a logistics standpoint. Maybe it’s impossible to implement from a political standpoint. I’m afraid I think that our system is going to have to collapse under its own stinking weight before we have the chance to actually try anything else. The reason the ACA is such a huge mess is because it should have been a simple, socialistic single-payer system, but we had to make it “capitalistic” to keep the rich folks happy.

  4. sasoc says:

    @JT: I’d love to hear your version of Socialism without central planning (??), but I guess I won’t get to since you don’t like my blog.

    Incidentally, I stumbled upon this blog (SAHFM) via a link that the author made to my essay on Teddy Roosevelt, who actually corrected a renegade capitalism wreaking havoc when he took office in the early 20th century. It might surprise you to know that I believe very strongly in central power curbs of capitalist excess, because without them capitalism becomes distorted and loses its central appeal — the efficient allocation of society’ resources via the invisible hand of market forces.

    So you are not correct when you say we have no examples of capitalism with proper boundaries. Roosevelt brought one about, and there have been many other periods in American history when a healthy balance was achieved between free markets and regulation. The Glass Steagall law of 1933 protected the banking sector from itself for 66 successful years, until Bill Clinton and Bob Rubin repealed it. Is it any surprise that Wall Street crashed the world economy a few years later? No, not at all.

    And you are correct that balanced capitalism is NOT what is practiced in the USA today — that’s right, I agree with you. And what a horrible irony that the populist savior Barack Obama let greedy bankers pay themselves bonuses straight through the financial global catastrophe that they and negligent regulators caused — with tax payer money, no less.

    Bonuses in 2009. In 2010. In 2011. In 2012. In 2013. No interruption. Where was Obama? He had other priorities…

    And so we agree, imagine that. But where we disagree is on what the best system is — the one that offers the average person the most freedom, the most choices, and the best chance to be the master of his or her own life. I believe you when you say we will never agree on the answer to that question, but I will never shy away from debating the issue on the merits.

    Teddy Roosevelt, we need you now more than ever.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s