belgische-vlag-achtergronden-met-een-geschilderde-vlag-van-belgieThe Belgian government has been warned by the European Council that Belgium might end up, as first ever country in the European Union, under stricter financial control by the European authorities. Not even Greece nor Portugal have yet fallen under this procedure, so this should rightly be a great honor for Belgium. If the current situation stays unchanged the structural effort to ease the already huge deficit in Belgium would remain at 0.5 pct. in 2015 and 2016, while Europe demands a structural effort of at least 1.2 pct. The total amount of the Belgian State deficit is around 106 pct. of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Right at this moment the Belgian government is in conclave about alleviating the deficit, but it has not yet taken the first hurdle, since it has been quarreling for a full week about the amount needed to be saved by expense cuts and/or tax raises. Some political parties say they only need to find 1.2 billion euro, some claim it is closer to 2.2 billion, and others suggest it might be more.

'Do you mind if I join you, guys?'

The tax burden on Belgian citizens is the highest in the world, higher than in the Scandinavian countries which are known for their high taxes, but unfortunately the benefits for the Belgian population are meagre in comparison to those Scandinavian countries. One could expect higher taxes would yield higher benefits, but one look at the Belgian road system, at the funding of education, at the level of support for the elderly, at the crumbling system of health care, at the mess in the energy supply (Belgians pay way more for energy than the neighboring countries while green energy is sparse) will convince every observer of the bankruptcy of the system. One might ask what is done with all that money taken from its citizens?

More and more Belgians are leaving the country, just like I did, and logically the first ones to leave are those able to leave easily. Those are young graduates, highly educated citizens, retired people, and the ones who can afford it. Exactly those needed most by a country to keep its economy running at full speed. In 2013 the exodus of Belgian nationals exceeded the return of nationals to the country, for the first time in modern history since World War 2. But not the richest ones, not the one percent, they are eager to join Belgium whatever their nationality. They manage to arrange secret deals with politicians and tax authorities, called ‘rulings’, which greatly exempt them from taxes for fear they would flee the country. Just like the biggest companies – often multinationals – have secret rulings with the Belgian tax authorities. It is estimated that the total amount of money not earned by those rulings with the top 80 companies (but there are more with rulings) amounts to 16 billion euros each year. The total tax income generated by all companies in Belgium is no more than 14 billion euros. So more money is exempted than earned in this country.

EU-VC-Geld(It is a misconception to think that the one percent generate labor, and thus income for the masses. The usual logic is that rich people spend more, but in reality this spending is not unlimited. Do people that are 100 times richer than average own one hundred cars? Do they wear one hundred times more trousers than average? Do they eat a hundred times more than the average person? The drama of nowadays is that capital is not generating labor (and thus income for the masses) any more, but capital yields much more capital by not investing it in labor by building new factories or setting up new businesses. Thomas Piketty, a renown French professor (math and economics) who worked at MIT in Massachussets, clearly explains this fenomenon in his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” in which he describes the growing economic inequality in the world. The book was a bestseller, especially amongst politicians. For his work Mr. Piketty was offered the highest French order, the ‘Légion d’Honneur’ in january 2015, but he rejected it because “it is not the government’s role to decide who is honourable”. A nice short video to watch is a TED Talks-presentation by Nick Hanauer, a billionaire himself, about job creation and economic inequality:

So now Belgium, as many other Western countries, is on the brink of some pitchfork uprising of the masses. The people cannot take it any more. It is not about creating a communist society, a capitalistic system needs richer people and middel class people to function, but within limits. Added to this is an always present corruption at the highest political levels. Politicians ‘serve’ in one or another government, in Belgium they have a panoply of governments to choose from. Six, to be exact. Six independent governments with each their own powers and administrations, serving a total population 11.2 million people (2013). A bit bigger than New York’s population of 8.5 million in 2014, which is served by ONE city council… And let’s not forget the added opportunity for Belgian politicians to ‘retire’ to a highly paid job as member of the European Parliament.

60The corrupt system is sustained by the omni-present nepotism in Belgian politics. Many parliamentarians are sons, daughters or close family members of former high-level politicians, and often public tenders are given to family members. Political functions are commonly cumulated with representative functions and honorary functions in the private sector, like a seat on the board of directors of a multinational, which demands a once-a-year presence but a rich remuneration, and consequential conflicts of interest. Belgian politicians are equally eager to please foreign powers, for that might be their ticket to a powerful job after the expiration of their political career. The USA is a very rewarding country to please, it might yield a powerful job as secretary-general of NATO. There is also the example of former prime minister Yves Leterme whose removal from Belgian politics looked more like an escape, just to end up as deputy secretary-general of OECD in Paris, to hop over a few years later to the job of secretary-general of International IDEA (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance) in Stockholm, Sweden. Not bad for a politician who has almost literally been thrown out by the population!mike-twohy-and-if-nepotism-exists-my-brothers-will-root-it-out-cartoon

A different problem is the current state of affairs concerning immigrants in Belgium. Due to decades of negligence and short-term electoral advantages politicians neglected the influx of illegal immigrants, and forebore to provide the legally present minorities with enough chances to integrate in Belgian society by providing jobs and by encouraging them to integrate. Brussels is rightly looked upon as the terrorist capital of the world. The most wanted terrorist in Europe, Mr. Salah Abdeslam, managed to hide out for Belgian security forces during more than four months hiding less than 300 meters from his parental home, while a part of the neighborhood was aware of his presence. This is the result of an alienated and even hostile generation of descendants of immigrants, mixed up with new extremist elements that managed to take a leisurely stroll inside the European capital under the radar of underpaid and understaffed security forces.

The threat by extremists in Belgium, evidenced by the dual bomb attacks in Brussels today 22nd March 2016, is a welcome distraction for Belgian politicians. The death toll, the sustained threat, the fears instilled by it in the hearts of the citizens, all these elements enable the politicians to hide their corruption and mismanagement in the past decades that led to this now. And to continue to pretend they are there to save us, and our salvation lies in their hands so we must trust them.

2016-01-05-1451989005-1518671-R1_RealRevolutionBut it is time for Belgian citizens to ask serious questions. Where is all our money going? Why is the yield on these outrageous taxes so low in comparison to other countries? Why is the Belgian government – or better: the Belgian governmentS – not able to protect its citizens with a normal degree of respect of privacy and liberty? Why is it deemed normal that families rule Belgian politics? Why is it an established Belgian political culture to ‘promote’ politicians towards high-power or highly remunerated private functions outside their political career? Why is there a dual system of taxes that is kept secret for the public, endorsed by the very people that were nominated by those same people to serve their interests? Why do politicians not have to answer before justice for the serious wrongs they did during their careers when taking decisions with grave impact, especially those where it is clear money was embezzled or the population was mislead on purpose? Why has Brussels become the world capital of terrorism? In spite of the massive amounts of our hard-earned money we have to pay each year to please the Belgian State.

So I might say: it is time for a revolution! Not a bloody revolution, please. But people all over Belgium should go out in the streets, sit down on the sidewalks and refuse to work, all businesses should close, the government should be made to resign, the parliament should be sent home. A new constitution should be written and voted. Not by politicians, and surely not by the 1 percent. That would again be a legal consolidation of the feudal rights of the few against the masses, in the same spirit as all constitutions in Europe were written in the 19th century by the 1 percent at the time to safeguard their privileges while maintaining an air of democracy to appease the population. But a new constitution written by and written for the masses. Where every one has the same rights independent of wealth, where nepotism is excluded, where politicians are held indefinitely accountable for their misleading and mismanagement, where freedom, peace and love for every one that respects our values should be the sole basis whereupon our society should be built.


Love ❤️, yann.

anonymous government has failed you

Where is our money!!??!!

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.

OECD member states (dark blue)

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.

disappearance_of_poverty_265465Talking 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.

polyp_cartoon_charity_aid_trade_exploitation_sweatshop_cash_crops_wealth_poverty_mediaSo 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 ❤️