Lowlands Liberation Day: Celebrate Your Prison Cell

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jail cardToday is Liberation Day in the country of my birth. I remember it as one of my favourite feast days. People celebrate their freedom living in a so-called democratic country with all sorts of activities and there always used to be a festival-feel in the air. I also remember that the weather was always good, just like on Queen’s Day which used to be celebrated 5 days before.

I left Lowlands Country almost a decade and a half ago and I can’t remember the last time I celebrated Liberation Day. Even if I were in the Netherlands today, I’m not sure how keen I would be on celebrating my freedom, as I don’t think I would feel that free.

Liberation Day Dutch Style

The Netherlands was (were?) occupied by Nazi Germany from 10 May 1940 until 5 May 1945. The war time years are very well documented, but what not that many people know is, that the Dutchies were very keen collaborators and percentage wise most jews and other ‘undesirable’ were transported to concentration camps from the Netherlands. We seldom hear about the murkier side of history via mainstream channels, so keen collaboration or not, we were occupied and on 5 May the allied forces ‘liberated’ the rest of the country (the south of the country had been freed the winter before).

The idea of celebrating your existence in a country where you don’t have to fear your human rights seems absolutely amazing. We can have fun and all sorts of philosophical debates about what freedom actually is. We could be absolute prisoners thinking we are free, because we don’t perceive the bars of our cell. We could’ve been indoctrinated to the extent, that we believe there can’t be any other possibility besides being free.

Lowlands Prison

I’m sure to many people residing in the Netherlands the country seems a wonderful one to live in. Back in my days that idea was very much reinforced. Every year in early May we were indoctrinated about the horrors of the Second World War and how great it is was that we were living in a free country. Just before I left the Netherlands the country did seem like some sort of Paradise Below Sea Level, but a lot has changed since then. A few things have always remained the same, which reinforces the idea of the Lowlands prison.

Rules, Bloody Rules

The Netherlands is known for its many rules. There seem to be rules for pretty much everything and virtually everything is allowed as long as you have a permit. We learn that rules create and maintain order. Everyone knows where he or she stands and order promotes an increased quality of life. It was quite a shock to the system when I moved to Egypt where pretty much every rule can be bent. What I used to see as a clear framework became more like a straight-jacket the longer I had been away from the Lowlands System. Rules might create order, they also restrict and restriction obstructs freedom.

Government Theft

Here in Malta most people pay around 20% income tax. Some people pay less, a few people pay slightly more, but never more than 35% and only on the income that exceeds a certain threshold. No one likes to pay tax, but here in Malta people seemed to be well looked after. There are (virtually) no homeless people, the elderly can enjoy a pension which is not much, but most manage and (state) education is free. In the Netherlands the base rate for income tax is almost 40%, so even if you are on minimum wage, which is tough living nowadays, you have to hand over almost half of what you earn to the state before it even reaches your bank account. If you are lucky enough to make a mint, you’ll be paying 60% of your income to the state. In Malta I pay income tax, and VAT on goods and services and that is pretty much all the tax I am paying. If you have car you’d pay road tax as well, which, depending on your vehicle, is not a lot. In Lowlands Country however, income tax, road tax and VAT are only the beginning. You also pay council tax, sewer tax, water tax, environment tax, game-of-chance tax (when you hit the lottery), parking tax, dog-ownership tax and landlord/ -lady tax. Then you pay extra tax on top of VAT in the form of excise duty on tobacco, alcohol and petrol. How can a country be considered free if the government finds all sorts of ways to rob you of your hard earned cash and calling it not only legal, but also morally just?

Corporate Control

If you live in the Netherlands and you think your government is yours and/ or acts on your behalf you might be living in a pipe dream. It’s been known in certain circles for a while that Dutch foreign policy is very much in line with the policies of large Dutch multinationals like Shell, Unilever or AkzoNobel and these policies are not always in line with what the people want or need. A scary indication of corporate control across Europe are the current TTIP and CETA trade treaties between the US and the EU and between Canada and the EU, which our democratic governments are sealing in secret. We are promised jobs and economic prosperity, yet the negotiations are kept secret and no mainstream media outlets are reporting on them, it’s that good. Through leaks we are informed that the instalment of private tribunals are part of these treaties. Corporations can use these tribunals to sue any EU state if they can prove that public policy is damaging their profits. It is also expected that with these trade deals evil empire Monsanto will get a firm hold on the European market, which will be the end of healthy farming, food production and food consumption.

Besides all that there is the increasing democratic deficit of the EU that is growing out to be this monster super state ruled by a small, unelected elite, who believe the people are useless eaters and just need to be ruled.

Happy Liberation Day. Go celebrate your prison cell or your first step towards the Great Escape.

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