There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.
One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’ This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.
This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth. While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.
The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland
This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished. Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.
And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.