Sunday, September 16, 2007

(Photo: Jacco de Boer)
The Dutch budget has once again been leaked.

It's a tradition as old as the swallows returning to the mission of San Juan Capistrano. Every year, the government makes the journalists of the Netherlands sign an oath at the crossroads at midnight, drink blood and swear on their great-grandmother's grave that they will not break the embargo, and every year, the budget is leaked several days (with small bits preferably several weeks) ahead of time.

Of course, no one cares about the actual contents of the budget. Nobody not Dutch anyway, or just a few economists somewhere who need the data to plug into their "Eurozone" spreadsheet.

But the reaction of the politicians is often quite amusing, and especially Jan Peter Balkenende went into conniptions in 2005, swearing it would never happen again.

Last year, incredibly, not much got out _ because the actual contents were restricted to top-ranking Cabinet members only, and journalists were told they would never EVER receive the budget again if they broke the embargo (an unenforceable, empty threat).

Even the leaders of the political parties in Parliament were cut out of the loop, which meant debate had to be pushed forward a week after the release, while everyone read through the 50,000 pages it contains to discover what was actually being said.

For anybody sane, a one-page summary would do, but that's not the way these things work.

Interested in a quick summary? Click "MORE".

-they're aiming for a surplus of 0.5 percent this year

-fractionally higher taxes for the rich, fractionally more money for welfare (the shift toward the left in the ruling coalition visible there, barely. But expect much gnashing of teeth from the political right...).

-higher taxes for airlines and gas.

Did I miss anything?

Oh yeah, something about solving the problem of a "graying" population by forcing old rich people with two pensions to pay some taxes on one?

Sex, drugs and rock and roll, it ain't.

footnote: Thanks, RTL Nieuws! The smug look on their reporter's face as he announces the leak is engaging and annoying at the same time...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As long our dikes dont leak, who cares?