Welfare reform in the Netherlands

The Dutch are on to something, something we better learn quickly here in the US before it’s too late.

Lessons from Dutch Welfare Reform

The Dutch have just announced a massive reform of their welfare system, designed to reduce dependency and put a new emphasis on work. For example, welfare applicants will now be required to prove that they spent at least 4 weeks actively searching for a job before they become eligible for any assistance. And once they begin to receive benefits they will either have to work or perform volunteer community service. Dutch welfare recipients would be required to take available jobs even if they had to move or commute up to three hours per day.

 

What the Dutch apparently understand is that, in the long run, welfare dependency hurts the very people it is designed to help. Making poverty a bit more comfortable may be satisfying in the short term, but the real goal should be to reduce the number of people in poverty. To do that requires people to take more responsibility for their own lives.

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6 thoughts on “Welfare reform in the Netherlands

  1. These policies help reduce structural unemployment. However that is not our biggest problem. The biggest problem is low productivity growth (product development, technological innovation).

    Getting a lot of PhDs, Masters, Electrical Engineers, Computer Programmers, Chemical Engineers, Material Scientists working 60 hours (20 hour overtime) in monkey work minimum wage jobs is not good long term for society. It is a massive waste of human capital and talent.

    I think a lot of long term unemployed would benefit more from forced academic curriculum (where their benefits were tied to their grades) than from make work jobs that add little value to society. Or from only working part time at minimum wage jobs that provide valuable functions to society while being forced into skills training.

    Obviously there are exceptions. For example an EECs guy collecting benefits while working 100 hours a week in an unpaid internship at Texas Instruments where he is using, honing and expanding his skill set could be a very good thing.

    A lot of low skilled jobs in society (government employees, volunteer positions) add little value. They should be automated, outsourced, or otherwise eliminated (maybe we can find better ways to shop in stores without asking store employees so many questions–for example mobile intra store applications we run on our cell phones). Work for work’s sake (serving as traffic cops when they are not truly needed) is not good for broader society.

    The era of average is over. Everyone needs to be extraordinary.

    Sorry to segue this into something else. But I think it is connected.

    Several GI officer and NCO friends of mine continually complain about the low expectations, quality, intellectual creativity, and self initiative of their privates. Many of them describe their subordinates as “children” that they need to managed.

    This culture of low expectations across the military, all government bureaucracies, and even most of the private sector, is a curse. High expectations should be placed on everyone. All jobs need to become as high end value added as possible. Even guys who do needed grunt work should also do high value added work at least part of the time. Jobs that don’t involve at least some “thinking” and “creativity” some of the time need to be phased out as much as possible.

    Robotics and artificial intelligence should help this process along. Foxtron is correctly replacing many of their grunt work Chinese staff with robots and automation.

  2. I don’t like the idea of long commutes for monkey work jobs. It is a massive waste of energy and time for stupid make work minimum wage jobs (obviously if someone is doing something that adds value to all of us, then long commutes are worth the expended energy and time). Rather it would be better to force long term unemployed into make work business process outsourcing jobs over broadband. They can do simple made up stuff.

    I do volunteering with people who live in or close to structural poverty. It seems to me that a lot of structurally poor (for example a single mom with 4 young children who works 40 hours a week minimum wage) should really be pressured to acquire a skill set (massage, nurse, medical technician, spa skillset, flower business, teeth cleening, metal machinist, electrician, roofing, auto mechanic etc.)

    To be honest an 8th grade drop out single mom with a 6 month old, 2 year old, 4 year old and 6 year old who works for minimum wage often shouldn’t be working 40 hours a week. Her skill set isn’t valuable enough to justify 4 kids of daycare costs for society. Maybe she should only work 20 hours a week and throw all their energy and effort into being a better mom until her kids are a little older. Maybe she should only sleep 6 hours a day and spend the rest of her time teaching her kids.

  3. ANON, again thanks for the comments. They are always interesting and fuel thought.

    -The biggest problem is low productivity growth (product development, technological innovation).-

    I disagree the biggest problem is a dependency on Government to do things for people instead of enabling people to do for themselves.

    There will be low productivity as long as Government pays companies and people even when not producing.

    Can you really say there has been low product development and technological innovation in the last 20 years?

    -This culture of low expectations across the military, all government bureaucracies, and even most of the private sector, is a curse. High expectations should be placed on everyone. All jobs need to become as high end value added as possible. –

    This I agree with completely. We have lowered the standard on everything to include civil discourse. The military had gained a pretty high standard at one time then decided that pure numbers and unclear missions were more important. We are paying the price now but leaders really aren’t interested in hearing this. They’d rather focus on women in combat or more online briefings nobody pays attention to.

    – I don’t like the idea of long commutes for monkey work jobs. –

    Aha but that’s the point. You don’t just get a free ride. It sucks and should motivate many to seek actual employment.

    – (for example a single mom with 4 young children who works 40 hours a week minimum wage) should really be pressured to acquire a skill set (massage, nurse, medical technician, spa skillset, flower business, teeth cleaning metal machinist, electrician, roofing, auto mechanic etc.) –

    A single mom with 4 children working 40 hours a working is hard to find. But a single mom with 4 children from 4 different men sitting at home smoking her dope and getting another $100 tattoo is much easy to locate. I agree they should find a skill set that is useful but I don’t agree the I should pay for it. Personal responsibility folks. There must be a price paid for bad decisions.

    – To be honest an 8th grade drop out single mom with a 6 month old, 2 year old, 4 year old and 6 year old who works for minimum wage often shouldn’t be working 40 hours a week. Her skill set isn’t valuable enough to justify 4 kids of daycare costs for society. Maybe she should only work 20 hours a week and throw all their energy and effort into being a better mom until her kids are a little older. Maybe she should only sleep 6 hours a day and spend the rest of her time teaching her kids. –

    Fine, but how about you pay for it and not me. Having Children is a big responsibility. Too many today have them without any thought of how they will take care of them but instead rely on the Taxpayer to fund their “Entertainment”. The process is to have a child, not claim the father on the birth certificate, get “assistance” as a single mother while still maintaining a relationship with the father. Thus, collecting all the free money they can. Often having more children. Sorry I won’t condone the behavior by promoting the funding for it.

    A little less dependency on others also tends to affect voting habits of the electorate. When there is no free ride, citizens must actually look at who they are voting for and what that person will actually do in office. The free riders aren’t interested unless it makes them feel good. Hope and change anyone.

    Here’s the deal, I’ve been working since I was 17. Mostly in the military, yes one could say that’s living on the taxpayer too. But I did show up and actually contribute daily. I’ve also had times I was not in the military and worked many jobs I felt I was over-skilled for. I was a Roofer, a Tire Buster, a Security Guard, etc. While there are jobs I often felt over qualified for they were also solid honest jobs that provided until something else came along. Many of them were often more fulfilling to. I was never too good for a job. But I was never willing to let my family and my responsibilities suffer do to my lack of work. In 30 or so years of working I’ve collected unemployment a total of 3 weeks. by the time I actually got a check I was working again. it doesn’t always work out that well for people but then again you have to be willing.

  4. JB, thanks for your service to others. All of it. Not just in uniform.

    On the single mothers part . . . I really like the movie boys town. It sounds really harsh to say, but maybe some of these single mothers should have their children taken away from them and raised in orphanages and foster care . . . at taxpayer expense.

    Many moms are deeply irresponsible (not most . . . I am not anti woman 🙂 )

    The government already pays welfare to take care of something like 20% of all children and pays for many single mothers. That situation is unlikely to change given current political realities.

    Many single mothers with 2, 3 or 4 kids do work full time. They get government benefits to supplement their income. Often they get government funded day care. Without that they couldn’t legally work.

    “– I don’t like the idea of long commutes for monkey work jobs. –

    Aha but that’s the point. You don’t just get a free ride. It sucks and should motivate many to seek actual employment.”

    There are jobs and there are jobs. Some jobs (for example some government jobs) are stupid jobs that don’t serve society and don’t provide additional skills to the people who do them. It is a waste for society to force people to do long commutes for “make work” jobs.

    Many jobs are created to “employ” less skilled people. That needs to stop. Almost every job needs to be high productivity, or not exist.

    A lot of private companies also have low productivity employees and don’t let them go.

    “Can you really say there has been low product development and technological innovation in the last 20 years?”

    No. But since 2006, yes. Multi-factor productivity as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has only grown 0.6% per year. In other words even very slow growth has generated additional employment, rather than businesses doing more work with the same number of employees.

    See page 7 of the pdf:

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/prod3.pdf

    For some reason almost all the productivity growth in America is happening only with relatively small clusters of workers. This is a huge problem. It is the real reason so many Americans are suffering from declining or stagnant real incomes.

    You are right that dependency on government is a huge problem. The goal should be to make them less dependent on government.

    A single mom with four young kids who works full time on minimum wage is still deeply dependent on government (for health care, day care, food stamps, earned income tax credit, child tax credit, and perhaps some welfare on top of that.)

  5. There are jobs and there are jobs. Some jobs (for example some government jobs) are stupid jobs that don’t serve society and don’t provide additional skills to the people who do them. It is a waste for society to force people to do long commutes for “make work” jobs.

    No real disagreement there.

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