Takeaways

IMG_1231Amsterdam is a beautiful city both physically and culturally. I did, however, find the lack of accessibility frustrating at times and am incredibly thankful for the ADA in the United States. I was nearly hit twice by bicycles, was run into by a large suitcase, and struggled with many of the steep staircases. Aside from this, Amsterdam proved to be a very hospitable and welcoming place. There is much we as a country can learn from the Dutch.

First and foremost, I admire how the Dutch treat prostitution. It is legal, safe, and hygienic. Sex workers are afforded basic rights and legal protection. The industry is taxed and regulated which fosters a safe environment. We would be wise to do the same back home and finally bring sex workers out from under the shadows and treat them with the respect they deserve.

I admire Dutch social liberalism, but do feel they go too far in the fiscal realm. An individual who makes over €68,507 a year has a tax rate of 51.8%. The lowest wage earners in this country (under €20,384 a year) pay the same percentage as the richest Americans (about 37%). This extreme level of taxation does indeed pay for incredible infrastructure and other public works, but it primarily fuels a massive welfare state so extreme that it disincentives work. I am a Democrat, but I think it’s unreasonable to ask middle class workers to pay more than half of what they earn to support lavish social spending. I believe in providing free food to everyone who needs it as well as housing subsidies and health insurance subsidies, but social democracies like the Netherlands take social spending much too far.

Finally, I’ll end with the image below: Screen Shot 2019-08-09 at 12.21.44 PM

It is impossible to contrast this with our own list because it takes literal minutes to scroll through the entire list. Just 9 people have been killed in the Netherlands in mass shootings, while we lose 9 lives to gun violence in a matter of hours in the United States. We’ve seen little children gunned down at Sandy Hook and as many as 59 people killed in a matter of minutes in Las Vegas, yet the GOP, and the GOP alone, refuses to take action. I own an AR-15 and an AK-47, but I believe it is well past time for an assault weapons ban. There are mentally ill people in every country, violent video games in every country, hate filled bigots in every country, and yet there are only regular mass shootings in the only country on earth that treats gun rights akin to fertility rights.

The fact that we did not even discuss the Dayton and El Paso shootings as a class speaks to how desensitized we are to these horrific events. Hearing of a mass shooting back home is just a part of a day in the life of an American. I don’t think my “right” to own my guns trumps any parents’ right to see their child safely come home from school. I’m glad that most of the world, including the Dutch, feel the same way. I said this after Parkland, but this time feels a little different. I think there is a good chance that a universal background check bill may be signed into law. Time will tell.

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