High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

A Not So Splendid Isolation. Poverty...but not as we know it
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A Not So Splendid Isolation. Poverty...but not as we know it

(Filip Matthijs) The Low Countries - 2007, № 15, pp. 81-88

This is an article from our print archives. Please be patient as we have to scan it

Politicians in Belgium as well as the Netherlands are often quite keen to promote the concept of the self-sufficient citizen, whereby people are largely responsible for their own welfare. Yes, there is a safety net, but they should not make it into a comfortable hammock. However, those politicians tend to forget that the poor are increasingly pushed to the margins of our society, with its 24-hour economy. It is alarming how quickly financial poverty leads to poverty of opportunity. Anyone who lacks knowledge and self-confidence will be crushed by bureaucracy. This is the real vicious circle: poverty of income perpetuates poverty of opportunity, and vice versa. So it always comes down to money. How can someone who is poor, struggling with heavy debts and unable to make ends meet, possibly avoid thinking about money? There is only one thing worse than having to think about money, and that is thinking about money that you do not have, and probably never will have. Financial need leads to social isolation, which does not bring any financial rewards either. In order to break that circle, it is better to have money. Or, in the words of Woody Allen: ‘Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.'

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