We have normalized poverty – this is the biggest problem


Somewhere in high school, I had a conversation with my father about income inequality in the Netherlands. It must have been a response to a social science lesson during the last economic crisis around 2008. And then I asked my father what class we really belong to. We didn’t live well at home, but I had educated parents who spoke several languages, read books, and went to university in Afghanistan.

Were we middle class, I asked my father. He replied that there is no middle class in the Netherlands, only an upper class and a lower class. I remember at the time I thought it was an exaggeration.

Last week I read good articles in several newspapers about the growing income inequality in the Netherlands. And where your cradle stands determines the course of your life. I am always surprised by these articles, which appear several times a year and in different forms draw approximately the same conclusion, namely that everything is not very fair in the Netherlands and that improvements really need to be made urgently - for whom? are they written? become? Actually, they do not tell us anything new, but only what we already knew is only getting worse. And no one interferes.

Social security should be a universal human right and therefore freely available to all. This includes basic needs such as a home, food, drink, clothing, education, care, electricity and water. But also the income that satisfies those needs. And it is these very (former) public facilities that have been commercialized in recent decades and risen in price to unprecedented heights due to policies that treat public facilities not as basic needs to which everyone is entitled, but as a revenue model in which one whoever pays the most buys a better quality of life. And those who cannot afford the quality of life? They live unhealthier and therefore shorter.

Not only did the poor get poorer and the rich get richer after my father's announcement, we have criminalized poverty more than ever. If you do not meet a certain standard of living and income, your space in society is often severely limited. When we see someone sleeping in a portico, we think about how next time we can build it so that no homeless person can sleep. Instead of thinking about housing for everyone.

But in fact, the criminalization of poverty is not even the biggest problem. This will normalize it. How can people sleep on the street in one of the richest countries in the world? How can children go to school hungry in one of the richest countries in the world? How can people in one of the richest countries in the world no longer have their basic needs met?

Was my father right after all?

Source: Parool.NL

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