The Netherlands is known as a caretakers state. It means the state takes care of everyone who needs it. This sounds Utopian but in reality it's not. There is no money to use to take care of people who need it even though people are entitled to it. So the government is creating strange systems to fill the hole. Like with students: they all get a grant. I'm not sure how much it is these days but it's less then it used to be. You used to just get this money, everyone, including the people who didn't need it because mommy and daddy had enough to send them to uni, or if you were working and earning money yourself. Now, if your parents can't afford to help you and you have to get a job in addition to your grant to make ends meet, you get cut back. You have to turn in your public transport card and you don't get your grant for several months, depending on how much you earn. So, working and earning money is a bad idea in some cases. Could be, with travel expenses, you are worse off financially because you are working. Really? Yes, really.
Same goes for the type of health benefits I get. I was labeled unfit for regular work a long time again and, alas, they were right to do so (long story, remind me and I'll tell you some time). But I hate being dependent on others, just like most people on benefits. So I have been trying to work and earn my own living. I registered as an entrepreneur to sell my art. Sounds great but is a lot trickier then you'd think. If I earn any money, or work as I do now as a group fitness instructor, I have to tell the UWV, the government department that's in charge of my benefits, and they will adjust my benefits. So, I may be working, and earning money, but I won't be any richer, or less poor. Yes, with some luck or thereof I might actually end up with less money then if I don't work. Mostly it results in a lot of paperwork and frustration and if I wasn't so set on being independent and having my freedom I simply wouldn't bother. Most people don't. They are stuck in a state of dependence and can not get out. It seems 'you need money to make money' is more true now then ever.
I choose the worst time ever to start my business: 2009. At first we all thought, it won't be that bad. We thought, it will be over in no time. But 4 years later things are still getting worse. So selling my paintings has not be profitable. No one is spending money on a luxury like that. Actually, I lost a lot of money investing in materials, exhibitions abroad and trying to promote myself. You need to put yourself out there, show yourself to the world, stretch out your hand and offering the sharks your heart and soul. And they took it, and my money with it, but gave nothing in return. I have learned a lot, gained wisdom, but lost a dream. Lately I even wonder why the hell I even paint at all. Not that I have time to paint but hey. it's the thought that counts, right?
Yesterday mister tax man came over to take a look at my books. He said I did everything right. No problem with my books or anything like that. But, I hadn't been making a profit. And the tax breaks you get as a starting entrepreneur no longer applied to me because of that. So now I have to pay them back. He estimated it will be about 8000 euro's. Yes, that's three zero's. I don't have that kind of money. But neither does the government, remember? In Dutch we say: van een kale kip kan je niet plukken. As in, you can't pluck any feathers from a bald chicken. But that's what they are trying to do anyway. Caretakers state? I think not. They force people to stay dependent on government money and then punish them when they try to make a living on their own. I don't see that as taking care of your people. It's an untenable situation and one day the whole system will crash. I really don't want to know what will happen then.
Right now I need to find a way to gather the money they want me to pay. I don't have a lot of options. I can continue to sell my paintings but with this market it's not very realistic to try to sell them for big bucks. You can check my website (I know, I need to update it (it's even in my old name) but haven't gotten around to it with trying to find other ways of paying my own rent): http://titaniasnoek.com/ Make me a reasonable offer and you've got a deal. If you know a newspaper or magazine that would be willing to pay for some writing that would be great as well. Other then that, I really don't know. Suggestions are welcome, including overthrowing the government again. They never seem to learn.