One of the great things about traveling is the opportunity to meet people that live and work in different parts of the world.
On our recent trip to Brussels for the ICANN meeting, we do what we always do, talk to the local shop owners, taxi drivers, people that are sitting next to you in restaurants, about world events, their country, their way of life.
We chatted with one middle aged Gentleman for a few hours. He grew up and lived in Brussels his whole life.
Soon the subject of our discussion turned towards taxes.
I ask him what income tax rate he was paying.
“I pay 58% and I’m proud and happy to do so.”
He went on to explain why he had no problem with paying 58% tax:
Our medical care is paid for. If I, my wife, or our children get sick or need surgery, we don’t have to pay for it. Prescriptions, doctors, hospitals they are all free.
Schools and university are free.
The parks and streets are clean.
The police are helpful and are not corrupted.
The country supports the arts, which are very important and it keeps all of the historic and important buildings in excellent condition.”
Not once did he bitch or complain about his 58% tax rate.
He did say he, like most middle or lower class people in Brussels, he had to work 2 jobs to live.
He claimed to work 2 jobs, 7 days a week, totally 350 hours a month.
“If I only worked one job I would not have enough money in my pocket after taxes to pay my mortgage.”
So although he said “All I do is work”, he said he was happy.
I love my jobs, I love what I do, I live in a beautiful place, I have a great wife that I love, I have great friends, what more could I ask for”.
I have a small apartment but there are a ton of parks so why do I need a garden? If I want to walk in the park or have a bottle of wine, I just go to one of the parks.
Like many in Europe he saves money by having just a small car for long trips but uses a bicycle or a motor scooter to go to work, run his errands and do his shopping.
Of course Income tax isn’t the only tax that people in the EU pay.
Most items that are purchased are subject to a value added tax or VAT which is basically a national sales tax of 21%.
Hotel rooms and restaurants bills also include the VAT.
I’m sure there are other fees and taxes the government collects as well.
This gentleman was most proud of his country.
We also met a couple from Norway who told us that they just had a baby a couple of months ago, and the mother gets as a matter of right gets a year off with full pay and benefits after the baby is born and the father gets 13 weeks off with full pay and benefits.
I asked them how many more children they were planning on having.
They said 4.
They were most proud of their country.
Which brings us to July 4th.
If your an American be proud of your country.
Wishing you and your Family a Great Holiday weekend.