I'm in the midst of reading this article by Russell Shorto about his experience living in Holland. Like every American who spends some time in Northern Europe, he is astounded by the social programs:
reimburse as much as 70 percent of the cost of day care, which totals
around $14,000 per child per year. In late May of last year an
unexpected $4,265 arrived in my account: vakantiegeld.
Vacation money. This money materializes in the bank accounts of
virtually everyone in the country just before the summer holidays; you
get from your employer an amount totaling 8 percent of your annual
salary, which is meant to cover plane tickets, surfing lessons, tapas:
vacations. And we aren’t talking about a mere “paid vacation” — this is
on top of the salary you continue to receive during the weeks you’re
off skydiving or snorkeling. And by law every employer is required to
give a minimum of four weeks’ vacation. For that matter, even if you
are unemployed you still receive a base amount of vakantiegeld from the government, the reasoning being that if you can’t go on vacation, you’ll get depressed and despondent and you’ll never get a job.
Vacation-gelt and subsidized day-care? Why do I live here again?