International -- Readers Report
THE STATE OF THE WELFARE STATE (int'l edition)
In "Adieu, welfare state?" (Focus: Europe, Nov. 27), you confuse two things: Stimulating business and competition through deregulation on one hand and creating a tough social security system on the other are not necessarily two sides of the same coin.
The Dutch government thinks deregulating the economy is very important, because regulation and cartelization limit competition. Since it came to power more than a year ago, the government has removed some regulations and no doubt will remove many more.
Social security is another matter. The Netherlands has a generous social security system. Although most people feel that this system has to become tougher, there is virtually no public support for the creation of a harsh, American-style social security system.
Most taxpayers in this country are prepared to pay for fairly generous social security benefits for those who need them. What bothers taxpayers is the high level of abuse--more than the absolute level of benefits. Even the main right-wing parties, backed by business, support the welfare state. As long as the Dutch economy remains strong and competitive, the welfare state will not be abolished. Although I agree that certain aspects of European welfare states have gotten out of hand, Europe is no America, and it never will be.
Paul van der Kwast