a Dutch look at  “gypsies on benefits”

A good economy has to consider and balance two equally important actions: a steady cash inflow and a deterred cash outflow. Most economies realize this and have taken various precautions in order to benefit the aforementioned. Trade unions, tariffs, exchange R, just to name a few. This article regards cash outflows, which optimally should only be permitted if they benefitted the host country in some manner. Despite the precautions taken by government bodies, there have always been streams of cash flowing out that in no way benefits the country of origin’s economy and therefore damage the country’s overall well-being.

A few months ago a (in my opinion somewhat biased) documentary showcasing the lives of three gypsy families was developed by the British television program distributer “Channel 5” named “ Gypsies on benefits and proud”. Personally, I found that the documentary only portrayed the most negative of immigrant lifestyles, consistently suggesting that eastern Europeans living in Britain are lazy, have no intent on getting a job, are prone to criminal behavior and overall exploiting the British social system, but are not at all preoccupied with building a life in Britain. Rather, they plan to emigrate back to their country of origin once they have accumulated enough capital. The whole show accentuated that these people receive £100.000,- and that some of them receive £60.000,- a year in benefits. Not once did the documentary draw any comparisons or make any attempt to contrast the aforementioned immigrant lifestyles with those from people of the same background who actually have contributed to British society and lead respectful lives. The documentary suggests that all foreigners simply are criminals.

I’ve decided to test the validity of this documentary by observing a similar group within Holland. I’ve conducted several interviews with members of their community and one Dutch social worker. In Holland the concept of immigrants utilizing the Dutch social system is by far not unheard of. In fact it has been a constant subject of debate. Most popular these days seem to be Polish workers. Many blue collar workers believe that they accept much lower wages and intend to return to Poland where their wages have much more buying power. This article however does not concern the Polish, but rather another ethnic group often criticized for their role in the Dutch society, the Ghanaians.

Within Holland there is a large Ghanaian community, which has grown steadily for decades. They have had a significant impact on the Dutch economy, setting up several shops and providing a variety of service-based businesses. However not every aspect of this community is positive. After conducting several interviews with members of the Ghanaian community, I’ve learned that a sizeable amount of its members that live within the Netherlands, have no intent on staying within Holland. Instead their initial goal is to make and save up enough money and then return to Ghana. (Much like the so-called “gypsies” in Britain according to the documentary). According to my sources (who are from Ghana themselves) many Ghanaians take up jobs, that most people would consider lower level, such as custodian, gardening, etc. in any case jobs that do not require advance linguistic skills. The salary they earn has considerably more buying power back in their home country.

Furthermore, they claim that many Ghanaians also have no intention of learning Dutch, because they wish to return to Ghana once they have accumulated enough money and that the majority of their disposable income is sent back to Ghana through underground networks in order to avoid Dutch taxes. In fact, according to my sources several Ghanaians who live off minimum wage jobs and inhabit low-income homes, own their own house and land in Ghana.

This all seems very identical to the lifestyles of the subjects of the documentary previously mentioned. Especially since (according to one social worker living and working in the “Bijlmer” neighborhood, which houses a large segment of the Ghanaian community) a large amount of Ghanaians utilize the Dutch social system and receive monetary aid from the government. However, it is an extremely one-sided observation. Although it’s true a large amount of Ghanaians exploit the Dutch social system, send their wages back to Ghana and have no intention of permanently living in the Netherlands, an equally large segment has already build their lives here. These individuals have jobs, offspring who are third generation Dutch citizens and contribute greatly to society. They have shops, religious institutions, and restaurants and provide a variety of services. There is a Dutch-Ghanaian Chamber of Commerce and a constant import of goods/services between countries. This concept is observable within all foreign communities in Holland. There will always be the few “ bad eggs”, but those few should not be used to represent an entire community.

The documentary “ Gypsies on benefits and proud”, in no way shows any positive aspects regarding the community to which its subjects belong to. It is beyond any reasonable doubt biased and takes pride in showcasing the lowest of struggling families in order to gain ratings. It is the very lowest form of entertainment taking a singular negative element of society and putting it under a microscope indifferent to the families they victimize. The worse part is that they now alienate struggling communities, making integration into the general society even more difficult. In short, entertainment for idiots.