Exit Strategies: Anti-Kraak In The Netherlands
I REMEMBER THE TRUTH ABOUT THE REAGAN YEARS
I was in high school during the reign of Pres. Reagan. I remember the ugly realities behind his idiotic grins and statements. I watched local steel mills close their doors while their mostly White and Latino employees voted as “Reagan Democrats.” I saw his destruction of the air traffic controllers’ union. Most of the kids (of all races) I knew at my magnet high school hated him with a passion.
The closed steel mills never reopened. Those jobs went overseas, never to return. Reagan Democrats continued to vote for Pres. Reagan each step of the way as they were increasingly impoverished by his policies. Apparently, the emotional gratification they felt while fervently supporting him outweighed the reality of their diminished life circumstances. Most of all, I remember reading interviews with senior citizens who supplemented their diet with dog food because they couldn’t afford an entire month’s worth of real food plus their medications. I remember.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Many of the same dynamics are in operation during the Obama Administration. See the Black Agenda Report post, The New Black Politics: All We Want Is A Black Royal Family, Not Jobs, Peace, or Justice.
The once expansive horizons of black America’s political universe have shrunk and withered. Our class of black political misleaders abandoned long ago the internationalism and Pan-Africanism of Robeson and DuBois. Black America’s self-proclaimed best and brightest have traded the “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” refrain of the King era away. For themselves, they reap perceived access to power, or possible contracts or appointments, or just the thrill of basking in reflected glory. For the black masses they offer hollow excuses and the uncritical worship of a black royal family.
It’s no exaggeration. Black political discussions in this age of Obama have assumed an almost feudal tone. Scarcely any black political discussion can be heard over mainstream airwaves or print that is not ended, begun and punctuated with avowals of love for the handsome brown president and his beautiful family. Once the vigilant advocates of fairness, decent wages and peace, our political talking heads fill hours of air time and reams of print obsessing over perceived and real slights to the dignity of the first family, while ignoring the president’s vicious assaults on public workers, his unwillingness to halt the wave of foreclosures, his continued prosecution of unjust wars, and his vacuous prescriptions of “competition” and tax cuts for the rich as answers to record black joblessness.
I often think about the dog food-eating seniors from the Reagan era, and wonder how many modern day African-Americans are setting themselves up for similar futures. If you’re planning on relying solely on a company- or government-backed pension plan to get you through your senior years in the U.S., I respectfully suggest that you think again. Whether public or private, employee pension plans are increasingly under attack. The odds are that these various strained and underfunded pension plans won’t pay out enough for you to live a decent lifestyle in the U.S.
EVEN ON A SMALL, FIXED INCOME IT’S STILL POSSIBLE TO LIVE WELL―THAT IS, IF YOU’RE WILLING TO LOOK BEYOND THE UNITED STATES
Once I became an adult, I realized that it didn’t have to end that way for the impoverished seniors from the Reagan era. Even on their small, fixed pensions they could have lived much better than that. That is, if they had the knowledge and willingness to look beyond the United States. There are places in the world―decent places―where you can retire in style and have excellent medical care, a maid, and frequent dinners out while living on a Social Security-type of budget.
THERE’S A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITIES IF YOU’RE WILLING TO LOOK
I see the various problems that I’ve warned about over the past few years. I see The Gathering Storm. At the same time, I also see a world that is still alive with possibilities if you’re willing to seek them out. Of course, it’s best to create multiple income streams and have as much money coming in as possible. It’s best to be affluent.
Nevertheless, it’s still possible to live well with much less money if you’re willing to create overseas options for yourself. However, you can’t wait until the storm hits to make preparations. You can’t wait until you fall ill or reach retirement age to start wondering what you can do for yourself. If you want to have options, you have to start doing the groundwork to create these options as soon as possible.
The first step is to open your heart and eyes to the possibilities that exist. Too many African-Americans have the mindset of condemning themselves to a No Options At All Lifestyle. I’ve talked about this before:
The delusion that somebody else is going to rescue us is why we do very little to rescue ourselves. It’s also the reason we are so quick to give up on self-rescue efforts.
FROGS IN A GRADUALLY BOILING POT TELLING OTHER FROGS THAT IT’S “UNREALISTIC” TO JUMP OUT
Intertwined with the rescue delusion is the frequent refusal to accept responsibility for our own choices. This includes most African-Americans’ free and voluntary choice of refusing to even try to upgrade their life circumstances. Instead of taking action in support lifestyle optimization, we proclaim all such strategies to be “unrealistic.” Meanwhile, we watch people from other ethnic and racial groups use these same strategies that we’ve labeled “unrealistic” to get ahead. In fact, for almost a century, we’ve watched several waves of immigrants (including some Black-skinned ones) come to this country and do all sorts of “unrealistic” things.
I’m reminded of this because I recently ran across a comment by a detractor over at The Black Snob Blog. My frequent discussion of strategies for developing additional income streams and international relocation options seems to frighten and upset this individual. According to her, this sort of conversation is “unrealistic.” I upset her even more when I spoke of sitting out this recent election, and researching third party candidates that I could wholeheartedly support in future elections.
This concerned individual proclaimed that, “. . . The truth is that MOST Americans of any race do not (and will never) have the resources or wealth to thrive even when the economy is not doing well and most Americans CANNOT run to a foreign country at will. We have to try to fix things here. If we throw our hands up in the air and do nothing, then we are GUARANTEED to fail. I hope that most black women will go out there and vote tomorrow, even though they may currently feel discouraged or disappointed.” See the comments to this post at The Black Snob Blog for the entire comment.
I wonder if this concerned individual believes that it’s more “realistic” for African-American women to continue hoping for new programs in the midst of a failing economy. Thereby putting their fates in the hands of the American voting public—roughly half of whom have repeatedly shown themselves to be insane.
Here’s the thing: While various Black “frogs in a gradually boiling pot” are busy telling each other that various strategies are not feasible, other people—who are much poorer than even the poorest African-Americans—are busy using these same strategies to upgrade their lives.
The November 6, 2010, issue of the New York Times featured a story titled “In Venezuela, A New Wave of Foreigners.” Among other people, the story mentioned a gentleman named Etienne Dieu-Seul, a street vendor who arrived in Venezuela from Haiti a month before the earthquake.
At the other end of the economic spectrum, many new immigrants continue to arrive on tourist visas and overstay their visits, drawn by incomes that are still higher than those in some of Venezuela’s neighbors and by a broad array of social welfare programs for the poor championed by Mr. Chávez’s government.
“One can live with a little bit of dignity here, at least enough to send money home now and again,” said Etienne Dieu-Seul, 35, a Haitian street vendor, who moved here a month before the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January. After the disaster, officials here said they would grant residence visas to the 15,000 Haitians believed to have been here illegally.
I would bet that Mr. Dieu-Seul the street vendor is very thankful he did something as “unrealistic” and “not feasible” as leaving desperately poor Haiti to go to Venezuela. The people in Haiti that he’s sending money to are probably also very thankful.
I won’t even get into the steady stream of American retirees on fixed incomes who relocate overseas each year in order to live much better for much less money. There’s nothing “unrealistic” about taking the minimal action steps of getting a passport and researching your options. Ladies, keep in mind there are a lot of nervous crabs in a barrel out there who are deeply frightened by the idea that you might make the leap into abundant life. It’s one thing to discuss the hurdles and difficulties involved with an undertaking. I’ve never pretended that making any of these moves is easy. All the things I talk about involve putting in effort and work. Some of us don’t want to put in that sort of effort, so we proclaim various things to be impossible or unrealistic.
As I asked during that post, which voices do you listen to? The crabs in a barrel who tell you that abundant life is “unrealistic” for you? Or the voice of your own hopes and dreams? Either way, it’s your choice.
THE EXIT STRATEGIES SERIES
I’ve decided to do a new, ongoing Exit Strategies series of posts for those audience members who choose abundant life and maximizing their options. I’ve been running across all sorts of interesting information while researching and creating my own options. From time to time, I’ll share the information I find about issues affecting potential expatriates (from residency requirements and health care, to employment opportunities, to travel). The more general Exit Strategies posts will be open to the public. The more detailed posts will be part of the Sojourner’s Passport Confidential dispatches sent to regular commenters.
Like an earlier post, How To Work On A Cruise Ship, the point of today’s post is to emphasize that there are all sorts of surprising opportunities available. Opportunities that don’t necessarily exist in the United States, due to the differences between various countries’ laws. Opportunities that you only find out about because you’re actively looking for them. Because many of you have expressed an interest in Northern European countries, today I’ll mention something that I recently learned concerning the Netherlands: anti-kraak.
ANTI-KRAAK IN THE NETHERLANDS
Apparently, in the Netherlands it’s legal to squat in a building or house that has been unoccupied for over a certain period of time. Here’s a basic explanation of how antikraak (“anti-squatting”) works from an American expatriate named Sam Coleman:
The Anti-Kraak means you’re basically living there to stop a flat from being squatted. A property agency will contract you for extremely cheap rent to put you into a place where the property owner doesn’t have a plan yet for leasing it but want to prevent squatters from moving in. I’ve done it. You can pay like €150 (Khadija speaking: this = $205.14 USD at the moment) with your utilities. It’s really great. You have to sign up with a company, but you have to have a residency permit, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22 because you’re not getting a residency permit without a flat. So you have to have a residency first, get your residency permit, then search for an anti-kraak. If you’re lucky to get one, it’s a great way to live there.
Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America, pg. 185. See here and here for more information about anti-kraak. It seems to me that once a person has found a way to get some sort of residency permit, this anti-kraak arrangement is a good way to save money while exploring what it’s like to live in different parts of the Netherlands.