Monday, 19 March 2007

When Belgian ministers show themselves green... behind the ears!

As the next Belgian elections will take place on the 10th of June, our current political leaders need to show off with the 'obtained results' of 4 years socialist government in Belgium (yes, it seems that there are also 'liberal' political parties taking place in the Belgian government, but an outsider would hardly notice it). As a result, they organised a great meeting in an impressive congress building in Leuven. This whole event took three days, but as it is always the case with Belgian governmental meetings, it looked more like a big media stunt to impress the ordinary people.

The Belgian government even has some more nice 'surprises' for its subjects. This Wednesday, the government will distribute - completely for free! - a book in which the great 'achievements' of eight succeeding years under the reign of Guy Verhofstadt (the first Verhofstadt-government (1999-2003) included also the ecologist parties) will be discussed. The interested reader can obtain the book, completely for free, in his or her local press shop. Take also carefully notice of the fact that, according to the current announcements, the book will only be available in Flemish shops. The government obviously didn't see any need to distribute the reading matter also in Wallonia. As if there don't exist Walloon parties who contributed to the health and welfare (please place between bold quotation marks...) of the Belgian nation! Of course they don't need to make the Walloon electorate take notice of the 'greatness' of the socialist-socialist (liberal???) government, since the Walloon socialist party holds an almost absolute majority in the WDR (Walloon Democratic Republic). In Flanders on the other hand, the traditional parties feel the warm breath of the secessionst party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest) in their necks. And even the christian-democrats show tendencies to advocate a greater autonomy for the Flemish region. As a result, it is only the Flemish who need to be brainwashed. That's the reason why this taxpaid book, probably, will only be found in Flanders.

But let's take a look at Leuven again. As I stated in previous articles on this weblog, the new political hero of the Belgian progressive elite is Al Gore. And yes, again Al Gore was present on the ministerial meeting. As our ministers are great advocates of a more environmental-friendly way of living, they came from introducing some 'Al Gore taxes'. A new fee will be charged on plastic bags (€3 per kilo), aluminium foil (€4.5 per kilo) and non-renewable (mostly plastic) cutlery (€3.6 per kilo).

The fiscal rebate for company-owned cars will be cut from 75% nowadays to 60%. On the other hand, the fiscal rebate for environmental-friendly cars will be enhanced from 80% nowadays to 90%. For private persons, there will be also a manner to pay less taxes, if they buy a car which produces less carbon dioxide. 'A measure without pleasure', as only 2% of the available models on the Belgian car market can be claimed for a fiscal rebate. As Kermit the frog already sang: it's not easy being green...

But underneath the tiny clot of green paint, the outsider can clearly see that the government has other purposes to fulfil with these measures. Filling the gap in the budget for example, which was estimated to be around €320 million. Thanks to these "environmental-friendly" taxes, the goverment expects to receive around €131 million. The other half of the gap will be filled thanks to higher economic growth, which improves the amount of fiscal revenues (at least our government got acquainted with the Laffer and Armey curves) And at the end of the day prime minister Verhofstadt proudly announced that Belgium reached a budgettary surplus of 0.3% of GDP. But Mr Verhofstadt remains reluctant to announce that according to statistics of the European Commission, Belgium has got a strucural budgettary deficit of 0.7% of GDP, due to 'solely budgettary measures' such as sell-and-rent-back-operations, pension funds take-overs, and so on.

And we've almost forgotten the most important measure taken at Leuven: every government building (since they sell it in order to have some money, there aren't so many more) will get its own solar panel, in order to produce - again... - 'environmental-friendly' energy. And as Belgium is ruled by a real Sun King (not the silent muppet Albert The Second, but prime minister Guy Verhofstadt), this may not be a hard nut to crack.

In the mean time, both the president of the Flemish socialist party Johan Vande Lanotte and the president of the Flemish regional government - the christian-democrat Yves Leterme - participated in a ridiculous and even shameful show presented by two drag-queens. In this show - broadcasted by the public-funded VRT (Vlaamse Radio en Televisie or Flemish Radio and Television in English) - those two 'honourable men of state' wore false long beards and acted as fools on an (artificial) island in the studio. Maybe that artificial island represented Belgium, and the fact that is doesn't matter whether you vote liberal, socialist or christian-democrat; you'll always be ruled by a fool. The fact that both Mr Vande Lanotte as Mr Leterme think that their electorate watch these silly television programs - not even as educational as programs for infants - shows their contempt for the 'ordinary' people. If direct democracy - as it already exists in countries such as (some states of) the USA and Switzerland - would be brought to Belgium, coxcombs as Mr Vande Lanotte and Mr Leterme would be blown away from the political map. Poor us.

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