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Belgium’s failed coronavirus response is the final straw

Friday, 12 March 2021
This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
© Belga

To be frank, the Belgian response to the pandemic has been an insult.

From curfews imposed without evidence that it would halt the virus, to the kafkaesque restrictions on which house guests can use the toilet, to the decision to strip us of our freedom of movement without consultation, the big-government approach of the Belgian government has resulted in naught but disaster.

The coronavirus has flourished. The economy is gone. Mental health has collapsed and jobs have disappeared. No one can call this a success on any level. 

The idea of big government; that a bureaucrat knows better than you what is good for your life, that a minister can effectively balance your security needs and your mental health needs, that the state is better placed to fight this pandemic than the individual, has failed at every single turn.

And let’s be honest, no one with any experience of the Belgian state is surprised by this. Government excess and overreach, bureaucratic inefficiency, poor decision making and slow and sluggish service are not seen as problems to be fought and wrestled with, but inherent characteristics of the Belgian state.

Take as an example the legendary, never-ending, public works. Take the collapsing, slow and kafkaesque bureaucracy. Take the unresponsive and out of touch government – in the relatively small amount of time that one exists. The Belgian state fails at every task it puts its mind to. Go ahead, try to think of something that it excels at, I’ll wait.

And now, rather than simply being an eye-rolling quirk of Belgium, the longest-running, unfunniest joke in European history, the big government is literally killing us. Daily reports of vaccines, obtained excruciatingly slowly, thrown in the bin and wasted. Suicides skyrocketing after a year of being imprisoned in our homes and now within our country – devoid of social contact, joy and happiness. Coronavirus spreading like wildfire anyway, at a rate only matched by the epidemic of depression that accompanies it.

Add this to the people impoverished and rendered unable to pay bills by a tax system that takes half the earnings of a McDonald’s worker, whilst allowing European Commission officials to pay nothing. Businesses bankrupted by forced closures and enormous tax burdens, their owners destitute and their workers jobless.

It’s all too much. Enough is enough. Who in their right mind wants to fund this state?

Tinkering with Belgian policies and the Belgian state is akin to putting a plaster on a gunshot wound. Nothing has improved Belgian government over the years, and nothing will. The fact is that there is but one remedy to the headache-inducing problems of Belgium’s centralised and cumbersome state – cut, cut, cut.

Instead of paying amongst the highest tax rates in Europe to fund failure after failure, our post-pandemic response should be characterised by a massive slashing of the tax burden and privatization of everything we can get our hands on. Give citizens their money back, and give them the power to choose where to put that money.

Give citizens the power to refuse to fund 19 mayors in Brussels alone, each with their own salary, expenses and staff.

Let businesses flourish, free of bureaucratic and high tax burdens, and allow them to provide the jobs that Belgium and its workers need.

Give us back our individual responsibility, and give us the power to decide for ourselves how best to balance our mental health needs and the imperative not to infect ourselves and others. 

For every person who experienced depression and suicidal thoughts during the pandemic. For every person who lost a loved one as a result of the Belgian response. For every person who wonders why its fair that they can barely pay the bills after tax, whilst the European Commission official lives a life of luxury. For every person who wonders where the thousands in tax they pay go. 

For every Belgian resident, and every Belgian citizen, we must use the coronavirus failure to deliver a libertarian paradise that makes us the envy of Europe, not the butt of its jokes.