I don’t know who needs to hear this, but in the Netherlands the average dude on welfare contributes more to society than 80% of people with full time jobs.
“How is that possible?” You ask. Well I’m glad you asked, because that means it’s storytime. The Netherlands is the South Korea of the North Sea in many ways. For example, Dutch mothers want nothing more than for their kids to do well in school and get some prestigious job somewhere. There is of course intense competition for the few jobs that are prestigious enough (lawyers and doctors), which means we have a vast supply of also-rans.
For example, for every Dutch kid who gets to study medicine, you have a bunch whose grades just didn’t make the cut. Rather than accepting a less prestigious but equally useful job as a nurse by studying nursing, these kids end up studying something vaguely health related at university level, like “health sciences”. After all, if you worked so hard to get into university, you don’t feel like settling for less.
If it wasn’t obvious yet, health sciences is not something real that prepares you for an actual job. It’s literally just something someone invented out of thin air twenty years ago or so. You’ll end up doing something vaguely health related. In other words, you’ll probably end up working at a health insurance company “buying healthcare” for the insurance company from “healthcare providers”.
Why do we need these intermediaries? Trick question: We don’t. Until about thirty years ago, the majority of Dutch people had no private health insurance, the government coughed up your medical bills. Now we have a dozen or so health insurance providers, all of which have their own little bureaucrats and marketing departments stuck in a zero sum game competing for the same buck.
In other words, as a “health scientist” (not a real thing, sorry), you’re highly likely to end up stuck with a bullshit job. And Dutch society is filled with such bullshit jobs. We have a lot of consultants and managers. On the other hand, if you want to move your stuff and move into another house, there’s a six week waiting list in most places to find a moving company willing to lend you a helping hand.
For every job that’s real, in the sense that you can get your grandmother to immediately understand how it contributes to society, the Netherlands has a shortage. There’s nobody who can help you move. There’s nobody who can teach your kids and there’s nobody who can drive an ambulance. There’s nobody who can fix your plumbing and there’s nobody who can check whether your central heater is slowly poisoning you with carbon monoxide. There isn’t even someone who can mow your lawn or drive a bus.
On the other hand, there’s an abundance of people who try to switch the topic when you ask them what their job entails. The Netherlands is full of environmental consultants, channel managers, human resource managers and other jobs that involve sitting in an office from nine to five. After all, there’s a humiliation involved in going to college and ending up with a job that anyone can recognize didn’t require a college degree. On the other hand, if you studied in college and end up with an office job that’s very vague, it’s not directly obvious to people that your job doesn’t require the degree you earned.
The Netherlands has a massive housing shortage. A house today is 17.5% more expensive than a house you bought a year ago. Why is that? Again, Dutch people don’t like having jobs that actually contribute to society. We don’t have enough houses, because we can’t build new houses rapidly enough. We can’t build new houses rapidly enough, because nobody wants to be a construction worker anymore. There’s no sign the housing crisis will be solved, it’s probably going to get worse, leading to a whole generation of “consultants” and “managers” who manage and consult things from the comfort of the childhood bedroom they grew up in.
How did this happen? Well, the Netherlands was supposed to become a “knowledge economy”. That’s the big ambition politicians had back when I was a kid. You heard this term everywhere. Everyone will go to college and everyone will contribute to society through their abundant “knowledge”. Of course a college degree stops being useful when everyone has one. When you get too many college graduates, what happens is that jobs that used to require a high school degree start requiring a college degree. That’s great for college professors, but not so great for people who could have spent four years earning money as opposed to spending it to study.
It’s ok to be white trash
Which brings me to the point I wanted to make. Statistically speaking, the most useful guy or gal in your typical Dutch neighborhood is the one on welfare. It’s not really practically possible to survive off welfare here, but you’ll have abundant time that you can devote to whatever happens to appeal to you. As an example, one day I wanted to find myself my very own Salvia Divinorum cutting.
I had to go all the way to the other side of the country, to find a guy in a remote village who sold these cuttings. I walked into his house, where I discovered to my surprise this guy had more biodiversity growing in his living room than you’ll find in the average Dutch national park. Any sort of plant that gets you questioning reality could be found growing here, along with a couple that will help you forget what you learned from the ones that made you question reality.
It was pretty obvious the guy was incapable of holding onto a job, he lighted up a joint halfway through our conversation and had to check his wallet because he had forgotten whether I had paid him. And yet, I’m quite convinced this guy delivers a bigger contribution to society than the average “channel manager” or “health scientist”. The smartshops stopped selling Salvia plants more than a decade ago. At this point, almost every Salvia plant still growing in this country has to be descended from one this guy bought there back when he was my age.
Once you stop participating in the above ground economy, there’s a thousand different ways you can contribute to society. Let’s start with the most straightforward thing you can do. You can grow pot. If you have five cannabis plants or less, you won’t be prosecuted, even if the police do knock down your front door. If you’re not aware yet, five cannabis plants is enough to live off. If one plant gets you 500 gram, you earn five euro per gram and you grow five plants once every three months, you’re earning 50,000 euro a year, without paying any taxes. You’re not allowed to sell of course, but you see the point here: As long as your operation is small enough you stay under the radar, but it’s still more money than any man could need to live off.
Cannabis still gets a bad rep in some places, but I’ll say it again, the average guy growing weed delivers a bigger contribution to society than someone with a full time job. Cannabis will cure your PTSD, it will treat your chronic pain, it will make your autism bearable, it delays Alzheimer’s disease and it can even cure cancer. It’s harder to come up with something cannabis can’t cure than something it can. And most importantly, it’s fun and makes you more creative. There’s a reason almost every musician takes it. Politicians take pride in “creating jobs”. Well, cannabis destroys jobs, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
I don’t qualify for welfare because I have too much money, but if I was faced today with the choice between sitting in an office somewhere and being on welfare, I would go for welfare. There’s a psychological toll involved in having a bullshit job. Those faced with a bullshit job, like I used to have, are faced with one of two options: You can acknowledge the bullshit to yourself and become depressed, or you can pretend that your bullshit job contributes to society and lose your soul. Either you become miserable, or you become a disgusting creature.
There is however a third option. You can quit your bullshit job, like I did. Will my investments deliver me the returns I need? Who knows. If I have to cough up 250k for a house it will get tricky. But nothing in life is guaranteed, except death and taxes. If it all goes to shit, I’ll do something on the side. What I do know is that I don’t want to be an old man looking back one day on fifty years of my life spent working bullshit jobs.
I wouldn’t recommend anyone to quit his bullshit job to go “trade crypto”, because that’s not sustainable in the long run. When you grow weed for a living, it’s obvious where the money comes from: You create a product that people want. In crypto, there is no product. The money either isn’t really there (see: Tether), or the money comes from a new influx of suckers. The fact that number went up since the last time I said this is not a proper counter-argument, as number can go up effectively forever. All they really need is a growing influx of suckers and a mechanism to stop you from asking for your actual money and being content staring at a bunch of green candles.
You might say “oh there’s huge value in crypto it’s so useful all these dApps and NFT’s and other things”, but they all serve one purpose: Making people rich quick. Offering people the promise of getting rich quick is not a real service, especially when you can’t fulfill the promise. Crypto does make some people rich of course: The scammers who sell you the shovels during the gold fever they instigate. But if you consider that these people get rich off your money and also have to spend up to 22 billion dollar a year producing new bitcoins, you’ll realize there’s little money left in the whole thing to make you rich.
My recommendation rather would be to find something you can do on the side that actually offers some value to society. If there’s a product or service you offer that doesn’t involve “getting rich quick”, it can be a sustainable endeavor. Don’t be too ambitious, you’re not going to save the world. If you’re lucky that ambition makes you poor, if you’re unlucky you become rich but lose your soul marketing a scam (example: Tesla). Your brain is designed to enjoy doing the sort of stuff your ancestors needed to be doing to survive. Find something that you genuinely like and see if it can earn you money on the side. That’s honestly good enough.
Je slaat de spijker op zijn kop!
Dutch guy on welfare who loves to grow shrooms and extract Devine Moments of Truth. Peace
In our society, there seems a general rule that, the more obviously one’s work benefits other people, the less one is likely to be paid for it.
Bryan Caplan has a great book on modern colleges called The Case Against Education. He analyzes the data in the U.S. and shows that modern colleges are likely all just signaling to employers that you’re a compliant worker bee. Very little evidence that people “learn how to learn” (transfer of learning evidence).