Slowly but surely gay marriage is being recognised in America. I think this is something no-one would have thought during the Bush administration, so yay!

This article on the new law in Maine, had a very interesting paragraph:

In New Hampshire, the House voted 178-167 in favor of the legislation Wednesday after the Senate approved an amended version of the House's original bill last week. The amended version distinguishes between civil and religious marriage. It allows each religion to decide whether to acknowledge same-sex marriage, but extends the option of civil marriage to any two individuals.

This distinction is what is needed in all the laws concerning marriage and it needs to be pointed out to all those religious fanatics out there. Civil marriage is not the same as religious marriage. It's that easy, people!

So, president Obama listed the Netherlands as a tax paradise. For big enterprises, maybe, but the little man or woman? Pays a helluvalot of tax. My intership pay is €450,- of which I see about €290,- after taxes. Still, the Netherlands is a wonderful country to live in, as Russel Shorto shows in his article Going Dutch on the NYT website. He lauds the Dutch social welfare system and explains it very well. The only complaint he has about the Dutch is that our stores are not open 24/7 and that it is not likely to change, which we should do to become a truly multiethnic society. Then again, he lauds the distinction the Dutch have between work and free time. No work e-mails on the weekend, just like the stores are closed on Sundays and in the evening. Café's, theatres and musea are often open on Sundays, so his complaint of not being able to do anything on Sundays is rather unfounded.

(By the way, the supermarket in my small town (pop.20.000) is open seven days a week, 8.00 -20.00 and 10.00-17.00 on Sunday)

The cultural tendency not to stand out, which he notices, is not entirely true. We are an ambitious people, especially the younger generations. We just tend to be quieter about it.

America is the land of the free. But I think we are freer.

I believe this to be true. We are free in different ways. We have the freedom of speech, of equal rights under the law, of being healthy, of having an education as high as we want it. These freedoms come from the social welfare state, which pays me money so I can go to university for four years or for longer if I want to loan money from them. When I'm 70 I'll have a pension worth 70% of my average salary over the year's I've worked. When I hurt, I can go to the doctor without having to pay huge bills. Being in hospital, for whatever reason, is covered. I'm 21 and I have a house, a car, a job, an education and a partner of my choice. Life in the Netherlands is not bad at all.



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