Dutchmen Give Rummies Beer in Return for Work New Social Program May be Pathway for Progress
In the Alpha city of Amsterdam, the commercial capital of the Netherlands and one of the great European financial centers, lies Oosterpark.
Used mainly by locals, the park has an elongated lake, trees and grasslands, bridges, statutes, bike paths, and sedges of grey herons, companies of wild parrots, flocks of wild ducks, and a gaggle of louts who beg, bum cigarettes, drink beer, get rowdy, fight, make bawdy comments to women, urinate publicly, and sleep it off in the park.
In short they enjoy each other's company.
But park goers say they are not amused.
A new Dutch program, organized by the Rainbow Foundation, set out to get these bums out of the park.
For an honest day's work cleaning streets near the park, the bums get five cans of beer: two to start the day, two at lunch, which is a hot meal, and one more beer when they finish, plus half a packet of rolling tobacco.
At the end of a six hour workday, they also get $13.50.
Split into teams of 10, there are 20 alcoholics who work three days a week.
"The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park," said Gerrie Holterman, who heads the project for the Rainbow Foundation.
One of the rummies, a guy named Frank, said, "I think I can speak for the group and say that if they didn't give us beers, we wouldn't come."
Getting people to work between beer breaks gives them "a structured daily routine," said Caspar Itz, spokesman for the Oost district government, adding that the free beer is like medicine.
With cool summers and mild winters, with westerly winds blowing out to the North Sea, the Dutch climate is mild.
So is their attitude of "Live and let live".
In America, if rummies create a nuisance in a park, we throw the bums in jail.
In Amsterdam, they lure them out of the park, and give them beer, and a little kindness.
In America, we reward chronic drunkenness with Social Security disability Insurance.
In Amsterdam, they reward it with beer.
And the cost to taxpayers is a lot cheaper.
|Niagara Falls Reporter - Publisher Frank Parlato Jr.||www.niagarafallsreporter.com||
Dec 03, 2013