Opinion: The new normal

POSTED: 01/3/13 4:00 PM

The Netherlands experienced a quiet transition from 2012 to 2013. At least, this is what one could conclude from a statement by the Dutch insurers association: “It was a quiet turn of the year.”

The total damages private citizens sustained during this “quiet turn of the year” was an astonishing €10 million, a bit more than $13 million.

NRC Handelsblad reported that these damages are “normal” according to the insurers.

So the insurers and the Dutch society now accept as the new normal that revelers cause $13 million in damages during “a quiet turn of the year.” It is a reality that has to sink in slowly, especially with people who are on the low end of the totem pole where they struggle to make ends meet at the end of the month.

Richard Weurding, the director of the insurers association says that the damages vary from innocent accidents to severely damages cars due to arson and damage to street furniture. Apart from cars, houses and furnishings were damaged.

This is not the whole story, because things could have been worse. The weather – lots of wind and rain – kept many people indoors. That resulted in less firework damages.

The $13 million is not the real total, because the insurers did not include damages to companies, government buildings and schools. They also expect additional claims from private citizens who still have to return from their vacation.

The sad part of this story is obviously that the insurers have the gall to call $13 million in damages normal. To put it in perspective: the amount represents close to 5 percent of St. Maarten’s national budget.

If in turns out in a couple of weeks that our draft budget shows a deficit of, say, 5 percent, all hell is going to break loose, because our financial supervisor Cft demands that our budget is balanced. For insurers in the wealthy Netherlands $13 million is peanuts – a drop in the ocean that is covered many times over by premiums paid by private citizens who escaped the turn of the year vandalism.

When Haren turned into a war zone due to a project-X party, the country was outraged at so much vandalism. The damages were between $1.5 and $2.5 million.

But from Amsterdam to Haren nobody turned a hair upon reading about the damages vandals did during one night of celebrations at the end of the year. The new normal has arrived.

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