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The Cost of Silence: Dissent and Democracy in Government Bailouts

The Cost of Silence: Dissent and Democracy in Government Bailouts


March 8, 2024


In a recent decision by the government to bail out the pension of clients of the largest pension insurer on the island, about 30,000 citizens find themselves at the mercy of a costly arrangement. This bailout, costing the government and the people 30 million annually for thirty years, with an additional burden of 18 million annually for fifty years on the central bank, raises significant concerns about dissent and its consequences in a democracy.

The origin of this situation lies in the lack of dissent when shareholders withdrew a billion guilders from the insurance company. Rather than challenging this move, those who could have raised their voices facilitated it, leading to the current difficulty. Shockingly, those responsible have faced little to no consequences thus far.

This bailout unambiguously illustrates the repercussions of failing to dissent. It places an unfair burden on the citizens, who now face the prospect of carrying this financial weight for the next fifty years without any meaningful opposition.

The question arises: why did dissent not occur? One possible explanation is the need for more accountability and transparency in decision-making processes. When those in power are not held accountable for their actions, dissent is stifled, and citizens are left to bear the consequences.

Moreover, dissent requires courage and a belief in one's ability to effect change. In societies where dissent is discouraged or punished, individuals may choose silence over speaking out, fearing reprisal or marginalization.

However, the cost of silence can be catastrophic, as demonstrated by the current situation. Without dissent, governments and powerful institutions can act with impunity, disregarding the interests of the people they are meant to serve.

In a healthy democracy, dissent is not only encouraged but essential for holding those in power accountable and ensuring the well-being of all citizens. Societies progress through dissent as diverse voices contribute to more informed and equitable decision-making processes.

As we grapple with the aftermath of this bailout, it is crucial to reflect on the importance of dissent in safeguarding democracy and preventing similar crises in the future. Only by speaking out against injustice and holding our leaders accountable can we genuinely uphold the principles of democracy and protect the rights and interests of all citizens.

Miguel Goede

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