Headline, August 12 2022/ ''' '' GREAT WEALTH GROAN '' '''


 GROAN '' '''

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GREAT WEALTH OPENS DOORS. JUST NOT IN ROTTERDAM. A request by Jeff Bezos came up against a Dutch predilection for modesty.

The image would have been a social phenomenon : a few thousand citizens of the Netherlands' second largest city, standing beside a river and hurling eggs at the new and gleaming 417-foot sailing yacht built for Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and one of the world's richest men.

By the time the boat passed the crowd, it would have been spattered with bright orange yolk, plus at least one very bright spot of red.

''I would have thrown a tomato,'' said Stefan Lewis, a former City Council member. '' I eat mostly vegan.''

One recent afternoon, Mr. Lewis was standing near the Hef, as the koning-shaven Bridge in Rotterdam is affectionately known, and explaining the anger that Mr. Bezos and Oceanco, the maker of the three-masted, $500 million schooner, inspired after making what may have sounded like a fairly benign request.

The company had asked the local government to briefly dismantle the elevated bridge span of the Hef, which clears 230 feet, or 70 meters, at its highest point, allowing the vessel to sail down the King's Harbor channel and out to sea. The whole process would have taken a day or two and Oceanco would have covered the costs.

Also worth noting : The bridge, a lattice of moss-green steel in the shape of a hulking ''H,'' is not actually used by anyone. It served as a railroad bridge for decades until it was replaced by a tunnel and decommissioned in the early 1990s. It's been idle ever since.

In sum, the operations would have been fast, free and disrupted nothing. So why the fuss?

''There's a principle at stake,'' said Mr. Lewis, a tall bearded 37-year-old who was leaning against his bike and toggling during an interview between wry humour and indignation. He then framed the principles with a series of questions.

''What can you buy if you have unlimited cash? Can you bend every tule? Can you take apart monuments?

In late June, the city's vice mayor reported that Ocenco had withdrawn its request to dismantle the Hef, a retreat that was portrayed as a victory of the masses over a billionaire, though it was much more than that.

It was an opportunity to see Dutch and American values in a fiery, head-on collision.

The more you know about the Netherlands - with its preference for modesty over extravagance, for the community over the individual, for fitting in, rather than standing out - the more it seems as though this kerfuffle had been scripted by someone whose goal was to drive people in Rotterdam out of their minds.

The first problem was the astounding wealth of Mr. Bezos.

''The Durch like to say, ' Acting normal is crazy enough,'' said Ellen Verkoelen, a City Council member and Rotterdam leader of the 50Plus Party, which works on behalf of the retirees.

'' And we think that rich people are not acting normal. Here in Holland, we don't believe that everybody can be rich the way people do in America, where the sky is the limit. We think ' Be average. ' That is good enough.

Ms. Verkoelen was among those who considered Oceanco's request a reasonable concession to a company in a highly competitive industry. But she heard from dozens of infuriated voters, all of them adamantly opposed. She understood the origins of the fervor, which she illustrated with a story from her childhood.

''When I was about 11 years old, we had an American boy stay with us for a week, an exchange student,'' she recalled. ''And my mother told him, just make your own sandwich like you do in America. Instead of putting one sausage on his bread, he put on five.

My mother was too polite to say anything to him, but to me she said in Dutch. ''We will never eat like this in this house.''

At school, Ms. Verkoelen learned from friends that the American children in their homes all ate the same way. They were stunned and a little jealous. At the time, it was said in the Netherlands that putting both butter and cheese on your bread was the ''the devil's sandwich.'' Choose one went the thinking. You don't need both.

Building the earth's biggest sailing yacht and taking apart a city's beloved landmark? That's the devil's ''all you-can-eat buffet."

The streak of austerity in Dutch culture can be traced to Calvinism, says residents, the most popular religious branch of Protestantism in the country for hundreds of years. It emphasizes virtues like self-discipline, frugality and conscientiousness.

Polls suggest that most people in the Netherlands today are not churchgoers, but the norms are embedded, as evidenced by Dutch attitudes toward wealth.

Wealth finds limits of its power in the Netherlands.

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Wealth, and The Ways-of-the-World, continues. The World Students Society thanks author David Segal.

With most respectful dedication to the Great Nation of Holland, and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society - for every subject in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

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