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Amsterdam: Alcoholics Cleaning Streets to Get Free Booze!

Amsterdam: Alcoholics Cleaning Streets to Get Free Booze!

Dec 12th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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Amsterdam: Alcoholics Cleaning Streets to Get Free Booze!


Interesting story about Amsterdam in NY Times recently - a scheme where alcoholics who due to their malady cannot hold jobs and thus have problems buying booze - so the city has launched a program where alcoholics sweep streets and are paid and also get free beer during breaks and at lunch.

So if you see some folks in orange jump suits cleaning the streets of Amsterdam they may be working for booze.

Just another amazing thing about a city not afraid to embrace controversial things.

I find Amsterdam to be one of Europe's most awesome cities both physically - gorgeous canals, etc but also interesting in these type things you may find - and yes things like coffee shops where cannabis is sold over the counter and folks are allowed to smoke inside - regardless of otherwise no-smoking policies in other places.

Holland recently passed a law banning foreigners from coffee shops but Amsterdam officials have refused to enforce it so the totally unique coffee shops continue.

Amsterdam - a surprise at every turn. From red-light districts to outlandishly garbed young folk, etc.

I am one who travels not only to see the really famous museums like Amsterdam is known for and its physical beauty but also to see local attitudes - being tolerant of a very open red-light district (though the mayor has vowed to get rid of it!) - everyone on bikes - the many cozy cafes and just a general laid-back atmosphere.

Where else would the city hire alcoholics to clean streets and supply them with beer during the day? (Well it was modeled on a similar scheme from other cities the article says.

Amsterdamned for something different (but not everyone's cup of tea for sure!)

Amsterdam is awesome for many reasons and not just being one of Europe's physically most beautiful cities.

J'aime Amsterdam and its ballyhooed tolerance.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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You'll notice it is s Canadian idea.

The ban on weed for foreigners came after pressure from Belgium and France. It has resulted in an increase in crime in the southern provinces where it is enforced.

Personally I hope we follow Uruguay.
hetismij2 is offline  
Dec 12th, 2013, 12:39 PM
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Personally I hope we follow Uruguay.>

and Colorado and Washington state where recreational use was voted in by public referendum.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 13th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Also, there is something of an uproar against the "forced to work for benefits" schemes that are popping up all over. All to do with a major overhaul of the social security system that already causes a surge in house evictions and forces octogenarians to be evicted from their sheltered accommodations to an "independent living" arrangement, with all services cut. I don't know why the reputation of the Netherlands supposed liberalisme endures. The reality is we're moving towards some kind of neo-corporatism akin very much to social totalitarianism. A complete break with the pseudo scandinavian model of social security we had until about two years ago.
menachem is online now  
Dec 14th, 2013, 06:30 AM
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Giving alcoholics beer :-0
bilboburgler is online now  
Dec 14th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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It's all a bit more complicated than that, but never mind
menachem is online now  
Dec 14th, 2013, 02:56 PM
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I thought the ban on weed was mostly driven by Dutch communities along the borders. Anywhere from Enschede to Rosendaal you had numerous new coffee shops popping up just behind the "stateline" with the major objective to serve Belgian and German clientele. Those places have little to do with the "historic" and quaint coffee shops of Amsterdam along the grachten.
Hardly anyone bothered about the comparably few tourists from Kansas City or Munich who wanted to smoke a few joints in Amsterdam proper.
Nevertheless, I rather share menachem's view that the Dutch laissez faire attitude is more nostalgia than 2013 reality.
Cowboy1968 is online now  
Dec 14th, 2013, 06:14 PM
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We're among the countries with the highest degree of internet/phone surveillance for instance. The Dutch style of governance is anything but transparent, so it was not until Snowden that all of this became fully clear.
menachem is online now  
Dec 14th, 2013, 07:23 PM
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As usual,Pal's take on things is entirely simplistic. I'd listen to menachem.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 15th, 2013, 01:20 AM
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@cowboy. There wasn't a ban on weed, rather a crackdown on non-dutch buyers. The plan was you had to have an id certified by the city office (good idea, registering all marihuana users) and then you'd be able to get a pass to buy the stuff. That program ran as a pilot against huge opposition. Those voices warned against displacement of trade to the street and of displacement of buyers to nearby non- id towns. Both happened and the scheme was scrapped.

Now the city of Amsterdam threatens to close down bars if patrons are drunk there (this is in the wth category), while a few years ago patrons who drank standing up on the side walk in front of bars were fined.

We had a minority government with support of a right wing xenofobe party (PVV) now we have a government that has a majority in the second chamber of parliament, but not in the first chamber (senate). In Europe we're the country with the highest debt to income ratio. Not even the Greeks are able to touch us on that.
menachem is online now  
Dec 15th, 2013, 09:07 AM
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Yes menachem in my as usual simplistic view of Amsterdam and Holland's ballyhooed enlightenment and tolerance - a view honed by hundreds of visits to the city on business in the halcyon days for permissiveness - the 70s and 80s when things IME were totally out of control - you could not only buy cannabis at coffeeshops but things like acid and harder drugs in some bars, like the Flying Dutchman on Haarlemmermeerstraat and there were such things as the infamous boat anchored not far from the main train station where heroin addicts could go to get a legal - well all these things were quasi-legal - fix.

The magic mushrooms became legal in so-called Smart Shops and still are IMU - at least natural ones but not all the various ones previously sold.

Drugs were visibly hawked on the street at dicey (then) place like the Dam Square monument area and in the red-light district.

And there were squats all over - vacant buildings just taken over by squatters - again not legally I think but tolerated. I remember going to parties in the Vondel Kerk when it had been taken over by squatters - even historic buildings like that - for a few years and nobody seemed to care.

Totally incredible things and yes I know this has all changed - for the better IMO - the re-establishment of order and control and a real clean up of Amsterdam - where once before you had to be wary of folks coming up and trying to pickpocket you in the open - sticking their hands in my pockets on a few occasions - drug addicts desperate for a fix - this all seems to have changed and again for the better.

the upscaling and trying to appeal to a different more affluent tourist began in earnest - one recent or current mayor's ambition to demolish the Red-Light district as we know it and make those historic buildings into offices and upscale hotels (I presume)- just like so many other historic buildings have been along the canals - buildings who ancient facades are just that - the behinds being entirely gutted and refit to serve the needs of a modern world.

And yes the crack down on drug tourism with some wanting to restrict coffeeshops to locals - in part aimed at British lager louts I read and stag and hen parties from the U K who come to party like it's 1999 - those types who spent little money and caused problems were no longer wanted and for good reason.

So yes in my as "usual simplistic view" I understand why Amsterdam has tightened up and is no longer the do as you want city (though compared to others the Dutch still are way more tolerant - coffeeshops continue to function, euthanasia is legal and has proper controls to insure it is meant for those who really need it, etc.

The Red-Light district continues though much of the real activity has moved online, etc.

Gays still consider Amsterdam and Holland to be one of the most tolerant places - gay marriage I believe being legal in Holland (pardon my use of Holland - this again is "my simplistic view" some naive folk would say but I do know that 'Holland' is but a part of The Netherlands but Holland is what we use in America - The Netherlands being a mouthful - so Holland is still moer tolerant than most societies - especially the U.S. but not nearly as much as it was.

Ironically now cofeeshops I believe limit the THC content of pot to 15% whereas now ironically in Michigan I can legally buy pot with a THC content of up to 25% - Michigan now in that respect being more tolerant than Holland - and who would have thunk that not long ago!

So even though I express my "usual simplistic views" of Holland I still have a keen interest after spending so so so much time in Amsterdam and Holland in years past and I thank folks like menachem and hetismij who as Dutch residents or citizens obviously know more about it as I do. My "simplistic as usual" views are based on many many experiences in Holland which I guess have given me a totally wrong impression - but I still view Holland as overall being very enlightened when compared to most countries and applaud you for that.

And I also note the change in that famous tolerance and in some ways decry it though the Amsterdam of the 70s and 80s was by any measure totally out of control and I would not want it to revert to that rather renegade, in my "simplistic as usual" view of it all.

Tot Ziens and thanks for the discussion - nice for me to keep up with the rapid changes in Dutch society.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 15th, 2013, 11:12 AM
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I lived in Amsterdam in the 80s. It was horrible.

I think many people misread our indifference for tolerance.
menachem is online now  
Dec 15th, 2013, 01:48 PM
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menachem.. correct, the "ban" I mentioned was supposed to mean exactly what you described, i.e. for non-Dutch nationals.

pal.. next year, the first coffee shop is supposed to open in Berlin - just in case that will influence your travel plans But you probably already know that having a bit of weed won't get you prosecuted there
Cowboy1968 is online now  
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