Looking at my life in Denmark from a take the good with the bad perspective, it’s not too shabby. Sure, it’s expensive, the taxes are out of control, gas is $8/gallon, I’m having a difficult time with the language, it’s not particularly vegetarian-friendly, the climate could be better, etc.. But, I’ve got a job that I love, wonderful colleagues, a beautiful home, 15 days of holiday time to use before May 1, great secondhand shopping, it’s easy to travel in Europe, etc..
For the most part, I’ve stopped converting prices to USD because things cost what they cost, and there’s not much to do about it. I look at my net pay, and try to forget that half of my salary has gone missing. I go to Danish classes and hack my way through the language as best as I can, but I’m grateful that most people will speak English with me. I approach cooking as a game of strategy and skill. I’ve even gotten to a point where I don’t really mind the climate, Audrey II definitely helps, and there are worse things than spending half the next to the fire with a good curry and a soft, purring cat.
Despite all of these survival tactics, twice a year, an envelope arrives in the mail, and for a few hours, my tax weary soul seriously considers the alternatives to living in this this tax crazed country. It’s the “media license” bill, but really, it’s just another tax. Basically anyone with a television, a radio, or an internet connection (including a smart phone, because you really want to stream TV to your teeny iPhone screen) has to pay it, so it’s pretty much just another government-endorsed money grab from the entire population.
To it’s credit, the revenue goes to support several state-owned TV and radio stations (DR), which supposedly have decent commercial free programming, but the only time I use it is if my photographer is visiting. Most of the programming is in Danish, and most of the stuff that’s in English is not worth my time. I’m actually quite happy without television and radio, so having to pay for something I don’t want really gets my dander up.
To a point, I can go along with “when in Rome…” but, this stupid “license” is one to a household, so I’m penalized for living alone. If I were cohabitating, with say the only person in my life who uses DR, we’d be able to get away with one license. But I live alone, with a cat, so twice a year, I have to pony up $225 or so for something I (and Opie) don’t want and don’t use. The last time I subscribed to cable was in 1997, and it was the basic package!!!
Following along with the don’t want, don’t use, but must pay theme, this “license” is very much a tax… a media tax. Except, it’s taxed!!!! Every time I get one of these bills, 25% of it is VAT, which means I spend $112 a year on tax of a tax, and since my income is taxed at roughly 50%, I’m actually paying $900 of my salary per year for this “license” and $225 a year for tax on tax.
I resent the media tax, and there’s no way out of it except by cohabitation or leaving the country! Actually, I know someone who moved out of Denmark and the media license police tracked him down in the US and tried to make him pay it. They actually have “inspectors” who go door to door to may sure everyone is paying. It’s shameless embezzlement!
Let me put this into perspective… I live in a place where it costs more to register a car than it does for the car itself, where 50% of my income is taken in tax, where I pay 25% sales tax (on everything, including prescriptions!), tax to have a mobile phone for work, a media tax, tax on the media tax, plus income tax to the US. If I order something from outside the EU, I have to pay an import tax of 25%, plus a “service fee,” and the 25% is calculated on the purchase price, plus postage. I have to pay import tax on postage!!! Is it any wonder why I have a black-belt in simple living?
If I should ever move back to the US, I promise to never complain about taxes again.