Heat or food, that will be the dilemma this winter


I go from appointment to appointment and the discussion always tends towards this topic. My client this morning, single, old, but hard-working, occupies a charming little flat in Schaerbeek.

She struggles every month to pay her bills and her rent of 520 euros including common charges.

She receives me dressed and covered with a bathrobe. 16 degrees in the apartment, the winter looks harsh.

The latter kindly offers me a coffee. Around this one we exchange. After a few minutes, with a tear in her eye, she hands me her invoice for the down payment on our Belgian-French flagship, sold off on the orders of Europe. 400 euros of deposit, claimed for its electrical consumption.

This studio is, it is true, very spacious and luxurious, we are talking about 40 m² in a green area of the Brussels region. This person has a taste for luxury… She lives in the presumptuous capital of Europe, all the same, it pays off! She made the choice to rent her home and not to collocate!

It has double glazing, a shower and a kitchen. She is lucky, you may say.

This ironic paragraph illustrates our New World. That of the serf or servile worker.

This person announces the sale of her property, she will have to move soon. Out of curiosity, I asked about the price of his accommodation, which was small but comfortable. She announces me 180.000 euros for 40m².

We look at each other, a smile on our face. It’s expensive, » she says, « I could never buy it. She continues by telling me: « You know everything is expensive, I grow tomatoes, peppers and strawberries on my terrace, it keeps me busy and at least I eat fruits and vegetables without ruining myself » She finishes by telling me: « Everything seems expensive and inaccessible to me ». I look at her, my coffee in hand, and say: « Fortunately, the kindness and the exchange we just had, it is free and therefore priceless ».

My last reflection, you will say to me, makes him a beautiful leg. Why are you highlighting this everyday story?

This situation touched me, the modesty and pride of this lady in her sixties touched me. No hint of self-pity or bitterness. It makes the observation of a world that walks on its head. On her side, this lady continues to move forward and is about to put on her coat to go babysit at the local elementary school.

She would be of pensionable age, but continues to work despite the pain in her joints. She would be old enough to afford decent housing, lighting and food, but would have to continue to rely on the « D » system to make ends meet. She would be old enough to have a home of her own, but will only be able to claim to rent someone else’s property.

Some predict a future where we will no longer be owners, but happy. I wonder
still how ayatollahs of possession can claim that. Do as I say, not as I do
Why this story, I’m coming to that.

In Belgium, in 2022, progress should not mean being left behind.
heating or feeding.

Perhaps you will recognize yourself in this unknown woman portrayed in a few lines. If not, I invite you to open your eyes, to look at your relatives, your neighbors, those who are less well off than you. You will see distress. In Belgium, in 2022, progress should not mean heating or food.

Don’t give up, this is not the norm. And this is not due to the war. Political leaders have the option of capping prices (or simply selling at cost with a reasonable margin added), negotiating bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries if necessary, and giving preference to Belgians over others.

What is missing to make this happen? Courage, sprinkled with a little common sense.

We must act, demonstrate, challenge at all levels of power. Do it for yourself, for your children or for those who don’t have the strength.

Don’t agree to pay these astronomical down payments that no longer have any correlation with the real world. Don’t pay them, officially reduce them to a minimum. With inflation at 10%, it is better to pay 1000euros in a year than now. It is your down payments that finance your suppliers and allow this speculation to continue. Legally, you have the right and duty to refuse.

I put down these few lines without knowing what will come of it. I hope for tens of thousands of people in front of the parliament, in front of the council of ministers’ buildings, in front of the ministers’ residences. I want them to feel the distress of a people, in the morning while having their coffee, at noon while having their champagne dinner and in the evening when they are longing for an undeserved rest.

Do you feel the fear, anxiety and stress of not being able to make ends meet? Why should they get a break?

Don’t let go! Don’t let go.

Don’t stay home alone, get together, send emails and letters to your elected officials. They must
feel the anger coming from below that threatens to set the whole society on fire.

Jérôme Delforge

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