Monday 16 September 2019

Opinion pieces, columns and insights into Dutch news and current affairs from key commentators

Oil prices are down- we’re doomed!

Oil prices are down- we’re doomed!

There are a lot of worried noises out there. But what’s so terrible about falling oil prices? asks Nyenrode University’s Jan Maarten Slagter. As you may have noticed, I’m not an economist. This is possibly the reason why I’m surprised about the worried noises these experts started making when oil prices began to fall. Oh dear, it’s gone down to less than $70 – we’re doomed! Why is it a problem when one of our most important raw materials becomes... More >


Tax rulings: MPs demand the right to know

Tax rulings: MPs demand the right to know

MPs are supposed to supervise the cabinet but in the case of tax deals with Starbucks and the like they have no way of knowing which deals have been struck. Unconstitutional, cry MPs Jesse Klaver (GroenLinks), Arnold Merkies (SP), Pieter Omtzigt (CDA) and Carola Schouten (CU. MPs have no way of making sure if deals between the Dutch tax office and multinationals such as Google and Starbucks are fair and within the confines of the law. Finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem... More >


Maastricht mayor stands down: Hoes to blame?

Maastricht mayor stands down: Hoes to blame?

Comedian and performer Youp van ‘t Hek looks back at the past week in politics – particularly the resignation of Maastricht’s mayor Onno Hoes after he was caught with toyboys yet again. Who will be the next mayor of Maastricht? Newly between-jobs (ex-KLM chief) Camiel Eurlings will undoubtedly be recommended for the post by Maxime Verhagen. Maxime hasn’t forgotten how a shouty and saluting Camiel supported him when he sold his soul to Wilders in 2010. It was one of... More >


This week: Unwanted presents, expensive medication, Uberpop and asylum seekers

This week: Unwanted presents, expensive medication, Uberpop and asylum seekers

Sinterklaas has left the country and Maastricht’s mayor is leaving office. But health service reforms remain firmly on the agenda and calls for change to the taxi laws are growing. A round-up of this week’s editorials.   As many people were looking forlornly at yet another milk frother in the aftermath of Sinterklaas, Z24’s Jasperien van Weerdt had the solution: put it (and all your other unwanted presents) on auction site Marktplaats or go to the nearest second-hand stuff shop... More >


Alcohol does damage adolescent brain

Alcohol does damage adolescent brain

The headlines earlier this week were clear. A new research project seemed to indicate it was okay for teenagers to drink alcohol after all. But research results aren’t always easy to interpret and we shouldn’t jump to conclusions, writes Amsterdam University professor Reinout Wiers. The Volkskrant put it on its front page: research by Sarai Boelema cast doubt on the fact that alcohol causes brain damage in adolescents. In an analysis the following day, a link was made to government... More >


Dreaming of home: finding a roof over your head

Dreaming of home: finding a roof over your head

Before the local elections almost a year ago, DutchNews.nl asked its readers what they thought were the biggest issues. Finding a clean and affordable place to live was a very clear top of the list. And this remains a particular problem for the international students, interns and start-up entrepreneurs coming to the Netherlands, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe. In some parts of the country – Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague in particular – it can be extremely tricky to find... More >


Housing corporations, keep your house in order

Housing corporations, keep your house in order

A large percentage of the Netherlands’ housing stock is in the hands of housing corporations, which are supposed to focus on people with the lowest incomes. Entrepreneur Annemarie van Gaal thinks housing benefits shouldn’t be handed over to the tenants and housing corporations should be punished for bad management. Housing corporations in the Netherlands are still clocking up some 7,000 evictions a year. That means almost 30 families and their belongings are turned out into the streets every day of... More >


Bird flu: chickens are coming home to roost

Bird flu: chickens are coming home to roost

The Dutch poultry industry has been hit by an outbreak of avian flu, which has been identified on several farms. But don’t blame migratory birds for the failures of the livestock industry, writes biologist and animal welfare campaigner Sjourd van de Wouw. In the last couple of days the government’s extermination service had its work cut out. Hundreds of thousands of chickens on contaminated chicken farms were gassed. The Dutch culling policy is a world-wide standard. As far afield as... More >


This week: Dutch teachers and English, chickens and blood

This week: Dutch teachers and English, chickens and blood

From bird flu to multiplying political parties, and why a Dutch student is learning to be a Dutch language teacher. These are some of the topics was tackled in this week’s newspaper and magazine columns. A round up: Teaching Dutch in English In the Volkskrant, journalist and cultural scientist Sven Poels added his voice to protests at the amount of English used at Dutch universities. Poels discovered that many of the classes for his master’s course to teach Dutch –... More >


Rotterdam is bursting at the seams with unused talent

Rotterdam is bursting at the seams with unused talent

Rotterdam is bursting with ambition and well deserves its growing international reputation, says trendwatcher Farid Tabarki. But the port city, where a teenage Tabarki used to go dancing, could do even better if it made use of its talents, he says. 2014 isn’t quite over yet, but there already is a clear winner: Rotterdam. This became clear in January when the city was included in the annual New York Times list of 52 places to visit. It was also placed... More >


Dealing with debt, Part 3

Dealing with debt, Part 3

Families in debt lose sight of what they owe. A special bank would at least make that problem go away, writes Annemarie van Gaal, in her third article about getting your finances back on track.   In my last two columns I wrote about families in debt who, according to family finance institute Nibud, are costing society some €11bn a year. I’ve met some of these families. They are so behind with their payments they are completely overwhelmed. They don’t... More >


Health insurers’ concern for the patient is skin deep

Health insurers’ concern for the patient is skin deep

Dutch health insurers are busy trying to convince us all to switch to their bigger and better policies, now we’ve reached the end-of-year changeover period. However, says DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe, it all boils down to money, not the interests of the patient. This week I ended up visiting a dermatologist and was confronted by the effect of government efforts to rein in healthcare spending. I was told, bluntly, that I was not covered via my health insurance because the... More >


Labour’s integration policy backfires

Labour’s integration policy backfires

The Dutch Labour party has just expelled two MPs of Turkish origin for not agreeing with the party line. But having antiquated ideas is a prerogative of living in a democracy, says former Amstedam University professor Meindert Fennema.   The Labour party wants to change tack completely. Today’s slogan is ‘bottom-up instead of top-down’. Labour administrators, councillors and MPs should spend at least a quarter of their time ‘among the people’ according to a report from a party  committee on... More >


Stress at work should be employers’ headache

Stress at work should be employers’ headache

Why should workers come up with solutions for workplace stress-related problems? It’s up to the employers to act, and a time management course won’t do the trick, say psychology professors Michiel Kompier and Sabine Geurts Last week, home affairs minister Lodewijk Asscher proclaimed a workplace stress week, and not for nothing: stress at work is a wide-spread and growing phenomenon bringing a range of psychological and physical problems in its wake. More people need to take time off work because... More >


Shoppers: Pushy cashiers are a pain

Shoppers: Pushy cashiers are a pain

Stop badgering shoppers at the till with sweets and biscuits and put some healthy treats on display, say behavioural scientists. Research shows that 6 out of 10 people don’t like the ‘pushy cashier’ phenomenon. Pushy cashiers try to sell you something as you are paying for your groceries and it’s usually something not particularly healthy, like a chocolate bar, or rather two chocolate bars for the price of one. Even if the cashier is not trying to lure you into... More >


TU Delft sells science with sexist stereotypes

TU Delft sells science with sexist stereotypes

Is a sexist flash mob video the best way to encourage links between industry and universities? Delft University of Technology chemistry Phd researcher Aldo Brinkman doesn’t think so. Delft University of Technology has an official Facebook page and earlier this month it endorsed a video aimed at technical studies students. Not only was the video shot on campus but it was ‘powered by the TU Delft’. Screaming blondes, a biker girl in lingerie and a fake Arab with a camel.... More >


It’s cool up north

It’s cool up north

The northern Dutch province of Groningen is unfairly being written off by some because of economic problems and the earthquakes. But it is a vibrant place to be and deserves to be treated fairly, says Sandra Beckerman, a candidate for the Socialist party in next year’s provincial elections. When I decided to study archaeology I had already made up my mind to go to a university in the one of the four big cities. My school at the time made it... More >


Dealing with debt, Part 2

Dealing with debt, Part 2

Last week I wrote that family finance institute Nibud calculated that Dutch families in debt cost society €11bn a year. That amount would cover the cost of redesigning and implementing a new tax system twice over with something to spare for education and health care innovation. And that’s just a single year’s worth. Work The standard solution for families with problematic debts is debt relief. After the debts have been written off families are free to carry on as normal.... More >


Manure hits fan in Dutch dairy farming

Manure hits fan in Dutch dairy farming

Dairy farming shouldn’t go the way of pig farming and poultry farming, say Cees Veerman and Herman Wijffels. Dutch dairy farmers have a good reputation. Their grazing cows represent a number of important values: an attractive landscape and care for the wellbeing of the animals. Grass fed cows also ensure short cycles of nutrients (grass – manure – grass) and some biodiversity. The dairy farmers are doing very well indeed economically. In short, it’s a sector to be proud of.... More >


Bring on the robots

Bring on the robots

Don’t fear robotisation but prepare to enjoy the benefits it could bring, says GroenLinks leader Bram van Ojik. Even brilliant economists can’t always be right. In 1930 John Maynard Keynes wrote an essay called ‘Economic possibilities for our grandchildren’ in which he predicted that in two generations’ time a 15-hour working week would be enough to produce whatever we would need. Those grandchildren are us, but instead of working fewer hours we’re putting in more. If we have a job,... More >