Tuesday 17 September 2019

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

Glass ceiling? It’s a sticky workfloor that makes women stay put

Glass ceiling? It’s a sticky workfloor that makes women stay put

It’s not the glass ceiling that keeps women from the top positions but the sticky workfloor of part-time jobs, says Barbara Baarsma, director of knowledge development at Rabobank and economics professor at the University of Amsterdam. If, like me, you think quota are a paternalistic panacea for the lack of women in top executive positions, you are duty-bound to monitor the labour market for women with an eagle eye. Unfortunately, the last 15 years do not make for happy viewing.... More >


How much more in your pocket? Down with purchasing power predictions!

How much more in your pocket? Down with purchasing power predictions!

There they are again: the spending power predictions. Don’t you believe them, says economist Mathijs Bouman. Crack open the beer, we’re having a party. Next year spending power is up by 1.5%. For a while it looked as if the meter would get stuck at 1.3% but in an ultimate pre-budget day effort the government cranked it up by means of a number of measures. What these measures are we do not know – I’m guessing it will be something... More >


Staffing agency exploitation is the other side of the benefit fraud scandal

Staffing agency exploitation is the other side of the benefit fraud scandal

Last week, the Dutch media was full of a new scandal, which they dubbed ‘the Polish fraud’. But the expose only covered part of the story, and the real scandal is going unmentioned, says Malgorzata Bos-Karczewska, editor of Polonia.nl. Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees wants to come down hard on Polish fraudsters, who are claiming unemployment benefit while living back home in Poland.  He is, of course, totally justified in doing so, but in essence it is not enough. Why?... More >


Enough of out-of-court settlements, put bankers in the dock

Enough of out-of-court settlements, put bankers in the dock

Banks that settle scandals out of court continue in their wicked ways. Instead, they should be hauled before a judge so justice is seen to be done, says economist Mathijs Bouman. But Mr Hamers, how do you explain the fact that your own computer system was programmed deliberately to limit alarm signals over possible money laundering practices to three times a day? The public prosecutor gazes at the ING boss Ralph Hamers for a long time before adding: ‘And how... More >


‘Dutch people with different backgrounds are no longer timid newcomers’

‘Dutch people with different backgrounds are no longer timid newcomers’

The Netherlands is a pretty stable, well-integrated and prosperous country. So why do the white Dutch talk about the failed multi-cultural society? asks journalist and writer Hassnae Bouazza. The media and politicians have been banging on about it for over twenty years: the multicultural society has failed and we are living a multicultural nightmare. I have never understood the failed-multicultural-society mantra. You might as well say the sun has failed. The multicultural society is a fact and that’s it. Like... More >


How many people in uniform does it take to rescue a dead duck?

How many people in uniform does it take to rescue a dead duck?

How many people in uniform does it take to kill a duckling? In the case of the duckling born on top of a five-floor block in Amsterdam west, the answer is 13 – which was certainly unlucky for the bird itself. It all began when a neighbour alerted the animal ambulance people to the presence of a female mallard and one tiny duckling, which were stuck on the parapet, 20 metres up above a street in the 19th century zone.... More >


If salary shaming doesn’t work what will curb executive pay?

If salary shaming doesn’t work what will curb executive pay?

If salary shaming does not limit excessive executive pay, a link with workers’ pay will, write social psychologist Naomi Ellemers (Universiteit Utrecht) and organisational sociologist Rafael Wittek ­(Rijksuniversiteit Groningen) Executive pay levels at large companies frequently prove controversial. ING, Van Lanschot and Unilever have all come in for criticism recently for what is perceived to be the excessive remuneration of their CEOs. Perspectives on the subject vary. Politicians, concerned with public accountability, rely on the embarrassing effect of transparency. If top... More >


Column: Stef Blok backtracks but the damage has been done

Column: Stef Blok backtracks but the damage has been done

What will be the ramifications of foreign minister Stef Blok’s comments on the multicultural society, asks Arend Jan Boekestijn, a former VVD MP and lecturer in international relations at Utrecht University A safe pair of hands, that is the image Stef Blok projected in the wake of the ludicrous and ego-inspired dacha affair which scuppered his predecessor Halbe Zijlstra’s career at the foreign office. A smaller ego was required and when Edith Schippers refused, Blok, after being wooed for some... More >


Leave the European Union? Here are three lessons for Nexiteers

Leave the European Union? Here are three lessons for Nexiteers

    People in the Netherlands who support the idea of a Nexit need a few lessons in reality, writes macro-economist Mathijs Bouman. They really do exist, the Dutch politicians who look at the UK and think: now why can’t we do that. Political chaos, ministers stepping down in droves, parties split down the middle, companies preparing to leave, the economy on hold and a derailed social debate. Exactly what the Netherlands needs. ‘We want a NEXIT referendum, just like... More >


The changes to the 30% ruling are foolish

The changes to the 30% ruling are foolish

Dutch tax minister Menno Snel should resign because of the incompetence he has shown with his plans to cut the 30% ruling for current cases, says expat Jay Henning. Anyone familiar with tax will know that retrospective changes to tax law are taboo, as it creates a climate of uncertainty which puts off investment and long term planning.  But that does not seem to apply to the 30% ruling, which the Dutch government is cutting from eight to five years,... More >


Vrij Links must remain faithful to their free-thinking, secular roots

Vrij Links must remain faithful to their free-thinking, secular roots

Spinoza sowed the seeds of a free Europe in which secular thought could flourish so we should stop thinking that non-western immigrants need protecting from free debate, say writer Asis Aynan, actor Femke Lakerveld, film maker Eddy Terstall and former Labour MP Keklik Yücel.. Group thinking is dividing this country. Nationalist right-wing opinion is feeding on romantic nationalism and all the regressive left has to show for itself are equally divisive tales of identity politics. The group is elbowing out... More >


Dutch politicians have a key role in protecting the rights of British citizens

Dutch politicians have a key role in protecting the rights of British citizens

This week, the Dutch courts will decide if a court case brought by British nationals in the Netherlands who want to keep their European citizenship should be referred to the EU courts. But, whatever happens, the Netherlands can play an important role in making sure the rights of British citizens in Europe are protected after Brexit, writes Sarah Parkes of the British in the Netherlands group. Some 85,000 British citizens currently live in the Netherlands. Our number has been growing... More >


Some chewing gum and a packet of baby killers please

Some chewing gum and a packet of baby killers please

Cigarettes kill. But so do lots of things. What is a shareholder to do? asks economist Mathijs Bouman. I only had a couple of items in my shopping basket which entitled me to pay at the service desk. As my shopping was being scanned I gazed at the display of cigarettes against the wall. There was none of the brightly coloured packaging as in the days when I too thought smoking was cool. In its place had come grisly pictures... More >


Let’s learn from history, both good and bad

Let’s learn from history, both good and bad

History’s saints as well as its villains carry lessons for the present, writes historian Tineke Bennema. I could see where Urk city council was coming from when it decided to name some of the town’s new streets after discredited sea heroes such as Michiel de Ruyter and Jan Pieterszoon Coen. I believe Urk didn’t do this to stir up controversy but to show that the history of human beings is not a blank slate but a product of the past.... More >


Farewell Facebook, you and I are through!

Farewell Facebook, you and I are through!

Economist Mathijs Bouman has said goodbye and good riddance to Facebook and he won’t be back (he hopes). I would like to start this column by offering my sincere apologies to all my friends. Bart Stoffels, Rineke Gieske-Mastenbroek: my apologies. A hearfelt sorry is also due to Witdietma Narain from Arnhem, Willem-Aart Hop from Spakenburg and of course Fokke Obbema from Amsterdam. Apologies too to Remco Dijkstra and Annette van Trigt. And even to Thierry Baudet who, to my surprise,... More >


Dutch agriculture is not a beacon of good farming practice to the world

Dutch agriculture is not a beacon of good farming practice to the world

Dutch agriculture has to become a lot less efficient or the environment will suffer even more, say agro-environmental scientists. Greater awareness among consumers and voters may make it happen. In an opinion piece in January, Volkskrant columnist Bert Wagendorp claimed most farmers simply can’t help being fraudsters when it comes to manure: it’s a national sport to hoodwink the authorities. We are not trying to make excuses but isn’t it also true that we are all responsible for the mess... More >


The Netherlands doesn’t need ‘the G4’ big cities to stay in business

The Netherlands doesn’t need ‘the G4’ big cities to stay in business

There is more to the Netherlands than four big cities with a few fields in between, says economist Mathijs Bouman. Amsterdam stands for Schiphol airport, HQs, and the creative sector. Rotterdam is synonymous with the port, trade, and hard graft. The Hague is the administrative capital and looks after international relations. Utrecht takes care of the business services. The Dutch economy is propelled by a four-cylinder motor: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. Without a hint of irony they call... More >


Do-it-yourself: the wonderful world of having multiple jobs

Do-it-yourself: the wonderful world of having multiple jobs

Journalist may be her main profession, but bank clerk, travel agent, postman and bin woman could easily be included on her cv, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe Not so long ago, the national statistics office CBS announced that the official Dutch unemployment rate had dipped under 5% – one of the lowest rates in Europe. The economic recovery is racing along, gross domestic product is forecast to hit 3.3% this year and the declining jobless total is one of the... More >


The arrival of the PVV and FvD in the cities is alarming, say D66 local leaders

The arrival of the PVV and FvD in the cities is alarming, say D66 local leaders

The PVV and Forum voor Democratie are making a bid for local power and that is a worrying development, say Reinier van Dantzig and Klaas Verschuure, who are leading the local election campaigns in Amsterdam and Utrecht. Terms like ‘head rag tax’, ‘arranging’ for ‘fewer, fewer, fewer Moroccans’ and ‘homeopathic dilution’ have so far largely come from the mouths of national politicians. But it was local Amsterdam FvD leader Annabel Nanninga who came up with the term ‘bobbing negroes’ for... More >


Dutch case over Britons’ EU rights could have profound consequences

Dutch case over Britons’ EU rights could have profound consequences

Next week, five British nationals living in the Netherlands will hear if their bid to keep European citizenship after Brexit will be referred to the European court. London barrister Jolyon Maugham QC, who is funding the legal action, says if they win, it will have profound consequences. The Conservative manifesto of 2015 promised to scrap the rules barring those who had lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting. Still, long-term British expats were denied the chance to vote... More >