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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

SMS: Short Messages Service (3)

Salaries on Special Education schools extremely high

According to the Telegraaf (link in Dutch), the salaries for managers at Special Education (SE) schools are very high.  These SE schools offer (primary) education for children and youngsters with a physical or mental handicap, like blindness, deafness and autism. As the Dutch government is looking for cutbacks at these schools, the personnel is protesting currently.

The Telegraaf now states that managers of some of these schools earn more than 200,000 EUR per year:

"From the annual reports of these Special Education schools it becomes clear that a salary of more than 200,000 EUR is no exception. The chairman of the board of “Stichting Koninklijke Visio”, a foundation that offers education to visually challenged and blind children, earns more than 256,000 EUR, payed with public money[…]. The chairman of the ”Stichting Bartiméus Sonneheerdt “ (also a foundation for the visually handicapped) enjoys a 205,000 EUR salary […]."

About 15 years ago, some people-in-high-places decided that managers in semi-public non-profit sectors deserved salaries in accordance with the free commercial market. Headmasters and topmanagers of large schools and education centres needed to be paid more to prevent them from taking a commercial job “in the market”. Otherwise the quality of topmanagement would decline, was the common opinion in politics at the time.

The shameful result of these politics is that we now have the same lousy and inferior managers as 15 years ago, but “we” pay them three times the salary they earned in those days:
-      burned down and dumped politicians,
-      open sandals and woolly socks type managers
-      ex-account managers from commercial firms that suddenly got a mission in  life.

And if they get fired, due to blunders in operational management, we pay them a huge severance payment of multiple times their annual salary to thank them for services rendered.

Rising food prices can cause poverty explosion

The last months about 44 million people worldwide fell into poverty by the sudden rise of foodprices. The Worldbank announced this on Tuesday 15 February, according to the Telegraaf (link in Dutch):

“According to the Worldbank momentarily the foodprices are in average abouth one third higher than one year ago. With that increase the foodprices approach the record levels of 2008 that caused many problems worldwide. The price of wheat doubled last year. The price of corn (maize) rose by 75%. Also the prices of other important daily ingredients, like vegetables and beans increased substantially in many countries”.

It is hard to say whether there are really good reasons for these increases in prices, or that they are caused by speculation on the futures markets for food. The current societal acrimony in countries in Africa, the Middle-East and Asia at the least doesn’t help to bring the food prices down in the near future. Besides that there may be a self-reenforcing effect: rising food prices lead to societal acrimony and societal acrimony leads to rising food prices.

125,000 houses can’t be sold in The Netherlands

The AD states that 125,000 houses can’t be sold in The Netherlands (link in Dutch), due to the fact that the ground on which the property stands is owned by a different private owner. Since one year banks refuse to supply a mortgage in this situation.

“A person that lives in a house with private ground rent is not able to sell his property anymore.  In total these are about 125,000 houses. Examples are houses purchased from housing associations. These associations sold large numbers of houses, but kept the ground the houses were built on in property. […] In The Netherlands 10,000 households are destined to stay in their current house for the rest of their lives. 
Victims of this policy and representatives of “Vereniging Eigen Huis”  (society of house-owners in The Netherlands) are having longterm talks with the banks, but they refuse to give in.”

Although the tone-of-voice of this article is absolutely not free of sensationalism, it shows once more how messed-up the Dutch housing market is; a thing that I noticed before in “ Prime Minister Rutte, kill your darling”

In a way I can’t blame the banks for not supplying a mortgage to people in the uncertain situation of having private ground rent. The bricks-and-mortar are not worth much in an execution sale if you don’t own the ground the property is built on.

The main problem is and will remain that the housing prices in The Netherlands are about 33% higher than in our neighboring countries, due to:
-    the tax-break on mortgage interest
-   the artificial shortage on the Dutch housing market, due to ridiculous government and municipal intervention in the housing market.

So I ask one more time to Prime Minister Mark Rutte: “ Please kill your darling”  and free up the Dutch housing market, by getting rid of the tax break on mortgage interest.


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