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Monday, 19 September 2016

“Majesty, point us a dot at the horizon. Somewhere where we – the Dutch people – would want to go for ourselves and our children”. Open letter to the Dutch King as the government’s official straw man on Prince’s Day

Your Majesty,

Since last Prince’s Day [the Dutch National Budget Day and the moment of the official governmental outlook for the next year on the third Tuesday of September - EL] the situation in The Netherlands has substantially improved, as far as the economy is concerned.

Housing prices are up again – especially in the big cities –and unemployment is dropping; in particular among older, 50+ workers. The number of trucks on the Dutch roads is steadily mounting, as a palpable sign of soaring economic activity. In other words, the economy seems to be in a positive flow, in spite of the global unrest, the refugee crisis and the tensions in Eastern Europe. On top of that the Dutch national budget looks fine as well.

There is a lot to be satisfied about for the current PvdA (socialist) and VVD (liberal-conservative) government, that is going to reach maturity unharmed for the first time in many, many years.  And – as 2017 is an election year for the Second Chamber of Parliament – the government is boasting about its achievements during the nearly four years of Cabinet Mark Rutte II.

The PvdA is boasting about the social, labour-friendly parts in their share of the government policy, while the VVD is bragging about their ministers and state secretaries being tough on crime, commuter-friendly (“We delivered more tarmac during this government period than during any other time before”) and being the entrepreneur’s best friends.

Almost everybody in the government – irrespective of their party – is very pleased with himself and wants to share the secret of his success with the Dutch grassroots, as an invitation to give him/her another chance.

And Mark Rutte? He thinks that he is capable of leading the country for another five years, like no-one else is, and he is very much willing to do so too. Well, your majesty, you know him.

But, your highness, look outside the safe zone of your own protected micro-cosmos. Forget those ecstatic sportsmen and -women that you encountered on various occasions in Rio de Janeiro: those people – especially the medal winners – are living in their own micro-cosmos, where they can ignore – even deny – reality and normal live in The Netherlands.

Read the newspapers and don’t skip the comments of common Dutch citizens beneath the articles. Spend a day or two on Twitter or Facebook and other social media to get acquainted with the emotions of ‘Joop & Liesbeth’ (proverbial socialist couple), ‘Jan-Jaap and Brechtje’ (proverbial liberal-conservatives) or their blue-collar rightwing counterparts ‘Henk & Ingrid’. Not always the happiest of emotions; thats true! And often contrary in their conclusions with respect to the Dutch social-economic situation. But very real ones!

Pierce through the tinsel of LinkedIn showing only ‘passionate and utterly motivated people, waiting for a new challenge where they can proactively show what they are made of’; there are quite a lot of them, aren’t there?! Do you think all those people are on LinkedIn for fun?! Really?!

And do you think that all those people on LinkedIn are showing cheesy statements of Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or the Dalai Lama, because they deeply adore those guys? Really?! And not, because these folks hope that some of these idols’ glory, success and glamour will touch themselves on their quest for a new job and a better career?!

Read about the numerous flex-workers, the (not so) freelancers and the hundreds of thousands of youngsters with temporary contracts, who will not receive a fixed contract in many, many years probably. Or the people with a chronical illness and their loved ones, who are all struggling to cope with that circumstance: humanely, but also financially and with respect to their difficult work-leisure balance.

Please walk the extra mile to really know the current feelings of your citizens, instead of only being the ventriloquist’s dummy of your government. Just a perfect spokesman, reading a bad speech that is utterly boring in its insignificance and its stately dryness and cheesiness. Prick through the bragging of this cabinets self-complacency and try to see what the people are missing at this moment: the proverbial dot on the horizon.

Your Majesty, you have three children and so have I. Actually they are almost the same age. Your oldest daughter will become the Queen of The Netherlands, while my youngest son will hopefully become the King of Dutch Chess.

I want my children to grow up in a cleaner, more healthy world. Not in a world in which their lungs will be polluted at a young age with the particulates of the heavy industry and the millions of fossile fuel-driven cars, clouding our highways. And I want them to grow up in a world in which they can get a decent job with a decent salary and a decent retirement fee after they have stopped working; at a reasonable age.

I want them to grow up in a safe world, in which the Second Cold War and Islamic jihads are hopefully a thing of the past again. A world in which mutual understanding has triumphated upon the countries with the biggest guns, the most deadly bombs or the most dangerous religious masses.

A world in which drinking and cleaning water is freely obtainable for all the world’s citizens and daily food stuffs are not the asset of a few powerful companies: Bayer-Monsanto, Nestle, Danone, Syngenta or Cargill. And not in a world in which Africa is still starving from poverty and drought, while being looted by China, Japan, Russia, South Korea or the European countries and the United States; just as South-America and the North Pole.

For my children I want that they have the chance to see their children and grandchildren grow up, just like I see them do that now. I know by heart, that you think about that the same way, with respect to your children.

I know that you are bound by the protocol to express that what is presented to you and that the Prime Minister has written your King’s speech. A Prime Minister who flatters himself with the opinion that he ‘is not the guy for having a grand vision on the world. That he is simply keeping the shop open for “The Netherlands ltd” and that he is doing a fine job with that’. 

Talented in what he does, but utterly uninspiring as a human being.

PM Mark Rutte does not have children of himself and that is OK, of course. I hope for him that he will find and keep happiness in his life: with or without a partner for life. I think I know his situation as I have been in a similar situation too, for quite a long time. Actually not much unlike yourself, your highness.

Nevertheless, you have children, as I mentioned earlier. That gives you an extra responsibility: both as a loving father and instigator of your own ‘blue’ bloodline. And that, even though your daughters live in the same micro-cosmos as you do. 

A micro-cosmos in which encounters with the press and with common, 'normal' people are reduced to half a dozen, carefully chosen and guarded moments per year. And a micro-cosmos in which having a shedload of money, status and a fixed job has never been an issue, even though I dont envy you or your job.

Yet, I hope that you know and understand that a world war with Russia, China or perhaps even the United States would destroy your little Camelot after all, even though you and your loved ones would be among the first people to find shelter. 

And that religious tensions and economic despair in a society can utterly divide people at the bottom of the social ladder and make them afraid, desperate and agressive. And also that the air pollution from fossile fuels won’t stop just outside your little paradises in Wassenaar, Den Haag, Greece or Switzerland, irrespective of how much money you paid and security you arranged for it.

And of course I hope you understand and feel inside your heart that the dissatisfied and disappointed, sometimes even angry and alienated people in The Netherlands want a straw to clutch at: a glimmer of hope from a person that they love and trust beyond anything else. A sign that gives them confidence and courage to move on living their lives and to get more optimistical about the future again, as it is their future; for them to discover!

So please, your highness...!

Go to your ‘employer’ Mark Rutte and his henchmen and tell them to take a hike with Rutte's boring secrets of his Cabinet’s success, their boasting about the positive progression of the Dutch economy and their stately prose about the current state of the Dutch nation, that nobody understands and for which nobody really cares. 

Tell them that you go on strike “like an Air France pilot” if he demands from you to present that boring nonsense again.

Tell them that you heard from your ‘subjects’ (i.e. the Dutch citizens) that they want an inspired and inspiring speech: a speech that will change their life for the better and make the world – at least our country – a better place again, in which solidarity and mutual trust triumphate egoism and carelessness about our fellow citizens.

Tell Mark that you are ready and willing to give that darn speech, like you were never before. Tell Mark that your children – the princesses – want to become 90+ too, just like your grandmother and -father did. And that fossile fueles are soooo 1990.

Tell him that a modern Prime Minister is not a simple technocratic and bureaucratic store manager, like Rutte seems to believe. Tell him that he is an utterly important politician on whose shoulders lies the responsibility of inspiring, motivating and comforting the people in his country: not only to smoothtalk to and pamper his own grassroots.

Go for it, your highness! Show him that you are worth every euro that he pays for you per annum, as the moral leader of our country! You – and no-one else – can do this! I rely on you!!!

Yours sincerely,


PS. Tell Maxima to not go berzerk on the hat. She looks fine without it!

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