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Monday, 5 September 2016

My hopes and wishes for The Netherlands after the 2017 national elections.

The year 2017 is an election year in The Netherlands.

And 2017 is also the year in which the current Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the liberal-conservative party VVD wants to serve a third stint as PM in a cabinet in his name.

He wants to do so in any shape or form and with whoever want(s) to be his partner(s), excluding no party in advance at all, even in spite of the sometimes preposterous, disgusting and constitutionally illegal ideas of some of those parties. 

Regular readers know my opinion about this Prime Minister, as I wrote numerous articles about him and his policy.

Therefore I don’t want to waste my energy on an negative, vinegar-ish article, describing why a third term for Mark Rutte as Prime Minister would be bad for the country. People who repudiate this Prime Minister know themselves why they dislike and even despise him.

At the same time, the people who like him and his style of governance will never be convinced by my remarks about him. Remarks about his flaws and especially his lack of intellectual depth in conversations, a necessary grand vision, as well as a heartfelt sense of sanitary decency (to these eyes) and backbone.

Rutte’s fundamentally flawed government with the Christian-Democrat party CDA and especially the right-wing PVV (“Party for Freedom”) of Geert Wilders – as silent partner – was probably not a one-off, of which Rutte learned valuable lessons in order to never repeat it again.

To the contrary: I have a feeling that Rutte would repeat this experiment if he had too; under slightly different terms and circumstances, when it would be a necessary step to stay in charge of the country. Some would call this great political helmsmanship and agility-on-behalf-of-the-country; I call this selling one’s soul!

But enough is enough!

Instead, I want to express my hopes and wishes for the new cabinet in 2017 and for the policy that it will execute. This policy should bring The Netherlands in a better economic and sociologic position, and besides that, it should lead to more confidence, mutual trust, solidarity and togetherness for the whole Dutch population and for all who are depending on that.

These are my hopes and wishes for the next Cabinet:

1.  Stop the national depression that has The Netherlands in its grasp and replace it with a feeling of (humble) self-confidence and strenght again, based upon the nearly unlimited power of the Dutch population during the last 500 years. There is no reason for unfounded boasting, but also no reason for ‘talking oneself down to the ground’.

2.  Stop the poisonous climate in the national, political forae and in some national media, leading to an evermore poisonous climate in Dutch society itself, against different minorities as well as the so-called elites.

Show that the cabinet does not have to incorporate ‘extremist’ visions from the right and left wing, when they can’t beat those visions and their protagonists with a soft and civilized tone of voice. Let the political scoundrels spit their bile, but never consider this a normal 'modus operandi' or something that needs to be followed or even incorporated in the moderate political parties.

3.  Please let the next cabinet develop a vision on The Netherlands in the next 25 years. What is the spot on the horizon that we see as our most desired future and what kind of world do we want our children to live in. And let the cabinet act accordingly.

By continuing to live as there is no tomorrow, the world might come in a situation in which there is indeed no tomorrow.

Fossile fuels, the growing gap and 'two society-division' between rich and not-so-rich, climate change and global heating are subjects and events for which negligence can come at an extremely high price. ‘Wir haben es nicht gewuβt’ (i.e. ‘We did not know this’) is an untenable stand in case of these subjects and events.

Seek cooperation and mutual interests to solve climate and energy isses, but don’t use possible stagnation in the rest of the world as an excuse to do nothing ourselves. The same for this growing gap between rich and poor.

4.  Stop the utterly technocrat, economy-driven policy approach, by calling our country The Netherlands Ltd and by translating every societal development and event into economic, value-driven terms alone. By doing this, politicians grossly neglect the intangible side-effects and emotions that come in the process of such developments and events.

People are people and not durable means of production, which have only value in terms of the Gross Domestic Product of The Netherlands.

The Netherlands is definitely not a limited company and money is not the standard for every event, development or emotion within the country.

By adding economic value to everything and every event, the Dutch people feel themselves neglected in their humanity; as if they are little more than tiny wheels in a huge economic machine: humans as FTE’s (i.e. full time equivalents).

5.  Stop the development in which responsibility and liability in (f.i.) construction and production processes are delegated into oblivion; away from the principals or the main and subcontractors, thus leaving the people that do the actual work in the cold, when it comes to their safety, optimal labour circumstances, fair payment  and pleasure in working.

Don’t accept it, when main contractors for large building projects don’t have executing personnel of their own on the building sites and leave everything to numerous subcontractors and (foreign) freelancers.

Don't accept it either when companies only exist out of executive and management layers and leave the all work itself to subcontractors and freelancers.

6.  Make an end to the excessive flexibilization of the Dutch labour market and to the circumstance that – instead of more people getting job and income security as a consequence of new and improved government policies – actually less people get job and income security, due to ubiquitous freelancing, unavoidable flexible labour contracts and zero hour contracts for nearly all younger workers.

When government policies blatantly fail, please replace them by better and more elaborated ones. Don’t start with the quantitative and qualitative reduction of the existing protective laws with respect to the dismissal of workers with fixed contracts, but start by giving flex workers and freelancers more job and income security via social laws and regulations, as well as new forms of social security and feasible(!) protective policies.

Make sure that you have the unconditional commitment of the social partners before you set the wheels of law change in motion: employers’ organizations, freelancer’s organizations and labour unions.

7.  Be sure that the European Union survives the next decade and does not collapse under the ubiquitously mounting negative, anti-European and nationalist feelings, for as far as Dutch government leaders can enable that.

Lead by example by not only emphasizing the Dutch (!) interest in European discussions, but keeping a keen eye for the European citizens' interests, as they might differ on some occasions. Europe is not a simple sum of 27 individual countries interests...

8.  Don’t try to restore the economic situation from the year 2007 in Europe. This was the year when the debt bubbles in any shape or form were on the brink of imploding. By restoring this economic situation, we restore the same bubbles that brought us in this economic depression in the first place.

9.  Take the people, who are very vulnerable for the sometimes poisonous ideas of the left- and rightwing populists, very seriously and show them that you understand and (even) share their worries, disappointments and grief; even when their ideas might sometimes seem simplistic and/or overly aggressive against minorities and the elites of this country.

Try to take away their worries and when that’s impossible for various reasons, explain them why you can’t. Those people are not spoilt, little children who always want to get their way, but they want to see leaders that they can trust and rely upon, even if they don't agree with them.

10. Inform the people about the developments and risks of the digitization and robotization of the economy in The Netherlands. The digitization and robotization of the economy will probably come at the expense of numerous jobs that must be replaced by other jobs, in order to not get massive numbers of unemployed people during the next twenty-odd years.

Instead of putting the people to sleep with governmental marketing babble, 'chill', governmental infotainment commercials and stories about a brave, new world, these people need to get perspective on a better future again; even if they are poorly educated and trained. For instance in the form of early retirement plans, or with retrainings and refresher courses and the national stimulation of innovation, in order to create new jobs.

11. Stop with the delusion that budget balancing, lower taxes and ‘the magic wands of the markets’ are the answer to every economic and sociologic question, emerging in the Dutch society.

Start to act as an active government, by investing in (fundamental) science and research and innovation, but also in people’s (re)trainings and learning possibilities, in order to prevent those people from becoming “unemployed foregood”.

Start investing top dollar in primary and secondary schools, medium and high level vocational education and universities, while at the same time diminishing the administrative red tape that is haunting so many professors, teachers and additional personnel. Trust professionals for doing their jobs professionally and make sure that the new government enables their efforts, instead of hampering those with red tape, as well as useless inquiries and demands.

Don’t waste billions of euros on unnecessary building and construction activities (especially on excess and thus useless commercial real estate) and unnecessary infrastructure (i.e. the proverbial ‘bridges to nowhere’). Such investments costs billions and billions of euro in ‘dead money’ that neither yields to the economy nor to the general well-being in The Netherlands.

12. Be gentle with the ‘baby boomers’ and the last generation of survivors of the Second World War, but don’t let especially the former ‘eat away all the cake’ for the younger generations and especially the current youngsters under 27. Also these young generations want to have a decent retirement plan when they turn 65 (or 70). We simply can’t leave everything to the market...

13. And last but not least: be reliable as a government at one side, but humane and forgiving at the other side. Nobody asks for a perfect government, but nearly everybody wants a gentle, fair and reliable, non-technocratic one.

People want politicians that have a story to tell... Not politicians like the local supermarket branch manager, who only keeps the store (i.e. The Netherlands) open and has no ideas and visions of his own.

And to the Dutch people: be wise in what and for whom you vote! Don’t believe the wonderfully attractive music that the different Sirens and Pied Pipers of Hamelin make, as this music will lead you to your doom.

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