Compared to other countries, the Dutch don’t trust institutions like parliament, the government, the media, justice and large companies. Sounds healthy so far. Sijbren Cnossen, guest researcher at the CPB (Dutch stats office), concludes that the Netherlands, with a tax pressure of 39% of its national income, does better than the continental (42%), Mediterranean (37%) and Anglo-Saxon (34%) countries in Europe. “Poverty is lower, the elderly are better off, there is less discrimination, and healthcare and education is high.”
And then there are things the Netherlands is still bad at, which at a glance seems to mostly affect women and children: major child porverty in one parent families with a parent who does not work (educated guess: about 85% are women), high rate of infant mortality (in short: absent gynaecologists), barely any use of childcare for emancipation (code for ‘women’ and the social stigma of ‘dumping’ your kids) and integration (code for ‘female immigrants’), increasing obesity (like many other places), and the low level of spending for research and development (government wants something for nothing).
(Links: crossroadsmag.eu, cpb.nl, Photo by Quistnix, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 1.0)
Tags: Dutch government
Unlikely problems will get you unlikely bed fellows: Dutch parliament is divided across traditional ideological lines and across the current government opposition division over astrology and talking to trees. The matter at hand? Whether the unemployed should be subsidized to pay for assistance from astrologers, tarot card dealers, and folks that talk to space aliens. The Christian governing parties CDA and CU, and the socialist opposition party SP think the idea is ludicrous, and feel that UWV, the organization that pays unemployment benefits, should be more careful about which re-integration projects it supports.
UWV denies any allegations of carelessness: of about 40,000 people that make use of the opportunity to have a tailor-made re-integration plan, only a few dozen follow a “spiritual” route to a job. The offices that assist the unemployed work according to a no cure, less pay principle. Daily De Volkskrant reports (Dutch) that there are about 2,000 such agencies. “It’s a new market; anybody can start an agency,” Ryanne Dijkstra tells the paper. Perhaps an idea for the unemployed?
But UWV warns that not every agency will be subsidized; “[An agency] must be registered with the Chamber of Commerce, must employ sufficient personnel to assist all customers, must have complaints and privacy regulations, and must make a personal development plan together with the job seeker,” PR person Anna Beekjes tells Planet.nl (Dutch). “[What’s more], if after two years the project is still unsuccessful, we will only pay the agency 50%.”
According to De Volkskrant, parliamentarian Eddy van Hijum (CDA, Christian centrists) thinks it is good that people are looking for meaning. “But we should not have to subsidize this. These woolly projects are not helping anyone find work.” And so 150 parliamentarians are busy investigating the dealings of “a few dozen” unemployed. Now that’s service! Or pico-management. I always get them mixed up.
Tags: Astrology, business models, Dutch government, unemployed