September 23, 2014

Dutchman fought to keep amputated leg, made a lamp

Filed under: Science,Weird by Orangemaster @ 7:00 am

Needing an amputation, Leo Bonten wanted to keep his right leg after the operation because he wanted to make a lamp out of it, claiming it would help him deal with his loss. Ethical clinician Erwin Kompanje and pathologist Frank van de Goot have a discussion about it with Bonten in attendance (see video).

The hospital said ‘no’ to Bonten keeping his right leg, but the law actually has nothing to say about it, only what to do with corpses. Kompanje was surprised at the hospital’s answer, which was entirely baseless. “Your body is your property, unless you give it away,” he explains. The ethical clinician compares it to leaving the hair from your haircut on the floor at the salon: you give permission to have it sweeped up by leaving it there, while you could ask for it and bring it with you.

Van de Goot, who prepared the leg for amputation, says social safety issues must be taken into account like hygiene and infection, which Bonten agrees with as well, although not an issue in his case. Van de Goot agrees with Kompanje that Bonten could keep his leg. He tells of people keeping their baby teeth in a box or gallstones they have had removed, so why not a leg.

However, Bonten was told that he could only get his amputated leg back after it had been buried to follow the letter of the law, which was costly never mind a bit ridiculous. Bonten refused and was initially refused the amputation by the hospital. It was eventually sorted out, but Bonten had to fight for a right he already had to keep his own leg and make the lamp he wanted. “The hospital didn’t have a leg to stand on,” says Bonten jokingly.

The big unanswered question is, what constitutes a corpse, because this kind a situation could very well happen again and the law apparently has no clear answer.

(In Dutch)


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November 14, 2012

The Netherlands’ reputation as a tax haven is alive and well

Filed under: General by Orangemaster @ 11:20 am

Last year, The Guardian wrote a column on how the Netherlands is a tax haven for multinationals. In fact, if you Google ‘Netherlands’ and words like ‘tax avoidance’ or ‘tax haven’, you’ll see how gladly the country enables companies like Amazon, Google and Starbucks.

Back in 2002 Portugal got pissed when they calculated the insane amount of money they were losing to the Netherlands, while Dutch telly pointed out that “empty shell corporations pump 8,000 billion euro through the Netherlands”.

It’s bad enough the country’s 16.5 million residents have to deal with explaining themselves when it comes to prostitution and drugs, what we could do without is having to explain why our government wants to be the whore and pusher of corporations. Grab a hot beverage and read The central role of Dutch financing companies in tax avoidance strategies.

In the Netherlands, complex tax law constructions apparently allow companies to show losses in one or more countries to pay taxes at a lower rate in another. While most of it is probably legal, like many capitalist constructions, it screws billions of people over around the world. And the Netherlands thinks that’s ethically fine for some reason.

If you want more information, this is also a nice read from the Netherlands Comparative Law Association. The conclusion says a lot: “The Netherlands has a long-standing tradition of providing tools to address tax avoidance.”

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February 3, 2012

Dutch tax haven angers Portuguese

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 6:21 pm

A 2002 tax agreement between the Netherlands and Portugal has led 18 of the 20 largest Portuguese corporations to move their headquarters to the Netherlands.

This has led to 80% of all Portuguese investments being done in the Netherlands, De Pers reports.

The latest of these movers is Sociedade Francisco Manuel Dos Santos, owner of super market chain Pingo Doce (350 stores). The money drain in a time of crisis has led to calls for a boycott in Portugal.

The Portuguese government is now looking for ways to punish these companies for taking their tax payments elsewhere. De Pers has a tip based on what Brasil does: tax the tax flee-ers extra.

Dutch taxes for corporations are often low, and the Netherlands is the country with the most mutual tax agreements in the world.

The European Union has outlawed corporations that are not active in the country where they are legally located, but for some odd reason, the Dutch tax service sees no reason to check on companies that bring in a lot of money.

In 2009 TV show Zembla reported that these empty shell corporations pump 8,000 billion euro through the Netherlands, ten percent of all trade in the world.

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