July 28, 2014

Breaking the law is fine when the rich do it, says cop

Filed under: Automobiles by Branko Collin @ 2:43 pm

Smart-parkingLast month, lost in a footnote, I hinted at a common practice in a rich neighbourhood of Amsterdam of not paying parking tickets.

Instead, the rich used to fight their tickets in court. They assumed that because the district had to pay its lawyers with public money, the district would prefer to turn a blind eye to parking violations.

Volkskrant wrote back in 2001: “In the entire neighbourhood committees were started to collect the legal expertise needed to fight parking fines in court. Once people had won a couple of their cases, posters started appearing at the dry cleaners: ‘Got ticketed? Fight the fine!'”

The article, a vignette of the Amsterdam neighbourhood Museumkwartier, quotes a police officer who gets worked up over the lack of respect shown to his office, but his colleague, one Jan Okx, sees the positive side of the situation: “The people get to know each other, which improves the cohesion of the neighbourhood.” Volkskrant describes his attitude without a hint of irony as “thinking in processes”.

I wonder if an article like that could still be published today. The one percent have destroyed the economy and the phrase ‘the rich are getting richer’ is no longer just a leftist cry but a scientific fact.

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July 13, 2014

Rich are getting poorer in the Netherlands

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 2:56 pm

swimming-pool-meraj-chhayaAn OESO study has discovered that the Netherlands bucks the trend of the rich getting richer at the expense of those paying for the crisis.

Good news, then? Not really. Z24 points out that the Dutch poor are also getting poorer. The group of people that live below the poverty line has increased from 6.7% in 2007 to 7.8% in 2011. In this study ‘rich’ is defined as belonging to the top 10% in disposable income and poor as the bottom 10%.

The financial news site points out that the poor have lost less income than the rich, which is an interesting mathematical factoid, but otherwise devoid of meaning in my opinion. If the poor lose 1.5% of their income it means they go without food for another five days in a year, while for the rich it means they have to wait five days longer before they can purchase their next luxury car. Not quite the same difference.

A group of people that has done relatively well for themselves during the crisis is the elderly whose income has stayed the same. The group of 18 to 25-year-olds has seen their income drop since 2007 by well over 2%, although those differences are minimal compared to those of the same age groups in other countries such as New Zealand and Israel where the elderly are getting rich at the cost of everybody else.

(Photo by Meraj Chhaya, some rights reserved)

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June 9, 2014

Amsterdam’s rich district Zuid throws money in the trash

Filed under: Weird by Branko Collin @ 11:08 am

coins-sarah-joyLast January garbage collectors found 46,000 guilders in old office furniture that most likely came from the offices of Amsterdam’s district Zuid (‘South’).

The money was found by an HVC employee in Hoorn who was busy compressing a container full of wood when money boxes started popping out, revealing the banknotes they had inside. The district told Parool that they never missed the money. The district ordered the money to be returned. The paper doesn’t say what legal grounds they have to do so.

Amsterdam Zuid is home to the richest residents of Amsterdam, so it’s quite ironic that they could lose tens of thousands of guilders without noticing it. Residents of some Amsterdam Zuid neighbourhoods are so wealthy that when they get fined for double parking, they prefer to call their expensive lawyers rather than paying a small fine.

The Netherlands replaced the guilder by the euro as its legal tender in 2002.

(Photo by Sarah Joy, some rights reserved)

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March 17, 2013

Kurhaus and pier in Scheveningen in decline

Filed under: Architecture,History by Branko Collin @ 12:42 am

The Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen near The Hague is bankrupt, Omroep West writes.

The hotel is owned by seven anonymous private investors who bought it in 2004 for 46 million euro and is run by the German Steigenberger Hotel Group. At the time the purchase was supervised by Willem Endstra, who was accused of being banker to the underworld and who was murdered shortly after. Steigenberger has denied that there are financial problems and has declared that business will go on as usual, according to Misset Horeca.

Meanwhile the nearby pleasure pier, another icon of seaside resort Scheveningen, is also heading towards bankruptcy. The curator has decided to put the pier up for auction. It is currently owned by known tax evaders Van der Valk Hotels who bought it for 1 euro in 1991 of insurer Nationale Nederlanden who wanted to get rid of it because of the high maintenance costs, NRC writes.

The origin of Scheveningen is hidden in the mists of time, but towns with names ending in -inge originate from the 10th and 11th century according to Wikipedia. As the nearby The Hague turned from the hunting lodge of the counts of Holland to the seat of the government of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, the fishing community of Scheveningen grew. In 1665 the two towns were connected by a paved road and from 1800 onwards Scheveningen developed into a seaside resort with hotels and villas being built to the northeast of the harbour.

In 1884 the Kurhaus was built, a hotel which doubled as a spa. The Kurhaus was connected to the pier via a bridge. (In World War II the original pier burned down—a new pier was built a bit further up North in 1959.)

According to history blog Geschiedenismeisjes, Kurhaus was still an icon of tremendous luxury at the start of the 20th century. During World War I, in which the Netherlands managed to stay neutral, the hotel was the location of a culture clash between new and old money. A group of people who had gotten rich during the war, the so-called ‘oorlogswinstmakers’ (war profiteers) flaunted their wealth in Scheveningen. And in 1919 a labour law was passed that made leisure time for workers obligatory—the hours that a person should work per day were limited to 8 and the Sunday would be a day off. This brought spending time at the beach suddenly within the reach of the working classes.

(Photo by MichielJelijs, some rights reserved)

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May 14, 2011

Teenager’s boastfulness costs him 370,000 euro poker prize

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 7:15 pm

In March of this year the Jonker family of Kerkrade in Limburg seemed to have struck gold when father Jos (47) reached sixth place in an online poker tournament, netting him a cool 370,000 euro. The happy story turned sour quickly when 17 year old son Jimmy was found boasting in online forums that it was him that had been playing the finals, drawing the attention of organisers PokerStars.

Yesterday PokerStars decided that since it was against the rules for the underaged to play, it would not pay out the sum to either of the Jonkers, opting instead to donate the prize to an organisation that tries to promote responsible gambling by battling, amongst others, gambling by the underaged, AD reports.

Jimmy Jonker had been participating in the tournament using his father’s account, and the handle Zeurrr (Whiiine). The Jonker family refused to comment to the newspaper.

The Sunday Million tournament had almost 60,000 people compete for 11,825,600 US dollar in prizes.

(Link: PokerStrategy.com. Photo by Jam Adams, some rights reserved)

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May 23, 2010

Richest self-made men and women of 2010

Filed under: General,Sports by Branko Collin @ 3:17 pm

Glossy money magazine Quote presented its 100% Selfmade list last week, an overview of the 100 richest self-made Dutch people of under the age of 40.

The Top 5 is:

  1. David Slager (37), 270 million euro, stock trader
  2. Reinout Oerlemans (38), 73 million euro, TV director and producer
  3. Roger Hodenius (38), 60 million euro, stock trader
  4. Andruw Jones (33), 54 million euro, professional baseball player
  5. Ruud van Nistelrooij (33), 53 million euro, professional football player

Quote regularly publishes a list of the 500 richest people of the Netherlands, including those who inherited their fortunes, and the difference with the self-made folks is stunning. The latter only lost half a million euro per capita in the past 12 months, whereas all the rich combined lost 17.8 billion, which comes down to 36 million euro per person.

In fact, only the losses of one man, Maasbert Schouten (banker, 38), who saw 200 million of his 235 million euro evaporate last year, stunted the growth of the self-made rich. Collectively they went from 2 billion euro to 1.95 billion euro.

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