Categorie archief: Politics

Illegal drugs, something of the past?

There are an immense amount of discussions about legalizing drugs. A lot of people and parties seems to be in favour of the idea. But why? Aren’t drugs a bad thing? They weren’t illegal for nothing, right? In this blog, I’ll take you through the advantages and disadvantages of legalizing drugs.

Why should we legalize drugs?

Most of the violence associated with illegal drug dealing is caused by its illegality. Legalisation would enable us to regulate the market, determine a much lower price and remove users need to raise funds through crime. Our legal system would be freed up and our prison population dramatically reduced, saving billions. Because of the low price, cigarette smokers do not have to steal to support their habits. There is also no violence associated with the legal tobacco market.

Legalizing drugs makes the quality of them controllable. In this way, drug use will get much safer. This will prevent people from getting sick, infected or dying from the drugs.

Prohibition doesn’t work. There is no evidence to show that prohibition is succeeding. The question we must ask ourselves is, “What are the benefits of criminalising any drug?” If, after examining all the available evidence, we find that the costs outweigh the benefits, then we must seek an alternative policy. Legalisation is not a cure-all but it does allow us to address many of the problems associated with drug use, and those created by prohibition. The time has come for an effective and pragmatic drug policy.

Legalizing and regulating marijuana will bring one of the nation’s largest cash crops under the rule of law. This will create jobs and economic opportunities in the formal economy instead of the illicit market.

Marijuana is already allowed in some American states for medicinal purposes and for some groups, the use of this drug will help thousands of people and even children who suffer from medical conditions. Cancer patients undergoing therapy and those who suffer from depression can benefit from the use of drugs such as marijuana for medical purposes.

On the opposite side, there are very good disadvantages to drugs as well.

Drugs contain chemicals and substances that can cause depression, allergic reactions and other effects. If any individual will be able to buy just any drug over the counter, addiction can result and worse, overdose.

If drugs will be readily available, businesses can commercialize on this and encourage people to buy and eventually be addicted. Even with drug prohibition, addiction is already an existing problem where relationships are ruined, careers dumped and some people become depressed pushing them to the point of ending their lives. These unfortunate events are often drug-related and legalizing drugs will make matters worse.

Drugs create a certain level of dependency. If one earns from a scam, he is likely to come back to it despite its known negative effects. Drugs work in much the same way. An acquired dependency can lead to a vicious cycle of drug use that may become unregulated over time.

In short, legalizing drugs has many advantages against a few, but very strong disadvantages. The discussion will always be going on and changes will be made all the time, but we seem to be moving in the direction of legalizing drugs. When we have a look at the opinion of fifteen of the Dutch political parties, we see that ten of them are for the legalisation of the goods. What do you think? Should drugs be legalized or should they be banned?

Sources:

http://www.urban75.com/Drugs/drugten.html

http://www.drugpolicy.org/marijuana-legalization-and-regulation

https://www.voc-nederland.org/2017/02/statements-15-politieke-partijen-legalisering-cannabis-voor-de-stemwijzer/

https://nyln.org/6-profound-pros-and-cons-of-legalizing-drugs

Author: Rick van de Sande – Freaders

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The Welfare Systems under the loop

Something you probably already knew: Education in the Netherlands is free and accessible for every citizen. Needless to say, right? But it hasn’t always been like that. The Netherlands and many other countries started building up a welfare system after The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as Black Tuesday (October 29). This welfare system is one where the state undertakes to protect the health and well-being of its citizens, especially those in financial or social need, by means of grants, pensions, and other benefits. However, not all countries have the exact same form of welfare state. There are three main models: The Scandinavian, The Anglo-Saxon and The Rhineland/corporatist model. In an article from the New York Times, these models are examined in depth. (A link can be found in the source list) We will take a look at both the different models and what the article has to say about them.

Firstly, let’s find out what those three names mean.

The Scandinavian model is used in countries such as Sweden, Finland and Denmark. It is a combination of a strong social security system and a flexible labour market. The keyword of this model is ‘Flexicurity’. This labour market makes it very easy to find a job and if you are unemployed for a longer time, you are given an individual training course. If you show that you are being retrained, you will also get good benefits. A few disadvantages of this labour market are that losing a job is just as easy as getting one and it is very attractive for people to stay unemployed. They get great benefits and training after all, also avoiding taxes (which usually are very high). However, this doesn’t seem to happen often, as unemployment rates in countries with this model are very low.

“If welfare benefits are generous and taxes high, fewer people will work. Why bother being industrious, after all, if you can get a check from the government for sitting around…” (Source: New York Times)

The social system is very well thought of. Benefits are generous and parents with children get a lot of advantages. “Maternity leave is 96 weeks compared to 16 weeks in the Netherlands.” (Source: Getting to know Dutch Society) Another disadvantage of this system is that the taxes are very high. The model is a very expensive one, especially in the field of child care and education. A welcome advantage is that women’s participation is relatively high.

The Anglo-Saxon model is very built up in a very liberal way. The government doesn’t play an enormous role. A Good entrepreneurial climate is a very important part of the system. Market forces determine the wages there is a flexible labour market. However, those who drop out do have a hard time. Healthcare and education are seen as facilities that people should pay for themselves. This causes many private schools. Benefits are also small and hard to get. On the opposite side, the taxes are very low and people have more choice where they spend money on.

The Rhineland/corporatist model is a combination of the two models mentioned above. A greatly developed collective sector contains the free market. Social security is fairly important but there also is a lot of liberty, just like in the Anglo-Saxon model. Healthcare and education are subsidised by the government. The tax burden is neither high or low but just in between. This is the model that is used in the Netherlands.

The writers of the New York Times article seem to prefer the Scandinavian model above the others. Sentences like “In short, more people may work when countries offer public services that directly make working easier.” and “But even conservatives can see some useful lessons in the Scandinavian system.” Both of these sentences show a preference to the Scandinavian way of providing welfare.

The writers of the article are not the only ones that prefer the Scandinavian system, I agree with them as well, just like many others. Why? Well, there are multiple reasons that I think are worth the high tax burden. The unemployment is low and there is great solidarity. Also, women’s participation is high, so this is more equal. One thing I think is necessary for a well-developed society is a great healthcare. How can you be happy when you are not healthy? In the Scandinavian model, this is taken care of very well. Another effect that subsidising health care has is that the quality of the healthcare is good. There are great hospitals with the newest technological advancements and breakthroughs. Quack doctors will be very uncommon and there won’t be (a lot of) greedy people which value money higher than the well-being of their patients. Another Indispensable factor is education. Education is the basis for a good future. The children that are in school now, will be leading, supporting or working for the world we live in. They should be educated a well as possible, so that we will develop as quick as possible, curing diseases, making life more efficient and easy and solving big problems. This is another reason as to why I think the Scandinavian model is the best one.

Sources:

Getting to know Dutch Society (book)

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/18/upshot/nordic-nations-show-that-big-safety-net-can-allow-for-leap-in-employment-rate-.html?_r=1

 

Author: Rick van de Sande – Freaders

Refugees, criminal or bored?

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor asylum seekers

It has been all over the news for the past months, a lot of refugees are looking for a place to stay. They have to flee from their homes because of the dangerous environment they live in. Most refugees are looking for a new life where they can live in safety but some might have different plans. They can commit crimes or even terrorist attacks; this causes harassment for the citizens of the host countries.

People are afraid these days; terrorist attacks have created a soft spot in the society of today. We are scared of what might happen and rather build a wall around all our problems instead of facing them. Refugees often travel hundreds of kilometres to reach a destination, only to be rejected by the ones who could offer help. This has various causes.

–     Terrorists pretend to be Asylum seekers only to enter a country, as side effect refugees are being segregated from society to prevent them from any terrorist actions (or other crimes)

–     Because of the economic crisis we were facing very recently, our economic circumstances aren’t as stable as they used to be. Helping refugees is expensive, this causes many countries to invest less in refugees.

–     A couple of conflicts were registered were refugees would come in conflict with other refugees and citizens. A stereotypical image is being created that refugees can’t be trusted and are seeking for problems.

If you take a quick look at the news you see hordes of angry people when an asylum seekers centre is being built  in their nearby surroundings. The citizens of these towns believe that the safety of their fellow townsfolks is in danger. What causes people to think that refugees are criminals?

There have been a couple of incidents where refugees and other immigrants were involved in a large sexual offence. Citizens of host countries are generalising the view of a refugee. Not all refugees are criminals, but some are. Does that mean we have to segregate them from society?

I think this situation only causes refugees to commit more crimes, various interviews (for example on Powned and Vara) have been held with refugees. A large majority of those interviewed people explained that they are in boredom. Could this not mean that when refugees have got nothing to do they will commit crimes?  This is only an assumption but what would be the result if we gave refugees things as education, work and shelter?

“The asylum centre felt like a prison”

I think segregating of the refugees is having an inverted result. By segregating them, we want to prevent them from committing crimes, we want our citizens to live in a safe environment that we have today. By segregating the refugees, they will get bored: they have no work and they will never be educated. Therefore, they will do various things to enjoy themselves, committing crimes might be one of those things. I have interviewed an asylum seeker, he used to be a very successful hairdresser, he said that he felt like he was locked up.

The point is that I would like to see what happens if we gave refugees more opportunities, integrate them into society and learn them how to fit in. Firstly we could just start giving them language courses.

Refugees are people as well, and just like in our society, there are people with good and bad intentions, we can’t separate people just for having a different culture. Bringing new people of which you know little into a country brings some risks, but we could solve or at least reduce the number of incidents. Not all refugees are criminals, most are people who like to develop themselves just like we do. We have to spread that view.

The thing is, we have faced a crisis, there already is a large rate of unemployment. If we let the refugees in and give them the opportunity to work, there is less space for our own citizens to work, which causes an even bigger unemployment rate. If we do not let the refugees work we will have to pay for them, not directly but in terms of Tax.  We will, either way, be confronted by the fact that the asylum seekers command an amount of money.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

What if I say that letting the refugees work will cause more job opportunities? Not all refugees are uneducated labourers, they also have the minds to start their own company, which creates more job opportunities. Of course, this will take several years to develop, and maybe some investment too. The problem is that, if we go on with giving the refugees various resources, no development will take place. By getting them to work we will not only grow economically but we will also involve refugees in society.

We have to integrate the refugees in society, this may reduce crimes and will develop the Netherlands as a “multicultural society”. Let’s not treat refugees like animals, rescued from traps, wandering through our society aimlessly. Let’s treat them like people, how it’s supposed to be.

(Made by Amber Aerts)

Sources:

Prinsjesdag: What is the plan?

 

Prinsjesdag (little prince’s day) is the day when the current monarch (at this point in time: King Willem-Alexander) reads ‘de Troonrede’ (speech from the throne). This speech includes all the main plans and decisions made by the government policy for the coming parliamentary session. The speech is given in ‘de Ridderzaal’ (Knight’s hall) in Den Haag (The Hague) at 12:30 on the third Tuesday of September. The people of the Dutch Senate, House of Representatives and some other invited people are in ‘de Ridderzaal’ as well and the speech is recorded and broadcasted on television.

Picture 1.1: Troonrede. At the right is the throne where King Willem-Alexander reads ‘de Troonrede’ to ‘de Staten Generaal’. Notice the fancy hats that women are wearing

Did you know that ‘Prinsjesdag’ has a weird and special tradition: Females wear all kinds of extravagant hats? From small to big, red to green, round to square, everything is possible. (See picture 1.1)

After ‘de Troonrede’ the king steps into a golden carriage and is then escorted to ‘het Binnenhof’. Although, this year carriage wasn’t the golden carriage because it contained images representing slavery. Instead, a Glass carriage was chosen. At the ‘Noordeinde Palace’, the king and queen appear at a balcony saluting the crowd beneath them.

Afterwards, the minister of finance proposes ‘de Miljoenennota’ (budget memorandum) to the house of representatives. This is a summary of the national budget showing all the expected revenues and expenses for the upcoming year. Debates about the Dutch economy, public finance, influence of the plans, deficit(s) and other topics follow the presentation.

Some of the plans from for the coming year are the following:

  • The minimum earnings of people from 21 or older are going to be abolished in steps so that those people can earn a full loan.
  • 100 million euros are going to be spent supporting the poorer children to make it possible for them to go on school trips, join a club, have music lessons etc.
  • Planned cuts in the care of handicapped and long during elderlies are being scrapped.
  • There is extra money available for equal chances in education.
  • Problems around earthquakes caused by gas extraction in the province of Groningen are being reduced by strengthening the building in the area and by cutting the gas extraction rate in half.
  • Because of climate changing, investments are done on researching and installing environmental-friendly ways of producing energy.
  • The Netherlands is working on improving the cooperation of the European union.
  • The Netherlands is also working on controlling the stream of refugees in different ways. The priority is at giving the refugees shelter.

(source: Rijksoverheid)

What became clear to me whilst writing these point and reading the plans, is that the Netherlands is very well recovering from the crisis and has a lot of money to spend. It all seems very positive. But of course, there wouldn’t be positive if there was no negative. Hiding behind the sunny view on the situation that the Netherlands is in, are some darker patches that I think are important to think about. One of them is about the environmental-friendly production of energy. While it is true that the use of wind, sun, water and other energies is increasing, it is still only a small amount. At this point in time, only around 5% of all produced energy is sustainable energy. The goal is set at 14% in 2020. Which almost triples the percentage, but the government is still looking into Gas-fired power plants and Coal-fired power plants. If we want sustainable energy, why would we still build and maintain those power plants? Money isn’t the problem, as the government seems to have enough at this point in time. Of course, there are many other factors playing here, but I think a lot more can be done to achieve a bigger percentage of sustainable energy production.

Another quite controversial point on the list is the refugee problem. Yes, the Dutch are actively helping the refugees and the government is actively cooperating in solving the problem, but I think there are wrong priorities in this case: As previously mentioned, the main focus is on giving and improving shelter for the refugees. This is a good thing, that’s for sure, but there are other (and I personally think better) ways to solve the problem. The one that would work the best is taking away the reason which makes the people flee. My opinion is that the United Nations should put even more effort into combating terrorism. Because to me, that seems the most effective solution. A downside to my vision is that this idea is probably not the easiest to realize, and it is impossible to wipe out all of the terrorism and other problems. Still, I think that the priority should be on this topic because we can make a difference!

In the end, ‘de Troonrede’ and ‘de Miljoenennota’ made clear in what economic state the Netherlands is in. We are recovering from the economic crisis again and actively improving life in society. On an international scale, things are still unstable, but our little country stands strong against it and is taking part in improving the outside situation. To me, it appears that we haven’t found the best balance between supporting on the national or international scale, but we are really close.

Sources:

https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prinsjesdag

http://vorige.nrc.nl//dossiers/energie_en_milieu/kernenergie/article1642699.ece/We_kunnen_in_Nederland_niet_zonder_kernenergie

https://www.google.nl/imghp?hl=nl&tab=wi&authuser=0&ei=RIrtV8iVNMmuat36hPgJ&ved=0EKouCBQoAQ

http://www.nu.nl/prinsjesdag/4125664/liveblog-gesloten-alles-prinsjesdag.html

 

Author: Rick van de Sande                                                                                                     

Prinsjesdag, the revealing of the comming year

Every Afbeeldingsresultaat voor prinsjesdag 2016third Tuesday of September, the annual ‘Prinsjesdag’ is being celebrated. This includes the King giving a speech called ‘The Troonrede’ at the ‘Ridderzaal’. This is taking place in a special joint meeting of the State’s General (the 1st and 2nd chambers). The king will be driving around in his (this year) glass coach and the ‘Miljoenennota’ will be presented by the minister of finances to the 2nd chamber, which then will later be considered in the ‘General Debate’. The opposition will criticise the various proposals and later on, the chamber will vote for these proposals.

The king doesn’t have a lot of power these days, he is a more of a role model. The king only reads out the ‘Troonrede’ and drives around in his usually golden coach, but this year the glass coach has been used. This is due to slavery images that are located on the golden coach, which has caused some criticism.

Maybe the most important event of ‘Prinsjesdag’ is the ‘Miljoenennota’ being presented by the minister of finances. The ‘Miljoenennota’ contains  content of the in- and outcomes for the new governmental year called ‘de Begrotingen’. The ‘Miljoenennota’ is actually expressed in Billions of Euros, instead of millions.

This year not only The Netherlands but the entire world has been shocked by the tremendous amount of terrorism and war in the world. Conflicts in Syria and other nearby countries have caused millions of people to flee to other countries where they do have an opportunity to survive, but before they can reach their destination they have to travel for weeks. The combination of terrorism and refugees coming into the country have caused extra awareness of safety precautions in the Netherlands. This is shown in the ‘miljoenenota’ (source: Rijksoverheid).

The Netherlands is in the middle of a recovery from the economic crisis, and we are still noticing the wounds. This means that The Netherlands are investing in for example  innovative and developing companies(NU.nl) The unemployment isn’t increasing anymore, this means that the Netherlands has got a bright future as was told in the ‘troonrede’. Although many politicians would still like to focus on the fact that The current (economic) situation still isn’t what it is supposed to be (PVV, PVDA).

One of the other budgets that has been increased is the budget for environment. The entire world has been hit by major climate changes, the Netherlands has adapted to this problem and is spending more money on the preservation of the current climate, so further escalation is being prevented. There will also be invested in the strengthening of the dikes, due to climate changes which can occur later on, such as the increasing of the sea level (The DeltaPlan).

I think the maintenance of the safety of our country is of major importance. With the current refugee crisis the chance is increasing that, for example, a terrorist will enter the country.  It is always better to prevent than to await a problem. Waiting until a terrorist attack will happen to later solve it will eventually also cost lots of money due to repairing costs etc. The entire nation is in panic, and as The government, it is their duty to create a more peaceful society. This doesn’t mean that all refugees are terrorists, but it means that the refugees coming into the country causes a gateway for terrorists to spread.

The Netherlands are now investing in the growth  of job opportunities, so the unemployment rate will decrease. I also believe that the way for doing this is investing. There will also be an amount of money invested in the growth of smaller companies. This means that it will be more attractive for people to start their own companies, this will cause more job opportunities. Also, the increasing budget of infrastructure will cause more vacates in the building department.

The Netherlands has got a lot on their plate due to the current refugee crisis and the previous economic crisis, this means that it is important to remain a balance between safety and a healthy business market, by investing in various (also small projects) the Netherlands will keep growing as a (multicultural) nation.

Author: Amber Aerts