Tagarchief: fReaders

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?






Author: Rick van de Sande – Freaders


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.


Getting to know Dutch Society (book)



Author: Rick van de Sande – Freaders

Social media, a social isolation

This has probably happened to you too often: you are telling one of your most intriguing stories to someone but suddenly, this person’s phone gets a notification. That is not a big problem of course, but when the person takes his phone out to check it, losing all interest in anything you say, it will drive you nuts. Another example: When you are in an important meeting and then someone’s phone starts to ring… Is that funny Facebook photo more important? Really!? Smartphones are an amazing invention, but they can be very annoying. People tend to replace their social interaction in the real world with their phones. They annoy others with their devices and also themselves because using a phone a lot has serious consequences. So, we should really watch out in what way we use our devices, how we use them and what effect it has on ourselves and others.

First, a little health disclaimer: while there is no direct proof that RF-fields emitted by electric devices causes Cancer, there is great possibility that the emission does increase the chances. The high frequency of cell phone use can have negative effects on our stress levels. The constant ringing, vibrating alerts, and reminders can put a cell phone user on edge. Using electric devices a lot also causes changes in brain activity. This means lower reaction speed, changes in sleep patterns (which often results in less sleep or less good sleep) and a few other negative effects.

“In a study conducted at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, researchers examined if there is a direct link between the psychosocial aspects of cell phone use and mental health symptoms in young adults. The participants of the study included 20 to 24-year-olds who responded to a questionnaire, in addition to a one-year follow-up. Researchers found high mobile phone use was associated with stress and sleep disturbances for women, whereas high mobile phone use was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression for men.” (Source: Medical Daily)

Another issue is that your phone can contain more disease-prone germs than those found on a toilet seat. Faecal matter can easily be transferred by cell phones from one person to another.

“In a study conducted at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, researchers sampled 390 cell phones and hands to measure for levels of bacteria. The results of the study showed that 92 percent of the cell phones sampled had bacteria on them — 82 percent of hands had bacteria — and 16 percent of cell phones and hands had E. Coli.” (Source: Medical Daily)

And if that wasn’t enough: “Long periods of cell phone use cause you to arch your neck and hold your body in a strange posture. This can lead to back pain,” (Source: HealthCentral)

I am sorry for saying that this health disclaimer would be ‘little’. So I’ll move on, after this last point:

Staring at your mobile device can cause problems in your vision later in life. According to The Vision Council, more than 70 percent of the American citizens don’t know or are in denial that they are susceptible to digital eye strain.

Secondly, affection to others. The presence of a cell phone, while two or more people are talking face-to-face, can generate negative feelings toward the person who has his or her device visible.

“In two studies conducted at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, researchers studied the effects of a mobile device during a nose-to-nose conversation. In the first study, 37 pairs of strangers were asked to spend 10 minutes talking to each other about an interesting event that happened in their lives within the past month. Half of the participants were seated in a secluded area with a mobile device present on a desk nearby whereas the other half remained without a cell phone. The results of the study showed that those who had a mobile device nearby were perceived less positive by the stranger, compared to the other participants without a cell phone present.” (Source: Medical Daily)

Your phone is a big distraction. This both has effects on you and on others. Notifications can impair our concentration, even being short in duration they cause enough of a distraction to affect your ability to focus on a given task, decreasing your performance by prompting task-irrelevant thoughts and mind-wandering. And when you are late with your work, others will get annoyed by it as well. The distraction can also be a very dangerous in some specific situations, like driving for instance, a simple notification can cause really serious accidents and even take lives. For a deeper dive into this subject, you can click here.

The social life of people is also moving from reality into social media. People are getting more disconnected to the real world, they put their phones ahead of human interaction, it’s getting harder to see people talking to each other in public places, they’re always too busy with their mobile devices, checking notifications, sending messages or just sharing a new video. Technology brings many benefits to our modern society, but when it reaches a certain point it starts being harmful, time-consuming, counterproductive and even dangerous.

To prevent you from hurting yourself, you should stop using your devices so much. Kick off from your addictions. Search possibilities to do something else than fiddling around with your phone. Start a talk with a stranger, go play a board game with your family, find a new hobby, go sporting, go swimming, skiing, golfing, anything! Just leave your phone at home. And hey, if you don’t use your device that often, you’ll have more battery left at the end of the day!

So don’t get stuck on your screen, as it will cause health issues like high stress, bad memory, bad night rest, bad mood and more. Don’t refrain yourself from real social interaction, you will miss so many opportunities. Maybe you won’t even notice it if your true one walks by because you were playing candy crush… It is time to turn off your phone or at least turn of the notifications. Forget about it and have fun!







Author: Rick van de Sande – Freaders

Gaming pirate, or pirating gamer?

Pirating games has become way easier in the past years. With games being distributed digitally through a download, games can also be cracked and put up for download. With services like Steam you can sometimes even use the multiplayer functions of the pirated games! It seems simple to say that pirating is bad, but the subject is a way more complex than you would first think. There are a lot more factors playing a role than just the rules. It is important to look at all these factors before forming an opinion.


To start, here are some reasons why piracy is bad and shouldn’t happen: Boldly said, pirating is a form of stealing and thus illegal. When people pirate a game, they get access to its content without paying. The creators of the games have spent weeks upon weeks making it all happen. They have spent tonnes of money to make the game as good and enjoyable as it is. You shouldn’t thank them by stealing their work.

If a game is pirated, it often means that less profit is made on the game and the creators will, directly and indirectly, notice the decrease in revenue. The consequence could lead to game companies making less expensive games, which are often less good games. In some cases, the profit will be so small that the company does not even have the resources required for a new game anymore. The negative effect also implies to existing games. Updates will be bad, rushed or not even released at all.

30-35% of all PC gamers pirate games, but the volume of games they pirate is astronomically higher than expected. (source: pcgamer.com)

Now, let’s have a look on the other side of the subject. There are good reasons for piracy and there are advantages too.

One of the reasons to pirate a game is poverty. If you don’t have money, you can’t buy a game. It is known that gaming can relieve tension, stress, make you feel better and take you away from your everyday life and issues. Besides the fun and the experience of a good story in a game, this is one of the major reasons that people play games. When you are poor, your life is hard. You could very well use a moment to relax with the help of a game.

Another reason as to why pirating is quite a sensible thing to do, is the following: A lot of people, who don’t have piles of money to spend, don’t dare to buy a game if they aren’t sure it is worth their money. Therefore, those people will first try to get the game for free to see if they like it enough and if their device can run it well enough.  A lot of these people will either stop playing the game if they don’t like it, or after all buy the game to support its creators.

An indirect advantage to pirating gamers is that, if games get pirated, they do get played. This means that, if the player likes the game, he does participate in making the game more popular. This makes more people buy the game. In this way, you can still speak of revenue, even if the one player didn’t pay for it. It can be seen as form of free advertisement.

Now that we know about the complexity of piracy, we can form our statement on it. There are many good reasons and excuses to pirate games, of which a few examples are stated above. However, it is still something that you shouldn’t do. Therefore I would say that pirating is you’re your own individual choice. You should consider yourself if your reasons to pirating weigh up against the consequences it has for the world, also considering what the possible consequences are and knowing that you are responsible for them.




Author: Rick van de Sande – fReaders

Online privacy invasion

Last Monday, a program called “De Grote Privacy Test” (the big privacy test) was broadcasted on Dutch television (www.NPO.nl). The program researches if the participants and the people at home know the risks of the invasion of privacy and online criminality. It reveals a lot about how much information is gathered about you and what is done with it. This is a big social problem. The producers want as much information as they can from the people who use their products so they can use it for their own purposes (and services). The users, of course, want to use the product but definitely don’t want an invasion of privacy!

It all starts when you buy or download a product: The Terms and Conditions. The never-ending list of vague text that everyone accepts without even looking at it. The Producers know this. It enables them to do almost everything, the customers will always agree because they don’t want to read the long lists. It enables them to use your camera, microphone, see all of your unprotected information and sometimes even download things! This brings insecurity and invasion of privacy.

The terms and conditions of iTunes are as long as the book: “Je hebt wél iets te verbergen” which has 264 pages!

Besides checking boxes and agreeing with terms and conditions, there are several other ways in which information from electronic devices can be ‘stolen’. For example: in the program “De Grote Privacy Test” a hacker, called Wouter Slotboom, showed a router he had bought. Everyone who connected to the WI-FI of this router got tracked and all the information gathered and used in those devices was from then available for him. He could see Instagram pictures, chats, web searches and even passwords!

The invention of social media worsened the situation enormously. A lot of things are shared and so, a lot of things can be found. Even things you delete can be copied or recovered.

The information that sites, apps, programs and other services or products gather can be used for advertisement, recommendations, predicting things and more. This sounds great, but when google tells me the traffic information on my route to school while I never searched for it, I get scared. How does it know that? What more does it know? I can’t tell this exactly, but it is sure that services like google know more than they probably should. All of this information could easily be misused. Think of this: someone has seen your information. He or she knows what phone you have and wants it. He knows when and how you drive to school in the morning. Easy catch, I would say.

I know you probably aren’t going to read the terms and conditions and you probably aren’t going to disagree with them either. So here 4 simple things that you can do to prevent some of these privacy invasions.

  • Using ad Blocker: Besides stopping ads from popping up on your screen, it also stops a lot of cookies and unwanted trackers from gathering and using your information.
  • When you use Google Chrome, you can enable ‘Incognito modus’. This will erase everything you do on the internet when you don’t use it anymore. This does not include photos, comments or other similar things you post but things like cookies, browsing history etc.
  • Watch out with what you do on the internet: be cautious with what you write, post and do online. Also: have a look at your privacy settings on your browser and social media.
  • Try searching safe alternatives for your social media. For example, Signal. It does the same as WhatsApp but it is privacy friendlier. Why leave WhatsApp? Well, it was bought by Facebook, which means that a lot of information can be used, just as on Facebook. (related article: “Facebook sued for invading users’ privacy” at http://www.Yahoo.com)

In conclusion, the internet knows a lot about you. Often too much. The upcoming of social media has greatly reduced privacy and your information is easily being misused or even being hacked! Terms and conditions are too long and are often misapplicated. They include all kinds of ways in which to collect personal data. This data is used or sold to other companies while it isn’t necessary for the service to work. In the 21st century, privacy seems to have disappeared. But we have to protect it, since it is not only a constitutional right but also a very big factor in our lives.

Author: Rick van de Sande                                                                                                     

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.








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