RRC News

We are Renske, Renske and Charlotte, and we write weekly blogs about what's going on in the world. Hope you enjoy!

Welfare state — 31 May 2017

Welfare state

In the Netherlands many people who do not have paid jobs will not go hungry and will Afbeeldingsresultaat voor welfare statenot have to sleep on the streets. This is because there are lots of provisions that guarantee decent living conditions, this is all arranged because the Netherlands is a welfare state. A welfare state means that the government takes an active role in ensuring the welfare and well-being of its people.

We know three different models of welfare state, the Scandinavian model, the Anglo-Saxon model, and the Rhineland or corporatist model, each with their own pros and cons. I am going to briefly explain some of those.

A positive about the Scandinavian model is that there is a very flexible labour market. In other words, the labour market can adjust to the economy very quickly because people can be fired and hired at very fast rates. Because of this there are also always jobs opening and more job openings means more opportunities for unemployed people to find a job. Another pro is that there is excellent social security. This means that there are very high benefits and also extensive maternity leave for parents with small children. For example, the maternity leave in Scandinavian countries is 96 weeks compared to 16 weeks in the Netherlands. The only main negative about the Scandinavian model is that it is a very expensive welfare system. This means that the population of the countries where this system is used have to bear a heavy collective tax burden.

The Anglo-Saxon model has, compared to the Scandinavian model, a lot less social security. This could be seen as a negative but not for the liberalists. Less social security gives the opportunity for more self-sufficiency, freedom and private initiative. The government plays a modest role in the welfare of the country, the only thing they really give priority to is to a good entrepreneurial climate. A really big negative is that there are little to no benefits in countries that use this model. People have to pay for things such as healthcare and education themselves. This forces people to work a lot of hours. Most people in the United States work 1800 hours annually as opposed to barely 1400 in the Netherlands. The fact that there are very few benefits in these countries makes for one big pro; there are very few taxes. Almost no benefits means that the government pays the people almost no money, so the people also don’t have to pay the government a lot of money.

The Rhineland model is a mix of the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon model. A pro of this model is that the employees have to be protected against dismissal or illness. Cons are that this model is under pressure. The cost of the welfare state have increased enormously and in recent years political choices have been moving us away from this model and towards the Anglo-Saxon one. Consequently, the provision of collective goods are increasingly being left to the free market and private companies. Another big negative is that women do not benefit and education and childcare are not regulated well.

I think the researchers of the article would prefer the Scandinavian model because they talk about it the most. Even if you would only look at the title of the article you would think they would prefer the Scandinavian model. The title says “A big safety net and a strong job market can coexist. Just ask the Scandinavians” . They say to ask the Scandinavians about how they do it, and that automatically hints to the fact that they would prefer the whole world doing it this way. The researchers keep saying that the people criticizing the Scandinavian model are wrong. There are a few instances where the researchers quote the Scandinavian model sceptics and disprove their arguments completely. For example they talk about that the welfare system is expensive, that people have to bear a heavy collective tax burden. Which is mainly due to the high costs and efforts in the field of child care and education. They found out that child care in Norway for example is around $1,100 a month but when you have to pay the market rate, it will be twice as much.


It think I am on the side of the researchers of this article. I would also prefer the Scandinavian model. When I read the text in the book I was already pretty convinced that the Scandinavians had the best way of approaching the problem that is welfare, but after I read the article I was even more convinced. My main argument to back-up why I chose this model is that I would rather pay more taxes than pay way too much money toward healthcare and education. When I am older I just want to be able to send my children off to college without paying thousands of euros. The researchers of this article proved my point by saying that it is even cheaper to pay more taxes and less for an education compared to paying less taxed and more toward education. Most people in countries where they use the Anglo-Saxon model say that if the state is generous and taxes are high people won’t work, but I completely disagree with this. The Scandinavian model not only includes generous benefits but also a very flexible labour market. This means there are constantly jobs opening and this makes it very easy to find a job. Scandinavian countries actually have the smallest unemployment rates in the world because of this flexible labour market. Even if the whole flexible market system fails, people that are unemployed for longer periods of time receive individual training courses. I also chose for the Scandinavian model because I really don’t like the Anglo-Saxon model. The idea that the government puts almost no effort in things as healthcare and education really discomforts me. I am a person who likes things to be stable and secure, but if I won’t get any benefits to, for example, go to college, that kind of stresses me out. I’d build up a lot of debts which I would all have to pay back after college, but what if I’m having difficulties to find a job and those debts will only get bigger. That just seems like a unnecessary amount of stress over something that can easily be solved by just paying a bit more taxes, or moving to a Scandinavian country.

Renske Pouwels

Three different welfare states — 30 May 2017

Three different welfare states

We live in a welfare state. The government partly takes care of its citizens when it comes to healthcare, education, and other facilities. Here in the Netherlands we have a Rhineland model, but there are two other models as well. Which one of them is the best is for you to decide?

The Scandinavian model: (Social-democratic)

The biggest aspect of this welfare state is the emphasis on the large labour force participation and the social insurance funds. Because of the strong social security system a lot of people are employed. The people who are already working can work more or longer each day because of the advanced level of public services, money for day care for children for example. Whomever is unemployed can easily find another job because of this as well. They receive enough money to keep living their normal life and on top of that they are given a training course whenever it does takes longer to find a good job. These advanced social securities do costs a lot obviously. The tax burden is therefore a lot higher than in other welfare states. In the social democratic welfare state there is little inequality and also women have a large role in the labour market, this mainly due to the high tax efforts in the field of child care and education.


  • High benefits
  • Strong social security system
  • High employment rates
  • Little inequality between class and income


  • Public services very expensive
  • High tax burden
  • Government very involved in labour market


The Anglo-Saxon model: (Liberal)

This system has a way less extensive social security than the Scandinavian system. The government plays a very small role in the social security of its citizens; healthcare and education are facilities which people have to pay for themselves. It provides only the basic needs and the benefits that are provided are usually of poor quality. To be entitled to one, you have to meet a lot of conditions. The government wants the market to act as co-provider for public services, but this creates a two-class society. The poor, unemployed or low skills-sector, people who can only depend on the poor public services and the middle class in which people have a good job and therefore receive better services provided by the market. Because of all this the taxes are much lower than in any other welfare state.


  • Very low taxes
  • Stimulates job growth (in low-skills sector)


  • High inequality
  • Two class society
  • Large difference in income
  • Weak social security system

The Rhineland model: (Corporatists)

This welfare state is a combination of the two states mentioned above. The social security is provided by both the collective sector and the government. Everything that has to do with your job is regulated via the collective sector, such as benefits for illness, dismissal and retirement. Also when you get fired your employer should still pay you a part of your regular income for a period of time. Afterwards the government takes of the benefits. Healthcare and education is partly provided by the government as well. In this way the tax burden isn’t really high. There is however a inequality between men and women when it comes down on the public services. Since they are based on the how long an employee has worked somewhere and the fact that women need more social benefits; maternity leave and child care.


  • Proper social security
  • No high tax burden


  • Reaches towards the Anglo-Saxon model very fast
  • Depends on employment conditions


The article I read on the internet stated that the Scandinavian model might be the model we should use all over the world. At first you might think that whenever the benefits are large and the taxes are high, a lot of people will stay home instead of finding a job. But whenever you make it easier for people to work, more people will work. When transportation is cheap and accessible and day care for children is subsidized a lot of people might go to work rather than sit at home and watching the children.

The Scandinavian welfare state is in my opinion the best model. The model provides social services which are least dependant on how someone is doing in the market. This makes sense to me, because those who really need it are the ones who are unemployed or have a low income. Everyone has equal rights on those benefits and that’s how it should be. Also the government is very involved in the day care and elder care, from which we all know that in our welfare state, the Rhineland model,  that is a large problem and brings up many discussions. The big investments in education and child care is also very important. Once everyone has got a good education, even the ones who could have never paid it for themselves, can have a good job. It all starts with education. Because of the benefits in child care, it’s easier for women to work the same amount as men do. Most of the time it’s still the mother who takes one day off every week to be at home with the children.

Another reason for me to choose this model is the way unemployment is handled. Very few people are unemployed and those who are have no reason at all to panic. The unemployed receive good benefits from which they can easily live their life like before. When it takes to long for some people to find another job, they get a training course. In this way, employers will hire you sooner because you are retrained and up to date with wherever you would like to work. It happens a lot here in the Netherlands that people at an older age apply for a job for which they were schooled 20 years ago. Then the employer would rather have younger people, with fresh eyes, working for them.

Of course the tax burden is very high, but on the other hand, you are less dependent on your income with all the public services.

Charlotte Jansen, A4d

Turkish referendum clashes with constitution — 27 May 2017

Turkish referendum clashes with constitution

The relationship between the Netherlands and Turkey has gotten a lot worse in the past weeks after Turkish minister of Family Business was blocked in RotterdAfbeeldingsresultaat voor turks referendumam and sent out of the country. Minister Kaya came to Rotterdam to deliver a speech about the upcoming Turkish constitutional referendum. A lot of people are against this constitutional change, as it would give Erdogan more power and ultimately lead to the Turkish state becoming a dictatorship. But by sending Kaya away, we might have violated our own constitution. Our constitution says that everyone has the freedom to say whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t violate any other laws. By sending Kaya away we disabled her in expressing her thoughts and opinions about the Turkish referendum, so has the Netherlands gone a step too far, or was this a justified action given the situation that we are in?

For the first time in a long time, all ministers agreed that sending Kaya away was a good decision. Why wouldn’t the ministers just let her speak out about this constitutional change? Firstly it was important to keep the public safety, by letting Kaya attend to the meeting she would stimulate the constitutional change which could have effects for the peace of our state and other surrounding states. Secondly, the Netherlands doesn’t allow Turkish public political campaigns, which was Kaya’s intention.

As a state the Netherlands has certain interests, one of those interests is preventing other nations from getting too powerful. Erdogan is building a strong army, and his people are becoming more and more nationalistic, so the referendum may cause a lot of problems among European countries. The referendum would cause Erdogan to gain even more power, so all things considered isn’t it then important that the safety of the people is protected in favour of freedom of speech? And this is where different ideologies clash. If you look at the matter of full freedom of speech, you may say that it is allowed to campaign the Turkish referendum here in the Netherlands. But if you look at the consequences campaigning the referendum in the Netherlands might have for us and surrounding states, you might say it was a good decision to send Kaya away after all.

It is completely understandable that the Dutch government is against Erdogan’s referendum, but let’s look at it from another perspective. What about the Dutch citizens with Turkish passports? They legally have the right to vote in the Turkish referendum, so they also have the right to know what they are voting for. Personally, if I was voting for something I would like to know what is actually going on in the campaigns. That is also our right as Dutch people. Another fundamental right is our freedom of speech. So, isn’t it weird that the Dutch state disapproves the welcoming of this Turkish minister while claiming freedom of speech Is a really important factor of Dutch culture. Even if the Dutch state is against the matter, the Dutch-Turks still have the right to know what they are voting for, and the Turkish ministers have the right to tell them.

I personally think that the Dutch state should inform the people on the campaign themselves. This way the Dutch-Turkish citizens still know what they are voting for, without being influenced by Erdogan. Of course the Netherlands would have to inform people about everything about the referendum, both good and bad fronts, and not just the parts that make it seem like the worst idea ever so that people won’t vote for it. The lack of knowledge can cause serious problems because Turkish people will vote for something they don’t know anything about. The Turkish people all have their own voice, let’s hope they know the consequences of using it.

Renske Pouwels

Never offline, not even while driving — 26 May 2017

Never offline, not even while driving

Everybody knows how dangerous or even deadly it can be. On top of that, it’s illegal and the amount of the fine is 230 Euros. Still, too many people are calling, texting or even playing games on their phone while they are driving. The amount of car accidents has increased to half a million in the last year. The presumption is that the use of the mobile phones while driving is the main cause of this increase. Many people are involved in this, because there are a lot of unnecessary accidents with innocent victims.

You can find warnings and campaigns to avoid the phone use while driving everywhere, even on social media. The apps that are used also often give a notification which tells you not to use their app while driving, but still his is not enough to stop the people from doing it..

There are no exact statistics of the number of drivers that use their mobile phone while driving. The reason for many people to use their phone is because they find it difficult to stay offline for such a ”long” time. In a way, they are addicted to the internet. A lot of the drivers can’t handle it to be unavailable during the ride, especially the young ones.

This is not the only reason. Many people are too stubborn to listen to the warnings and campaigns. They want to decide for themselves if they are able to use their phone while driving without causing accidents. They feel that if somebody else isn’t able to use their phone without causing accidents, this doesn’t count for them as well.  Many people also are willing to take the risk, because the chance that you will get caught by the police is very small.

Personally I think it’s great that there already are campaigns and warnngs on the phone use in the car and I think we should continue making these only on a bigger scale next to the highway for example. Another great solution would be that the police checks way more often for people using their phones while driving and increase the fine for this. Also, there are some providers that are trying to make the phone switch off automatically when you drive faster than a certain speed. I think this is a great idea, because people won’t have a choice whether or not to go on their phones and won’t be attempted to. I think that the notification some apps give should not just say ”don’t go on your phone while driving”, but it should be a message with a bigger impact on the driver. For example a photo or a story about an accident with an innocent victim just like he warnings on cigarette packaging.

Renske van Dokkum, A4d

The American health care system — 25 May 2017

The American health care system

Imagine you get severe illness in the Netherlands, the only thing you should worry about is getting better. The costs for your treatment are covered  by all the people in the Netherlands, including yourself, because of the health insurance we all pay. This is not the case in America. When you get severely sick or just break a leg and you aren’t wealthy enough to afford the hospital bills the only reliability you have is charity. This is because of the liberal thinking in America, everybody should take care of their own business.

In the Netherlands everybody is obligated by the law to have a basic health insurance and the medicine market is regulated by the government. This isn’t the case in America, it actually is the absolute opposite. Many people don’t have a health insurance, because it is too expensive and they are hoping they will not need hospital help. The medicine market is a free market that’s no regulated by the government. This results in too expensive medicine that many people can’t afford. The producers of medicine will only produce profitable medicines.
Who are involved in this social problem you may ask? First of all the current president Donald Trump. He is the one who supports the liberal thinking and is against the idea of a basic health insurance for everybody. Furthermore the government is also responsible for not taking part in the medicine market, although this would be much better. The other people that are involved are of course the American citizens who are the victims  of this health care system.

I think this is a problem which should be as soon as possible be solved, because health is one of the most important things in life and should be taken very serious. I’m not the only one who thinks that there need to be some changes made in the American health care system. Obama, the former president of the United States, had recognized the same problem and came up with the idea of  Obamacare.

Obamacare is a new law that especially made some big changes in the health care insurances. It was mandatory for all Americans to get a basic health insurance, the people that refuse to get an health insurance are obligated to pay 95 euros extra taxes each year. If Obama got through with this law there wouldn’t be any Americans who should leave their house, because they cannot afford the hospital bill. Unfortunately when Donald Trump became president last year the Obama care was shut down and the American health care system is back to its old liberal way. So there is a solution to this social problem, but the people are not so far that they will get through with the solution, unfortunately.

Renske van Dokkum, A4d

Work stress and pressure —

Work stress and pressure

I found on the internet that about one third of all employees in the Netherlands undergo Afbeeldingsresultaat voor work stressa lot of stress and pressure at work. That is way too much. Stress and pressure at work is a very serious problem. Too much, or too little work pressure can lead to serious mental and physical health complaints.

Work pressure occurs when the balance between the work load and the load capacity of the employee is disturbed. There are a few things that cause this. For example, not being able to finish your work in time or not satisfying the demands of your superiors anymore. This can lead to overworking and that can lead to even more stress.

Work pressure can not only cause health problems for the employee, it can also have consequences for the organisation. Because the employee is collapsing under the amounts of pressure put in him, his quality of work strongly decreases. This can also lead to sickness and that causes absence, and that is very bad for the organisation. If one third of all of its employees was undergoing a lot of stress and would therefore not come to work, that would cost the organisation some serious money.

I chose to talk about this problem because I went through it this year. Well, actually not me, but my father went through it. He had a very busy period at work and there was also a chance that after he finished the project he was working on he would have to stop working there, which he didn’t want to.  I noticed that my dad started to become more and more irritable, and he and my mom started fighting a lot. One night I overheard my mom screaming to my dad that he was burnt out and that he needed to go to a doctor or psychologist for help. But my dad didn’t want to because he had always been sceptical of psychologists. I came downstairs and I looked up some symptoms of a burn out:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Having difficulties relaxing
  • Apathy
  • Small concentration span
  • Forgetfulness

A lot of the symptoms I found overlapped with what by father was doing. Luckily I was able to convince my dad to go to the doctor, and he did. He got some medication that would help him to sleep better, and was advised to go to a psychologist. The latter he still hasn’t done, but he has gotten a lot better and is not on the brink of burning out anymore.

This proves that work stress is easy to stop by just seeking help, but al lot of people, especially men, struggle with that a lot. Showing your feelings is not masculine enough. But that is a whole other problem.

My opinion on the matter is that companies and organisations should put more effort in keeping their employees, not stress free but at normal levels of stress. If the authorities of an organisation start to notice some employees are slacking off, instead of getting mad and ordering the employee to work even harder. They should ask him how he’s doing and if he has any problems, maybe advise him to see a doctor. Just communication with each other could help a lot of people and prevent the organisation form going bankrupt.

Stress at work is a big problem, but it can easily be prevented. So don’t stress about it.

Renske Pouwels

Compulsory contraception — 18 May 2017

Compulsory contraception

‘Not being born is a form of child protection too.’ So said De Jong, alderman responsible for youth welfare. The Rotterdam city council has started a voluntary contraception programme for 160 women who could not raise a child by their own because of learning difficulties, psychological problems or addiction. Should the government have a say in which families can have babies and which aren’t capable of raising a child?

Nanneke Quick-Schuyt, a former juvenile court judge, is indignant that there has never been a proper social debate on the subject of compulsory contraception for addicts, psychiatric patients and the mentally handicapped. “There is a kind of taboo on these subjects. The argument is that everyone should be allowed to have a child. But there is no such thing as the right to have a child. A child has a right to good parents, but not the other way round. It’s a taboo that needs to be broken and there is a pressing need for people working in the care and welfare sector to raise this issue.”Pilule_contraceptive-560x345

Some people argue that the proposal is a violation of the international human rights; a judge cannot force a woman to not get pregnant. She has the right to have as many children as she wishes.

On the other hand the government is not sufficiently capable to ensure the safety of young children within the home. Child abuse still occurs a lot in the Netherlands, also in these days. By making sure a child isn’t born in a family from which you already know they are never capable of raising a child, you are protecting the child too. Whenever that does happen children are often placed in foster care. Some in group homes, others in institutes. That’s not what a child needs.

I think that there should be a law for compulsory contraception for women who are incapable of raising a child. Maybe the law should say those women have two chances to show they are capable but after two times they’ve had their chance. I think you really should think about the child more than the mother if she has mental problems, addictions or has learning difficulties. The child will eventually end up with the problems and they couldn’t have done anything about it.

Charlotte Jansen, A4d

Terror attacks in Manchester — 5 May 2017

Terror attacks in Manchester

Last Monday evening, the 2nd of May, there has been a terror attack during a concert of Ariana Grande. 22 life’s have been taken and there are dozens of people heavily injured, amongst them are many children. The terrorist group IS claims the same night responsibility for this attack. Greater Manchester Police declared the incident a terrorist attack and suicide bombing. It was the deadliest attack in the United Kingdom since the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

There are many different people involved in the problem of terrorist attack. Of course there are the victims. Many, many victims which are normal, innocent people who find themselves on the wrong place at the wrong time. Most of these people don’t have the power to do anything about this tragic problem, because they aren’t the once responsible for that job.
The once who are responsible for this job are the people with power, such as the queen herself, the prime  minister and the minister of defence. They try their hardest to prevent terrorism, but if it does happen they aren’t the once to blame ( which most people think they are ). The people who are responsible for the terrorist attacks are the guilty ones. Those people who are willing to die for something they think it’s a good cause and where this is permitted by their religion are the once to blame. These people usually are part of a bigger terrorist group, which in case of the Manchester attack is the IS. Because of the many different people that are involved in these tragic terrorist attacks, this is called a social problem.

The biggest issue are the religious people who are willing to die for which they think is a good cause and take many innocent people with them. This is the first absolute first reason for this social problem, the second however is the lack of security to prevent those terrorist attacks and the question here is; How far should we go to prevent the terrorist attacks? Think of closing border in Europe, have more social security and invade people’s privacy? Who says that that will help? If people are willing to give up their life and take others with them, there will be some people that will succeed, for sure.

I think this social problem is really hard to solve, because how do you reason with unreasonable people and persuade them that the good cause were they are fighting for isn’t good at all?  The only thing reasonable solution to this problem is education. You should educate the children who are in risk to become a terrorist and teach them about different point of views. Maybe they will become reasonable human beings. But I don’t have much faith, reasoned by a realistic point of view, that we can ever stop terrorism .

Renske van Dokkum, A4d

To make an effort and get involved — 4 May 2017

To make an effort and get involved

Social isolation is a growing epidemic, one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. With the modern technology these days, many people do not feel the need to get out and have face to face contact when it is not necessary. When you are looking for a job, you right an email with your cv in it. When you want to find a partner, you don’t go to the bar to meet someone. No, you will go on a dating site who will find your “perfect match”.

The physical and mental problems that come with social isolation are for example disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, more inflammation and higher levels of stress hormones. One recent study found that isolation increases the risk of heart disease by 29 percent and stroke by 32 percent.
There are many people involved in this social problem. Almost everybody in developed countries that have modern technology available is in risk of becoming social isolated. There are different levels on which a person will get influenced by these things that cause social cohesion, for example social media.  There are people who like to see what others have been up to and spent approximately 1 or 2 hours a day on social media, but there are other people whose life is controlled by it. This wouldn’t be such a big problem if they occasionally went out the house to have some social contact off the internet, but this often isn’t the case.

my solution to the problem actually is pretty simple. I will give you one example of an organization that brings people together and causes a increase in social isolation. The Alpe D’Huez foundation. This is a organization in which all individuals make teams and raise money for charity, the KWF in this case. First of all you will need to organize a lot of social events to raise the money which is needed to participate. Secondly you will have a lot of human contact with all the others in this project and you will have a common cause to fight for and this gives you a feeling of belonging somewhere. This is ideal to fight social isolation.

The example that I gave you represents the solution to this social problem and that is a common cause or interest. This can be fighting cancer, but it can also be something smaller like a cooking club with people who all like to cook. The only thing we leave to the people is to make an effort and get involved.

Renske van Dokkum, A4d