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
A4D

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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
A4D

Work stress and pressure — 25 May 2017

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
A4D

Reduce the voting age to 16 — 10 March 2017

Reduce the voting age to 16

My friends and I had a discussion recently. The topic was: who would we vote for, if weAfbeeldingsresultaat voor stemrecht 16 could? We started giving some opinions on certain views and most of us were kind of on the same side. When the discussion was over I started thinking a bit. I came to the conclusion that we, as common 16 year olds, were perfectly capable of forming a well-funded opinion on many political matters. We were also all perfectly able to make up our minds about who we wanted our vote to go to, if we had one. So I thought, why not reduce the voting age to 16 years old?

Many young people, including me, can’t wait to be 18 and finally have a say in the formation of our government. So I think when we would reduce the voting age to 16, many of the 16 and 17 year olds would also actually do it. You could argue that 16 is too young because you are not an adult yet and shouldn’t have to face such complicated matters. But actually 18 doesn’t differ much with 16, mental capacity wise. There have been many studies which researched the subject: “When do you officially become an adult?”. Most of these studies have about the same conclusion, your brain stops growing, changing and evolving when you are about 24. So even 18 year olds still don’t have the brain capacity of a full blown adult.

Of course, a lot would need to change. For example, the campaigns. Campaigns nowadays tend to be more focussed towards middle aged people and can be a bit dreary. Most political parties put up posters and make commercials for on the television. The young people in our country are watching less and less tv, so political parties could try and make some advertisements for YouTube and use more of the internet in general.

I personally think it’s a great idea to reduce the voting age to 16. I think society is way too focussed on the older generation, and should me more focussed on the younger people. I think society pays this much attention to older people because there are so much of them, mainly because of the baby boom that happened after the 2nd world war. For some reason many of those baby boomers got something against the millennials, but I don’t see why. They are our future, so maybe we should let them have a say in the government too. I vote yes!

Renske Pouwels
A4D

First world problems — 11 January 2017

First world problems

We all know the problem, you’re going out for lunch and you pick out a nice spot to sit. Afbeeldingsresultaat voor first world problemsYou order something to drink and after a while you’ve chosen what you want to eat so you tell the waiter what you want. You also emphatically tell him to not put tomato on your sandwich, because you don’t like it. You’re just sitting there with your friends having a grand ol’ time, and then the waiter brings you your sandwich. You’re starving cause you hadn’t eaten since this morning, so you cheerfully take a big bite, but after the second chew you start to notice something. No, could this really be? Did they forget? You lift the top piece of bread of your sandwich and you make a horrendous discovery. The cooks forgot to take the tomato off.

This is a great example of the problem I want to talk about in this blog. We complain about the fact our waiter forgot to tell the cook we didn’t like tomato, meanwhile people all over the world are begging for any kind of food because they’re actually starving. First world problem might not seem like a very big problem but because of this many people in the first world stay ignorant to the fact that there are people in this world who actually have it bad.

Many people in third world countries such as many countries in Africa and South-America are living in unbearable conditions. They are getting paid less than a dollar a day and have to eat anything they can and sleep on the streets. People that are lucky enough to go to school usually don’t finish it because school books and uniforms are expensive and their family already can’t pay for basic necessities, but without school you can’t get a better job and earn more money. So many people are stuck in this endless cycle of no money and lack of education.

I think that we, as people in the first world, need to stop complaining about every little thing. We are lucky that we can sleep under a roof, eat whenever we want to, and go to school. A lot of people my age complain about having to go to school while children in third world countries are begging to. People in this world are dying, so stop complaining about life.

Renske Pouwels
A4D

Child Depression — 14 December 2016

Child Depression

Currently about 8 to 10 percent of children ages 12 to 17 are suffering from some kind ofAfbeeldingsresultaat voor child depression depression. These numbers wouldn’t be this big if children with beginning depression would get professional help immediately, but unfortunately this often isn’t the case. Parents often don’t even realise that their children are suffering from depression, they might think their kid is just suffering from one of the many side effects of puberty.

This all proves that depression with children is becoming a real social issue. And the kids aren’t even the only ones that suffer from this social problem, the parents of the children are also involved. When kids are depressed they typically don’t really show that they are. They tend to shut out anyone that wants to help them, which is not only bad for the child it is also pretty hurtful for the parents, who are only trying to help. This is exactly what makes depression with kids so hard to notice. Kids that are going through puberty often shut out the people closest to them too, so depression and puberty are often confused. So that parents don’t notice that their kid is depressed is one side of the problem, but another side is that children often don’t get professional help, even if the parents do notice the kid’s depression, they often neglect professional help because they think they can solve this ‘little’ problem by themselves. From the 2.8 million children with depression only about 60% actually seek professional help. This means 1.12 million children are walking around with depression and either nobody notices it nobody does something about it. Depression with kids is becoming even more of a social problem because the number of child suicides have gone up drastically. Many of these suicides could have been prevented if parents were more observant or didn’t neglect professional help.

There isn’t really an opinion to have on this social issue, mainly because we all agree that child depression and child suicides are problems that need to be solved. Nobody wants even more children to be depressed and commit suicide, so I obviously share that opinion, but I do have some ideas that might be able to solve this issue. First of all parents should be well informed about the symptoms of depressions with kids, many people do know the symptoms of depression with adults but those differ quite a bit from the symptoms of depression with kids. For instant adults completely lose interest in their hobbies and other activities while children still enjoy extracurricular activities when they’re depressed. Luckily I’ve been seeing more and more commercials on TV about child depression and how to spot it. Another way of solving child depression is to inform parents and the children themselves that depression is a serious illness that won’t solve itself, so maybe tell people via television or social media how important it is to seek professional help.

So everyone agrees; child depression is a real problem we should solve, one way or the other. It’s not only a big problem on its own, it’s also causing other bad problems. Don’t just hope this problem will solve itself, like so many parents hope with their children, and do something.

Renske Pouwels A4D

Abortion — 9 November 2016

Abortion

Abortion has been in the news lately because of the American election. Donald TrumpAfbeeldingsresultaat voor abortion has made his opinion on this issue quite clear, he is against abortion. He said that he thinks abortion should be abolished because it is murder and thus a crime. He also said women who choose abortion should be punished for it.

So the issue “abortion” is a pretty big one. A lot of people are for and a lot of people are against it. Linking this back to the American election, the people for abortion are the democrats and the people against abortion are the republicans. There is a pretty clear explanation as to why this is. As is well known the republicans are quite conservative and the democrats are more on the progressive side. The republicans therefore want to conserve everything as it is, or go back to how things used to be. Abortion used to be illegal because people saw it as murder. Especially the strictly religious people thought abortion was a crime against god. God gave you the gift of a child and getting it removed was throwing away god’s gift. Nowadays most people believe something very different. If you as a woman get pregnant without planning it, you should be able to get the child removed. If you for instant, aren’t in a position in which you can take good care of the child, it is only a bad thing for the child to be born. If the child then is born, it most likely won’t have a very good life. Or if a woman is for example raped, if she is pregnant with the rapist’s child most people nowadays understand that the woman would not want the child. Then there are those people who say: “It was her own fault she got raped, she was wearing provocative clothing and was flirting. If she’d have been more careful she wouldn’t have been in this position.” These people have probably voted for Donald Trump because he shares this opinion. But there is another side to this issue. Until when is abortion legal. When does the baby get to the point of being a real human being. Many people think differently about this. Some people consider the baby a real human when you can hear its heartbeat. Some people think it’s when it has the ability to feel pain. Again others think that this point is when the baby develops organs. In Holland you can have the baby aborted until it is 24 weeks old. Because if the baby than would be born doctors would be able to keep it alive outside the womb.

My personal opinion on this issue is that abortion can be a good thing and should not be abolished. One of my previous examples was; what if a woman gets raped? It is not the woman’s fault that that one guy decided he wanted to have sex with her even if she didn’t. Of course when the woman then gets pregnant she doesn’t want the child. If she does have the child she’ll be reminded of that one horrible evening every day. Another example is; what if a 15-year-old gets pregnant? What is she supposed to do? She can go to her parents for help, but what if they get mad. Most 15-year-olds are not in a good position to take good care of a child. They are still going to school, and the baby would not have a good life because either, it doesn’t see its mother often for the first years of its life because she is going to school and university to get a good job. Or its mother stops going to school to care for her baby and therefore doesn’t get a good job and enough money to take care of the child. I do think that there should be a clear limit to until when abortion is allowed. I think you should be able to abort the baby until the point where you can see it is a little human. So when the baby develops arms, legs, facial features, and so on you shouldn’t be allowed to abort it anymore.

So abortion is a big social issue which is probably never going to be solved, there will always be a clear division of who’s for it and who’s against it. But I do hope the people in America can come to some sort of compromise, otherwise many young women there might have a big problem.

Renske Pouwels
A4D

Prinsjesdag — 29 September 2016

Prinsjesdag

Every third Tuesday of September is known as Prinsjesdag in the Netherlands. So what exactly is Prinsjesdag? Well, it is an enormously important day for Dutch politics. Many politic plans are revealed to the public and discussed. For example, every year the Troonrede is read by the king, King Willem-Alexander, to a room full of important people and is also broadcasted live on television. The Troonrede is an annual speech which contains 2 main subject: a reflection on what has happened the previous year and some announcements about the government and politics for the upcoming year.

This leads us to the role of the king on Prinsjesdag. As previously mentioned het reads the Troonrede to a room full of important people, but what else does he do? Well… not much really. He goes through a ceremony in which he sits in a, normally golden, but this year a glass carriage (the golden carriage has imagery of slavery on it so it has to be changed) with his family and waves to the public watching the ceremony. Later that day he waves at people from a balcony and that is it.

Also the Miljoenennota is revealed on Prinsjesdag. Every year the Miljoenennota is brought into the 2nd chamber at exactly 15:15 o’clock by the minister of finance in a briefcase that reads: Third Tuesday of September. Once in the 2nd chamber the Miljoenennota is revealed. In previous times it was a gigantic pile of paper, but nowadays it is on a cd. So what is in this o so special Miljoenennota? The miljoenennota contains, in a lot of detail, what the expected earnings and spendings are of the upcoming year.

So what does the cabinet have in sight for us this year? Well, because we have saved so much money in the last few years during the economic crisis, which we are now starting to climb out, we can start spending more. Also because the economic crisis is coming to an end, it will be easier to buy and sell houses, and renting something is going to become easier because of the higher housing allowance.

Also the government is planning on spending more on care. Which I personally think is a great idea. We have saved so much on care in the past few years that I think it is great they get a bit extra this year. Because if you looked at for instant retirement homes, you would have seen that they were starting to look worse and worse, simply because the government would not give the money to make them look a bit better. But now something is finally done about it. The government also wants to save even more money on education. Which is not a good idea if you ask me. Over the last few years the government has spent very little on education, and because of that many teachers lost their jobs. Even a few teachers at our very own school have been fired because of the cuts in the budget.

So this is Prinsjesdag! A whole day dedicated to spendings, earnings, cuts in budgets, politics, and so on. Let’s see what the government makes of it this year!

Renske Pouwels A4D