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

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

Game piracy in third world countries — 13 April 2017

Game piracy in third world countries

People in third world countries obviously have less money than we do. However, the children who live in those countries still have the same desires as first world children. Video games, for example, is very popular in the first world, but it can hardly be afforded by third world gamers. Is it therefore okay for people in the third world to use pirated games, while first world gamers pay the full price for a video game?

First of all, what is game piracy actually? Pirated games are games which are illegally downloaded from the internet and are therefore much cheaper than the original games, or even free. There are different reasons for people to illegally download game. In first world countries the biggest reason is because the original game is very expensive and people want to have it for free, even though they could afford it. Another reason is that it’s the only way to obtain a video games as it never came out in a particular continent. In the third world, the biggest reason for game piracy is because they do not have enough money to buy the original game. People who live in such countries do it because of poverty.piracy

Piracy in third world countries isn’t done because they have the intention to destroy the gaming industry. It’s done because they live in poverty and just do not have the money to buy a game. Another reason for the third world is that the game might haven’t came out in the country. If this is the case, the developers of the game already didn’t have anything to earn from that country or continent, therefore they have nothing to lose.

Of course, game piracy is still stealing in a way, but when a video game here cost you the wage of an hour, the same game could cost people from a poor country a day or maybe even a week of work.

Game piracy is obtaining a video game for free by illegally downloading it. In the first world it happens mostly because people just want to have it for free, while people in the third world do it because they really cannot afford it. The poorer people do it not because they want to destroy the market but just because they don’t have the money, therefore it is okay for them to illegally obtain a video game although it is still stealing.

Charlotte Jansen, 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

Legalization of party drugs — 16 February 2017

Legalization of party drugs

Al lot of party drugs are still completely legal. The party drug 4-FA is very popular in the Netherlands but on the first of April it will become illegal. The drug has been on the market since 2007 and it has been legal to sell, produce and use the drug.  Will the fact that the drug becomes illegal help with the reduce of incidents caused by the drug or will it only become more dangerous for people to use it secretly?

4-FA was seen as a light form of XTC. You kept more control and until September of 2016 any serious risks of health problems weren’t known.  The drug was popular because it had the same effects as ecstasy, but it wasn’t as strong as the hard drug. Now there is new evidence to believe that the drug can lead to serious heart problems and strokes. Some people are against to prohibition of the drug. They think it will only more dangerous for the users of the drug now the producers are working illegally.

When the drug becomes illegal people won’t immediately stop using it. The people who make the drugs aren’t checked up on because it has to happen in secret. In this way they can easily change the drug to make it stronger, more addictive and maybe even more dangerous without the governments knowing.
Supporters of the drug prohibition say that it sends a message to the users when the drug is made illegal. In this way the those people know that it can bring some serious risks when you use the drug and people might think a little longer about whether or not to use the drug.

It is very hard to control the illegal drug market and therefore I think it might be better to leave some drugs for legal use. It is almost impossible to make sure no one is using any illegal drugs and because of this the drug can only become more dangerous. Of course I realize that some  drugs should really be illegal, like those who bring serious health risks and those who are extremely addictive. But drugs like 4-FA whThe-Libertarian-Argument-For-Legalizing-Marijuanaich has been used for a few years by a lot of people, might be better to stay legal. People who have used the drug before will not stop using it just because now it is illegal. People know the risks and should be wise enough to take responsibility for their own body and health.

Charlotte Jansen, 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

Racism — 9 November 2016

Racism

Racism was and still is a very big problem in the world. You can see it in the Netherlands; ‘de zwartepieten discussie’, as well as in the United States of America. Especially with Donald Trump running for elections a lot of racist quotes can be heard there. The problem of racism is that people are judged on their race. On their origin and nationality. In the past racism happened a lot, think about slavery, but it still happens all around the world and I think it’s time that we stop it.a-world-without-racism-1024x915

Racism is dividing a population into ‘us’ and ‘them’. It’s about having disgust against another race or group of people. Sometimes it even is about having a preference of your own race. This is caused on the way you were raised by your parents. If you grew up thinking your own race and skin colour was the best, while everyone else was lower than you, there can be still a part of you that thinks that way. Later it’s very hard to change that way of thinking. Most of the time the minority in a country is the victim of racism, in this way the majority is able to ‘defeat’ the group that doesn’t belong in the country (or so they say).

A lot of people tend to use discrimination and racism as synonyms, but they aren’t. Racism is a smaller category of discrimination. While racism only divides people by race, discrimination can divide people by their origin, the colour of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender, religion or disabilities.

Racism happens at and in a lot of places; At school, at work, for example when an application is being refused because of a foreign last name, in the media and racism is even used to become president of the United States of America. Donald Trump is a very good example of a typical racist. He thinks American white people are the best and immigrants should get deported. He calls Mexicans rapists and thinks women are less than men.

I think racism has to stop immediately. I think it’s a terrible way of treating and threatening people. The impact on people is very large and can last very long. It can begin small with bullying on middle school, but it can happen on a much more bigger scale, like not getting any jobs because of your last name or men like Trump can happen to America. Trump might be excellent at giving a speech, but his ideas are terrible. He uses racism to get other people’s attention and that’s just wrong. I think stopping racism starts with you. If you notice racism around you, which can be anywhere, you can say something about it and stand up for others who maybe are afraid to do so themselves.

Charlotte Jansen,

a4D