For my Dutch friends.
Now that I am travelling around the world for six months, I am more aware of what the Netherlands is and what distinguishes us from the rest of the world. I also feel more European than ever, because let’s be honest, we speak different languages in Europe and yes, we aren’t the same, but Europeans are more alike than we think. I realised that when I traveled for a longer period.
I have also been thinking about what could be improved in the Netherlands, because I have seen things, certainly in Australia, but also in other countries, which I wonder why this is not possible in the Netherlands or is so badly organised. So politicians, these are just a few things that I think should and can do much better!
This is the list.
1. Public toilets
Why is it so difficult to go to the toilet in the Netherlands? If you walk in the city or go to a playground with your children, you have to dive into a restaurant somewhere or go into the bushes to pee. In Australia there is a public toilet at every playground and in the city you also have public toilets. The same in India. Yes, in India. If they can do that there, why can’t we in the Netherlands arrange proper and decent public toilets? Come on, we are a prosperous country.
Oh, and if we do, why don’t we take Japan as an example? There they have toilets where you don’t need your hands between your legs to wipe your buttocks. Because let’s be honest. Think about it. I mean, really think about it, with your hands between your buttocks to remove the last poop. Is that really hygienic? I don’t think so. So let’s take Japan as an example and start with real toilets where your ass is blown clean with warm air. Delicious!
I won’t talk about men and women toilets. As far as I’m concerned, it can just be unilateral. Everyone has a unilateral toilet at home, right? And neuter is probably not the word I should use, but you understand what I mean.
2. Free WIFI and charging points for your phone in public transport
Everywhere I go. Let me repeat this. Everywhere I go. Everywhere I go they have charging points on the train or bus to charge your phone. From Russia to India. You can just charge your phone. And often there is free internet when you are in the train or bus.
Why is that not possible in the Netherlands? I still don’t understand that. The Dutch Railways (NS)? Hello?
3. A bachelor’s degree should be enough to get a job
In Australia, England, France and well, I don’t know where else, but there it’s enough to start working with a bachelor’s degree – the first three years of your studies at the university or HBO.
Working in the Netherlands with a bachelor’s degree? Forget about it. No, you must have a master’s degree. Another year extra. While this is meant to further specialise you. When you are young, you often do not know exactly what you want. That’s why you study something you think you like. Only when you start working do you know better and better what you want and what is in demand. So it makes much more sense for everyone to take a master’s degree later on. Only Dutch employers, including OVERHEID, yes the government, want to see a master’s before they hire someone. Let’s stop that. It makes much more sense for everyone to take a master’s degree later on. Obama first studied Social Work and later law when he discovered that it was also very useful to have one. Before that he had worked for a few years. Let’s give everyone that time to know what you want.
And let’s not discourage studying after the age of 30 because you have to pay a lot of money, no, let’s encourage it. Studying is the possibility to grow your own social status. That you can do that in the Netherlands is unique and we should cherish it.
I am therefore a supporter of free study and no loan, come on boys, that must be possible it is an investment in all of us. I could make another point of this, but let me start with just one small point.
4. Free Childcare
Why is it so difficult to arrange good childcare in the Netherlands? If we want there to be equality between women and men, then we really need it. It costs a lot of money and it is cheaper for many families to let one of the parents stay at home than to send them to the shelter. Not to mention the stigma of sending children to the shelter five days a week. Please, let’s get this right in the Scandinavian countries – we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Why is that not possible?
5. Sports and music at the (primary) school
I am jealous when I see how Americans have integrated sports, music and culture into the curriculum. In the Netherlands, sports, music and culture are a hobby. Something you do yourself. So there are big differences between families who get something out of it. I know there are attempts to get more sport and culture at school, but I wouldn’t mind if after three o’clock in the afternoon at primary school three more hours of sport and culture is offered. Then the parents don’t have to arrange home or shelter (see the previous point). And how healthy is this for all of us? And cozy moreover. I’m sure it’s worth the investment it costs. And besides, life is not only about language and arithmetic. It is also about all other things that make life worth living. Also something I realize more now that I’m traveling and not in the mill of sleep-eating work.
6. Three months off once every ten years
Australians have three months off once every ten years. Paid. Yes indeed. I think this is a brilliant idea. Because just like I just advocated (see the previous point) life is not only about working but also about doing things. A lot of people are already taking these three months themselves, but not much either, and it would be very good for those people if everyone who has three months off could do so. What do you do in that time? You can know that for yourself. Who is against it?
In Australia you can also get your children out of school a bit earlier when it is almost a holiday. So say, two weeks before it’s really holiday, you can just leave. Because life is not about working. Everyone thinks that is completely normal. In contrast to the Netherlands where as a parent you almost get a fine if you take your child from school an hour earlier the Friday before the holiday. Chill!
7. Protect the nature (that we still have) in the Netherlands!
This is important! I go all over the world and see the most beautiful nature we have in the world. It belongs to all of us, the world then. But in the Netherlands we still want to build in the green and we hardly see that we have so little. All over the world they have national parks where you have to pay to see nature. In the Netherlands we only have the Veluwe as far as I know. As far as I’m concerned, there will be more nature parks and we’ll stop building in the green. Let’s be more creative with the space we have. Let’s be honest, it’s busy in the Netherlands, we’re one of the densely populated countries in the world and let’s map out where we’re NOT going to live. And perhaps only a few industrial estates should make way for that. Who cares?
8. Local food logo
What I really like about Australia is that it says on every product what percentage comes from Australia. Local food is very much promoted. You can also see it from the other side: they are very xenophobic, which is also the case, but I think it is good. The future lies in local food. Why do we have to get everything from afar? Australia is, however, larger in area and even larger than Europe, so I would argue for a European percentage figure on each product. As a consumer, you can then decide for yourself whether you buy something from China that has been brought to the Netherlands over the ocean by polluting ships or whether you buy a product from Europe. So French wine, Greek feta or whatever. Let us be honest, do we not have delicious food in Europe?
9. (Energy) independent
We are a small country and therefore dependent on other countries. Especially from our neighbours. Not everyone realises this. I know that fortunately there are people here who are thinking about this, but let us invest more money to be energy independent at least.
In India I have experienced a few times that the energy fails, just like in Mongolia. There is no water for a moment. Or just no power. We assume that it is always there, but no, the future can really be different.
So let’s invest more in that. So that we know for sure that we can all Netflix in a warm house. Isn’t that a good idea?
10. Making smoking unaffordable
In Australia smoking is really very expensive, but then really. In the Netherlands it is expensive, but not expensive enough to stop the smokers from smoking. Here it is so expensive that there is actually a generation that does not smoke. So who says that making it more expensive doesn’t help?
What we (Dutch) can be proud of
But to be very honest, we don’t have much to complain about. I am very happy and proud to be a Dutchman and we can be proud of a number of things. Below a small list.
- Bicycle paths. Please, come and see this for yourself.
- Our economy. We don’t do so badly everywhere in general.
- Democracy. Especially with several smaller parties that still have influence, it means that a lot of people are represented. Which does not mean that there is always room for improvement, but in general and certainly when you compare it to other countries, we do not do so badly.
- Our food culture. I know we can do better, but unlike many countries, we are getting less fat and it is slowly increasing. Are we too fat? Yes, and we have to work on that, but really, it can be much worse. By the way, we eat far too much bread. Twice a day. Why? Warm, good food at noon is much tastier. It just takes some getting used to.
- That we all speak pretty good English (even thought it is with a little accent).
- O an so much more…
Thank you for complaining.