Dutch Parliament and Pandora’s Box

On the borders of the EU the cannons are barking, and it are mostly civilians and their properties that are hit, in the Ukraine, Syria & Iraq, Israel & Gaza, and Libya.

In the Dutch Parliament, economist and Christian Democrat dr. Pieter Omtzigt calls for a recognition by the Dutch government of the genocide by the “Islam State” on the Yazidi people. The world should not allow what happened in Rwanda in 1994. He said so in a talkshow of August 11, in which he also mentioned that his priorities are Dutch pensions, persecuted Christians, and his home region Twente. The talkshow of August 11 only mentions them but the persecuted Christians get his full attention in the same talkshow of July 31.

It seems unwise to regard, define and frame the problems of the Middle East in terms of Islam, Christendom and Judaism. There are actors who have an interest in such framing. Who joins this framing supports their interests.

Obviously, it are religious fanatics who have this interest. They have little to offer except their religion, and hence they grow in importance whenever it is accepted that religion would really be the issue.

There are also other powers who refer to religion but who have a more hidden agenda. Said “Islam State” is run so well, and makes such profits, that one may wonder whether the real issue is Islam, for it may just be the robbing of the possessions of others.

Thus, I would urge Pieter Omtzigt to desist from framing his objective in terms of “persecuted Christians”. In principle it are civilians who are at issue. In principle it is freedom of religion that is at issue. That someone calls himself or herself to be a Christian is not the first point of relevance, since he or she may well be a fundamentalist on the road to a new crusade. When a Christian in the Middle East loses his or her children then this is as heartbreaking as when a Sunnite or Shiite loses his or her children. I am pretty sure that Pieter Omtzigt will agree on the latter, but he doesn’t recognize yet that he is inconsistent by putting such an emphasis on Christians. He is opening Pandora’s Box, and apparently invites Dutch Parliament to join him in doing so.

Pandora 1879

Pandora, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1879 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Dr. Omtzigt wrote a thesis in econometrics. He is one of the few Dutch Parlementarians who has some grasp of economics and finance. He is not only on the Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs but also on Commissions on Economics and Finance. For years there have been the “Economists for Peace”, now EPSEU and EPSUSA (formerly ECAAR). They study the costs of the Arms Race, or, for example, the costs of the political lies that resulted in the Iraq War. Remember that it were “re-born” Christians George W. Bush and Tony Blair who used lies to cause the Iraq War. The least that we could ask of economist Omtzigt is to look at what EPSEU has to say.

In my analysis the greatest contribution to peace will come from the solution of unemployment. Young people who have no future now and who experience the seduction of security in religion, would have better options if the economy would allow them to find a job, get economic security and the prospect to start a family. Unemployment is not a natural phenomenon, like a vulcano, that we have no control over. Unemployment is man-made, and a failure in policy. Unemployment both in the EU and the USA has been caused by neoliberal economists who adhere to dogma’s that economic science proves to be incorrect.

Pieter Omtzigt thus actually has a co-responsibility for those wars and those persecuted Christians. He should be in the seat of the accused rather than in the seat of the DA or judge.

Like the EU and the USA, Holland has a perverse system of taxation. The system in Holland is even more perverse, not only due to the larger Dutch welfare state but also because of some political pecularities. In 1997 minister of finance Gerrit Zalm (VVD) (now CEO of the ABN-AMRO bank) and secretary of finance Willem Vermeend (PvdA) lied to Dutch Parliament, when they proposed to replace tax exemption by a tax credit. Effectively they made it politically more difficult to tackle low wage unemployment. In 2013 there was a row about Bulgarian fraudsters who milked the Dutch tax credit system. The case is described in this paper: Economics as victim between lawyers and mathematics (2013).

Now, if fellow-economist Pieter Omtzigt just would take the time to study that paper, and ask questions about what would not be clear to him, then the chance for world peace could improve.

PM. Etgar Keret rightly observes that people tend to expect peace to “descend from above” while the better perspective is that you have to work hard on compromise (Los Angeles Times, July 14 2014).

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