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Dear Mark Rutte,
You will be quite busy with the corona crisis, so I thought I’d write it for you. Your victory speech. Not that I will vote for you, but you will probably become my prime minister. So I better help you get a vision. Your breakable vase lies in a thousand shards at your feet, but luckily you can glue it like no other. In this polder full of narcissists and know-it-alls, you have been able to form a stable government for 10 years. That is why you will not get my red dot on March 17, but my victory. Provided you take over this speech word for word, of course. I admit, he is of Fidel Castro-esque height, but there is quite something going on, don’t you think?
First of all, thank you for your trust. I am well aware that this time I did not only receive votes from the right, but from many Dutch people who want a pragmatic and moderate voice in politics. This last Rutte cabinet will therefore not be a right-wing cabinet, it will not be a left-wing cabinet: Rutte IV will not allow himself to be held hostage by political dogmas.
Because how we have been tempted to create apparent contradictions: if you were for the environment, you were left, if you were for the economy, you were right; if you were for government regulation, you were on the left, if you were for a free market economy, you were on the right. But of course a healthy economy cannot exist without a healthy environment and capitalism over-fertilizes itself without government intervention. Without regulation, you will only be able to do your groceries at Amazon. Without regulation you will not get a one-party system, but a one-company system. Dear people, Rutte IV will be a rational cabinet that prefers science to the gut, the long term to the issues of the day and of togetherness to me.
Together. But where then? At first the church disappeared as the place where we met, then we did groceries from behind the laptop and now we no longer meet each other on the work floor. Contact is the mortar of our society. Without mortar, the house collapses. Moreover, people who only look at a screen develop delusions more quickly. To prevent half of the Netherlands from believing that I am abusing preschoolers every week in Jesse Klaver’s basement, Rutte IV is broadly committed to social cohesion. That is why we invest in public space where we can exchange thoughts, dream and imagine. That space is called culture. Rutte IV has come up with a major recovery plan for the culture and sports sector.
And then that other primary necessity of life that I referred to as a left-wing hobby in my liberal adolescence: nature. The need for nature is neither right nor left, that need is human. During the corona crisis, we experienced how important green space is for our well-being. But we also discovered that we could no longer enter the nature reserves because they were full. Meanwhile, our land area is disappearing under logistics parks. Every year 12,000 people in the Netherlands die prematurely from air pollution. We cannot on the one hand stop the economy for a virus and on the other hand dismiss the thousands of environmental deaths as collateral damage. The agricultural sector can no longer remain out of harm’s way. 75% percent of all viruses, from corona to Q fever, are caused by our interaction with animals. With 113 million head of cattle, we are living on a virological time bomb in the Netherlands.
That is why we are going to encourage farmers to switch to small-scale and organic farming. By 2028 at the latest, the standard will be organic for all animal products for sale in the Netherlands. In the run-up to this, the VAT on animal organic products, meat substitutes and vegan dairy will expire. The total Dutch natural area will be doubled by 2035 from 15% to 30%. There will be an excise duty of 21% on kerosene and 9% on all internet purchases. This money goes directly into a fund that buys agricultural land for the benefit of nature and homes. The management of spatial planning is returned to the national government.
And then the crisis that threatens not only our economy, but our entire country: the climate crisis. There are still people on the right flank who deny the problem. But let’s make it very simple. You are in a vacuum space of 50 cubic meters with 10 people. And they are all ten chain smokers. Then you can do two things. You all decide to quit smoking or you Google just as long until you find a scientist somewhere who says that cigarette smoke is less harmful than expected. The atmosphere is a closed space. We cannot ventilate that space. We have to kick our butts.
Now it is true that we are not the only smoker. Of course we are not going to invest billions to be the best boy in the class while Bolsonaro happily turns the Amazon to ashes. There are no national solutions for international problems. If we recognize that the tropical forests are a crucial factor in our oxygen supply, then we must also treat these countries as a supplier: it must become profitable to keep your feet off the forest. That is why there will be a European fund that supports tropical countries in preserving and restoring the rainforest. Before 2030, the forest surface in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia must be restored to the level of 2005, by 2040 it must be restored to the level of 1995. Part of this fund is used to train an army of forest rangers and projects are underway. developed in the field of ecotourism. But we are also tackling the climate problem across borders in other areas. The VVD does not spend a cent on expensive water pumps as long as heavy industry and households in Eastern Europe are still dependent on coal and lignite. With the millions we spend on removing gas from homes, we will help a country like Bosnia get rid of its addiction to lignite in a few years. Finally, from 1 January 2022, the Netherlands will no longer be a tax haven for companies that exploit workers in faraway places and circumvent climate legislation.
With all our climate fears, we have to be careful that our climate solutions do not become biodiversity problems. That is why no solar panel will be placed in a pasture under Rutte IV as long as there is still a roof left. The Netherlands is too small to cram with windmills. Wind turbines at sea have twice the return on land. That is why from now on they are only built at sea; The aim is to produce twice as much wind energy at sea by 2050 than the Netherlands needs. We then become a net exporter. The Netherlands is not going headlong away from gas, but is investing more in research and development of hydrogen as a replacement for gas.
And then: the flow of refugees. Here too, left and right are played opposite each other. But suppose I say to Jesse Klaver’s supporters, do you know what I do? I will open the borders to 17 million Nigerians in 2022. Probably the Netherlands will brake on the brakes on a cargo bike and a vegan country. There is also a limit somewhere for our left-wing friends. And somewhere on that border there is a drowned boy lying on a beach or a cute Afghan girl who is doing so well at the local hockey club. Admitting more immigrants does not solve the problem. Nor will it stop more immigrants. What really needs to change is that we can buy a shirt in Primark for € 3, -. What really needs to change is that the European market with excise duties and agricultural subsidies is undermining the competitive position of African and Asian countries. Just as organic food should become a natural lower limit, fair trade should be too. In a globalizing economy, the prosperity of the other contributes to ours.
As for the living conditions in refugee camps in Greece and Italy, this is beneath our dignity. We cannot entrust care for the world’s most vulnerable to countries such as Libya and Turkey. That is why the Netherlands wants to advocate a 60% reduction in the debt burden of Mediterranean countries if they realize a system of reception for refugees in which shelter, education and health care are arranged according to European standards.
Finally, the retailers and catering entrepreneurs. Most of you have been hit incredibly hard in the corona crisis. That is why, with effect from September 1, 2022, there will be an exemption from paying rent to your landlord, which is equal to the number of months that your company has been closed. It cannot be the case that one sector is asked to make sacrifices and the other is not.
Have I now become a communist? No. I’m not a socialist either. I am a liberal who has recognized that power always needs counterpower. That a retreating government does not necessarily mean more freedom, but can lead to a dictatorship of capital. A dictatorship that is bad for our climate, our education, our healthcare and our local entrepreneurs. That is why we choose coalition partners who want to help preserve our liberal and open society. And actually, dear people, that is very conservative!