I knew it. I’m being cheated by my mobile phone provider – it’s all in this morning’s papers. Meanwhile, a growing number of Dutch households have more pressing financial problems to worry about, says De Telegraaf – like whether they can afford breakfast.
Child poverty might be on the increase, but it seems Dutch kids are doing better than ever at school, AD is pleased to report. Meanwhile, are mayors too soft to make decisions about the futures of teenage asylum seekers? Trouw thinks they wouldn’t be objective, in any case. And what are your chances of finding romance on a Boeing 747? KLM has an upcoming app to help you out.
Mobile phone cartel exposed
I’m paying too much to use my mobile phone. No, really, it’s in the papers. Not that I needed de Volkskrant or AD to tell me. It turns out Telecom companies KPN, Vodafone and T-Mobile have been going to a lot of trouble to make sure I’m paying over the odds, top-level whistleblowers have revealed.
It won’t help me to switch providers either, de Volkskrant explains. Because the other fifty mobile providers depend on their networks, the three big companies control the Dutch market. And they make a habit of agreeing the prices among themselves.
But KPN and chums have had to get pretty creative about it, because they’ve had their knuckles rapped for forming a cartel before. So now the telecom bosses make their cosy deals in phone calls made on constantly changing prepaid mobiles, says de Volkskrant. Or they get together quietly in the back room during the Telecom Christmas party. And they put their heads together to come up with ideas together on how to wring the maximum amount of cash out of me.
But now the game’s up. Thanks to the whistleblowers, the telecom heavyweights have been raided by the Netherlands Competition Authority. I now have to wait while they pick through the hard disks in search of incriminating evidence. Then with any luck my mobile bill will plummet.
Dutch child poverty: “time Europe helped out”
“In our country there are now thousands of children going to school hungry because there is simply not enough money for breakfast,” mourns De Telegraaf in an impassioned editorial. What’s got the paper worked up is a report by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research, we learn from de Volkskrant. Child poverty is rising fast.
More than 50,000 people say they can’t afford to heat their homes properly, de Volkskrant reports. And even more households have trouble regularly getting a decent meal on the table.
“In times of economic misfortune it’s no surprise that more people are living below the poverty line,” De Telegraaf reasons. We can only start “slipping extras to the poor” again when the national bookkeeping is back in order, the paper says. So it can forgive the government the occasional “hardhearted policy”. Nevertheless, they should really be doing something about it “within the possibilities”.
So what’s the solution? Well there’s an EU “poverty pot”, isn’t there? The government seems to think that poverty in our country isn’t as bad as it is in other parts of Europe, says De Telegraaf. But it’s about time the rest of Europe chipped in to help our poor.
Asylum seekers: who says they should stay?
Local councils and school boards should have a say in whether asylum seekers get to stay in the country. That’s the conclusion of a commission reporting back to Immigration Minister Gerd Leers, says Trouw. He shouldn’t just consider the harrowing details of a refugee’s past, the commission concludes, but also whether he or she is “adequately rooted and has a good future in the Netherlands.” The findings come in the light of recent high-profile cases – Sahar and Mauro – in which teenagers who’d grown up in the Netherlands faced deportation to Afghanistan or Angola.
Not surprisingly Geert Wilders’ anti-immigrant Freedom Party has no time for such namby-pamby nonsense, de Volkskrant reports. You don’t want to be asking mayors whether asylum seekers can stay, the party says: they’ve got “weak knees”.
But there have been more objections from parties on the left, Trouw points out. After all, “Some mayors are better than others at writing nice letters,” says Gerard Schouw of the D66 democrats.
In its editorial the paper agrees. “Let’s not beat about the bush,” says Trouw. “Everyone will make an effort for pretty, clever children who do well at school. But what if asylum seekers aren’t so appealing?” The commission’s idea is a recipe for arbitrary decisions, the paper concludes.
Dutch kids get top marks
A fifth of the pupils in vocational education aren’t getting enough lesson time, says de Volkskrant, according to a report by the inspectors of…
Hang on a minute, says AD, that’s just the kind of story we’re always hearing about Dutch education. Moan, moan, moan. In fact, our kids are doing great, the paper reports. Listen to what the statistics office has to say. “We looked at all 15-year-olds compared to their peers in other countries. We found that in all subjects we come out way above average, we score among the top,” spokeswoman Chantal Meltser tells the paper.
What works about Dutch education is that it’s aimed at bringing the best out of everyone, Ms Meltser explains. Few kids do really badly, and there’s something in the system for everyone. However, there’s a downside, education expert Hans Luyten points out: too little attention for excellence.
Nevertheless, Mr Luyten agrees the moaners should pipe down. “There’s often too much emphasis on what’s not going right,” he says. People are always saying ‘things were better in the old days’. “But the figures show the opposite. Isn’t that wonderful?”
‘Social Seating’: mile-high dating?
You take your seat on the plane next to a stranger. You get talking, your eyes meet – and it’s the start of a beautiful romance. Chance would be a fine thing, says de Volkskrant. You’re more likely to find yourself next to a fat, sweaty man who snores.
But Dutch airline KLM has come up with an idea to increase your chances of finding a potential date on the plane: ‘Social Seating’. As passengers are booking their flights, they’ll be able to hook up to Facebook and LinkedIn and check out who else will be on board. Then they can pick a seat next to someone who takes their fancy.
What’s more, “That’s only the beginning of Social Seating,” a KLM spokesperson tells the paper. But for the rest, the airline’s lips are sealed – we’ll have to wait for the app to be launched early next year.