The Netherlands

How do we fight fake news?

As is often the case around election time, the Dutch discussion about fake news flares up once again. The Dutch Minister of the Interior, Lady Kajsa Ollongren (D66), wants to establish an “independent” institute that is engaged in countering the spreading of “fake news”, which, according to her, and many others, is a major threat to democracy. would form. Does this make sense?

What is fake news?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a well-known English proverb. Likewise, some “real news” and some “fake news”. In the Middle Ages, answering this question was easy. Real news, that was what the Church (ie the Roman Catholic Church, saw as truth. Or, with the southern neighbors, what the ruling Islamic sect saw as truth. The rest was fake news, or heresy. The spread of fake news took a lot of flee with the invention of the printing press. For example, the Albigenses, who in the twelfth century had similar ideas to Luther and other Protestants centuries later, were a marginal group, their heretical ideas about reading the "holy scriptures" instead. of the interpretation of the church could be quite easily suppressed with brute force. Not many people had a Bible, because it had to be copied by hand: literally a monk's work. That changed after the invention of paper and printing. was no stopping then: the information monopoly of the Roman Catholic Church was quickly broken.

The Internet has a similar effect. In the good old days, when there was no internet yet, many CPN members or journalists were recruited by the BVD (predecessor of the AIVD) [1]. That was also possible, because there was (and is) only a handful of newspapers. All radio and TV stations could also be counted on one hand. Even now, dozens of journalists work as AIVD agents [2]. That also changed with the internet. For a journalist it is no longer a career-technical death sentence if there is no longer employment with newspapers or TV channels. Mainstream controversial talk show host Robert Jensen, for example, set up a much-watched covid-19 policy-critical YouTube channel after his TV show was shut down, with the motto “the [mainstream] media is the virus”. This also applies to journalists such as Joost Niemoller (now active as a weblogger), which is also controversial in the mainstream, or the widely watched (according to the main stream media) online current affairs program Weltschmerz, wholesaling wild conspiracy theories. In addition, there are now thousands of bloggers, vloggers, influencers and, of course, your unsurpassed Hence, there is a great need in the government to combat this uncontrolled proliferation.

Ministry of Truth

This need among both Brussels and Hague regents explains why there is now so much attention for fake news [3]. For example, Ms Kajsa Ollongren now wants an independent administrative body separate from the government (but funded by the government) to tackle so-called fake news [4]. According to the minister, there is 'no question of' a thought police. She emphasizes that it will not be the government that will monitor incorrect information. "The government does not have that role." An independent body that is not tied to a political party or ministry must track down and report on the disinformation. ”
It is not without reason that an old Dutch proverb says: whose bread one eats, whose word one speaks. A politically independent administrative body (we are talking about that now, after all, the question of what is fake news and what is true news is politically charged) is the worst of both worlds. It is not independent and cannot be approached politically. It is pre-eminently a manifestation of the “deep state”.


The inquisition, an institution of the Roman Catholic Church that detected and combated deviations from Roman Catholic doctrine, was also an "independent body not tied to any political party or ministry." The fact that the local government did the dirty work of the stake was no comfort to the burning witches and heretics. Government organization or not: If an organization is authorized by the government, as here, there is no functional difference from a government organization.

Inquisitors engaged in the fight against fake news. Source: Wellcome Trust / Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, the government is also an important source of misinformation, as became apparent at the start of the covid-19 epidemic, when the Dutch government organization RIVM considered masks “not necessary” [5] and, following the WHO, claimed that asymptomatic patients virus [6]. Data scientist Maurice de Hond has already provided harsh and substantiated criticism on this. That led to a conviction on the social media giants for “fake news” [7]. There are more examples. Powerful interest groups will always hijack and bribe authoritative sources to impose their own fake news (this time labeled “official truth”) on the rest.

What then works? Simple: monitor the standards of good journalism. Teach citizens how to practice thorough investigative journalism, for example through free courses with an exam. This is probably one of the most useful skills to keep our democracy, a democracy. Our democracy is in safer hands with hundreds of thousands of trained citizen journalists than with a few hundred professional journalists often recruited by the AIVD.

1. The long arm of the BVD, memories of the infiltration - Dutch Communists from NRC, 1994
2. 'We should not be so surprised that the AIVD recruits informants among journalists' - Trouw, 2019
3. Countering disinformation and fake news - Dutch national government, undated
4. Ollongren tackles “fake news” about elections - BNR Nieuwsradio, 2020
5. 'Mouth mask is not a realistic way of dampening coronavirus' - AD, 2020
6. WHO withdraws claim: 'Perhaps many corona infections by people without symptoms' - De Morgen, 2020
7. Maurice de Hond disappointed in YouTube due to removal of corona video: 'I say the same as German top virologist!' -, 2020

How could the elected mayor work?

The Netherlands and Belgium know as some of the few countries in Europe no elected mayor. What are the pros and cons of the elected mayor? How can the elected mayor best be implemented?

Why choose a mayor?
In a democracy, power is theoretically exercised by the people. In practice, this boils down to a representative democracy, after all: not everyone can be involved in management full-time. The population elects representatives who take care of the day-to-day administration. Ideally, in a representative democracy, all administrators are elected by the population. A mayor has a lot of power in the Netherlands (and probably also in Belgium). For example, he or she is the head of the police (and thus responsible for public order and safety) and formally the contact person for the municipality. In a democracy, power is controlled by the people. That is why it makes sense to let the population elect mayors.

Benefits of the elected mayor
Elected mayors are elected by a majority of the population, if there are two rounds of voting. This gives the mayor a strong democratic mandate and support from the population. The population of a city knows its city better than outsiders and is therefore more likely to choose a person who can best represent its interests. In countries with elected mayors, mayorship is often a stepping stone for a national career, and thus a breeding ground for political talent. An elected mayor does not have to be partisan, which means that a much larger pool of talent can be recruited than from the few hundred party bosses.

The elected mayor has been around for a long time in our eastern neighbors. Many national German politicians were mayors or heads of state. Copyright: SPD Schöngau / fair use

Benefits of the appointed mayor
An appointed mayor generally has a good relationship with the ruling authority in the capital, which works both ways: she or he will impose law-abiding the will of the national government, but can also lobby effectively in The Hague or Brussels. Because he or she is acclaimed by the central authority, his power base does not depend on local rulers. This allows him or her to maintain a certain independence from the rest of the municipality. The appointed mayor also provides suitable and guaranteed employment for retired elite members. This increases the loyalty of the ruling elite to the central authority and thus reduces the risk of civil war. A good director is often not a good vote-taker and vice versa.

Arguments raised by the proponents of the appointed mayor often mentioned against the elected mayor are: it is easier to dismiss an appointed mayor than an elected mayor if, for example, there is a protracted conflict between mayor and city council; elected mayors probably score low on diversity and multicultural content. And: the majority of the population can vote for a popular, but otherwise incompetent candidate. For example a famous singer or movie star. Or, of course it absolute nightmare scenarioyou understand that, dear reader, a populist.

What could the construction around the elected mayor look like?
Several approaches have been proposed for entering the elected mayor safely. For example, the city council could propose the candidates, as is already the case with appointed mayors. This would remove a first objection. A party without representation in the municipal council will not be able to nominate candidates. The disadvantage is that non-partisan candidates drop out, which is one of the charms of the elected mayor. A second solution is to set quality requirements for candidates for mayors. For example an exam, IQ test or training requirement. The disadvantage is that this violates the democratic character. Personally, I think that no further requirements are needed if the city council is given the power to suspend the mayor in case of apparent maladministration.

Why we must unconditionally protect freedom of speech

Is a cartoon worth a human life? At first glance you would say no. However, appearances are deceptive here: not only our freedom, but also the survival of the human species benefits from integrity in thinking, and in this respect from absolute freedom of expression.

Humans and humanity as information processors
Evolution is basically information processing. Evolution is the product of the confrontation of our genotype (the DNA blueprint in our genes) and the resulting phenotype (our bodies) with the natural environment (including other organisms). In billions of years of evolution, the genotype of our species has expanded and adapted until we have grown from two single strands of bacterial and archaeal DNA housed in a simple cell into a complex multicellular organism capable of solving the mysteries of life. to unravel space and time.

This process took place only through the endless exposure of our genome to ever-changing challenges. Our ancestors have survived global disasters such as a catastrophic asteroid impact, a gamma-ray burst, and what may have been a massive volcano eruption. Each disaster has usually selected the toughest survivors. The catastrophic disaster at the end of the Permian 252 million years ago, with more than ninety percent of the species on Earth perishing, paved the way for the ancestor of the dinosaurs (and thus birds), the Chicxulub weft for groups of mammals including the primates, our group.

Some subtler cartoons by Charlie Hebdo wittily portray the supposed inventor of Islam, the merchant Muhammad ibn Abdullah. Source / Copyright: Charlie Hebdo Magazine

Technical and cultural evolution
Economic, social and cultural competition is subject to similar evolutionary pressures. The “DNA” of a bicycle, for example, is the CAD construction drawings, specifications and assembly manuals of the various parts and the entire construction, and the mental blueprint in the brains of bicycle repairers, where the phenotype is the bicycle itself. A beautiful, strong and pleasantly driving bicycle is sold more often, so that the manufacturer can further develop the bicycle and other bicycle manufacturers take over elements. The same mechanism also occurs with cultural elements such as language, ideologies and religion. A religion that is more successful at converting people and preserving the faith is ahead of those that discourage or prohibit conversion, or have too weak a grip on the minds of their adherents. religions, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, succeed best in this.

Why Do Religions Exist?
Religions stem from the same urge that led to the emergence of science: the need to understand the world around us and the meaning of our existence. Religion arises from the physical and metaphysical ideas of the time when religion originated. These ideas are framed, usually by a founder (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism) or group of founders (Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism) and institutionalized in subsequent years as a result of confrontation with other religions and philosophies. The canon (collection of sacred writings) is established and classes of institutionalized bearers of knowledge of the religion emerge, such as monks, gurus, priests, theologians and ulema. This gives religions an additional evolutionary advantage: full-time professionals whose existence depends on the presence of large numbers of believers who give their tithes. These professionals are constantly inventing new ways to bring in believers, maintain their faith, and prevent apostasy. This explains the caste system among Hindus, the emphasis on repentance as the only way to save people from hell among Christians, and the draconian punishments of Muslims leaving Islam.

Do Religions Have Value?
Religions frame ideas and hinder scientific and metaphysical thinking. In principle, religions thus have a negative influence on human survival. Elements of religions can be exceptionally useful. Think of the protection of the family, interpersonal ethics, the stimulation of abstract thinking and the provision of a metaphysical reality that creates a distance from the observable reality and thus stretches the world of thought.
The over-representation of Jews and, to a lesser extent, Christians among scientific pioneers suggests that these religions contain elements that promote the development of theory, induction and critical scientific thinking. While primitive Judaism is very similar to current Islam, later rabbinical Judaism has a more playful, more equal relationship with the supreme god. Also “lernen”, the emphasis on learning, is very important in contemporary Judaism. As far as scientific knowledge is concerned, this is of course very useful in scientific practice. This also applies to Christianity, which focuses more on the esoteric domain and thus (after the devastating defeats suffered by the Catholic Church against Galileo and the Copernicists, and the Protestant heretics) opposed natural science much less and in some cases even promoted. In short: religions can still have a positive value on balance, depending on the ideas they contain. However, this is more the exception than the rule. This also explains why in distinctly atheistic countries like both China's, the Czech Republic and Japan, the practice of science and technology is at a higher level.

Freedom of speech is higher than religious dogma
The essence of evolution is information processing. Our technical and cultural evolution is in fact an extension and a logical continuation of biological evolution. To give up freedom of speech because a mythical supreme being, or a legendary founder, of a religion might be offended is to halt the evolution of human thought and culture. If a religion is unable to refute ridicule or criticism, then this religion loses out in the war of ideas. Just as it is not permitted in the Netherlands or Belgium to extort consumers, it must also not be permitted to make religious criticism impossible with improper methods. If a religion like Islam is unable to survive without intimidating its critics with murder and manslaughter, then this religion must disappear from the face of the earth for good. Anyone calling to kill critics in order to silence them is an obstacle to the evolution of humanity. They are principals of murder and therefore guilty of murder. They should be treated like terrorists. Humanity is better off without them.

Do we have to change agricultural land in the Netherlands into residential areas and nature?

The largest land user in the Netherlands is agriculture. The interim manager Iman Stratenus and his noble companion Eppo Folef Marie van Nispen tot Sevenaer, with a legal background, say they have the solution. What if we abolish agriculture in the Netherlands and convert the land released into a nature reserve?

City-state The Netherlands has a greater population density than many world cities. The Netherlands is home to 17 million people on 40,000 square kilometers of land. Incredibly enough, the Netherlands also succeeds in being largely self-sufficient in food in the field of agriculture. This at a price. For example, the land is drained, which increases the root zone on fields and makes them more accessible for heavy agricultural machines. As a result, nature areas dry out and structural moisture shortages arise.

What if we just abolish agriculture for the most part and use the land that will become available for nature conservation and for housing? That would solve the problems with emission rights in one fell swoop. Land will also be freed up for the cultivation of biomass, another idea that is very trendy among climate enthusiasts. This is the proposal of both aforementioned gentlemen of the initiative natural rich netherlands.

The idea is simple. Make half of the Netherlands a nature reserve. Buy out most of the farmers with the proceeds from selling some of the farmland as land for housing. The authors name 1 million new sustainable homes. Use the remainder for the cultivation of biomass and as a nature reserve, for example to keep fox hunts. From now on, import our food from abroad.

The Netherlands is currently using 66% of the territory for agriculture. What if we just do away with agriculture? Source / copyright:

The authors of this report clearly have an economic background. They assume that the Netherlands will go through 'business as usual' in the coming decades with a stable international system, in which it is indeed economically smarter to import our food than to use scarce land for this.

Certainly in this unstable geopolitical situation, in which existing alliances are falling apart and new geopolitical fault lines arise, this is not very sensible. The covid-19 crisis already showed that countries prioritize their own population. Shipments of masks on transit to other European countries were seized, France introduced an export ban for covid-19 protective equipment. It is downright foolish and irresponsible to assume that if there is a global famine, our neighbors will bail us out when their own people go hungry.

The reason that there is so much room in the Netherlands for agriculture at the expense of other land use is not trivial. As the farmers themselves put it succinctly: You must know well, we farmers provide food.

If we decommission 12,000 square kilometers of agricultural land, as these two propose, the Netherlands will no longer be self-sufficient in terms of food. Our (great) grandparents all experienced in the Hunger Winter of 1944 the dire consequences of being dependent on foreign countries in times of crisis.

It is better, for example, to take a critical look at the existing asylum and immigration policy (now responsible for more than eighty percent of the population growth, see and to deal more creatively with the existing space than now, for example through more underground construction and the relocation of the most ecologically damaging agricultural activities to the sea. Three-fifths of the Dutch territory is sea. In the long term, much agricultural land can indeed be used for a different purpose, but only if we succeed in producing replacement food in, for example, agricultural flats, in a synthetic way or at sea.

Government forms of the future

The current forms of government, dating from the eighteenth century or earlier, such as autocracy, monarchy and democracy, have the greatest difficulty keeping up with the rapid technological changes.

What the form of government of the future will look like will depend to a very large extent on what the human of the future will look like and how the humanity of the future will be spread over real and virtual worlds. In this video Futurologist Isaac Arthur elaborates on this.

In terms of government, Estonia is one of the few countries to go fast forward towards the future with the e-Estonia project. Source / copyright:

What if we lined our roads with solar panels?

Roads are flat and we have a lot of them. In principle, a road can consist of solar panels. Is this idea interesting?

In the Netherlands there are some 150,000 kilometers of road, the lion's share of which is around seven meters wide. This would yield about one million square meters (1 square kilometer) of solar panels, so around the 150 megawatt peak (150 million kilowatt hours per year), or a small power plant. Even the nuclear power plant in Borssele alone produces 500 megawatts, 24 hours a day. This at high cost, unless the construction of the panels is related to the re-asphalting of roads. If companies such as the Dutch SolaRoad succeed in realizing sustainable solar roads at little extra cost, the technology will still become interesting, albeit not as a structurally significant contribution to the Dutch energy mix. .

More information: SolaRoad

The Dutch start-up Solaroad produced the first solar road in the Netherlands. Source: Blueknight - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Royalty and nobility are racist institutions

Nederlanders moeten zich erg schamen over de Zwarte Piet-traditie, vindt de Amerikaanse monopolist Facebook. Opmerkelijk genoeg zijn er in Nederland twee nog veel racistischer instituten, die onverkort kunnen functioneren: adeldom en het koningshuis.

Erfelijk adeldom
Al ver voor de Romeinse tijd bestond het instituut adel. De edele bezit op basis van afkomst een vooraanstaande positie. Er is in Nederland maar één manier om toe te treden tot de adel. Op basis van de geboorte in een aanzienlijke familie, of door de verheffing van deze familie tot het adeldom, aldus de Wet op de Adeldom. Dit geldt ook voor het koningshuis, al zijn hier de regels marginaal soepeler. Een persoon kan toetreden tot het koningshuis, als een lid van het koningshuis met deze trouwt, aldus de Wet Lidmaatschap Koninklijk Huis. Het bekendste voorbeeld is vanzelfsprekend de vrouw van de Nederlandse koning Willem IV,  de Argentijnse Máxima Zorreguieta. Leden van het koninklijk huis treden automatisch toe tot de adel.
Dit maakt zowel het adeldom als in iets mindere mate het koningshuis racistische instituten. Een van de afschuwelijke elementen van het leven onder de Duitse nazi-dictatuur waren de Neurenberger rassenwetten. Onderdeel hiervan was het bijhouden van een afstammingsregister. Kwamen er in je familiestamboom bijvoorbeeld zwarten, Slaven of, het ergste scenario, joden voor, dan was je geen raszuivere Germaan en waren topposities voor je uitgesloten. In Nederland kennen we nog steeds elementen van deze Neurenberger rassenwetten. Ik doel nu op het door de Hoge Raad van Adel uitgegeven adelsregister. Voor de sneuneuzen die net buiten de boot vielen, maar er toch bij willen horen zijn er het “blauwe boekje” van het zelfbenoemde “Nederlands patriciaat” en een lijstje van “aanzienlijke” Haagse families.

Bij een familie van adel hoort uiteraard een indrukwekkend familiewapen. Bron: Wikimedia Commons/Arch

Adel belangrijker dan het op het eerste gezicht lijkt
Vaak wordt gedacht dat adeldom alleen een folkloristisch karakter heeft. Dit is onjuist, zoals ook al blijkt uit de expliciete wetgeving op dit gebied en het bestaan van de Hoge Raad van Adel. Dit blijkt eveneens uit de forse boetes op het “valselijk” voeren van de titel jonkheer, graaf of hertog volgens artikel 435, eerste lid, van het Wetboek van Strafrecht: een geldboete van de tweede categorie. Deze bedraagt maximaal € 4350 in 2020.Een even hoge straf als staat op het vals voeren van bijvoorbeeld een academische titel of jezelf preesenteren als advocaat.

De ongeveer tienduizend “edellieden” zijn oververtegenwoordigd op elitaire en prestigieuze posities die vaak met de “deep state” worden geassocieerd. Diplomaten, ministers en hoge ambtenaren zijn vaak van adel, hoewel hun aandeel langzamerhand wel vermindert.

The consequences
Als de politieke elite geboorte en afstamming ziet als een wettig argument om aan een groep een beschermde status toe te kennen, verliest deze hiermee haar morele recht om discriminatie op afkomst te verbieden. Er zal pas een einde aan racisme komen als iedere Nederlander daadwerkelijk gelijk is voor de wet. Nu is dat niet het geval. Ben je geboren als nakomeling van staatshoofd Willem IV, dan betekent dat een levenslang emolument van enkele tonnen per jaar. Ben je geboren in een adellijk geslacht, dan mag je je graaf of baron noemen, terwijl dat ondergetekende en waarschijnijk ook u, hooggeboren lezer, op maximaal enkele duizenden euro’s boete komt te staan.

Afschaffen of hervormen?
In feite kennen we al vormen van meritocratische adel. Een doctorstitel verdien je (meestal) door enkele jaren ploeteren aan een promotieonderzoek. Dit geldt ook, in mindere mate, voor de ingenieurstitel van weledelgestrenge schrijver dezes. Bij de jaarlijkse lintjesregen worden geregeld mensen die (volgens de overheid) een bijzondere prestatie hebben neergezet, geslagen tot ridder in bijvoorbeeld de orde van Oranje Nassau. Waarom niet de uitvinder van een oplossing voor het zwerfplastic in zee tot Baron-Beschermer van de Schone Oceaan benoemen, of een moedige ex-moslim dissidente tot Hertogin van het Vrije Woord?

Can Covid-19 Disrupt Our Food Chain?

Now that the epidemic is diminishing in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, we are seeing more and more clearly the consequences of this crisis. One of them is that it has become clear how fragile our trading network is. Is the food supply at risk?

At the beginning of the crisis there were fears of shortages. For example, after panic on social media, there was a massive run on toilet paper, leaving supermarkets with empty shelves. There was plenty of toilet paper in the warehouses of manufacturers and wholesalers.
This didn't just apply to toilet paper. Our supply chain has remained intact for the time being. There were plenty of supplies, supermarkets were stocked at night, and the poorly paid shelf loaders and cashiers became essential professionals.
Shortages have been prevented, except in healthcare. It gives the feeling that the crisis has been overcome. But is this feeling justified?

Chance of food shortages
The Netherlands is still one of the richest countries in the world. That means that food expenditure only accounts for a limited percentage of our monthly budget. For example, people at welfare level spend an average of around two hundred euros per person per month on food [1]. That amounts to twenty percent of the income at social assistance level of single people. Fixed costs, however, are high in the Netherlands. This means that a large increase in the cost of food for the very lowest incomes will cause major problems. This problem is even greater in poorer countries. This writer has been at the start of the corona crisis in Lebanon. Lebanon is a small, densely populated country (seven million people in an area of a quarter of the Netherlands). Lebanon, for example, was already in serious trouble before the corona crisis broke out. Economic mismanagement, the collapse of tourism and the drying up of the money flow from Syria has already brought the country to the brink of collapse. The corona crisis was the final straw. There is now (May 2020) acute famine in this once prosperous country [2].

Is there another hunger winter coming? Fortunately, that chance seems small - the Netherlands is more than self-sufficient in food. Source: ANEFO, unknown photographer

There are now queues of hours [2] for the food bank. Violence for food cannot be ruled out. Food riots have a very destabilizing effect. The Arab Spring started with food riots.
For the time being it remains quiet. Many accept the lockdown, and people don't want more chaos. Still, dissatisfaction is growing, which translates into demonstrations to end the lockdown

No immediate cause for concern in the Netherlands. At least on paper
The Netherlands is more fertile and slightly less densely populated than Lebanon. If the Dutch were to switch to a low-meat diet, the Netherlands would be able to feed much more than the current population, according to the Agricultural Economic Institute [3], in a study commissioned by the Dutch government. With current livestock farming, the food balance is negative. To provide the enormous quantities of pigs, chickens and cattle with feed, a multiple of the agricultural area in the Netherlands is needed. Exports will come to a standstill under this disaster scenario, causing these industries to shrink drastically. There is also a risk of fertilizer shortages in the longer term. We can source nitrogen locally from the air, magnesium from seawater and potassium from French potassium mines, but phosphates come from Morocco. Unless really unpleasant circumstances break out, such as a civil war, an extreme solar flare or extreme weather conditions, the food supply in the Netherlands is safe for a longer period of time. Especially when seaweed farms are built in the North Sea.

But what if the Dutch government declines it here too?
The handling of the corona crisis showed blunder after blunder. This is largely due to the very bureaucratic organization of Dutch health care. The Netherlands has experience with the hunger winter of 1944-1945 and is therefore much better prepared for famine than for an epidemic. Farmers are much more independent and less bound by protocols than healthcare professionals. The Ministry of Agriculture is also smaller and much less bureaucratic than VGZ. They do have to comply with ever-increasing environmental legislation, such as the nitrogen standard.

Build in robustness
Our country is small and well organized, but in the event of a real system crisis, it cannot be ruled out that the long-distance distribution network will fail. In that case, a local backup plan is a life-saver. Allotment gardens, local growers and food processors can provide food security in that case. Dutch horticulture largely relies on foreign temporary workers. Why not put Dutch unemployed and disabled people to work here? This would also make our country less prone to systemic crises and spread agricultural expertise to a larger part of the population.

1. NIBUD - What do you spend on food? (2020)
2. NOS - Lebanon - famine all means growing vegetables yourself (2020)
3. BN de Stem - Rows of hours for the food bank (2020)
4. LEI - The Netherlands can become self-sufficient with food (2013)

Covid-19: the nonsense of the five foot distance rule

The measures taken by the Dutch government on the advice of the RIVM to stop the coronavirus outbreak are constantly lagging behind scientific facts and doing more harm than good. Even after the so-called “intelligent lock down” has been relaxed, little thorough thought appears to be given to really effective measures. An excellent example is the one and a half meter measure.

Draconian measures and fines
You as a reader will not have missed it. Everywhere shops and other public spaces are adorned with warning signs and cordoned off boxes to keep visitors five feet away. The social costs are enormous. Stores can receive far fewer customers than usual. For contact professions it was impossible to receive clients. This requirement has now been relaxed for hairdressers, among others, but otherwise the 1.5 meter journey is strictly enforced: individuals are fined up to 390 euros, companies in theory up to tens of thousands of euros. For example, an 'illegal' hairdresser at home was fined for more than three thousand euros, plus of course the customer. Lawyers also have serious doubts about the legality of these measures. Any "gathering" of more than two people who do not belong to the same household is grounds for handing out fines.

Source: Dutch National Government

Aren't these measures going too far?
The measures as they are now being announced are seriously affecting civil liberties and also unconstitutional. There is the freedom of association (the high fines for ignoring the ban on gathering together, let alone for house parties are very contrary to this). In fact, legally speaking, these measures can only be taken if a state of emergency is declared, as in France. Much of Europe, including the Netherlands and Belgium, turned into a de facto police state. Clicking neighbors and an increasingly lively underground resistance movement complete the picture.

Do these measures make sense?
The question is whether these measures make sense. The Dutch RIVM, which slavishly follows the WHO, was, and is constantly lagging behind the facts. For example, the RIVM claimed at high and low that symptom-free patients could not spread the virus, while it was known from the literature at the end of February that there were indeed massive outbreaks by symptom-free infected people. Mouth masks were 'ineffective' (here too, countries with a masking obligation have much less infections, especially because masks keep the coughing fit under their breath). Furthermore, the death rate was hugely overestimated. The Diamond Princess, a cruise ship with mostly elderly people, had more than seven hundred infections but only thirteen dead. This was also known at the end of February.

Travels to China, Iran and Italy, then the main outbreaks, were not stopped because this was politically sensitive and the WHO refused to do so. Carnival could continue, which is why a huge outbreak took place, especially in Brabant. Testing was extremely limited because, according to the RIVM, there was insufficient test material. This was incorrect: laboratories where manual testing was done, such as in the north of the Netherlands did not know these problems.

Mouth masks are now compulsory within public transport, under penalty of heavy fines. Effective medical face masks, such as N95 and better, are “not recommended”.

Research also shows that cough droplets reach up to eight meters. So the 1.5 meter distance rule makes little sense, as long as the virus particles from a coughing fit can spread unimpeded. The earlier SARS virus and other coronaviruses are already known to be extremely resistant to UV radiation and to die outside quite quickly. It is therefore senseless to strictly adhere to the 1.5 meter rule outside.

Also the draconian censorship on Facebook, YouTube and other channels on so-called misinformation is a very serious violation of our civil liberties. Partly, since most misinformation appears to come from WHO and RIVM themselves and citizens are therefore exposed to incorrect information. This greatly exacerbated the Covid-19 outbreak.

Much of the damage has already been done. In multiple nursing homes with many frail elderly is one true slaughter caused, with in some cases more than half of the residents dead. This is because the RIVM did not consider it necessary to test elderly carers for the virus. The unscrupulousness and incompetence that underlies this is truly mind-boggling and cannot be without consequences.

Which measures do make sense?
In fact, the best measures are the opposite of what the RIVM recommends. Outdoors is a safer place than indoors, because the UV radiation from the sun at the highest point inactivates virus particles quite quickly. Face masks should be mandatory, as they prevent coughing fits from spreading the virus. UV-C lamps deactivate the virus. UV-C lamps with a wavelength of 222 nm do not penetrate the dead epidermis, but do destroy the RNA of the virus. These lamps must be mass-produced or imported and then made mandatory in public spaces. The one and a half meter rule is nonsense and is best done away with immediately. The number of contacts should only be limited for frail elderly and chronically ill. Parties and gatherings should only be allowed outdoors, during the day, in sunny weather, with masks being mandatory. Almost all superspreader events, as in Korea, took place in enclosed spaces.
Hydroxychloroquine, contrary to what is claimed in the main stream media, is relatively safe and also somewhat effective in symptomatic covid-19 cases. At least: if it is administered in combination with zinc sulphate and presumably azithromycin. In vitro the efficacy against virus replication has been unambiguously demonstrated, in clinical trials the picture is more mixed. Other studies also show that getting rid of a shortage of vitamins C and D has a strong positive effect. This probably also applies to vitamin K.. Patients with severe symptoms showed without exception from Nijmegen's research to have a greatly reduced vitamin K level.

Furthermore: testing, testing and testing again. Preferably rapid tests. Those who test positive should be legally required to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

Covid-19: Positive sides to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak

If we are to believe the main stream media, we are threatened by a disease worse than the plague or the Spanish Flu, which we can only fight through draconian social distancing measures. Reality is much more nuanced. In fact, there are quite a few positive sides to this epidemic. We will list them below.

Less illness and deaths from air pollution
Due to the worldwide quarantine and the shutdown of the necessary polluting factories and traffic, air pollution has dropped sharply. In China alone, the quarantine has resulted in air with virtually no particulate matter, NOx, SO2 and a few other air pollution parameters. There was, however, a brief SO2 peak in Wuhan, presumably due to the crematoriums working overtime.

It is estimated that 1.6 million people die every year in China from air pollution. Assuming the absence of air pollution for a month, 150,000 fewer people will die from air pollution in the longer term. This is many times more than the official Chinese Covid-19 death toll of several thousand (or unofficial death toll of around 40,000). The pollution of water is also significantly less by

Fewer other infectious and sexually transmitted diseases
Enforced quarantine is also bad news for the causative agents of other infectious diseases. The partial lockdown provides a general reduction in infectious diseases, not just Covid-19.

Breakthrough of working from home
The “intelligent lockdown” (according to Rutte) led to a reconsideration of ingrained behavior. For example, the need for managers to hold sway over a visible herd of obedient office cattle. Working from home saves travel costs, heating costs in the office and makes communication more efficient. Of course there are downsides too, and regular meeting days are essential for effective home working, but right now there is sub-optimal use from working from home.

Breakthrough of homeschooling
For most children, school is a punishment. This is because education, despite all educational innovations, is still based on the industrial age. Children should report early, sit in their designated places, and perform their assigned duties punctually. This is not how the human mind optimally processes information. Digital teaching methods such as Khan Academy and Duolingo appear to be comparably effective as classroom teaching. The notorious problem of keeping order is absent when children can study at home at their own pace. Education can be done much more at home than it is now. This allows teachers to focus more on teaching than they do now and to give extra attention to children who need extra guidance.

Home shopping breakthrough
Shopping is a favorite pastime of many working people. Home shopping saves costs, CO2 emissions and travel time. More space will also become available for living and offices when shops close or continue as an online shop. It is true that this does lead to job losses, but this in turn arises in other places. For example in more local factories, see below.

An incentive for thinking out of the box and making the switch
Companies switch temporarily for the production of cleaning agents, mouth masks and breathing equipment. Owners of 3D printers are widely joining Clean Bakkes, an initiative to print the supporting part of masks.

The Brabant beer brewer Bavaria showed its best side by processing residual alcohol into free hand alcohol for medical institutions in the badly affected province. Source: tweet from Stijn Swinkels, Royal Swinkels Family Brewers (brewer of Bavaria)

Rolling back globalization
The closing of factories and borders made it painfully clear that international solidarity is an illusion. In the event of an emergency, we can only count on our own country. China, which is now doing well with the international supply of mouth masks and other medical supplies, bought at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak masks on a large scale in the rest of the world, around 2 billion pieces. Basic ingredients for medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen are no longer produced in Europe, only in India and China. It seems that this saves costs and that makes hedge fund managers very happy. Sick a little less. Now that the chance of a new outbreak there is still life-sized, the chance is not inconceivable that these factories will be closed, or that they will only produce for the domestic market. Shipments destined for the Italian corona areas were seized in transit at Czech airports. The shock of the Covid-19 epidemic is expected to highlight the need for a national and European industrial policy. You simply cannot count on other countries when a crisis arises. We are then on our own. Entrepreneurs will set up more local production chains. Production methods that make the production chain much simpler, such as 3D printing, will now break through faster.

Wake-up call and stress test for health services
Covid-19 is a moderately severe virus. Mortality is on the low side, around half a percent, about twenty times as serious as influenza. In comparison: the rabies virus is almost one hundred percent deadly, and the (now eradicated) smallpox and the Ebola virus also have high mortality rates. In fact, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is a stress test for health services. The Dutch system appears to be unable to cope with a serious epidemic. Also the Dutch health watchdog RIVM fell seriously, and culpably, short, certainly in the initial phase as a result of which there have been unnecessary infections. To prevent a run on mouth masks and the healthcare workers not having access to them, the population was lied to as ineffective. Obviously research shows otherwise. Face masks inhibit the airflow in infected people, which in case of a coughing fit the virus particles up to eight meters. Another claim by the RIVM is the claim about a shortage of test capacity. It is astonishing that a body that has not turned its hand to purchase millions of questionable vaccines against the Human Papilloma Virus - from the company where the so-called top virologist Ab Osterhaus is a major shareholderhas not built up strategic stocks of reagents. Scenario planning is completely lacking for these amateurs. Probably, and hopefully, this will change in the coming months.

Curb unnecessary consumption and travel
Many of the now paralyzed professions are in fact unnecessary. A haircut in a hair salon or dinner in a restaurant are a pleasant luxury, not a necessity of life. Also wandering around in shopping centers to pass the time is now diminishing considerably. Many shops close, go on home visits (like an enterprising hairdresser in my neighborhood) or continue online. This will make more real estate available for homes and businesses. The remaining stores will start paying lower rents if their contracts are renewed. Less material consumption is good news for the environment. We now consume several times more than our earth can handle. Repairing stuff - this writer has repaired some garments with needle and thread, saving over $ 100 in new clothes - also significantly reduces waste.
Shutting down most of the air traffic has also significantly reduced the emission of pollutants in the high troposphere and stratosphere. Vacations are fun and can greatly enrich your mind. But is it necessary to go to the same place every year, or go into debt for a temporary luxury existence? Millions of people now notice that staying in the Netherlands or Belgium also has its advantages.

Period of reflection, more time for the family
Many people lived in a daze of work and consumption. This intoxication has come to an end. Dormant family conflicts are now coming out. Others are now finding time to work on their relationships and family life. This period is only difficult for singles. They are now cut off from physical contact with colleagues and friends. This also explains why especially young people regularly flout the quarantine measures.