Economic reforms in the Netherlands

First insertion on Heterodox Gazette Sam de Wolff: 27 december 2017

E.A. Bakkum is a blogger for the Sociaal Consultatiekantoor. He loves to reflect on the labour movement.

During the cabinets Lubbers and Kok the Dutch economy has recovered miraculously. The present column studies the executed policies of these cabinets, by means of the book A Dutch miracle. It turns out, that corporatism or pluralism was preferred, depending on the policy field. The criticism of the policies is also analyzed. Balkenende and Fortuyn want to replace the corporatism by pluralism, possibly on an organic basis.

In a previous column it has been described how since 1982 the Dutch economy has recovered thanks to a package of reforms. Notably the economic growth increased again, the collective expenditures were reduced, and the participation on the labour market has increased significantly. The present column elaborates on the nature of the various reforms. Despite the good results there is yet also criticism on the then executed policies. Here the criticism will be discussed extensively. Special attention will be paid to the ideas of the writer W.S.P. Fortuyn, because he created a shock in Dutch politics, with lasting consequences. The criticism itself naturally again incites comments, but these are banned to the footnotes, whenever possible.

The reform package

The present description of the Dutch package of reforms is mainly based on the authoritative book A Dutch miracle (in short DM)1. This book exculsively focuses on reforms, which occur in three policy fields, namely (1) the industrial relations, (2) the social security, and (3) the employment exchange. It is immediately admitted, that this focus is rather restricted. For instance, nothing is said about the whole package of reforms, which aimed at the efficiency of the public sector and of the administration. This package reinforces the supply side of the economy. The regulation and the state interventions have been reduced, so that free markets again can return. In the public sector organizations often receive some autonomy, or they are privatized. The state policy also increases the use of human incentives, such as the principle of benefit (those who benefit, contribute)2.

Neither is attention paid to the significant investments in Dutch infrastructure by the Purple cabinets. In short, the book does not sketch a complete picture, but merely the developments in the mentioned three policy fields. Reforms are possible in favourable periods, when the institutions, politics and the relations of power all operate in the same direction (p.12 in DM). The recession of 1982 created a sense of urgency (p.99). There is a social learning process3. The reform package consists of three phases, corresponding to the three policy fields. In pahse 1 (1982) the profit rate in the industries is improved. This is accompanied by wage moderation. Phase 2 (1992) is the reform of the social security. In phase 3 (1995) the labour market is reformed. The social debate concerns respectively the industrial and social rights, and the right to work.

The reforms are a package, because they reinforce each other (p.16). The reforms require social support. The book notably elaborates on the various roles of corporatism, that is to say, the cooperation of the trade union movement and the associations of entrepreneurs. The institutional time path of corporatism is capricious. After the Second Worldwar it is made formal in the Foundation of Labour. But around 1970 this institute becomes outdated (p.96). In 1982 it is again revived with the signing of a Social Pact (concluded in Wassenaar; phase 1). After 1989 there is an increasing support for the reform of phase 2, when the number of disabled workers rises to 17% of the professional population (p.18). This reform is completed thanks to the resolute political leaders (Lubbers and Kok), although the trade union movement protests4. The phase 3 is again in the form of corporatism.

In other words, the phases 1 and 3 have been completed in an atmosphere of consensus, where the interests are reconciled by means of compromises ("voice"). The institutions are adapted in a process of mutual trust. On the other hand, the phase 2 is pluralistic (p.53). There is a conflict, where the interest groups prefer the "exit", and in the end politics wins. Here the trade union movement refuses to be a part of the learning process. The development of the European Union in the Treaty of Maastricht is an external factor of influence in the willingness to reform (p.64)5. All in all, the Dutch time path shows an inclination to prefer corporatism, partly due to the christian tradition. The state is prepared to share the tasks of public law with the civil society (p.66). The phase 2 illustrates, that in such a system the exit costs are high for all involved groups.

Photo of button Rietkerk
Figure 1: Button Rietkerk
    (AbvaKabo FNV)

Politicians try to realize the right mix of market, civil society, and state. The benefits of the formation of consensus are known to the loyal reader. The involved groups succeed in defining a general interest, because they share the same morals. Mutual obligations reduce the transaction costs, increase the time horizon, and reinforce the network. The regulation becomes self-enforcing. There is more symmetry of information. This all stimulates the learning capacity of the various groups and circles In pluralism, which is found in particular in the Anglo-saxon system, these virtues are all weaker (p.69). On the other hand, corporatism has disadvantages, notably when the conflict becomes more severe. Such a situation of politization can degenerate into a decision trap (p.75). Then the state is better off by using pluralism. Thanks to pluralism, it can act relatively rapidly and energetically, because it is free of impasses6.

Industrial relations

The choice for corporatism or pluralism is ultimately determined by the specific situation and the policy field (in casu: a corporatist phase 1&3, and a pluralistic phase 2). It turned out that the corporatist institutions were sufficiently flexible to adapt for the case of wage moderation and the employment exchange (p.74). It did not succeed for the case of the social security7. Visser and Hemerijck, the authors of A Dutch miracle, prefer the corporatist method, because then the reforms can rely on sufficient support, and proceed by means of a gradual adaptation (p.79). For instance, the wage moderation and the flexibility of the working hours (the industrial relations) are realized in corporatism, which continues until the present (p.111). Corporatism even shifts to the micro level of the enterprises8.

Social security

In the case of the social security the cabinets Lubbers first try to maintain corporatism, partly because they do not want to endanger the wage moderation (p.144). The retrenchment of the social benefits uses the method of decremental slicing (p.135). This leads to a gradual stabilization of the benefits during the economic hausse, but in 1990 these expenditures again begin to rise. And the economic growth is almost jobless. Due to the high insurance premiums, the gross wages (the wage costs) also remain undesirably high (p.138). Therefore the cabinet Lubbers 3 decides to reform the social security on its own (exit, followed by pluralism). The Purple cabinets continue on this path (p.146). Financial incentives are introduced in the insurances.

The employment exchange

Traditionally, the Netherlands has never applied an active policy on the labour market. The desire to reform the employment exchange grows gradually, among others due to the high unemployment around 1982. This is done primarily by means of wage moderation. But in 1990 the Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (scientific council) advocates the stimulation of the degree of participation (p.140, 157). This policy must also address groups, which in the past were not at all available for the labour market, notably women. The passive welfare state creates too much dependency (p.156). In abstract terms: the state must invest in human capital. Concretely, the state can activate by means of training, jobs which increase experience, jobs in the public sector, job pooling, and wage subsidies (p.173-174).

The reform proceeds by means of corporatism. For instance, in 1994 the trade union movement blocks the abolishment of the protection against dismissal (p.162). In this policy field the market has its own role, because since the seventies the commercial temporary employment agencies contribute to the job mediation (p.165). In 1993 there is an experiment with a tripartite board for the employment exchange (p.169). But the social partners (trade union movement and the associations of enterprises) mainly engage in rent seeking. Therefore the public employment exchange is already strongly restricted in 1995. Henceforth it will merely mediate for "vulnerable" groups (p.172)9.

All in all, Visser and Hemerijck believe that the package of reforms and its results truly are a mircale. The reviving of corporatism in 1982 has worked well. The economic growth increased, the employment has been extended, and moreover it has been distributed over more workers (p.29, 180). The wage moderation stimulates the service sector, which fulfills needs and therefore potentially offers much employment. Besides, the reforms have barely affected the income equality10. Dependent on the policy sector, the state has selected corporatism or pluralism. According to Visser and Hemerijck, luck has also played a role in the eventual success of the reforms (p.185). In any case, other states can not simply copy the Dutch solution.

Unfortunately the reforms have not ended the long-term unemployment (p.36). Moreover, there is still a lot of hidden unemployment (jobs with wage subsidies, social benefits, disability, and early retirement) (p.39). Even in 1997 this "wide" unemployment (open and hidden) still affects 20% of the professional population (p.113). This failure leads to criticism, notably by Fortuyn, who states that this situation is inhumane.

The view of J.P. Balkenende

Corporatism is related to the christian-democracy. Therefore it is interesting to analyze the views of christian-democratic ideologists with regard to the economic recovery. During the nineties of the last century the politician J.P. Balkenende was active in the Scientific Institute of the CDA. The present paragraph analyzes his view, as far as it concerns the reforms and the resulting economic recovery. Balkenende defends the traditional christian moral, that the society equals a collection of circles, such as families, enterprises, and the civil society (associations and organizations; in the past notably the churches)11. The state and the economic markets must be the servants of the circles, so that their sovereignty is maximal. The private initiative gets primacy, and management must be selfregulation, whenever possible. This is called organic pluralism.

Photo of trade union button
Figure 2: Button trade union

Social organizations must be active in the public sector, namely in education, health care, media, housing and insurances12. They have their own responsibilities, and are paid by their members. In other words, the social responsibility is spread, and the principle of benefit is leading. Such private organizations have the advantage, that they are a reference-point for their members and users13. They create coherence, thanks to their shared morals. The morals must include at least a constitutional patriottism14. In such a structure the state is nothing more than a central supervisor. Therefore Balkenende wants to reduce the "subsidy-state"15. So it is not surprising, that he (just like traditionally the christian-democracy) likes the bipartite structure of deliberations. Incidentally, this fits well with the institutions at the European level16.

Balkenende wants to clearly separate the responsibility of the state and of the social partners (enterprises and trade unions). It makes sense that he advocates to leave the insurances for workers in the hands of the social partners. He even states, that the social partners must also accept responsibility for the environmental protection, employment, and the economically weaker regions. He expects, that such a self-regulation furthers the growth dynamics17. This gives the impression that he agrees with the argument of Visser and Hemerijck. Nevertheless, Balkenende clearly wants to place the state at a greater distance. He sympathizes with the bipartite structure. He prefers a different form of organization, namely civil law instead of public law. Autonomous associations and organizations will compete more with each other. Balkenende shows, that there is a real alternative for the Purple policy.

The criticism of Pim Fortuyn

The previous column has shown, that the Dutch miracle lasts until the financial crisis of 2008. However, yet the citizens become discontent, because in the elections of 2002 the Purple cabinet Kok 2 loses. The just founded Lijst Pim Fortuyn gains 17% of the votes. Since according to Fortuyn the Purple cabinets have created a disabled state, it is interesting to analyze his criticism. Here his books are consulted, notably Zonder ambtenaren (in short ZA), Uw baan staat op de tocht! (BT), De verweesde samenleving (VS), and Mijn collega komt zo bij u (CU)18. An additional argument for this paragraph is, that not everybody shares the enthusiasm of Visser and Hemerijck for corporatism. There is also much support for pluralism, and precisely Fortuyn gives this a warm recommendation.

It is already now remarked, that the ideological argument of Fortuyn is rather radical and unsound. Readers, who prefer discussions with nuances, can skip this paragraph with an easy mind. Fortuyn begins his career as a teacher in marxist theory, in 1972. He remains employed with the university of Groningen for 16 years. Soon his focus shifts to the policy of the labour market. After 1988 he becomes a true liberal. After 1995 he develops his own philosophy of morals, which is the foundation for his electoral successes in 2002. Thus it is difficult to place Fortuyn in an ideological category, certainly for your columnist, who derives his pleasure from socio-economic themes19. His philosopy of morals is roughly as follows.

People unfold in groups. The group or circle cherishes collective morals, which give meaning to the existence of their members. Fortuyn believes that in modernism the morals do not grow spontaneously any more, but must be constructed in a conscious manner (p.67 in BT, p.128, 223-225 in VS). It seems logical to choose a constitutional patriottism, but apparently this is not enough. He is convinced, that morals must be spread by the leaders of the group. Incidentally, this view is controversial20. He distinguishes between two functions of the leader. First, there is the Father, who formulates the group laws, and supervises them (p.160, 213 in VS). Second, there is the Mother, who creates bonding and cohesion. A single person can occupy both functions21. The relation of the ideal leader with his rank-and-file corresponds to the master and his pupils. The leader is the innovator, and the pupils imitate him. He is the sheperd (p.237 in VS).

Photo of Marx relief
Figure 3: Marx relief

That is to say, the leaders do not negotiate with their rank-and-file, but impose their will. This process occurs with a minimum of coercion22. This philosophy of morals of Fortuyn sounds paternalistic, and is difficult to reconcile with the modern need of personal autonomy. Yet the criticism of Fortuyn with regard to his political opponents (say, the ruling elite) is, that they do not understand the logic of his argument. He creates a conflict about the political morals. He rejects the existing policy, because in his eyes it is technocratic. This is the result of the de-pillarization, which has eliminated the morals23. A state without Fathers can not survive in the global competition, and will perish. In this view there is naturally not a miraculous recovery. On the contrary, during the past decades the Dutch institutions have completely been derailed24.

Although Fortuyn, with his liberal ideology, can agree with the policy of deregulation and privatization, he believes that the recent reforms are not sufficiently radical. All in all, the technocrats (experts, professionals) have preserved their power. This is not democratic, because they are not interested in the needs of the citizens. The general interest is ignored (p.92 in ZA). Therefore, Fortuyn wants to reform the social structure in such a way, that in all administrative positions the Fathers again return to power. It would seem, that this will create a strict hierarchy. However, Fortuyn understands, that the citizens have emancipated thanks to the (counter-)culture revolution of the late sixties25. He wants to increase the freedom of the calculating citizen26. Apparently he believes, that the group leader (Father) will propagate such morals, that his rank-and-file will agree completely. Balkenende also has this conviction.

Apparently the criticism of Fortuyn does not primarily concern the socio-economic domain. Nonetheless, his publications in the period 1990-1995 contain interesting studies about this, with a liberal tone. He appreciates individualism, flexibility, and small scale (p.12 in BT). In essence, his ideas are a utopian blue-print. He proposes a simple alternative for the administration of the state, which is copied from the big industries. He calls it the modulization (p.34 in BT). The state must shrink considerably, resulting in core ministries, as it were with the size of the head-quarters of a big enterprise (p.27, 51, 79 in ZA). Henceforth the state and politics must restrict their activities to merely the strategic policies, and the supervision of the policy results (p.80 in ZA, p.80 in VS).

The execution is put out to contract to private organizations, whenever possible27. This creates room for self-organization and -regulation, so that policies can be made to measure (p.80 in VS). A true entrepreneurship results (p.56 in ZA), and the organizations become smaller. In other words, the human scale must return in the policies (p.122 in VS). For, in large groups there is anonimity, and this leads to egocentrism among its members (p.214 in VS). Moreover, the leaders lose contact with the rank-and-file and with their own group (p.49 in BT, p.220 in VS; incidentally, this latter statement is controversial28). Apparently, here Fortuyn embraces the organic pluralism, which at the time was also propagated by the CDA. However, he does this in such a radical manner (again), that the approach loses its logic29.

Fortuyn makes several proposals for the three policy fields of Visser and Hemerijck, namely the industrial relations, the social security and the employment exchange. He resolutely promotes pluralism, and does not appreciate corporatism. The desired small scale fits poorly with collective arrangements (p.21 in BT). Fortuyn is convinced, that the tripartite system (the Rhineland model) will disappear (p.31, 50 in BT, p.89 in VS). Nowadays there is insufficient support for delibarations in the economy.

Just like Balkenende, Fortuyn also wants to separate the state and the civil society (p.10, 77 in ZA, p.220 in VS). Then the various associations of the social partners simply become pressure groups (p.96 in ZA, p.52 in BT). They will have to prove their utility (p.62 in BT). The trade union movement loses tasks to the works council (p.96 in ZA). The consensus must be replaced by power and countervailing power (p.83 in ZA). This creates room for new groups and outsiders (p.83 in ZA). The social partners can naturally of their own free will and unanimously choose an organic system with a bipartite structure, like Balkenende propagates, but that is not absolutely necessary.

Photo of poster Provo
Figure 4: Poster
    Provo, 1966
    (B. Holtrop)

Since Fortuyn prefers policies made to measure, he rejects a collective wage moderation. Nowadays, collective agreements make the labour market rigid, which impedes the entrance of unemployed (p.29, 31 in BT). The deliberations with the trade unions must be decentralized (p.89 in ZA). He wants a wage level, that adapts to the market demand. The labour market becomes global, and this increases also in the Netherlands the inequality (p.40 in BT). This means that notably the low-paid jobs must become cheaper (p.18 in BT, p.67 in CU). Henceforth the remittance of premiums for the labour insurances become voluntary (p.51 in BT). But the wages of the top jobs must rise, notably in the state (p.27 in ZA). During the eighties the top officials have been underpaid too much(p.71 in ZA)30 More generally, the wage must be coupled to the performance (p.100 in ZA).

Fortuyn takes as his starting point for the social security, that everybody must be able to pay his own living costs (p.18 in BT). Solidarity does not mean the certainty of the income, but of jobs. Jobs give self-respect, status, and contacts (p.19 in BT). He calls the existing system of social security inhumane, because it does not offer a perspective to the receivers of benefits (p.77 in VS). The existence is guaranteed to such an extent, that the receiver is not incited to become active (p.107 in VS). Therefore, Fortuyn wants to transform the social security into a mini system, which focuses on the truly inactive persons (p.51, 68 in BT). The general benefit disappears (p.68 in BT), so that the able unemployed must live from a negative income tax (p.51 in BT). The collective sector must more often apply the principle of benefit (p.35 in CU). Therefore a performance in return may be asked from those persons, that apply for support (p.37 in CU).

The reader will understand, that Fortuyn rejects the tripartite structure of the employment exchange (p.93 in ZA). With regard to the employment exchange he advocates a radical version of the Anglosaxon model. He wants to realize full employment by making the labour market more flexible (p.70 in BT, p.110 in VS). The protection against lay-offs must be restricted fundamentally, so that the workers remain active (p.19 in BT, p.108 in VS). His ideal is that henceforth everybody gets a temporary labour contract (p.68 in BT). The temporary employment agencies are useful, notably for the employment at the bottom side of the labour market (p.36 in BT).

According as the wages are lower, the Dutch economy can become more labour intensive (p.71 in BT). He rejects wage subsidies, and prefers low-paid jobs in the personal services (p.63 in BT). Consider cleaning jobs, day nursery, taxi services, gardening, shopping services, handymen, canteen personnel, porters, and even again the direction servant (p.67-69, 80 in CU)31. Thanks to the new jobs the workers can again form their own networks (p.69 in CU). So although Fortuyn wants to create jobs mainly in the service sector, he yet advocates the maintenance of the Dutch industries (p.108 in ZA). Unfortunately an explanation is missing. Considering the liberalism of Fortuyn, your columnist suspects, that he favours a voluntary wage moderation and flexible jobs for the personnel.

In conclusion: the ideology of Fortuyn created a shockwave in Dutch politics, despite the considerable welfare. Yet his ideology does not contain much truly innovative ideas. His plea for pluralism can at the time also be found with Balkenende and others. The moral philosophy of the Father is conservative and paternalistic. Besides, the radical implementation by Fortuyn, leading to apparent contradictions and utopian blueprints, looks unsound. It is admitted, that a philosopy can never be refuted objectively, because it is in essence a belief and conviction. It is impossible for the case of Leninism, and for the case of Fortuynism as well. Therefore Fortuyn can still convince people. Your columnist concludes with a speculative summary: perhaps Fortuyn prefers an untamed liberalism, where he trusts that the Fathers will at least keep the mini system of social security at a humane level?

  1. See A Dutch miracle (1997, Amsterdam University Press) by J. Visser and A. Hemerijck. This book presents one of the best descriptions of the post-war corporatism, at least as far as your columnist can at the moment judge this literature. (back)
  2. The principle of benefit often implies, that the subsidy by the state is reduced, at least relatively. This happens for instance in public transport, housing and the non-compulsory education. See p.164-166 in Inspelen op Europa (1993, Academic Service), edited by J.J.M. Kremers. Strictly speaking, these measures imply the reduction of state intervention. Worth mentioning is also, that in many parts of the public sector (among others education, health care, and the public utilities) the deregulation has led to an increase of scale. Due to the radical character it can also be called a reform. Apparently it leads to costs savings. It is controversial whether the increased scale furthers the quality. (back)
  3. Fascinating theories about reforms can be found in Political economy in macroeconomics (2000, Princeton paperbacks) by A. Drazen, notably in chapter 13. It is often supposed, that the sense of urgency grows in times of crisis. However, note that according to the revolt-theory by the sociologist J.S. Coleman the change usually occurs after a period of social progress. This also holds for the crises, which are described in the present column. They occur in a situation of significant prosperity. (back)
  4. The collective expenditures are such a burden, that the cabinets Lubbers 1 and 2 do not succeed in reducing the budget deficit. Between 1981 and 1988 the national debt rises from about 55% to 80%. See p.50 in Inspelen op Europa or, for those who are interested, the data files on internet. In p.111 of Het polderwonder (2002, Uitgeverij Contact) by F. de Kam and R.A. ter Hart a time series of the debt is presented, which starts in the year 1900!. The debt is unfair towards future generations, because it are not profitable investments. (back)
  5. The book Inspelen op Europa has been written precisely in order to study, how the Dutch policies must be adapted during the integration in Europe. Since 1962, Europe felt the need for a universal currency, because of the European agricultural policy. Already in 1986 the European Act has been concluded, which agrees on the establishment of a common market, and starts the process towards the European currency. So this is actually a double decision. Therefore the aim is a European Monetary Union (EMU). Then the currency is still called the ECU (European Currency Unit). The aim of the ECU is to eliminate the trade risks due to variable exchange rates. Besides, the ECU is a shining symbol of European integration (p.6 in this book). In 1992 the Treaty of Maastricht completes the establishment of the common European market. Only in 1999 the common currency (euro) is truly introduced. The European Stability and Growth Pact requires, that the budget deficit remains below 3%. Thus the state is hardly able to borrow capital for funding the social security, which often happened during the seventies of the last century. Besides, it is no longer possible to let the size of the social security determine the tax tariffs at will (chapters 4 and 6). For, due to the common market the production factors capital and labour have become increasingly mobile. This stimulates the harmonization of the taxes in all member states. (back)
  6. These considerations are definitely not abstract theories. For instance, in Germany the first Rot-Grüne cabinet (1998-2002) has tried to establish a Bündnis für Arbeit. Then this was supposed to reform the social security and the employment exchange. But the social partners remained unwilling. On p.320 in Die neue SPD (2004, Verlag J.H.W. Dietz Nachf. GmbH), edited by N. Breyer, a collective of SPD-leaders states: "Gerade die Versuche der Konsensdemokratie des letzten Jahrzehntes haben uns gezeigt, daß allzu of Aufgaben und Herausforderungen vom runden Tisch auf die lange Bank geschoben wurden". In the end the cabinet Schröder was forced to use the pluralistic method. Incidentally, in Germany the collective bargaining about the labour conditions (Tarifverträge) are usually successful. On p.379 in Inspelen op Europa Balkenende states, that the German corporatism is active at the meso-level, in the branches. (back)
  7. In a previous column the sociologist E. Tonkens propagates a method in health care, which does not fit in the scheme of Visser and Hemerijck. She demands that the interest groups give up their exit option, because care requires trust. However, she wants to realize the required cohesion and bonding by means of politization! Apparently, she first wants to weaken some interest groups (in casu the proponents of freedom of choice, transparency and free markets in health care), and subsequently cooperate with the remaining groups. (back)
  8. The reference to corporatism at the meso- and micro-level deserves some reflection. Historically, the Dutch corporatism was precisely a central deliberation. The tripartite structure presupposes the input of the central state. So when the deliberations shift to the meso- or even micro-level, then this is a different kind of corporatism. On p.159 in Inspelen op Europa the top-officials C. Kortleve, C. Oudshoorn and F. Rutten state, that a central coordination by means of corporatism fits poorly with the tendency to decentralize and to globalize. (back)
  9. A hallmark of A Dutch miracle is the emphasis, which is placed on actions made to measure, depending on the policy field. Various forms of corporatism and pluralism are conceivable. Nonetheless, apparently Visser and Hermerijck have an ideological bias towards corporatism. This becomes apparent in the harsh criticism on p.176: "[The corporatist design of the employment service] was unable to develop a prominent institutional position in Dutch social and economic policy making, because it lacked serious commitments from all interested parties. [Politics and the administration] have remained unconvinced supporters throughout the period of the public employment service institution building". The authors complain, that since 1995 low-paid jobs are created, whereas re-training is neglected. They had high expectations about the corporatist experiment in the employment exchange. An underpinning remains absent. Furthermore, albeit to a lesser extent, the bias towards corporatism becomes apparent in the argument on p.77-79, where the capacity to learn of corporatism is rather praised to the skies. In Inspelen op Europa on p.134 the economists J. Hartog and J. Theeuwes have doubts about the tripartite structure of the employment exchange. But on p.391 the left-wing CDA politician Wil Albeda welcomes it. In this respect, the view of De Liagre Böhl is also worth mentioning, on p.120 in Van de pastorie naar het torentje (1991, SDU Uitgeverij): "This new [tripartite] form of government, which in july 1990 has really started, is an important step in the direction of the Swedish model of employment policies. In this renewed goal of the confessionals to realize the true economic system with a human face Abraham Kuyper silently observes the actions of the CDA". He also cites Albeda: "Neo-corporatism is an essental part of the infrastructure of a democratic, pluralistic society". But note, that here corporatism and pluralism exist side by side, which actually abolishes the scheme of Visser and Hemerijck. On p.106 De Liagre Böhl states, that the protestants (such as Albeda) actually aim for an organic pluralism. This is not the same as corporatism. (back)
  10. On p.305 in Inspelen op Europa it is remarked, that the Dutch income distribution is egalitarian thanks to the height of the benefits. The Dutch primary distribution (gross incomes without redistribution) is hardly more equal than the distribution in Germany. This is an invitation to reflect. (back)
  11. In this paragraph chapter 19 in Inspelen op Europa is consulted, as well as Anders en beter (2002, Aspekt) by J.P. Balkenende. The position of the CDA is explained on p.24 and further in Anders en beter, as well as on p.118 there. The primacy of the circles implies, that the profitability is of secondary importance. Balkenende is ambivalent about the expansion of the formal economy. He naturally also prefers more labour participation. But is must be optimal, and not maximal (p.71, 92). The unfolding in household tasks also is valuable. In other words, in the last resort the quality of life matters, and not the welfare (p.148). (back)
  12. See p.28, 57 in Anders en beter. Concerning insurances, Balkenende propagates that the benefits are covered by contributions (p.90, 96). He apparently rejects the fiscalization. One wonders, who must establish all these organizations, now that the churches have become marginalized. For, according to the sociologist R. Putnam the social capital is diminishing. At the moment these non-profit organizations are often foundations or associations. This creates obscurities, and thus possibly abuses, for instance with regard to ownership. Balkenende prefers social enterprises, founded on private law. The enterprises must cover their own costs. (back)
  13. See p.53 in Anders en beter. De Liagre Böhl states on p.105-106 in Van de pastorie naar het torentje, that the Roman-Catholics think in hierarchical terms, and therefore yet value state supervision. This makes them corporative. This is true. The KVP supports the PBO. But in addition the KVP applies the principle of subsidiarity, which decentralizes the competencies, wherever possible. (back)
  14. See p.60-61 in Anders en beter. In a wider sense the state is also a circle, and therefore it must dispose of binding morals (p.116, 120, 127, 149). It is not clear, if this morals may go further than the Constitution. (back)
  15. See p.377 and 385 in Inspelen op Europa. Subsidies are an intervention by the state. The Christen-Unie politician A. Rouvoet once complained about a "subsidy-addiction". (back)
  16. See p.382 in Inspelen op Europa. (back)
  17. See p.387-387 in Inspelen op Europa. In a commentary his party congener Wil Albeda states on p.391, that a separation of the responsibilities of the state and the social partners will not always be possible. On p.392 Albeda acknowledges, that corporatism shifts to the decentral level. Henceforth the input of the central tripartite bodies is limited to giving advices. Your columnist believes, that the state must remain alert. In the bipartite deliberations the social partners still are able to engage in rent seeking, so that they can shift their costs to the state. The separation of responsibilities, desired by Balkenende, is just an ideal. (back)
  18. See Zonder ambtenaren (1991, Uitgeverij Veen), Uw baan staat op de tocht! (1995, A.W. Bruna Uitgevers B.V.), Mijn collega komt zo bij u (1996, A.W. Bruna Uitgevers B.V.), and De verweesde samenleving (2002, Karakter Uitgevers B.V.). The latter book is a revised (not necessarily improved) reprint of the edition from 1995. It is also the thickest one, and looks a lot like a creed. In his early career Fortuyn analyzes mainly the labour market, but in his later books the focus is on the national culture. In this period the (semi-)scientific approach is replaced by a political approach. Fortuyn naturally owes his popularity to his political-cultural views, and not so much to his socio-economic views. The life of Fortuyn and his character and philosophy are fascinating, complicated and controversial. It is highly tempting to comment on these aspects. Your columnist renounces this task, because it would not contribute to the theme of this column. Besides, at present several impressive biographies of Fortuyn have been published. But a plea is made to appreciate the works of Fortuyn, who during his short political career has been demonized by his opponents in a nasty way. Even in the seasoned political top many called his actions "dangerous". Although all parties participated in the demonization, especially the traditional attitude of hostility in the left-wing block caused some extremely aggressive reactions there. Although your columnist subsequently became a member of the PvdA, he does not identify with such attacks, which concern the personality and not the content of his message. Of course, Fortuyn also was aggressive himself. But compassion is a human challenge, although your columnist readily admits, that this sometimes fails even in the Gazette. (back)
  19. Fortuyn was politically active in the PvdA for a long time. After 1988 he first approaches the VVD and next the CDA. On p.20 in Zonder ambtenaren he writes about the PvdA: "When you are not born in the right family, speak their language and share their taboos, you are not welcome. Even worse, you are thwarted with all possible means". But in 1991 he still believes that a rescue is possible (p.21-22): "This means that the expelled intellectuals must be brought back. (...) The political elite, with Kok, which possessed power during the past years, must resign". Om p.65 and further in Uw baan staat op de tocht! he writes: "Ignoring [the stream of my publications] by notably all these elites in our land, that matter. So our kind of people. Elites which keep this land in a stranglehold: just act normal. (...) For, too often I was right. (...) Until now my right has not been acknowledged by the elites in this land, including the press". And again on p.15 in Mijn collega komt zo bij u: "Done and realized within a circle of our kind of people and very hostile towards outsiders". Make no mistake: this is not the desparate outcry of an unrecognized genius, but a call to choose Fortuyn as the new leader. Your columnist is irritated by the rancour and contempt, which Fortuyn displays here towards others. By the way, in 2002 the campaign leader of the party Leefbaar Nederland still believed, that he had gold in his hands with Fortuyn as the party leader. (back)
  20. According to the Dutch economist P. Frijters the power is exerted by the reciprocal group as a whole. Merely in the hierarchical group (the enterprise) the leader himself is the authority. The sociologist J.S. Coleman believes, that the leaders only obtain authority by performing for the benefit of the members. This is a social exchange. The social psychology, notably the field of group dynamics, also contradicts the view of Fortuyn. In the column about groups and networks it is stated, that in a reciprocal group the leader is simply a coordinator. And groups usually make better decisions than individuals (such as leaders). (back)
  21. The statement that the groups is bound by a Mother is controversial. A column about group dynamics concludes, that bonding is a group process. Besides, in modernism the individuals are a member of various groups. Your columnist is not an expert on this subject, and here Fortuyn does not cite his sources, but the picture of the Father and Mother seems to originate from the traditional psychiatry. Or perhaps it is an attempt to revive religion. Fortuyn is not interested in modern insights, because they are technocratic. On p.135 in De verweesde samenleving he arrogantly calls pedagogy "a method, whereas true formation is given by consulting the heart and the soul of the master". That is solved as well. (back)
  22. This sounds authoritative, and gives room to arbitrariness. The question is of course, how it is realized in practice. Fortuyn as the party leader of Leefbaar Nederland (LN) was forced to resign after an interview. Question: "Your party forbids you to say this". His answer: "Well, perhaps I must not care a bit". Embarrassing, at least for those who appreciate moderate behaviour, is the well-known film fragment about the internal confrontation with the LN board, which shows a raging and cursing Fortuyn. On p.110, 119 en 129 in De verweesde samenleving he states, that the political parties no longer have a reason of existence. On the other hand, the elite-principle, also called the aristo-democracy, is not new. The Gazette has previously paid attention to the ideas of Ed. van Cleeff and Dick Pels. On p.40 in De verweesde samenleving Fortuyn states, that at the time Yugoslavia was kept together thanks to the morals of the dictator Tito. Your columnist believes, that this regime has not exactly contributed to the social coherence. (back)
  23. The resistance against the technocratic policy is found often among left-wing politicians. See for instance Lafontaine, Eppler, Kalma and Sie Dhian Ho. The latter propagates a post-liberal and post-technocratic society. Your columnist does not object to decisions based on expertise or common sense, on the contrary! Beware of doctrines. (back)
  24. Fortuyn extends his criticism to the global elite. Sometimes he introduces a complot-theory. For instance on p.169 in De verweesde samenleving: the American war against drugs would simply be a façade, because of "the interwoven above- and underworld in this field. (...) Even the son-in-law of the then president George Bush senior seemed to be involved". Fortuyn promotes as the solution the legalization of the production, the trade and the transport of hard-drugs, like heroin! (back)
  25. Fortuyn sympathizes with (what he calls) the cultural revolution. It came as a relief for him, raised in the Roman-Catholic pillar. On p.98 in De verweesde samenleving he states, that due to the tripartite structure the power of the churches began to extend to the whole state. Church and state must remain separated. Moreover, he believes that the then paternalism is dismally parochial (such as embodied in Drees). This system is undermined by the rising individualism, or in the words of Fortuyn: the sons attack the positions of their fathers (p.100). At the same time he criticizes the totalitarian protest of the New Left (p.32), and he believes that the polarization is perverse (p.33). He complains that the protest has not supplied a realistic alternative (p.33, 237). Apparently he can not completely free himself, because on p.31 he calls the cabinet Den Uyl (1973-1977) enlightened. (back)
  26. This argument looks rather ambiguous. Here is a citation on p.18-19 of Zonder ambtenaren: "The modern way of life finds its basis in the emancipation of the citizen. He has been emancipated from the social control and the patriarchic structures of authority. (...) [The calculating citizen is] aware that he is himself responsible for the development of the perspective of his existence". Does Fortuyn mean, that the leader as a Father is merely needed for the social laggards? (back)
  27. The books of Fortuyn rarely mention sources, but he naturally does not argue in an intellectual vacuum. It is likely, that this preference for contracting has been copied from the new institutional economics (NIE). (back)
  28. Consider for instance the French trade union movement, which has few members, but yet is trusted by large groups of wage workers. The sociologist R. Putnam concludes in chapter 3 of Bowling alone (2000, Simon & Schuster), that indeed many organizations and associations become professional. Then the contact with the members is made only through the post and internet, by using mailing lists. Nonetheless such organizations do get support from their rank-and-file. This approach simply fits better with the modern need for efficiency. Incidentally, Putnam does regret this development, because he interprets it as a loss of social capital. But this is another debate.
    Fortuyn is convinced that organizations must maintain a small scale in order to remain effective. This ignores the conscious choice of these organizations in favour of increasing scales. Apparently they yet believe that it is beneficial. (back)
  29. Fortuyn makes the bold assumption, that the present-day citizens live in a contract society. But the NIE does not at all favour merely contracting, because this is often problematic. In many situations the coordination by means of organizations is more effective than a contract. Hybrid forms of the market and organization are also conceivable. (back)
  30. But on p.58-63 in Zonder ambtenaren Fortuyn is indignant about the greedy behaviour of the medical specialists. He argues that this labour market is a cartel. (back)
  31. Fortuyn did what he said, and had hired a butler! It would seem, that the Dutch labour productivity would fall significantly by this type of services. In fact this depends on the height of the wage, that the employers are willing to pay. In any case, at the present wage level this branch offers insufficient employment. Perhaps Fortuyn hopes, that the Dutch mentality will change, so that the demand for personal services will grow. (back)