Thursday, October 02, 2008


Friesland is farmland. Although the bigger part of Dutch farms are in other provinces of the Netherlands, it feels when you drive trough the region of Friesland where my parents live, as if every second house is a farm.

The street where my parents live on is long, winding, and has only two non-farm houses. From the windows on all sides of the house you see the archetypal Dutch landscape: mills (modern ones), cows, meadows. And clouds. Lots and lots of clouds, like the ones you see in paintings of Dutch Masters.

No matter how much I like this view, I also wonder what the use of all those farms is. Apparently
agriculture makes up for 5% of the Dutch economy. The total amount of farmers in Holland is less than 30,000. Although I am a big fan of regionalism, (just because I like the concept of local food made in a traditional manner), I do believe that it makes sense for countries in Europe to focus their economy on things that they are good at. In The Netherlands that would be services. And since the Netherlands is paying already quite a large sum to the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU (which means, de facto, that they are paying a lot of subsidy money to farmers abroad), it seems like some people in The Hague seem to agree with this idea. However, this idea would effectively put my parents' neighbours out of jobs.

So my parents have strictly forbidden me to ever raise this subject outside of the walls of their house, since they are sure that voicing this opinion will be a serious impediment to their popularity in the hamlet they live in. So I am being censored, and my freedom of speech is limited for the greater good, they say. Because my freedom of speech will interfere with their freedom to settle in Friesland, which they consider to be the inalienable right of any senior citizen. And besides, my father sneered, "shouldn't you be writing your thesis, instead of steering up local politics, kid?"

Aaahhh, wellll. Ok. I'll keep my mouth shut. But I be brave on the internet, and break the shackles of my forced silence. Ha! It is tough being a whistle blower....


Blogger floris said...

So you're not allowed to raise the subject outside the walls of your parents' house - but the computer is within these same walls (at least, I'm guessing you're not outside, challenging the Frisian winds while typing away at your thesis), so that makes it okay? Interesting'll make a fine asset to the Dutch legal system!

3:57 PM  

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