Child benefits scandal: heartless Netherlands?
The Dutch government has resigned over a child-benefits scandal just two months ahead of the general election. More than 20,000 parents, most of them with migrant backgrounds, were falsely accused of fraud by the authorities and ordered to repay thousands of euros in daycare subsidies. Victims' lawyers are talking of institutional racism. For the press, the government's resignation is not the end of the affair.
Just rattling the lid of the septic tank
The resignation of the government is not enough, De Volkskrant columnist Sheila Sitalsing writes, and demands an investigation:
“How far did the ethic selection go, how long had it been going on, who knew about it, who had the power to stop it but did nothing? ... We are just scratching the surface, rattling the lid of the septic tank. The prime minister obviously thinks that by resigning, he's washed his hands of the benefits affair, and that the decks will be quickly cleared. ... And that it's full speed ahead now. ... But we cannot rule out that ethnic selection by the state will become an election issue.”
We must become more socially-minded again
The affair highlights the fact that a majority of the Dutch would rather fight fraud than help the poor, comments columnist Tom-Jan Meeus in NRC Handelsblad:
“You can blame this scandal on Rutte, on the former minister [for economic affairs] Wiebes or on Asscher [minister of social affairs], on top civil servants, on the tax authorities, on the neglect of the rule of law - and most of these arguments are (to some extent) true. ... But they overlook a fundamental fact: this country has become unforgiving to anyone who's not a winner. You could argue that politicians should set a good example. But a little kindness and sympathy towards the weaknesses of others, the realisation that people only trust you if you trust others: perhaps it will help if the Dutch take a look in the mirror after this affair.”