In secondary school, I regularly participated in initiatives such as the Lagerhuis. Originally I got an interest in politics and for a long time, I thought I might want to do something with it. It continues to fascinate me and give me the energy to understand our society across the whole spectrum, beyond my own bubble.
However, the sometimes, in my opinion, exaggerated focus on party principles, and on retaining voters has greatly reduced my enthusiasm to go into politics somewhere during my studies. For example, there was an issue in our municipality involving investments in public sports facilities. Many clubhouses had been renovated and one of the last clubs now also applied for support. Despite the fact that it was absolutely irresponsible financially, and partly because of this our municipality ended up in the top 10 municipalities with the largest debt, it was nevertheless agreed to this request. “I can’t explain it to my voters if I don’t”, and so the extra debt was signed. The result? Praise in the short term, and we will see the rest at the next elections.
At the moment there is yet another primal discussion of principle at the national level: road pricing through a tax per kilometre. In Sunday with Lubach an enthusiastic young Cora van Nieuwenhuizen was to be seen explaining that technically this had long since been possible. The next shot is the same Cora van Nieuwenhuizen but now as a minister, with different responsibilities and therefore a different opinion. It hurt me a bit to see this. I understand, she represents the cabinet’s position there. But if the climate table Mobility itself insists on a system to tax per kilometre and based on emissions, who are we fooling? The system has proven itself in other countries. Should we not then look at which part of the system has exactly achieved the intended effect and talk about how we can implement it in our own way instead of continuing to say ‘no’ to the whole idea out of a certain matter of principle?
It is precisely in order to take real steps that you sometimes need a completely new system. My hope is for a plot twist à la the dividend tax.
On the point of a tax addition for electric cars with a purchase value of over €50,000, Diederik Samson cheerfully shouted: “someone who can pay €100,000 for a car, can also pay €20,000 more. I don’t have to help them.” But whether someone can pay for it is of course not the question at all. I do not yet see the Dutch government driving 100% electric. They can easily pay for that, can’t they?
In the end, regulation is often about a certain expectation value of certain behaviour. Will people still buy an electric (solar) car if it becomes almost €10,000 more expensive on an annual basis? Sure a part of the potential customers will remain but for a large part, this tax in combination with the financial risk becomes disproportionately large. This has to do with an estimate of the playing field in the market and human psychology. We need to understand what the real motivations and/or thresholds are and on that basis look at how we can achieve the desired behaviour. It’s certainly not about debating whether it is right or wrong for people to make a different choice at a given moment – even if they could do otherwise.
Lightyear has asked for an exception to the additional taxable income as is the case with hydrogen-powered cars. Fortunately, State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven has left the door open for this and in her answers, we see enough opportunities for support, backing innovation. The real answer will come next spring.
About this column:
In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So that tomorrow will be good. Here are all previous episodes.