Unlike the State of the Union earlier this year, this King's speech, introducing the proposed changes in the annual budget, was very much about the world. Pushed by the recent events in Ukraine, Syria and the Middle-East.
Defence, humanitarian aid and investment
Still the speech was not about investment. The budgets that saw some increase were humanitarian aid, defence and security. Are we finding out that our own success is turning against us? We still support state-building in places where the Nation State is only a heritage of a colonial past, and is left with a system that is alien to many peoples residing within the state boundaries. These so-called states lease large areas of ancestral soil to foreign companies relocating inhabitants to less fertile and even more vulnerable areas. How will these citizens ever consider the government legal representatives of the country?
This leaves us with the complex question: Is it possible to properly invest? Do the Dutch have an alternative to offer to this massive land grabbing and neglect of local rights and realities? One example maybe current public private partnership proposals, that were discussed today at a workshop with the Dutch Enterprise Agency, aiming at food security and local market development. This agency has recently been created with the purpose to propel Dutch entrepreneurs into the world.
The most remarkable statement in the King's speech was probably the announcement of a 'future fund' for small and medium enterprises. Yet another instrument to get the Dutch into the enterprising mode. However, has it been our trait? We have rather been good at trade and proselytising. The free world, on the other side of the Atlantic, was known for its entrepreneurial spirit. Those who remained in mainland Europe were the careful, more conservative ones. Hence, were not so much into enterprising.
It takes a crisis to turn employees into entrepreneurs
Where our higher agricultural education for years was financed from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, in 2016 this subsidy will come to a full stop, hence needs to be replaced by something else or austerity measures will be needed. Luckily the King's speech also had some promising language on the relevance of higher education, reintroducing the medieval patron-master class model. That is promising rhetoric for practitioners like myself, trying to fit into the education system. If only we could get rid of the managers... The latter is exactly what our new Executive Board is attempting, aiming at a non-hierarchical structure of result-responsible teams. Who knows, it may revive the entrepreneurial spirit in some of the faculty staff, suddenly rediscovering their potential, successfully combining craftsmanship with education. A new 'golden carriage' in the making?