thu 15 jan 2009 18:42:08 witte de withstraat
heating the metro with cocoa
okay get your "yankee go home" signs ready.
according to the at5 text news:
the minister of natuurbeheer (nature management) has declared that it's okay to rip the heads off pigeons in johan huizingalaan, if those pigeons are being pesky.
the amsterdam city council is unhappy with the condition of the metro trains, especially that they are cold lately. the gvb says the old metro cars just need to be replaced, which can't happen till at least 2011. so in the meantime supposedly they're giving hot chocolate to the commuters. the city council isn't satisfied.
and this is interesting: the dutch labor party (pvda) thinks all shops should be allowed to open on sunday, instead of letting individual districts decide who can be open when. this is in contrast to the opinion of the cabinet, who want to limit shopping on sundays.
it surprises me that the labor party are the ones fighting for flexible business hours. whenever i ask about it, people explain that it's left-leaning labor who want to suppress shopping hours, on the grounds that longer hours enable labor exploitation.
but then why does the current cabinet want to limit sunday shopping? i've still never seen any official government explanation about why business hours should not be flexible in a city like amsterdam. maybe it's one of those things dutch people just expect you to understand.
what do yall think? any ideas?
i've heard some people say that all businesses should close at least one day a week, cuz their workers need a day off. which of course they do. but why the same day for everyone? if i don't work on sunday, isn't that when i'm likely to wanna go shopping? why shouldn't some people work on sundays and take tuesdays off?
as world cities go, amsterdam is very unusual in having no all-night convenience shops. originally i thought the excuse may be to limit noise so people could sleep. which works fine for people who sleep at night, but discriminates against us nocturnals. but then, if some shops are already licensed to stay open late, then noise is clearly not the issue. so if noise isn't the problem, why are no shops allowed to be open 24 hours in a city like amsterdam?
mind you, i'm ruling out explanations that pertain to vestigial family values and religious subtexts, because supposedly those have nothing to do with government in a secular, nonconfessional state. i'm just looking for the purely rational, globally conscious, economic reason for constricting market hours in an international city.
if, through its unusual commerce limitation, amsterdam is telling the world "just kidding, we don't really wanna be an international metropolis offering all the attendant lifestyle flexibility", then that's cool — as long as they don't say in the same breath that we also need wider highways, a south-axis office district, and a new north-south metro line.
but i wonder if i'm detecting a pattern here, of attacking meta-problems instead of problems. that is, dealing with the problem next to the real problem. the government spends millions trying to address the problems of allochtonen and "black schools", while the real problem is that we have such concepts in our vocabulary at all. they see the infiltration of gangsterism in prostitution, so instead of confronting the gangsters, they go after prostitution. instead of dealing with the trouble of their troublesome teenagers, they try to ban them from public squares. instead of managing noise, they manage people's waking hours. instead of acting directly against labor abuse, they interfere with people's business hours.
given that precedent, how can they object to the logic of heating the metro with chocolate?