2008-08-04

Belgium:Keep it simple (part 2)

First... i'm going to mitigate my blogging on politics. I read all the replies to part one. I saw Dag and Ploum reacting with more follow-ups... Sorry to all of you for not replying in depth... but the subject is...erm... well exhausting.

I will however try to list current issues...and my simple solution to them. But don't expect any lengthy replies!

Brussels
Economic and structural Brussels is currently larger than political Brussels. Brussels must be bigger! Please expand Brussels to include its ring and airport. The Halle-Vilvoorde region (arrondissement) and Tervuren should be part of the big European Capital named Brussels.

Languages
The goal is COMMUNICATION, and language is just a tool. Hence it should not be an issue. I would propose that we allow any language anywhere! Anyone is allowed to use any language to COMMUNICATE (free as in speech).
Even in Flanders, it should be allowed for citizens to use French or German, providing that both parties are willing to speak French or German. I think it is silly to outlaw certain languages in certain places!
I believe that knowing more than one language is an advantage. I see this in many companies : people speaking only one language are missing out on promotions.

When two people (and i don't care where) are too hardheaded to both speak the same language...then the law should mandate English as the only official Belgian language. Yes English, not French, not Dutch. I'm pretty sure that most people in the "Big Brussels Area" are able to COMMUNICATE. If they are too hardheaded to make an effort, then force English onto them.

Too many Governments
We should all aim for a Flemish and Walloon culture in a unified political and economical Europe. And give some room to Brussels to be the European Capital.

Too many parties
Have all elections on one day. People can be on only one list. Actually...i have no solution for this...

Cultural Differences
Hey, we all live on this planet! Enjoy the different cultures.

Money
Bruno (and others) claimed that money is a problem in Belgium. Please compare your wealth to the rest of this planet and start sharing!
@Matt: Yes i would probably keep on supporting my family.

Language Border(s)
You know my opinion about borders. I don't say we have to remove all borders today, but we have to at least realize *why* these borders exist. Borders exist because we don't want to lose our wealth.
@Dag: You still make some valid points though!

Conclusion
Well at least my fourth sentence "nothing will happen in the near future" was correct ;-)

Like i said in the beginning. I will blog less about politics!

10 comments:

Bruno De Wolf said...

"Economic and structural Brussels is currently larger than political Brussels. Brussels must be bigger!"
I don't see why one should follow the other. Lille (near the French/Belgian border), Strasbourg (near the French/German border), Basel (near the Swiss/French border), just to name a few, are in the same position, but nobody is arguing to change the borders there.
Heck, by the same argument, you could argue that 'Zeeuws Vlaanderen' should be part of Belgium or that the US should annexate Europe.

"Please compare your wealth to the rest of this planet and start sharing!"
Well, maybe the US and Europe are wealthy BECAUSE there is a free market economy where people can accumulate private wealth and bear financial responsibility. At least China, India and Brazil seem to have understood this and adopted the model with great success.

Paul Cobbaut said...

Do Lille, Strasbourg and Basel also have a language crazy like Brussels ? With crazy i mean that one street is mandatory French and the next street is mandatory Dutch. One street has completely different laws than the next street. I'm talking inside the Brussels Ring here!

I proposed to enlarge Brussels to include Halle-Vilvoorde and Tervuren. But i would also agree with the old province of Brabant becoming the city-state Brussels.

Anyway, your arguments about Brussels are as good as mine ;-)


US and Europe are not wealthy because of the free market economy. We are wealthy because we exploit Africa and South-America and big parts of Asia. We are wealthy because we abuse the Southern half of this planet.

We are wealthy at the cost of billions of people not having clean water, electricity, plumbing, descent roads, hospitals, schools... We should be building all that stuff, everywhere.

Dag said...

Paul,

We have that in Europe *everywhere*. Guess what, once you cross the border to Germany, they will not help you in Dutch nor French !

What, you don't believe me ? Try it out !

Dag said...

Let me remark that "will not help you" is in the context of official administration.

Hell, even a French-speaking train-conductor that cannot speak Dutch is not allowed to drive a train on Dutch soil.

And the sky is completely English speaking, let's reform that as well now that we're at it.

Dag said...

Languages
Once upon a time Flanders was French-speaking like the whole of Belgium. This was unjust because the people in Flanders spoke Flemish. The injustice was that most of the people did not have access to education, wealth, administration, employment...

So the people in Flanders fought to have their own language accepted in administration, politics, the army... This was slowly accepted during the centuries until in the late sixties we got our education in Flemish on Flemish soil. (pfew)

But in the early twenties when Flanders was already bi-lingual (Flemish/French) and Wallonia was French, the Flemish people deemed it unjust and we negotiated to get the whole of Belgium bi-lingual. (I cannot recall what we gave in return) Seems fair since Flanders was bi-lingual but mostly Flemish.

But the French-speaking politicians did not accept that and instead proposed to make Flanders Dutch-speaking and Brussels bi-lingual. Apparently that was better to them.

And now you are proposing to make the whole of Belgium bi-lingual again or even tri-lingual ? Why do you think that even if the French-speaking politicians would accept it, it is even possible or that it will even make a difference ?

How will you turn the country bi-lingual overnight ? Will that include education, government, media, employment ? Even if theoretically feasible, I think it can and will never happen. We are much more tight to English than to French so making Belgium monolingual English is an easier task than to make it bilingual French.

Language is not about communication, communication you can do with your hands if necessary. Language is about expressing yourself, it requires nuance and understanding. That last part is missing in Belgium, both parts do not understand each other, not only because they don't want to, mostly because there is not need to. Not for the media, not for functioning, not for getting a job or earning money. It is not required.

We cannot even find enough people that are bi-lingual in Brussels to fill open positions and politicians are breaking the law by accepting mono-lingual French speaking workers to fill in those positions.

So again, why do you think making Belgium bi-lingual is even possible ? Apparently some people prefer poverty over learning another language.

Borders
Borders do not exist to confine wealth.
Language borders neither. That is the silliest argument I have ever heard. Borders exist to define where law constitutes. And law may have an impact on wealth because it may give direction to progress.

If borders would confine wealth, then tell me why more than 10% of the Flemish population is poor. Or even a higher percentage in the US.

Would you condone a Europe where all 30 languages or so are accepted for administration in the whole of Europe ? A Europe without borders would be a Europe without language borders, right ?

Wrong.

Paul Cobbaut said...

Yes Dag, you are right. And that is the same argument as Bruno (cities near the border). The difference is that in Germany, you don't have a French speaking majority (or even minority). Everyone speaks German, so there is no problem.

But if I go to Germany, at least I am allowed to speak Dutch (or English), even with the official administration. This is far more logical and free than forbidding any language but one.

Why do you promote freedom in choice of software ? How can you refuse freedom in communication protocol (aka language) ?

Paul Cobbaut said...

@Dag's "Once upon a time in Flanders"

We got our education in Flemish in 194x from the Germans (First Flemish university of Gent ?)


bi-lingual ? Not my words!
I propose freedom of any language to use in Belgium. And anyone who claims not to be able to communicate should have the right to be helped in English. The end result will be Flemish in all real Flemish municipalities, French in all real French municipalities and English when needed.


Language...
You are right that language is part expression/cultural/tradition/self esteem/identification... and we can keep it for those things. By all means i want all Flemish people to keep on using Flemish. And the same for everyone else, anyone is entitled to identify himself with his language.

Municipal administration is another thing. Please don't force a "one and only one" language when there are valid alternatives.

Borders...
I'll stick to my view!

And Europe should also have freedom of language anywhere, anytime. And default back to English(*) whenever communication seems to not work.

(*) or French, or German, or Russian...i don't care, just pick one.

Dag said...

@Bruno: But if I go to Germany, at least I am allowed to speak Dutch (or English), even with the official administration. This is far more logical and free than forbidding any language but one.

I really doubt all communication to you will be in Dutch or French. Election letters, hospital bills, social security in Germany is translated to Dutch. You must be joking...

Try and walk into a German municipal meeting and raise a question in Dutch. Or even demand that they translate everything in Dutch to you.


@Bruno: Why do you promote freedom in choice of software ? How can you refuse freedom in communication protocol (aka language) ?

Have you tried talking SMTP to an HTTP daemon ? Or Tokenring on an Ethernet hub. I bet you will not get very far...

Dag said...

@Bruno: We got our education in Flemish in 194x from the Germans (First Flemish university of Gent ?)

Right, 110 years after we were forced to use the French language. And we needed World War II for that to happen !

It was not until 1970 that the university of Leuven became Flemish. It apparently took 140 years to regain our language for education in Flanders even though that was what the people spoke.

And here you are talking about freedom of language, after it took us 140 years of being able to use Dutch in our own country for education.

Language is definitely a big part of the problem in Belgium and allowing every language in administration is *NOT* the solution to this problem.

Explain to me how this will unite Belgium again ?

Dag said...

s/Bruno/Paul/