– Advertisement – Compared to patching up that pandemic dam after it has already burst, other Day One agenda items for the incoming Biden administration are considerably easier:• Rejoin the Paris climate accords, which were abandoned by Trump due to his belief that the warming climate was a hoax.• Rejoin the World Heath Organization, which was abandoned by Trump in a fit of anti-China nationalism.- Advertisement – Those are the public ones. A less spoken-of priority will be to turn out every one of Trump’s government appointees as soon as humanly possible; the current Republican administration has been known for corruption, extremism, incompetence, and simple thuggery. Trump purged the government of nonpartisan watchdogs and instituted multiple programs to root out what his toadies considered “disloyalty”; the damage done there will take a decade to undo.Similarly, Biden is all but certain to reinstate the firewall between the Department of Justice and the White House—a firewall that prohibits the White House from meddling in federal prosecutions. Prosecutors previously stymied by Trump Attorney General William Barr will again be free to probe and, if necessary, indict Trump’s long list of personal allies caught doing crooked things on his behalf.Those last two point to a more immediate problem, however. It is likely that the outgoing and thoroughly craptastic administration will attempt to do as much damage to government as possible, in the next months, out of 1.) self-protection and 2.) raw spite. Trump may or may not attempt blanket pardons of all allies, for all crimes. A flurry of new “deregulations” is likely to further erode civil rights, environmental laws, and other Republican-hated bits of government.The Republican Senate will take no actions to stop it, and will help it along if they can.Short version, then: buckle in. Turning Trump out of office will be a hundred times more effort than Trump himself spent to enter it. Trump installed a cadre of hard-right Republican allies whose only qualification was their willingness to slather him with praise. They’ve gutted institutions from the State Department to the Department of Health and Human Services, made a wreck of literally everything they touched, and will now be attempting to make off with the copper plumbing before authorities arrive. Highest on the agenda, and by necessity: confronting the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump and his team are not expected to make any serious moves to contain the pandemic—and are certainly not likely to take it any more seriously now than they did pre-election, when their careers depended on at least pretending to give a damn. It is possible that the United States death toll could double before Biden and his own team are able to have the first of their own White House press conferences. Biden is likely to begin public advocacy for his new plan (which can be tersely described as “listen to the experts, and do what they say”) near-immediately, using his president-elect status to urge the mask-wearing and social distancing measures that should have been in place all along.We are in a familiar place, then. The last Republican presidency left the economy in tatters, and repairing it became the all-encompassing imperative of the incoming Democratic one. Here we are again.- Advertisement – • Reinstate executive orders protecting DREAMers, after they were explicitly targeted by white supremacist Trump adviser Stephen Miller.• Eliminate the “Muslim ban,” Trump’s blanket ban on immigrants from majority-Muslim nations other than ones he personally had business interests in.• Reinstating, en masse, environmental regulations that Trump’s far-right Republican allies gutted at the request of environment-damaging industries.- Advertisement –
Dutch workers should be offered more choice about their pensions, including the option of taking out a lump sum and using the savings to pay off a mortgage, researchers of Tilburg University and the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB) argue.In a report to be published today, they claim that the benefits of freedom of choice would outweigh the risks and would generate additional prosperity for Dutch pension savers, according to financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD).“Increased freedom of choice is desirable, as the fear that people would squander their money is not justified,” the FD quoted CPB’s Ed Westerhout as saying.“The experience in other countries shows that most people used a lump sum to pay off debt and for buying or renovating a home.” Ed Lever, also of the CPB, emphasised that most other countries offered more freedom of choice than the Netherlands.He cited the UK, where people can now take out their entire pensions as a lump sum, as the most extreme example.However, the researchers made clear that they did not advocate such an option for the Netherlands.There was strong demand for more freedom, they said, with surveys at the civil service scheme ABP suggesting more than half of participants favoured taking a lump sum.Greater freedom of choice is also preferred by the Dutch cabinet and is often cited as a reason to overhaul the current pensions system, according to the report.However, no agreement has yet been reached within the government, which is awaiting proposals from the Social and Economic Council (SER).The researchers said the current collective pensions system already offers certain options for increased choice, such as the introduction of a lump sum, or the extension of the new drawdown option for workers who want to retire ahead of the official retirement age for the state pension.Other possibilities, such as deciding how much and where people save for their pension, or taking out pension assets while still working, are not possible under the current system.According to the FD, the researchers stressed that freedom of choice must be limited and, for example, not include the option of benefits being for a fixed period.“The chances are that people will make an appeal to society during their final years for, for example, rent and care costs,” the report says.Earlier research has suggested that freedom of choice would reduce prosperity among Dutch pension savers.Westerhout said: “This came with the assumption that people wouldn’t have any brake on spending their money, but we think that this only applies to a small group.”To further limit the risks of freedom of choice, the researchers suggested giving pension funds an advisory role.However, this is currently not possible under the law, since pension funds would then enter the realm of commercial providers of financial products.Dutch pension funds are not allowed to compete with commercial players as they benefit from mandatory participation.