To the CPB review commission

Chairman Klaus Zimmermann, Secretary Bart van Riel (SER), Members Daniel Gros, David Newbery, Rick van der Ploeg, Piet Rietveld + Robert Haveman

March 26 2003

Subject: CPB Review Commission: my protest against abuse of power



Dear commission,


Since 1982 I worked at the Central Planning Bureau, in november 1989 some ideas that I expressed in relation to the long run study that I was involved in and the fall of the Berlin Wall met a strange reaction from the directorate, in april 1990 I was placed out of my regular work in a manner that a judge considered an abuse of power, my analysis got blocked from discussion and eventual publication, in 1991 I got fired, and my appeal to the scientific community since those days is to have these events properly documented and evaluated on scientific integrity, so that also parliament can usefully discuss the issues involved. To my regret, few scientists care about the situation, but welcome exceptions are prof. dr. Richard Gill and drs. Guido den Broeder who have not deeply studied the issue but who support my appeal that it gets studied and evaluated.


The former Review Commission led by Anton Barten, decided that the issue was 'old', but they neglected that my appeal had never been repealed and is still in force to this day and that I am no idiot, that (dis-) investments in knowledge and information can have long run impacts comparable to material outlays, that the CPB directorate to this day misrepresents the issue, and that they also do so in court, see for example their misrepresentations that we will have to face again in court in upcoming May. Also, the Dutch member of that committee, professor Den Butter, had played a dubious role in my dismissal, and though I understand that he tried to keep a neutral position in his role on the review commission, it had been better if he had stepped down or supported that integrity test that I see as the best way to solve this problem. Note that your committee suffers from a similar composition problem, in that Rick van der Ploeg has been a member of Parliament during the last decade, has failed in his national control function, and might have an interest in suggesting that he did not fail since there would be no problem that would need no such test.


My suggestion is that you don't repeat this mistake of the former committee. Perhaps, with hindsight, professor Barten will agree with this. As I explained the former commission - that material should be available at SER: you don't have the resources to discuss the matter in depth, but what you can do is observe that there is a protest against the abuse of power by the directorate, and that it is better that for example the Dutch academy of sciences (KNAW) and/or the newly installed "Commissie Integriteit Rijksoverheid" (CIR) of the Dutch national government handle the case and that the CPB directorate supports the idea that the question is documented and evaluated.


This is the main issue, and I would appreciate the possibility to discuss it.


Below I add some useful supplementary comments, and I copy this email to some people I have recently communicated with in relation to your committee.


Sincerely yours,


Thomas Cool

Rotterdamsestraat 69, 2586 GH Scheveningen


Supplementary comments


(1) CPB is a high quality institution, but there is a structural problem, and human error can aggravate that. An eye opener might already be, that the Dutch national government would need an international Review Committee to enhance the quality of its decision making. One would hope and suggest that such issues should rather be resolved structurally and continuously. Given the current situation, it is wonderful that CPB management turns an open eye to world, but that still need not be a satisfactory situation.


(2) The paper that got blocked from discussion is available from CPB but also from my site:

"After 20 years of mass unemployment: Why we might wish for a parliamentary inquiry", CPB internal note 90-III-38,

Professor Zimmerman will note this paper's final concluding statement "Clarity on these issues is also essential for what we are going to tell the reconstructing European nations in the East. It is also essential for how this will affect their social harmony and efficiency." I noted on his webpage that he has observed a rise in mortality in Eastern Germany in that transition period, which confirms my fears at that time.


(3) Professor Rietveld knows a bit of my work in the period after CPB. His paper "Spatial Graduation of Fuel Taxes" was triggered by my analysis at Transport Research (AVV) "A graduated transport fuel excise for metropolitan areas", ewp-pe/9605001, and the research funds that this generated, but I am afraid that the policy discussion wasn't structured adequately. It is nice to see that professor Newbery has been active in transport research as well. All this should help you in forming an opinion on my professional standing (as I claimed not to be an idiot).


(4) The Alice in Wonderland but rather 1984 New-Speakish document on the CPB website thus has been written with a CPB colleague actively removed from the discussion. Had I been allowed to participate, there could have been some influence of my analysis that has been blocked from discussion; this analysis has lately been developed into my books "Definition & Reality in the General Theory of Political Economy" (DRGTPE, 2000) and "Voting Theory for Democracy" (VTD, 2001). The key point remains that in science, and in particular in the spirit of Jan Tinbergen, it should be possible to present such views to my colleagues at CPB, so that I can finalise my CPB research memorandum (that is under the reponsibility of the author and not the directorate).

CC. M. Ellman, E. de Gier, F. van Winden, H. Jager, B. van Praag, J. Hartog, H. M-vdB, M. Blaug, M. Morgan, A. Heertje (all UvA), F. Kalshoven (de Volkskrant), E. Kalse (NRC-Handelsblad), R. Gill (UU), G. den Broeder, H. Hulst