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Disappointed: Election 2015

April 23, 2015

So, the election has come and gone and the Centre Party is now tasked with finding the right mix of partners to form the next government. There has been plenty of analysis by the media, including YLE News, which I follow on a daily basis. What always makes headlines is the demographics of the elected MPs.

I can’t even tell you what I think might be a good government in Finland, all I can say is that I am not optimistic about how the next four years will go – although, it could be (and should be) better than the last four years under a conservative government. There were far too many MPs and ministers who were completely out of touch with what is going on on the ground in this country. See my last post for some examples.

Now we’re headed for a government that will be run by the old boys club, and that means business, money and profit over doing good for the common people and the environment.

Let us see how this plays out. I hope it will not take two months to get a government together as it did back in 2011.

And yet the anti-immigrant theme continues… Loudly and clearly.

A headline from YLE three days after the election reads: “Yle poll: Majority of Finns oppose work-based immigration

One must remember – and this is the same the world over, no matter where you are. When the economy is bad anti-immigrant sentiment increases. So yesterday’s news item was no surprise. I remember the same thing happening in Ontario in the early 1990s when we were in a deep recession. I wonder if ethnic Finns ever think about how their opinions may hurt the people who are already here and working and contributing to society.

But again, this leads me to question the mantra that Finland needs immigrants right now to fill the jobs out there. What jobs? Are there really that many jobs. This morning YLE reported that March saw an increase in unemployment, now at 10,3%. Nearly one-third of those are under the age of 25.

And I think it is utter and complete bullshit (excuse my language) that people shun jobs because it is beneath them to do “that kind of work.” I can tell you now, if I lost my job tomorrow, I would find another one right away – even if it meant cleaning office buildings, working in a kitchen or picking produce at a farm. We all have to start somewhere. Think about it – all you adults out there: What was your first job? Probably something you would never picture yourself doing these days, right?

I think we have set the bar too high for ourselves in Western countries and many believe that immigrants are and should be happy with any job, which is a complete crock of poo. I don’t work in the field in which I was educated, but I am incredibly fortunate to have a job that offers many perks: flexible hours, healthcare, generous holidays, opportunities to learn and so on. If only other immigrants could be so lucky eh?

Come on Finland, we’re going to be in a big hole at some point in terms of elder care, so we need to start thinking forward now and taking the blinders off.

All work is meaningful and that is something we all need to start believing in again.

To end off this post, I’d like to thank everyone who dropped in on last week’s post and commented in the many fora where it appeared. I’d also like to thank the people who e-mailed me with kind words for bringing up what is a polarizing topic.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. FrederikD permalink
    April 23, 2015 9:16 pm

    My fear is that the highest incomes will rise in the next few years, in the order of 40-60% conforming to the trend in the rest of Europe…
    The jobs they refer to are the jobs that will become available when the baby-boom generation will start retirering in a year or 2. Sending that message out than is too late, remember that this is a mostly worldwide problem, Japan will be first, Europe and China will follow soon. There will be more people retiring than young people entering the job-market.

    • anonymous permalink
      April 24, 2015 9:14 am

      Well, the jobs will not be necessarily available even then. The technology keeps kicking people out of jobs and most of the infrastructure in society has been built already, by the baby-boomers. In the future, there is not going to be that much work available – at least the kind that people are getting paid to do. It’ll push high-end wages up and the rest down and that’s going to spell trouble for the society, because demand runs the economy and that sort of wage distribution will kill it. Not to forget what that will do to equality and democracy in general.

      Actually, “shunning jobs” is a failure of the market mechanism in an egalitarian society. The pay, working conditions, etc. should be going up if there are unfilled openings in the field. Similarly, I bet there are loads of talented (enough) people willing to do the upper management jobs for the current pay but yet the employment pool is artificially restricted and wages are going up even if the pool is already big enough for filling those positions.

      • FrederikD permalink
        April 24, 2015 7:50 pm

        The argument that technology destroys jobs has first been proposed when farmers started plowing with horses, since then history has proved that theory wrong. The economy, and thus the jobmarket, will shrink if it cannot find employees fast enough to fill in the holes.

      • anonymous permalink
        April 26, 2015 2:27 pm

        FrederikD, we are already seeing the trend in the developed countries. We are talking about increasing structural unemployment and/or more low-paying jobs. We seem to be reaching the point where the machines are actually starting to match our talents besides the physical realm, which is already a foregone conclusion: Think of the number of people needed for factory work or construction. We now have machines writing up sports news, doing financial analysis, possibly driving trasportation within a couple of decades, etc. Now it’s the turn of the mental skills and decision-making grunt-work. It’s still a fledgling but I don’t think anyone is suggesting it’s going to go away.

        The difference between now and then is that earlier replacement work became available for the unskilled, farmers moved to towns and manned the factories. Now, the bar is so much higher that there are many people who are not going to reach it. Those people are forced in unemployment or to take up a “shit job”, that isn’t putting the person on an equivalent standing with the people in society who still have good jobs. The economic system is looking a little ragged around the edges because we are getting closer to the potential end of unenforced scarcity. What I’m saying is that we are (going to be) lacking work that entitles people to a reasonable share of the over-all production.

        I think the majority of the baby-boomers have already reached the retirement age. There isn’t a major demand for employees: the organizations have just scaled back or found out they don’t need that many people and adjusted. You’d think some significant portion of the what? 300 000? unemployed would have found or shooed in to jobs, if there really were many good openings.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    April 30, 2015 12:03 am

    So what result did you expect? I was not surprised seeing the recent years when the country creeped back into its protective shell. The conservative government is gone, won’t the new one be even more conservative with its values?

    Have you seen the PS program? They can send you to some deserted part of Finland if you need to seek for a job – which is even less probable to find one for a foreigner.

    The yle poll was quite confusing and sending a quite deviating message in its Finnish and English version. A questionable purpose of sparking xenophobia, like many other poorly researched sensation headlines.

    Cultural sensitivity is one of the key communication assets, but even returning Finns have problems to get their abroad experiences acknowledged (reported in the press several times). Competitiveness is not reached by sameness, but by diversity. We are extremely lucky having found a fair and rewarding place to work, which values diversity! It’s rare.

    Now Estonia starts recruiting Finns (not to mention the relocation of many small businesses due to the e-citizenship). German IT is steadily growing and reaching over one million employed this year (incl. about 26.000 new jobs) and being now the second industry behind the mechanical engineering, which is doing well too. Malta, a tiny little island has now a flourishing gaming industry. I know Finns who went to work to Poland now, because of long-term unemployment in Finland. Finland is really good in encouraging and supporting start-ups *thumbup*, but what happens next – how many of them survive in this business environment?


  1. To allow or not to allow… | Life in Finland (and beyond)

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