15 July 2013 | This 'n' that
While Finnish politicians, just back at Parliament after their summer break, twiddle their thumbs in frustration as the nation faces darkening prospects for economic growth, Finland is being admired across the pond.
The Atlantic magazine took a long look at ‘the secrets of Finland’s success with schools, moms, kids – and everything’ (July 2013).
Olga Khazan reports: Finns enjoy long vacations, better school scores, unemployment insurance, paid parental leaves, cheap child care, education and medical services, and low infant mortality rates.
‘All of this adds up to the stress equivalent of living in what is essentially a vast, reindeer-fur-lined yoga studio.’
Whoa! Are we that happy in Finland?
Here, the media keep reporting how the pulp and paper mills that turned Finland’s forests into ‘green gold’ in the 20th century are closing down and new profitable business ideas are scarce, people are aging, yet job opportunities for young people are few, queues are long for a doctor’s appointment and the country might soon exceed the 60 percent debt-to-GDP ratio mandated by the European Union. The reindeer are not doing better than before, either.
For historico-political and demographic reasons, small and fairly homogenous Finland has been able to disperse benefits on a national scale, the article concludes. ‘Finns’ social cohesion props up the welfare state, which in turn promotes greater harmony. But in a way, America’s economic competitiveness, focus on innovation and lack of safety net all reinforce one another, too.’
‘Greater harmony’ will grow smaller fast though, if new viable ideas of how to save the welfare cake while eating it don’t come up sharpish, no matter how well you perform your asanas.
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