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This is Finland
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-01-28 09:19:04
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If one day when you have to be at work urgently early and you find out that your young daughter is ill with fever and you don’t know what to do, don’t worry; super family Finnish minister – prime minister Mari Kiviniemi will come to rescue.

Legacy is one of the very few things politicians live for – the others are fame and money but this is a different conversation – and their personal legacy is their best motivation for most of the things they do or want to do and the Finnish Prime Minister feeling the temporary of her role in Finnish politics decided to come with something that will put her in the books of Finnish history. So in a televised interview last week the Finnish PM announced her plans for a family minister and her will to work hard towards this direction.

Furthermore she pointed that, family policies would fall under the rule of a single minister, who could co-ordinate these affairs more efficiently adding that the new minister would work in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, which would assume responsibility for family affairs from other ministries. According Kiviniemi the new minister would be responsible for matters such as helping to reconcile the demands of work and family-life. Concluding of course that, not enough has been achieved in family policy during the present Government’s term somehow blaming the former – and forced to resign - Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen for that.

Her main argument has been that modern families don’t have time for quality life including giving more attention to their kids and there is nobody who’s going to disagree with her but why modern families don’t have time? Isn’t it because for example public transportation fees have increase more than 60% the last five years or isn’t it the number of unemployed. There is no week when the Finnish media including the national radio television don’t include in their news’ flashes another finish company forced into lay-offs. And to be honest I never really understood how they calculate inflation in most European countries. Do they take the average including caviar and the latest Porsche Model, because ion my local supermarket basic things like milk, bread and meat increase day by day.

I’m wandering if Ms Kiviniemi is dreaming more civil servants who will spend their time visiting one house after the other to check for their needs and then do something about them and in a dream world – utopia as Plato called it – this could be possible but in that land there will be no money, no poor and rich. It would be education and food for all and of course equal chances for all and yes Finland prides to champion a lot of surveys but people don’t live in YLE’s – the national news broadcaster - surveys but they live in the actual cities with a lot of them in need of a second job to deal with their necessary expenses. Its only weeks ago when a researcher shown that the percent of the Finns living in the limits  of poverty is dangerously high without that meaning that they are jobless but barely survive with limited income.

So in a sense Kiviniemi is right none of the governments have achieved much in family policy the last few years or decades but that has nothing to do with the need of a “family minister” but with the quality of life of the average Finn especially after seen the rich getting richer and the poor poorer the last few years and with that a series of other problems joining including side problems like the xenophobia we see lately, unfortunately the immigrants have became the easy target when it comes to the blaming game ingoting the fact that for example the foreign debt of the country has increase nearly 50% the last decade putting Finland in the countries with fragile economy, but I suppose this is something that they never include in the surveys and most of the time forget to mention. Politicians and media selective memory!

Very directly the Social-democrats pointed that: the sitting government has failed in its family policies, as the number of poor families has significantly increased, and that a new minister would do little to help their situation. But then again you never know, so if one day your doorbell ring and you see Mari Kiviniemi offering her services as babysitter, don’t be shocked; this is Finland!

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