Finnish Politics This Week

The Right-Wing Opposition here in Helsinki (mostly men) have stopped complaining about the PM’s compulsive habit of doing housework when she needs to cool off. Probably their wives are starting to demand that these men do their fair share of housework at home instead of dozing off when Parliament is in session. Finnish women love to demand equality especially when the men are “too busy”…

The latest opposition scam is to try to find ways to sow discontent in the media. They now claim that the government is borrowing too much, and that economic growth and employment are not in good shape. However, Finland is still well below France’s and Germany’s borrowing ratios and growth is reasonable. Employment has improved but there are still too many unemployed – but this was inherited from the last right-wing government and Covid did strike at the heart of things.

We will soon have elections for the new 19 Regions that will be the middle layer of government in between municipalities and the central government. The same MPs and their political “long-players” (you may recall those large black round plastic records we used to keep in sleeves) holding key positions. These will be “tired” elections because their basic function is to keep the costs associated with healthcare and social care under control.

Voters know or believe that little will be changed because private sector healthcare has been allowed to breed like rabbits and these people charge fees that are many times higher than public healthcare. The Doctors Association, the private sector medical lobby, have argued and continue to argue that we do not need more doctors in a country with a swiftly ageing population! The only reason they make these arguments is to enhance the earning power of their members who will be declining in numbers as they too retire like bears going into hibernation.

You can guess who doctors vote for….

Up until now the municipalities have been running the hospitals and these guys are not spendthrifts. The big cities (also called municipalities) ran up big expenses to build their own flashy hospitals to attract new residents and shine the credentials of their research facilities. The result has been a lot of duplication and excessive sunken costs… the Ministry of Finance will now try to control annual investment spending and operational costs.

The government may well be able to squeeze away unnecessary investments but the biggest threat to our healthcare today is the lack of healthcare workers and doctors. It is not easy to attract skilled people to Finland – we are a little off the map and the language is challenging.

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