Depressing

It is rather difficult to know from where to begin this piece – there are so many different instances of idiocy going on right now: the government wants to activate the unemployed by less-than-well-analyzed means, Nils Torvalds and HBL want to join NATO as soon as ever possible, the upcoming topic of CETA is nowhere mentioned, in Germany the Social Democrats are busy digging the grave of German Social Democracy, in USA 82% of the Trump voters would vote for him again … .

And if one does NOT want to assume that these things are intentionally done for the purpose of doing as much damage as possible (and be it for the mere “fun” of it), is there then any one factor which would at least help to understand how all this nonsense comes about (perhaps even help to prevent some of it at some time in the future)?

Well, in every single one of the above cases we have to do with human individuals and their decisions about what to do and what not. The science which officially deals with just these matters is psychology. And in the public discussion just psychology is hardly ever mentioned, nor are psychologists contributing to the public discussion to any noticeable degree. One can of course say that this is presumably inevitable in a Western democracy: the “normal & healthy” people are by the free media flattered into believing that they are anyway quite capable of taking care of all the necessary decisions which are coming up and that psychologists, if they are good for anything at all (which is doubted by not so few), just should take care of those pitiable and/or disgusting individuals who are not “healthy & normal” by the public standards. And the praised Finnish school system is obviously incapable (and if one looks at its coursebooks in psychology, also unwilling) to change this attitude. And if one accepts this state of affairs as inevitable, then the most reasonable attitude is to give up and try to live with the consequences of the ongoing nonsense as well as one just can manage.

Still, it cannot harm (perhaps even be entertaining) to go through some proposals which psychology could (tentatively) contribute to the above-mentioned problems. Let’s see:

(a) Concerning the “activation” of the unemployed there would of course already be the Danish model (where some espert works intensely together with an unemployed person to develop a strategy how to get back into working-life, whereas in Finland the government just puts more pressure in order to make sure that the unemployed person is more actively fishing for still more frustrations – and never mind if that person gets sick in the process …). And if the unemployed person is still rather new in her/his career, there would of course be psychological testing (it is some 50 years ago when I was myself – together with 7 others – put through a battery of tests which took some 8 hours and resultet in VERY good advice which was based on BOTH my talents and my motivation; and I coud well guess that there are meanwhile still better tests available). The usual methods in Finland seem to start from the assumption that everybody is anyway well aware of her/his talents when deciding for a certain career, bur psychologically this is not really true: motivation often comes from imprinting (i.e. from the social environment), while talents come to quite some degree from genetics … . And as to a basic income for everybody, I do hope that Ny Tid will soon present Rutger Bregman’s book “Utopia for Realists”.

(b) As to joining NATO, Nils Torvald’s (and others’) idea that one should join because there might arise trouble in Russia in some future reminds of the idea of committing suicide because of being afraid of death: in the USA we have already trouble RIGHT NOW, and not even for the first time in this century. One could call it even “impressive” how well the media have managed to make people forget about whatever they ever learned at school about physics (which would show them that the official report about 9/11 is incompatible with the laws of physics; and as 9/11 was also the first incident of NATO article 5 being activated, people could further conclude what the ideas of an US Republican government about NATO are, namely that NATO is an instrument for recruiting other nations to join in the doings of the USA – as also happened in 2003 when invading Iraq -, whereas it will presumably NOT mean that the USA will risk a nuclear war for the defense of some small country like Finland; after all, “America first”, at least with a Republican government).

(c) As to CETA (that upcoming “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement” with Canada), there is quite some possibility that it will do tremendous damage to Finland’s budget and even to the health and well-being of the Finnish population, so that there would be ANY good reason to discuss it IN TIME, but no, the media do not take it up. Chances are that it will, once Riksdagen will take up its work again, be approved fast and quietly, possibly for some so simple reason as that “Finland wants to show that it is a part of the Western World” (and perhaps it would also disturb the relation between government and media if the media would start a critical discussion …). And once the bad consequences show, there will be excuses that one could not have known this beforehand, and that such is, about, the price one has to pay for freedom (or similar).

(d) As to the German Social Democrats, the party is shrinking since many years, and presumably for the reason that it is unable to develop a profile which makes it sufficiently different from the Christian Democrats, and now the Social Democrats are AGAIN negotiating with the Christian Democrats about forming a “Great Coalition”, and AGAIN they are sacrificing any own profile, although there has rather often come from the public the suggestion that they should insist on taking also the Green ones into the coalition, as a counterweight against the rightist wing of the Christian Democrats (the CSU), thus giving the Social Democrats a clearly more red-green profile. But no, that might already be against all tradition (and also cost a few positions of ministers). But the Social Democrats will then also continue shrinking … .

(e) As to Trump voters, well, once one has decided for one candidate (especially one who is possibly so very similar to oneself) it is usually very difficult to admit that one has made a mistake, ESPECIALLY if one is REALLY similar to Trump. I have already earlier written in this blog (and also in Ny Tid) that I think that candidates for high office should be very carefully tested whether they are fit for it, and this BEFORE they are even allowed to stand for election (a system which was working rather well in classical China …). But once Trump has now managed to become president, one can expect that there will grow quite a bit of nostalgic mythology about him once he will, Heaven knows when and how, be finally out of office.

Anything else? Perhaps this: If the media do not bother to mention CETA now, it might be a good idea to write letters to the papers in which one mentiones CETA, so that our politicians get, perhaps, with time the imptression that the public has woken up to the matter and that it just might be worth to make a few thoughts about it. Some points and suggestiuons for such letters I shall gladly provide.

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2 Responses to Depressing

  1. Christian Blom says:

    Fin insändare Ernst ! Tack för det.Jag svarar dock på svenska.Alla frågor du tar upp är viktiga just nu, men jag kommenterar bara arbetslöshetsfrågan, eftersom just den ligger som nummer ett på den politiska agendan (ja – förutom Nato, som ju tas upp i presidentvalskampanjen nu varje dag, och spciellt förvånad är jag över hur man i Sverige nu ser så dramatiskt på frågan och målar fram nya tankar om aktuell krigsfara hela tiden).
    Det som jag tog upp i mitt eget blogginlägg senast var att det är nu vi ska gå ut och kräva att man går vidare med kravet på medborgarlön.Hela den här debatten och striden om hur de arbetslösa ska aktiveras att söka jobb och utbilda sig handlar ju om att den grupp av människor som just nu är arbetslös kommer att spjälkas i två delar: Dels i dem som har en rimlig chans att återfå till arbetslivet, och dels i dem som inte har en rimlig chans att återgå: De sjuka, funktionshindrade, helt utslagna, äldre, helt outbildade mm. Det enda alternativet för den här senare gruppen är såklart medborgarlön och det skall vi kräva nu. Igår kom en rapport ut om den försöksverksamhet som pågår i Finland sedan några år tillbaka kring medborgarlön. I rapporten sägs att försöket ser ut att misslyckas. Såklart – för det har inte alls backats upp av politisk diskussion och utvärdering i vidare bemärkelse. Och vänstern och oppositionen tycks inte just nu heller kräva en övergång till medborgarlön.
    Frågan om medborgarlön hänger också nära samman med de strukturella förändringar som sker i samhället: Automationen och robotiseringen tycks leda till att färre anställda krävs. Så det finns utan vidare möjligheter för att ta i bruk medborgarlön i mycket högre utsträckning än det lilla försök som nu pågår.
    I varje fall hamnar vi nu inför frågan om vem som skall arbeta och vem som kunde tänkas leva på medborgarlön (eller långvarigt arbetslöshetsunderstöd).
    Jag har tillsammans med flera andra under de senaste 20 åren forskat kring frågan om hur man inom kulturbranschen kunde utveckla helt nya kategorier för att arbeta. I praktiken har det handlat om att hitta en tillåten juridisk form form för arbete där man vore en mellanform av entreprenör, anställd, projektarbetsgruppsmedlem mm. Arbets- och skattejuridiken leder idag alltför snabbt till att man klassas som endera “arbetslös” eller så “anställd”. Det finns många alternativa former man kunde arbeta inom och då erhålla ganska flexibelt ibland arbetslöshetsunderstöd, ibland andra former av stöd eller regelrätt lön eller företagarinkomst.Och uttryckligen allt detta samtidigt. Nu tvingar lagstiftningen och byråkratin oss alltför snabbt in i arbetslöshetssituationen, eller i en sitiation där arbetslöshetsunderstöd förnekas.

    • Ernst says:

      My sincere thanks for a friendly and informative reaction! Concerning the overall (official) attitude to the unemployment problem, I feel that I came just today (17.01.) across a very fitting formulation (in Hbl, p.18, about Juli Apponen): ” … det här passar för den finska mentaliteten. Här finns ja en sådan grundton att livet inte är lätt.” And my impression is that the official policy is to try and prevent at any price that life might become “lätt” for, e.g., the unemployed (but also for refugees and similar groups; should we classify them as “losers”?). It may be that this attitude is based on some idea of “morality” (that it would be “immoral” to make life “lätt” for people who have not “deserved” it). But of course there are also other mechanisms, e.g. the mental mechanisms of hierarchy: the people who are on top, in the position of commanders, are those who are in the least danger of ending up in a situation of being in need of help. Thus, if they will just put sufficient pressure on those beneath them in the hierarchy (e.g. by demanding “efficiency”, or keeping within budget limits), they can produce any inhumane decisions (google in this context “Milgram’s experiment”) – while of course afterwards denying any responsibility.

      As to medborgarlön, if there should be some analysis of the ongoing experiment which arrives at negative conclusions, it MAY in fact be true, but it also MAY be just the result of somebody higher up in the hierarchy having put some pressure in some direction. In the long run one will in any case have somehow to prevent that “the market” develops price standards which make sure that the full amount of the medborgarlön is certain to be drained from the pockets of the recipients (e.g. for paying a “market rent” for housing, or similar).

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