When I read stories about Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, and their fan club here like Wahlroos, Berner and Ollila, I focus on the life they lead with lots of money and many little hands and other resources they can employ. They have their Mercedes, Cadillac or huge SUV. They have their political friends where they can try to buy change that suits their pockets and their friends.
I have been there too – in Singapore, Paris, New York and a few other places where I didn’t have to worry about money. I had my shirts ironed, the floors cleaned and delicious food placed nicely on the table. I never had nearly as much as super-rich but more than enough is a good description.
And this morning I was looking at the breakfast table where a cup of coffee was sitting. The coffee and cinnamon probably came from 2 small farmsin Kenya and Sri Lanka. I suppose that the 2 farmers have a wooden house, a small family and have to work 7 long days a week with little hope that their children will have a much better life. He will have his cash carefully placed in his wife’s pocket so she can buy the staples they need to keep the family running. They will probably share a mobile phone and dutifully repay the loans they need to take to sow and harvest their crops each year. Illness is common and the doctor expensive… It is a long way from us and much longer from the super-rich.
We talk a lot about income differences in Finland and Sweden – the left and super-rich, together with their lobby groups, the unions, are particularly loud in their comments. The left want to close the gap to the breadth of a single atom whereas our professors and big company bosses want to see the differences stretched out like grandmothers’ elastic nickers.
Neither of them are right because it has nothing to do with them in the first place. In the second place society is nothing if a few simple principles are not upheld.
Society must be caring for those who cannot help themselves – the young, the infirmed and the aged.
Normal able healthy people must take responsibility for themselves and not depend on others to lift them from the drudgery of every day work. Naturally work is not always a drudgery, it can be exciting and fun sometimes, but only sometimes. I have often been sitting in a car, train, and bus for an hour on the daily commute twice a day after 8, 9, 10 and 12 hours at the office in mind killing meetings. I have often spent whole weekends working and travelling 12 hour trips to Asia and Russia, Ukraine and India. I have had to fight with corrupt officials at airports who want money to let me in. But the work was interesting and at least some of my colleagues were nice able professionals.
Normal healthy people should pay their taxes and be proud to do their bit for others. We need free education for youngsters, comprehensive health care, and good infrastructure with security.
We need to have a government that makes the public sector work efficiently. This means that unnecessary bureaucracy is cut back to what is really needed for the above public sector to function smoothly. Government should also see that good and fair rules are enforced on business and workers are treated fairly. It is government’s job to see that justice enforces the law without political or commercial interference.
You may say that I am an idealist but all of the above points are sound ideals that we should strive for – especially if we know that these principles are not being applied here at home. The great majority of people in this country (Finland and Sweden, Denmark and Norway) do not earn huge salaries and we are not poor by any measure of prosperity. This great majority wants the above without huge income differences. The great majority want a reasonably secure life with family friends and a job that pays enough. The great majority want to have a good education; we want to be informed and we want our politicians to make the decisions for which they have been voted into power. We did not vote for the unions to do this nor did we ask the media to make policy. The media’s job, like me, is to raise a red flag when we see that the driver is going through a red light. And today we are driving through many red lights on matters relating to immigration, health care, education, commercial competition, and urban planning.
Getting back to incomes; a fair income is enough for a good life especially if the taxes paid can ensure quality education, health care and security for the majority. Being really well off has definite drawbacks because ownerships of a lot of stuff is really time consuming and full of rocks on which to crash the boat. It is similar to that farmer who tends his coffee and cinnamon bushes – there are always lots things to worry about, no matter how rich or poor you are – that is the human condition.