"If you want the American dream, go to Finland."
The Nordic Theory of Everything
In Search of a Better Life
HarperCollins 2016, 333 pages
Every now and then I run across a book so excellent that it should be required reading for everybody. After a few chapters, I thought I must recommend this to all the teachers I know. And those who work in health care. Some pages later, I realized that I wanted to recommend this book to every single person I know who lives in the United States, regardless of their age, occupation, or income. Every single person is somehow affected by issues such as healthcare, child care, education, taxes, and aging. Or, more accurately, by the lack of equality in health care and education. (Nobody is actually naïve enough to believe that everybody has an equal chance at succeeding the way things are set up now, are they?)
Anu Partanen (a Finn now living in the United States and a US citizen) does an amazing job of explaining how much more freedom and equality people in the Nordic countries have in comparison to those living in the United States, but she also shows how it could be possible there as well. She succinctly points out how the current structures in the United States lead to what she calls ‚unhealthy dependencies‘, whether between parents and children, employers and employees, men and women, or the government and citizens.
People often erroneously use the terms „socialist countries“ or „welfare states“ about the Nordic countries and this leads to misunderstandings about how societies there are structured. The Nordic Theory of Everything should clear up any such misconceptions.
To make her point, she uses the term „the Nordic theory of love“, which, to me, sounds like the title of a kitschy romance – but I am probably just much too cynical to be able to say that with a straight face. Behind this phrase is an intelligent theory which makes absolute sense.
Even I was surprised to read about just how ‚backward‘ the United States is in many senses – down on the list somewhere near Romania or Burkina Faso, depending on the example. Honestly, reading this will make you angry – as it should – and hopefully it will serve as some kind of catalyst for improvement.
Wouldn’t it be a valuable thing for all of the 324 million or so citizens of the United States, if the government and its policies actually WERE „by the people FOR the people“?
Here’s an idea – buy The Nordic Theory of Everything, read it, and then send a copy to someone in charge of making policies. I like the thought of politicians’ offices in State capitols being inundated by thousands of copies of this book!
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