The Nordic Theory of Everything – In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen pretends to be a close examination of American everything (education, health care, marriage, labor, maternity leave, income etc) and Finnish the-same-things. The balance, of course, is very much inclined to the Finnish part. Ha! The author is Finn, of course. The author repetitive theme is that the US government doesn’t take care of its citizens compared to how wonderfully the Finnish government does, on almost every single page of the book.
In reality, The Nordic Theory of Everything – In Search of a Better Life is a very shallow and unfair overview of the differences between the U.S. And Nordic countries, not an honest and deep one. Anu Partanen actually rarely goes further than the surface analysis to take a look at the reasons why the “socialist” Finnish programs are unlikely to be implemented in the US.
And sometimes she’s just exaggerating. I know a Romanian tourist with no medical insurance who went to an emergency room in Portland for a serious wound on his hand and wasn’t charge “thousand of dollars” for the medical help received as Anu Parten says in the book, but few hundred dollars:
The notorious bills that uninsured patients receive from hospitals for emergency-room treatment—thousands of dollars for just a few stitches—can be incentive enough to stay home and take your chances, even if you are seriously at risk. (Anu Partanen)
And being in the hospital to give birth to a baby may cost only five thousand dollars not tens of thousands of dollars as she implies. I just hate when people are exaggerating in order to make their country look better. If it was that much better where she grew up, why nobody wants to move to Finland, but to the US?
The medical system she describes was having in Finland looks much like the medical system we had under communism here. Everything was free, indeed, but nobody took good care of you until you tip the doctor a nice amount of money (usually). I wonder if in Finland things are running the same way.
By the page 92, I was already scared to even think of ever living in the USA and was waiting to read that she and her American boyfriend leaves the US for Finland. After all, if Finland it’s such a much better country why they don’t move in there? But what do you think? After criticizing everything in the US, the author has become an American citizen in the end. Ha! Maybe things are better there than in Finland, after all.
More, reading about how anxious Americans are and all the ways America makes everybody there anxious, made me so distressed that I had to stop reading! Especially because I have many relatives there WHO ARE NOT AT ALL the way she describes Americans, on the contrary.
But what makes me wonder is that Anu Partanen claims that her country encourages its citizen to be independent and free from an early age, while she relates how depressed and anxious she became when moving from a society that takes care of everything (including good education, maternity & paternity leave and child care, health care, elderly care, unemployment and more) and all of her safety nets have been removed.
To me, this sounds like Finnish citizens actually are very dependent on their government.
She claims that a many middle-class American people can not aspire to such independence for themselves and their children. What independence?!
I think that Anu Partanen forgets that the small country of Finland does not have the same challenges as a very large country has. Is one thing to raise a child and a completely different one to raise 15, right?
The Nordic Theory of Everything of providing everything for everyone cannot be applied to …321.4 million people. Period. The current population of Finland is only 5. 5 million inhabitants. Plus, they have a different history. You can’t have the same lifestyle in Finland and in the US.
I guess this book will be very much liked by those Americans who ask themselves what the country can do for them not what they can do for their country (it’s her advice).