Imagine a society where no child’s school success is dependent on their parents’ income level and where every young person and adult has the same opportunities to do well financially and succeed in their studies and working life. Imagine a society where every older person can trust on having sufficient care when they are weak and where no senior has to consider if their pensions are sufficient for food or the most essential medicine. This is the sort of a society we aim to construct – and for a reason.
Here is the first call.
Statistics published in 2018 show that the wealth gap is now larger in Finland than in decades. The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer. Due to the cuts in basic and social security those with the smallest incomes have been left behind in incomes, while the earnings and fortunes of those with the largest incomes have continued growing.
The growth of inequality can be seen in the accumulation of problems, the inheritance of poverty and low education levels from one generation to other, and as considerable health differences and homelessness. The connection between a student’s family background and learning results has become increasingly visible in Finland, a PISA success story, and this has happened faster than any other OECD country. According to researchers, the explanation is not found inside the school walls but rather is caused by a larger process of societal growth of inequality.
The favouring of those with large incomes and capital incomes in taxation has also increased inequality between the genders. Men are over-represented among those with the highest incomes, the women are underrepresented. The long recession of economy and uncertain prospects for employment have slowed down or almost stopped the income development of young adults, in comparison to other age groups. According to Bank of Finland, the reasons for this include increased youth unemployment and the increase in atypical employment relationships. The life of young adults is characterized by growing student loans, payment difficulties and problems caused by indebtedness. Pensioner poverty is also a considerable problem in Finland. The incomes of seniors are affected by the previous government’s social security cuts and the oversized social and health care user fees.
We wish to put a stop to these developments. A humane, equal and safe life belongs to the many, not the few.