I woke up this morning to the news that Donald J. Trump won the election. beating out Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, despite what all the pundits, polls, data and every statistical analysis I had read in the weeks and months leading up to the election. The most interesting bit of news, however, was the fact the the Canadian immigration website had crashed last night because of all the traffic from Americans looking to relocate up there. There are a lot of Americans who are nervous about what is going to happen in the US under a Trump administration. Many people are making plans to leave. They think that Canada, or Ireland or Australia might be more to their liking. The subject of this blog is my impending move to Finland– I’m exploring if it will truly be a better place to live.
It’s hard to know the real reasons for an election like this so I’ll just go out on a limb and say that what I believe drove Trumps election was mostly anger. Americans are angry at a system that has failed them. Income inequality is at it’s greatest since the great depression. Real incomes have decreased. We read in the news that jobs are being created and unemployment is down but we don’t know where those jobs are. They certainly are not the kind we used to get with wages that allowed us to support families. Healthcare costs are out of control–despite Obamacare. Families are paying thousands for health insurance that is getting increasingly difficult to obtain as insurers are moving out of the marketplace. The middle class got screwed in the housing crash when so many homes were foreclosed. Now rents in many urban locations are rising astronomically where working people can no longer afford to live. I could go on but there’s no need to list all the problems. If you’re American, you’re living it.
Who do we blame? Obama is a pretty good target. He’s the father of the affordable care act, after all. He’s also the face of the “liberal elite.” You know, all his fat cat buddies in Hollywood and the tech industry. They’re the ones responsible for sending our jobs overseas. We’re angry at all those illegal immigrants who come here and claim all the benefits of living here for free. They get free welfare, housing, healthcare and education while the rest of us are struggling to support them. We’re angry about being lied to by the “liberal media” (substitute CNN, NBC, the New York Times). We’re angry at Hillary Clinton who has used her access to power to enrich herself and get cozy with wall street. We’re angry at liberals who want us to give up our guns, and with gays who are demanding rights while our own self-respect is being trampled. A vote for Trump is like a big middle-finger salute at the whole system.
So now Trump is going to be president. Is it really time to move? Is it better in Canada, or in Finland for that matter? Canada may well be Utopia, I wouldn’t know. But Finland is also going through its own share of hard times. Almost every day when I read the news in Finland some employer is letting workers go. It’s clear the jobs are becoming scarcer and unemployment is headed upwards. As part of the EU, Finland is dealing with an influx of foreigners like they have never seen before in modern times. In 2015 tens of thousands of refugees arrived and were housed in reception centers all over Finland. In times like these rumors drown out facts and it was being said that all these refugees were being given houses and cash and cars, all at taxpayer expense. The right-leaning government is setting austerity measures in place, asking working Finns to give up holidays and work longer hours. They are cutting education and charging tuition to non-Finns. In the Helsinki region housing prices have risen steeply as the construction industry fails to keep up with demand. It appears that hate crimes are on the rise in Finland as well.
So does it make sense to move to Finland? I think it does, despite the problems. Finland is a small country that has a functioning government. The government operates by forming coalitions and cooperating rather than resorting to the kinds of grandstanding that is become all too familiar in American government. The United Nations listed Finland as the fifth happiest country in the world in 2016 compared to 14th for the United States. In my personal experience in recent trips to Finland it’s not hard to get Finns to talk about what a great country they live in. So I guess, it it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.