Soininvaara: Time is better than money

As a part of the aforementioned Finland report, Financial Times published several articles by Finns. Professor Pekka Himanen, who I have a hard time taking seriously, wrote a fluffy piece on caring and creativity and things of that nature. Foreign Affairs Committee chair Pertti Salolainen (National Coalition Party) wrote about NATO, mostly. (His summary of how Finnish governments are formed contained a curious mistake. Contrary to what he wrote, the Prime Minister doesn't always need to come from the biggest party. The biggest party doesn't always need to be represented in the government at all.)

The best of the bunch by a wide margin was former Green League chair Osmo Soininvaara's column on the value of not working hard. Soininvaara is commonly held to be a clever fellow and I thought he made several clever points in this article.

A whole nation can become richer only by consuming things that can be produced more. Not everybody can get a house at the riverside in the middle of the city. If my income doubles, I can afford to eat better in a good restaurant and hire the chef for ten minutes, but not if the salary of the chef also doubles. The rich eat in restaurants more than the poor, but Finns have not increased eating in restaurants in the past 20 years despite a 50 per cent rise in income. In the past three years, the average real income of Finns has risen by 6.5 per cent. Most people have not noticed the difference. Had we accepted the consumption level of 2004, we could now have eight weeks vacation instead of five. Why not?

Yeah, why not?

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