And there are many more benefits we Finns are fortunate to have. If I become unemployed and I am a paying member of a labour union or an unemployment fund I can apply for unemployment allowance at sixty percent of my lost salary for up to five hundred days. If after five hundred days I am still unemployed, I can then get a labour market subsidy of approximately seven hundred euros per month for an indefinite period of time. Unemployed immigrants may also apply for the labour market subsidy. There are also housing benefits for low income families. We receive free health and basic dental care. And free education all the way through to University. I did my Masters degree for free! And I also received a study grant of approximately three hundred euros a month while studying, so long as I didn’t make too much income of my own. Other students living on their own can get an additional two hundred and fifty euros a month in housing supplement. And of course there are sickness and disability grants and pensions for those too sick or old to work. In this welfare state sports and culture are also heavily subsidized.
Naturally all these benefits are paid for by high taxation. For instance, just recently I unexpectedly received my summer vacation pay. Since I had not given my employer this year’s tax card by default I was taxed the maximum rate of sixty percent (don’t worry I will get it back at the end of the tax year). So as you see the very rich are heavily taxed. But that’s the tradeoff for the benefits we receive. In
people don’t mind the higher taxes if it means that disadvantaged people are
taken care of and we don’t have to pass beggars on the street. Finns are all
about equality and taking care of those less fortunate in society. Hence, an
individual giving to charity is not a common practice here. Finland
Of course the Finnish social welfare system is not perfect. Every year authorities cut health, dental care, and social work budgets while we pay the same amount of taxes. Unless you have an acute problem the waiting line to see a doctor or dentist is months long and there are not enough places in the daycare centres. This is the result of the government not prioritizing and trying to support everything a little and therefore, not supporting anything properly. And of course there are people who abuse the system preferring to take as many benefits as possible instead of working but they are few. In fact the government recently increased benefits. The Helsingin Sanomat newspaper estimated that it is possible to get government support of up to approximately one and a half thousand euros a month without lifting a finger, while most cleaners make around the same salary. And then there are a few people who fall through the cracks and are homeless. However, those are usually alcoholics or drug users who do not qualify for housing if they do not stay sober. So no, our system is not perfect, but no system ever is. However, I think the Nordic model is the best system we have.
Here is an explanation of the Nordic model on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model