According to Adam Smith, the existence of government can be justified based on three arguments- the duty of protecting the society from violence and invasion (a proper defence system for the nation); the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the other members, (a proper judicial and civil administration to cater to the people); the duty of constructing and maintaining certain public works and institutions for the good of all (a system of provision of public goods and services to the people). Among these justifications, one of the major justifications that reaches the grassroots and effect the common man, is the services provided by the government. It is the government’s duty to provide the basic amenities to its people. Food, shelter and employment make the foundations upon which all people depend on.
To talk about a country which gives importance to its people rather than its bureaucrats, would be Finland. It works completely towards the betterment for its citizens, from its social services to its unorthodox education system, everything is aimed towards making good human beings out of its citizens. The entire system of social welfare is independent of family structures and market conditions. This simply means that citizens are taken care of. Imagine a scenario, in which you are absolutely sure that the government will take care of you.
The heath care system in Finland is very comprehensive, with the major funding coming directly from the state and the local authorities. However, the users of the said services also contribute. There are local municipal heath centers or clinics set up either by one local authority or together with a neighboring municipality. These health centers were free up until 1993. Local authorities now charge an annual fee or a certain fee for every doctor’s visit. Notably, healthcare services are free to young kids less than 16 years of age. Moreover, no charge is made for preventive health care. The government regulates these health centers by providing legal bindings on the minimum and basic services provided by them.
When we look towards the education system, we find it to be as unorthodox as it can possibly be. The entire concept of Finnish education is based on making the students good human beings, giving them skills and enhancing their capabilities so that they can prosper later on in life. Finland has no concept of homework. The entire thinking behind is that kids need time to be kids, a concept lost on Indian parents. More than that, it is important for kids to have time to play, interact with other kids, and do things that you get the chance to do only in your childhood. Finnish teachers want the kids to spend time with their parents. Kids should be interested in music or learn different languages or climb a tree once in a while.
To add to this progressive way of thinking, there are no standardized tests taken by students or authorized by the government . The thinking of the teachers are that kids end up studying only for these tests and forget the whole point of learning. Moreover, in such a system the teachers only teach portions needed for these tests. In America, schools focus a lot on standardized tests, as a result of which the learning is aimed at solving these tests, not any actual retention of knowledge. Largely, the entire motive behind these tests is to earn money, more than anything else.
Finland doesn’t believe in one school being better than the other. For them all schools are equally good. If you ask anyone which is the best school in the state or the district, the answer to that question will always be the school in the neighborhood, simply because all schools are equal in their quality. There is no tuition fees to be paid, so we find very few private schools. Consequently, kids of rich parents also go to the same public school as those of low income families. Kids from all income brackets grow up together. This ensures the inculcation of a spirit of harmony between classes from a very tender age.
By most measures, Finland appears to be a place where people take care of their own. The government looks after the people and the people as a result give their best to their country. Life in Finland, it seems, is a good life.
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