The very word – change – is a little scary. For a child, moving with parents to a different district means moving away from friends and/or bullies, to potential new friends and/or bullies. As adults we may think we have grown out of such starkly black-and-white notions, yet, we are still vulnerable, maybe as vulnerable as we ever were, because now others depend on us. We have nobody but ourselves to fall back upon, yet we have children, ageing parents, mortgages, etc… The idea that we might not be up to the challenge is chilling.
The prospect of change can invite hope, but the future changes we now see dimly outlined do not.
I imagine myself waiting in the early morning fog at a train station in Germany. I’m on my way to work in a nearby town. A voice on the station loudspeakers announces that the train has been cancelled. The next train will arrive in an hour. The station café is closed, but I get a coffee from a machine. I’m not dressed to wait for an hour outdoors in January, so when the train finally arrives after an hour, I’m shivering and an hour late for work.
Under a cold, grey sky, gloomy confabulations can spiral out of hand: My late arrival at work is deducted from my pay – fair enough – and the subsequent two-week sick leave due to bronchitis is covered by the national health insurance, but my mother, alas…. My mother has been poorly for some time but unable to get a doctor’s appointment, and she dies at the end of the month.
So what do I do? I get awfully angry, for one thing, because I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t have to die. The national health service is a mess. That’s a fact. My dead mother is another fact. Or rather, no, it isn’t, because this was just fiction – rainy-day fiction. Somebody else’s mother will have died, and that will be a fact; not mine, though.
What certainly also is a fact, is that during Covid, nurses and doctors worked their asses off. They are now either ill or on strike, apart from those that have up and quit. The national health service is on its knees here, there, and almost everywhere. As you will probably have noticed.
After Covid, the nurses here, there and almost everywhere, asked for a pay rise. People with wages the equivalent of those of a nurse (R.N.) can afford to live in only 1.5 % of all dwellings in Oslo. The number of dwellings available to nurses has actually decreased, even since 2021 not to mention since 2013. (Meanwhile, between you and me: Who is it, then, who lives in all the other 98.5 % of the dwellings in Oslo?)
Everybody agrees that public health professionals carried more than their share of the burden of Covid. But pay rise? NO.
Prices rise and the cost of living rises pretty much to the point of being sky-high rise-wise, but pay-rise? NO, NO and NO. You see, pay rises generate inflation. Inflation is a magic word these days.
Mainstream media is reluctant about calling “these days” a time of crisis. At a time when the price of petrol has doubled in the course of a year, when the price of heating three rooms has risen ten-fold in the course of a year, when the price of food has risen considerably… mainstream media is not reflecting what at least half the population in most of the western world feels: anger, fear, distrust.
Mainstream media’s main preoccupation now is the war in Ukraine for which Russia is exclusively to blame, of course, Russia on which mainstream media blames just about everything – including Trump. (By the way, did you ever hear who blew up the Nord-Stream cables? It certainly wasn’t the Russians because then you would sure as X— have heard about it.)
But hold on!
What did we learn in Business School? We learnt: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” (Those were roughly Milton Friedman’s words, I believe.) That was what we learned, and this is definitely a crisis.
So rather than self-medicate or spend hours on our knees at our neighbourhood chapel, rather than rant at our loved ones or serve cookies laced with emetic agents to our bosses, let us put this crisis to good use.
- Let us kidnap our governments, including prime ministers, presidents, finance ministers, etc, etc and, NOT LEAST, all their business cronies.
- Let us put them all in a very safe place – informing the entire world that if anybody tries to free the prisoners, each of whom will receive three healthy meals a day and a private room with adequate heating and a bathroom (we are not – repeat – NOT sadists), we will instantly liquidate them, painlessly, of course, since we are NOT, I repeat, sadists.
- We shall give our prisoners two choices:
- a) for all nurses of the world: a hefty pay rise
- b) for all other citizens of the world (including nurses, now that I think of it):
– adequate heating,
– (healthy) accommodation,
– three healthy meals a day,
– first-class, fully functioning public health services,
– superb lower and higher public education and
– efficient public transportation
- painless liquidation of all the rest of us.
I doubt they will chose option 2 because if they do, they will have nobody to feed them and to replenish their bank accounts.
NB: I don’t mean to force-feed people three times a day. I wish to be very clear on that. For those who prefer heroin to food: it’s their life. Nor do I insist that people living near the equator should be subjected to 24-hour heating. Besides, there are issues such as water or lack of it, locusts, fevers, crime, etc. But all those issues – or a sensible approach to them – start with informed decisions, decisions made for the common good, which is not what our governments are delivering.