Book Report - The Nordic Theory of Everything

For my final book read in 2016, I chose the non-fiction book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen.
Finnish journalist, Anu Partanen, now an American citizen, looks at the differences between her homeland and the United States. Finland has long been recognized as one of the top places in the world to live. From, education to healthcare, personal relationships to parenting the Finnish seem to succeed in finding the collective life balances we Americans crave, but can never quite seem to obtain.  

I loved this book so much, but be warned, in our current US political climate it may make you very, very sad. There are such better ways out there that our government could be helping and supporting all of its inhabitants far better then it is currently doing so that are actually achievable if, as a whole, our country collectively redefines its current values. It would be a herculean task and would take years to get us there, but I do believe it is possible.

I think the first thing that The Nordic Theory of Everything does well, is debunk the myth that Finland and other successful Nordic countries are socialist "nanny states". They have actually fought multiple wars against Socialism, and their successful national healthcare and education systems do not cost its citizens as much in taxes as skeptics would make you believe. They actually create additional freedoms that we currently do not have in the US. Are you really as free as you think you are when you have to make employment decisions based on healthcare coverage?  Are we all really equal when our chance to attend higher education is dependent on your parent's income and what they can afford?

The Finnish, it seems, value children above all else. All their national programs are setup to benefit children first, and the whole country is behind that way of thinking. The book examines all the different relationships a person encounters from birth to death, and how by putting things like education and healthcare onto the government's shoulders instead of our own, we can be free to make life decisions based on passions and what make us happy instead of what we can afford. A life free of dependency on employers and families, Partanen argues, makes for a much higher quality of life.

What the book also does well, is point out the flaws in the Finnish system too. It is in no way trying to say this is the best and only way. No system is perfect, but it's important, as a nation, to grow and change and think outside the box to come up with new solutions that benefit society as a collective whole.

Personally, I think this book should be required reading for all US citizens. We seem to be very polarized and divided right now. A book like The Nordic Theory of Everything is a great way to further educate ourselves and remind us all to keep an open mind and look for interesting and different solutions to solving our nation's problems.

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