Something is about to go very wrong here in the beautiful and rich land of Norway. For the last 50 years or so, we have been spoiled rotten by the black gold – most of us can’t imagine a life without the oil. We have been among the best countries in the world to live in for a while now. There is the maternity leave – if you get a baby, you get almost a year off to raise your child. Paid. And your job awaits you when you get back. If you get sick or injured, you are covered – no need for insurance at the hospitals. If you lose your job, you get two years of payment (albeit reduced to 66% of your old paycheck) while you try to get another job, and if you are unable to work, you get welfare for the rest of your life.
But now, it’s all going down the pipe, I fear.
Because, you see… Our entire welfare system is based on income from the oil industry. And when that’s going down… The welfare system is going to crumble, too.
Nobody says this out loud, naturally. It would cause panic.
The prime minister insists that the Norwegian economy is not in any sort of crisis.
But she also says that we need to start making changes and adjust to a post-oil community.
It’s just that they have no idea how to do that.
As the oil industry is going down, there are massive cutbacks. People are being laid off by the thousands, and there are no jobs available – let alone green, sustainable jobs. They are yet to be invented. Soon, there will be no money left to create them.
The only jobs available where I live right now, is in health care. But health care is heavily subsided, and it’s not making any money for the government either, so it’s pretty much a no-go.
And I, for one, have just educated my way straight into poverty. My master’s thesis is done and submitted, but nothing awaits me on the other side. To make matters even worse, there is no welfare available for retired students, only the lowest form of monetary support – the one given to the druggies and the ones who have given up on life entirely. That’s where my years of studying have brought me. It would have been easier to just lie down and take the hit 15 years ago
And the reason I know the welfare system is about to crumble, besides from it being pure logic, is this:
Now they are demanding that the receivers of such support will show up every day to work for free somewhere – be it for the municipality or in a business somewhere. And those who don’t show, will have their support reduced to a bare minimum. You don’t get to leave that “job”. Not before you have landed a proper job elsewhere – as if any business owner would hire when they can get workers for free.
Arbeit Macht Frei.
Except there is no arbeit unless you create it yourself. Which they won’t let you do, because you have to work for free for someone else so they can keep tags on you. They won’t even let you go back to school, unless you can get a student’s loan to finance the thing.
It’s a bloody mess.
I have done the math.
According to estimates of costs and anticipated winnings by getting those people out into real jobs (which they claim is the main goal), they are, in fact, getting red numbers.
The real goal and the real savings in this mess, is generated by the ones who fall out of the system for any reason. The ones who can’t or won’t show up on the mandatory work-for-free activity. The newspapers are pitching them as lowlife leeches. But research says that these are the people who have it the worst – these are the people who got bullied, mistreated and were unable to get help for mental and physical health issues.
These are the people who will pay the first cost of an oil industry on its way down.
And nobody raises an eyebrow.
I don’t know what’s going on with this country. But I know it’s not good.
The beautiful, safe Norway I used to know, is disappearing. I don’t know what will happen from here. I am, however, quite sure that we’re not going to be able to rise from the oil depression and find greener ways to go about business.
And I know now, better than ever, that I do have to create my own income. Fast.