Stuck In Stockholm

Is that good or bad? As seen by an artist from Eastern Europe
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Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

A peaceful country: Sweden?

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

I was told to be lucky to be able to live in one of the world’s most peaceful and decent countries, and that’s what I can read at various lists and articles where they compare countries. Alright, let’s see.

Sweden hasn’t been in war for a few hundreds years, that must show it!

Well, it’s not a secret that in WWII for example, Sweden sold arms to both sides and made shit loadz of money on it – hence a nice economic boom.

Also a known fact that Swedish soldiers serve in Afghanistan – doesn’t that make Sweden take part in a war?

And what about the training fields for NATO (in a neutral country, which is beating her chest so much about being a model country for neutrality – correct me, if I am wrong)?

More and more details of manufacturing and selling weapons by Swedish companies and authorities are coming to light. Like this one: Sweden’s Saab sold arm to Saudi Arabia

Yes we know, war is the best business for those who provide the material means. (But then… khm… what was this all Saab bankruptcy circus about? Where did the big money go?)

And we also know that war is killing of other human beings. So my one billion Kronor question is:

If the vast majority of people want peace, WHO is happy and proud about the money they make by killing people? WHO are those few guys? They should be named and publicly hanged, or something of the sort.

In the history of Mankind, there have been a couple of great man from whom we all can learn. One of them said about war:

“War is fear cloaked in courage.” – Gen William C.

Well, no comment to this one… Or: what is Sweden afraid of? One of the best countries of the world shouldn’t have any reason to.

“There was never a good war or a bad peace.” – Benjamin Franklin

So which one of all the wars Sweden was/is supporting was/is good?

“Peace will not come out of a clash of arms but out of justice lived and done by unarmed nations in the face of odds.” – Mahatma Gandhi

How is Sweden providing true justice, based on REASON?

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” – The 14th Dalai Lama

How Sweden’s selling weapons to both sides of conflicts provides peace for another?

“Ideas and not battles mark the forward progress of mankind. Individuals, and not masses, form the culture of the race.” – L. Ron Hubbard

What are Sweden’s ideas about how to live in peace, without battles?

How is the individual supported in a society where outstanding achievement, sticking out of the crowd, daring to be different from everyone else in not cool but frowned upon, where talents are suppressed, because of a misinterpretation of  “everyone should be treated equal”?

“If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.” – Mahatma Gandhi

How do Swedes educate their children for peace? By dressing already the little babies in black clothes with hate symbols like skulls and cross bones?

“Peace is costly but it is worth the expense” – African proverb

How is money spent on peace, where can one see the rocketing statistics of that?

“It is more difficult to organize a peace than to win a war; but the fruits of victory will be lost if the peace is not organized.” – Aristotle

How is Sweden organizing for peace?

And lastly:

How is Sweden a law abiding country, if, through decades,  the governments and parliaments (which are elected by and are the representatives of the citizens, so whatever happens in this country, it is ALSO the responsibility of the individual citizens and NOT only of the Nanny, I just put this here in parentheses, for Swedes seem to forget this) – if they are so disgustingly violate the weapon export law, for one?

How on Earth can Sweden be called one of the most peaceful nations of the world, when they are one of the biggest arm exporters as well?

A few questions, before the election day…

(ps: this I wrote particularly about Sweden and her open or underhanded warfare dealings, but as for war, it would concern a couple of other nations, too, one can think of too many.)

And to ease up a bit after this heavy topic, a music video, with a Hungarian song arranged by an Israeli composer and put to photos of the beautiful Swedish waters of Baltic Sea…

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Don’t worry kid, we’ll only break you, for your own sake!

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

There is a debate here around an article on a 16-year-old boy who was decided upon to an involuntary commitment (“tvångsvård”): Swedish teen sectioned over computer addiction

Shortly put: Växjö administration decided to take the kid in an “investigation home” (utredningshem – what’s the English word for that?) from home where he was sitting by the computer all the time and (dig this!) didn’t go to school for 3 years and was threatening with suicide if he had to leave the computer, according to the Sydöstran.

One user asks me: “what will happen if the kommun does nothing?”

Wait a little, let’s take it in order. Let’s see first what is happening at all.

1. What is the exact problem they are trying to solve?

That the boy won’t commit suicide? Then the correct solution is to take him away from the computer, right? Oh my, how ingenious!!!

That he goes to school? Why don’t they take him there then? Would be too simple…

That he stands up from the computer and does other things in life as well? Well, there is a reason (or there are several reasons) why he is not interested in other things in life, and to find out those by truly communicating with him, he doesn’t need to be taken away from his comfy environment to some freaking “utredningshem”. It would only take some competent person who understands a teenager of that age and knows how to speak with them.

“Computer addiction” is NOT a mental disease – if they want to study him for that. (The term “mental disease” is as big a bullocks as scientific it sounds, but don’t let me start on that topic right now, read this one, for example, about one of the greatest fraud of the past centuries, used by psychiatry) And unfortunately, this is what they will do with the boy…

2. After ALL the adults failed to do their jobs in the story, now they torture the kid. Bravo!!!

The parents, as another commenter also put it: “were not reared in the right way, so how could they pass good morals, ethics, behaviors to their children! God help this society and the next generation!” The parents FAILED.

The kid’s school. Do they have ANY responsibility for their student? Letting him to skip school for 3 YEARS??? All those teachers, the director, social worker or what have you, proved greatly incompetent, if they couldn’t achieve with the kid that he would go to school. Their diplomas (if they have any) should be investigated. The school FAILED.

The school system. EVERY child is interested to learn new things, the young school kids are very eager to go to school and enthusiastic to improve every day. If this gets lost by the time a child reaches his teens, and the school can’t show anything that would be interesting to a young person, and the kid can’t see anymore why is it good for him to go to school, that school system, it’s subjects and methods suck, big time. This guy probably would have been much better off with home schooling, specialized on his course of interests, focusing on his purpose of what he wants to do in life, than having to sit in a course room and learning things he most probably will never ever use in his entire life – just because of the that’s the way schooling is supposed to be done, period! attitude and rules. School system FAILED.

The social service worker who was appointed last year to help the family with this issue. Not even worth the time spent on mentioning this person. It is already way too bad that he got paid by the state for not being competent. The social service guy (and the social service) FAILED.

The community. Apparently there was NOT ONE PERSON amongst the boy’s school mates and other friends, relatives, the parents’ friends, neighbors etc who, through the years really cared for this child and had a good chat with him.  The community FAILED.

BRAVO. We have a lonely kid who couldn’t talk about his problems with anyone for a way too long time, because all the people around him were incompetent and/or didn’t really care – so now of course, we have to punish him for that!

Instead of treating this young boy as a sentient and intelligent human being and trying to talk with him as such, about what he really wants to do, what are his interests, what is the exact problem he is trying to resolve by escaping into the computer, etc (which would be the only constructive solution), let’s treat him as a soulless and stupid animal: using mere authority (law, court decision) and physical force, incarcerate him, investigate his brain functions (just how they do it with rats), then let’s come up with the “obvious” finding that yes, he suffers from extended computer addiction, categorized under the catalogue number of ……, let’s give him a case number and a good dose of any of those drugs that will “help to correct the chemical imbalance in his brain” and which drugs very often have suicidal side effects, and that is for real and not just threatening with it.

For this is what lies behind the revered terms “special care”, “expert care”, “special attention” etc, in context with mental health.

Time to wake up, Sweden, if you want to have future generations.

ps: oh, the human rights aspects of involuntary commitment should be also mentioned…

ps 2: we don’t know from the news story what was the kid doing on the computer: downloading pirate stuff, watching movies, and so on, no hint. Who knows, maybe he was educating himself about computers, to become a programmer…

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Arbetsförmedlingen adventures – part 2

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Alright, so as I found out from AF Kultur & Nöje (now it is called Arbetsförmedlingen Kultur & Media, as I just saw it on their website): I am no artist… (see part 1) Let’s go then to the ordinary job centre!

I went there, registered – easy.  They registered me as somebody looking for receptionist jobs, for almost 15 years ago this was one job I had – in Hungary. And I don’t speak Swedish – perfect job now, eh?

As a freelance artist, just before publishing my next album, it seemed very logical for me to start my own company so that I can get more gigs where that kind of invoice is required, I can sell my CDs and photo gifts, books etc easier.

Wonderful, because the Arbetsförmedlingen even offers aktivitetsstöd (activity support) for those unemployment people who want to start their own company; I calculated I would get the minimum amount for a half a year, which would pay my rent – so much easier! Yuppppiiiiieeee!

Turned in an application with my business plan which I worked out with a specialized consultant.

(Oh, I forgot to mention that it took me 3 visits at the AF office to find out that right away after registering, they should have worked out a handlingsplan for me, so we had to spend a whole hour only on that, when I went in just to leave the papers there – while I was supposed to feel sorry for the lady and all her colleagues, because she said they all had such a heavy work load. My handlingsplan was a big BS: as the computer system didn’t allow the lady to find me any culture or event related jobs, because that would belong to the Culture & Entertainment division, she had to come up with the idea (suggested by her computer) that I should go for receptionist or cleaning jobs, or even, I could apply for a German speaking telemarketing job. Right on!  A Hungarian singer in Sweden, sitting on the phone for 8 hours and doing marketing surveys in a language she hasn’t spoken for at least 6 years – the perfect dream career!

And also: for months and months, I should contact places for jobs and sometimes go back to the office for a chat to see how am I doing – best thing I have time for… Sure, if someone will feed me and my son, pay the rent etc in the meantime… I know that many people live on various social benefits pretty OK, even for years, but I get no any ersättning whatsoever.)

Okay, so I turned in my application for aktivitetsstöd and was happy, full of ideas and plans, working on my CD, etc.

Shortly, I got a phone call from AF: a lady told me in a quite rude way that my application was rejected. They won’t even look at it, because – now, dig this: – I am an artist and they don’t deal with that… Not only catch 22, but when I asked her if I will get anything in writing about the reasons, she replied: “NO! I AM TELLING YOU NOW!” And that was the end of our conversation.

Hurray!!! Shouldn’t I be happy to find out that I am an artist? 😀

Okay, I decided not to bother with them anymore, and just go on my way, anyway. A few weeks later stumbled upon their website again, to check if there was some job offer at Kultur & Nöje (haven’t seen any for a female singer, for months), and I saw they had a Customer Service where I could write if I had some non-optimum experience with them. I sent them an email with my story, trying to be as polite as I could. I got back a long email, explaining that basically they have done everything alright and they offered condolences for that I’ve got unprofessional service.

Tack!

And I immediately got 3 other letters from them: 2 stating that my application for aktivitetsstöd was rejected because my business plan is not viable  (I wonder if they even looked at it, because normally it takes 2 weeks for them to get it back from the independent finance expert!!!), and 1 confirming my cancellation from their database. And they don’t recommend me to start my own business. Sure – their handlingsplan will bring much more money for me…

Adieu AF, I am officially not unemployed anymore, if that counts anything to your statistics…

I thought that was it to my adventures. No.

Weeks later I got an email from a lady, asking me how is it going with my business. And saying that they haven’t received any application from me for aktivitetsstöd… And she was one of the persons I have got one of the 3 letters from…

Sorry, AF, I know you are all well-intentioned individuals there and you are trying to do your job, but your system sucks, big time. I can now only laugh at the whole thing.

So I learned a few things: the most important is that in Sweden, if you are a freelance artist, your activity is apparently not needed and not wanted, for arbetsmarknadspolitisk reasons.

If that is really so, that tells about the cultural life of the country – is that really so here in Sweden???

UPDATE:

Still a few weeks later, when I thought it was all finished with them for good, I wasn’t any more in their system and so on, I got 1 or 2 further letters where they let me know they have deleted me from their register, because I have got a job (I have no clue what kind of info they got and from where) – and after that, they were asking me how I was doing, because I haven’t logged in for a while…

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Arbetsförmedlingen adventures – part 1

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Being together with my Swedish Hubby, I was basically a housewife, he liked his Wifey to be home in the evenings, so I didn’t push my career too much – singers work mostly in the evenings.

Well, I am an artist and not a housewife type, so we got divorced a few months ago and I was there with no job, only with some little reserves, and with a kid to take care of.  First and most obvious destination is the Unemployment Service, Arbetsförmedlingen. I was amazed, impressed and so happy about how the Swedish system works in this matter: there is a whole big division for artists only!!! How cool is that!!! Rational, well organized, etcetera, Sweden is.

Went there to register and to get the icy shower.

Only thing that counts is your papers. Not your accomplishments and qualities.

I am only eligible to register with them (i.e. qualified to call myself an artist…), if I have a music college diploma. (Yes, I have read this one on their website before going there, but it also says that studies abroad are taken into consideration individually, and I do have some formal music education). No, I didn’t go to music college, so I am no good, I am not an artist. Discrimination #1.

Next chance to be eligible for them would be if I have had a steady employment as a singer, for at least one year. That is being employed full time at a place. Now tell me: where on Earth a performing musician in light music (rock, pop, jazz, blues, folk, etc) is employed 40 hours a week??? Discrimination #2.

Okay, my last chance would have been to prove that in the past 3 years I made my living with my art: show them all the contracts and invoices so that they can see that I made money as if I was full time employed, only from Sweden, gigs abroad don’t count. As the music scene in Sweden pretty much sucks, I escaped to perform to other places in the years since I am living here, I had gigs in 4 other countries and a very few in Sweden. To be qualified as an artist, you must perform in Sweden, so I am obviously not one – discrimination #3.

Midsummer Fest 2009, Tarcal (Hungary)

I have been performing at all kind of events all over Europe for 30+ years and took with me a thick portfolio, lots of photos, press clippings, concert reviews etc, interviews, only from the last 4-5 years or so. The lady didn’t even look at it, saying: “From that, we can’t see that you were active as an artist.”

Pardon me??????????????? If I had a paper with me saying that I graduated at A.B.C. Music Academy just 2  years ago, but didn’t sing one song on stage ever since, that would show them better that I am an active artist?

Okay, so I am not an artist… What do I do then?

The lady was very kind, she had sympathy for me, but was a perfect example of the administrator type that has probably never experienced anything about the subject she was dealing with, doesn’t know her stuff from life, only what she got written on her papers and can’t see beyond her desk, one millimeter, not even through her glasses that were thick as the bottom of a glass.

She suggested me two things, one was more pathetic than the other.

1. If I am in a very bad financial situation, I can apply for a social bidrag. Rrrright. Should I rather take out money from tax payers pocket, because with this hyper-bureaucracy, the greatest majority of artists in Sweden is not eligible for getting help from the institute which is allegedly there for them? And should I go through all the interviews etc to find out what is wrong with me psychologically that prevents me from being able to get a decent living with my profession? Which would be equal with saying that there is something wrong mentally with all freelance artists who have difficulties with finding enough jobs in Sweden…

2. Now listen to this one. The lady looked at me, like the good mother in deep sympathy with her sick child and said: “Maybe you can find a job which is related to your singing, like you could find some backstage job, to be closer to your dreams…”

To be closer to my dreams?????????????????????

I am still gasping every time I recall this, and get blank. It’s just so much beyond my comprehension how can one ever get to such a conclusion, to say this to someone who has been on the stage for decades…

Would I have been able to utter just one word from the astonishment, I should probably have asked her: “And what about your dreams, M’am?”

This interview was probably my most degrading, invalidating experience as an artist, in my whole life – and believe me, I have gone through things. It was way much worse than any stupid dickheads yelling nazi stuff at me when I was singing in the streets in Germany, let’s say.

(and by the way, I just saw it on the Lönestatistik.se site that an average administrator, like this lady, earns more than an average female singer… Speaking about cherishing the talent in Sweden?)

“We are all about helping you, our system is very well designed, especially for the care of talented people, without any discrimination, and to be effective” – that’s the facade.

And with a kind smile on the face, showing the best intentions, they kindly stab you in the back and put a stamp on your forehead: NO ARTIST! – complying with the laws and regulations which are so perfect, rational and right of course, for this is Sweden.

So my next step: the normal Arbetsförmedlingen – part 2 coming soon…

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