Stuck In Stockholm

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

Looking for a job in Sweden?

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

I hardly read mainstream news (they are only designed to put you down, intentionally), but this morning bumped into an article on The Local, which gave me a big laugh, so it might deserve a blog post.

Swedish jobs agency can’t fill own vacancies

Short summary:

The Swedish Public Employment Agency (Arbetsförmedlingen) hired a recruitment company to fill their own vacancies. Which from one side, shows their level of competency to help people in finding work.

On the other hand, this particular company is to get 24 000 Kronor ($3640,) per recruitment. The state-owned Arbetsförmedlingen needs to recruit 700-800 new employees, yearly. Last year they paid 38 million Kronor  (it’s about 5 780 000USD, 4 425 000EUR) to recruitment companies. From tax payers’ money, what else?

Swedish coins

I have my personal experience with Arbetsförmedlingen: through the years, I registered twice with them as job seeker. Maybe someone can learn from my adventures.

Read more in my main blog >>>

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New religions

Friday, January 6th, 2012

After the first shock of reading this news about file sharing being officially recognized as a religion in Sweden, I was going to write a long ramble about it, but now I can say that it is fantastic!!!!

Because I can go now, gather my singer/musician colleagues, figure out some good-sounding name and a cool wording of our “act of worship of choice”, which would be something along the lines of playing music anytime and anywhere we feel like it (preferably where there are people: in shopping malls, stations, office buildings, hotel lobbies, restaurants, corporate meetings and conferences, in cinemas before the movie starts, between the walls of the City Hall or the Parliament, in front of the Royal Palace, or why not inside, in churches etc,) so that we can give others the chance to be entertained and their spirits lifted.

Ain’t it awesome? Sacred and holy, that is. Music.

And nobody could stop us from doing it, for practicing our religious belief and our freedom of expression are protected by our fundamental human rights and by Swedish law.

Perfect.

I don’t know how long the process would take, but while you are waiting for this new religion to be born and registered, you can book me for events and listen to my songs.

And if you like other art forms as well, enjoy my photography, poetry and other writings! (For those, I will need to figure out their respective religions a bit later)

May Polyhymnia, Euterpe and Terpsikhore bless you. And Photogenia too.

www.AndreaGerak.com

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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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Lagom (part 2)

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Here was part 1 where you can see that I don’t have a super positive view on it…

Now one more aspect of it.

Lagom and Jäntelagen seem to go hand in hand, and in my eyes, the latter S-U-C-K-S, big time, one of the most harmful things that can happen to an individual. With this attitude, Mankind would be still in the Stone Age, without wheel and fire.

Alright, so let’s try to see the whole lagom thing in a more positive way – I am a girl with a very positive attitude, after all.

Lagom has the meaning of  “just right”, “sufficient”, “moderate”, “enough”, “appropriate”, “normal”, “average” and similar. (=again: “not too good, not too bad,” “not too few, not too much”, etc)

I just grasped this meaning today in a way that it can be demonstrated very simply.

Let’s take singing as an example (not surprising from a singer, I guess…)

From the beginning, everyone can sing. I mean, just watch any kid, each and every of them will do it happily, naturally, more or less good (till the less fortunate ones get stopped by stupid remarks of adults or camerades).

And basically everyone likes to sing, this soul food lies so deep in humans, you can observe it in any given civilization.  (Unless it is suppressed directly or indirectly by certain authorities, but that’s another subject.)

For you to sing together with several or many other people, maybe dozens or even hundreds, just for the fun of it, or because you are supposed to sing your national anthem, it is absolutely alright if you don’t have perfect pitch, a very large vocal range or any other special skills that would be required from a singer. You just sing with whatever voice  you have and in whatever way you can use it – and you are happy with it, so are the others, because it simply feels good to sing together.

Indeed, I find this Swedish Allsång thingy fantastic, when they sing together in masses like several thousands even! So this would be lagom in singing.  You sing along with the masses, you don’t have to be particularly good at it, just good enough to have fun and not to ruin the thing – and everyone is happy.

But if you wanna do more with singing (sometimes perform for your friends and family, or with an amateur choir as a hobby, or God forbid, be a professional artist), lagom is way less than enough… Try to tell a singer not to work on extending her range (because “everyone knows that an average vocal range for a woman of  your age is 1.5 octaves”), or not to work on perfecting her pitch or her stamina, and so on, and so on… (oh, I almost forgot which is the most standard way of treating a singer or musician here in Sweden: “You should find a normal job instead”…, which is the greatest ever bullocks to tell an artist, if anyone is wondering why talents are escaping from here to other countries… – did you see my adventures with the Artist Division of Swedish Unemployment Service?)

You can also find other examples from any fields of arts, sports, science etc, where it’s about improving your talents, improving your skills, excelling in your field of activity, aiming for outstanding results in your business, and so on.

Shortly put: if you are happy about going with the masses and not to perform something outstanding, not to be special, not to aim higher than all the others around you, and you love to stand in the line, unnoticable, lagom is your thing. Many people are like that, and nothing wrong with it, if this is what makes them happy.

But if you do aim higher, if you think you do have something you wanna show to the world, if you like to experience, think outside of the box, challenge yourself (and maybe others), improve yourself so as to be the best yourself that you can possibly be, lagom will slowly but surely kill you…

Related posts:

Lagom (part 1, probably)

Think outside the box
Don’t worry kid, we’ll only break you, for your own sake!
What does it take to be happy in Sweden?
Arbetsförmedlingen adventures – part 2
Arbetsförmedlingen adventures – part 1

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My Stockholm photo blog

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Lagom (part 1, probably)

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Sapphire over at Lost In Stockholm asked a few of us about what lagom meant.

Well, I don’t have time to say everything about it right now, just a few points:

1. In Hungary, this same concept of  “not too good, not too bad” would be expressed in something like “thanks we are fine, as canned fruit on the shelf”. Which is definitely negative: it means to us that nothing interesting happens, there is nothing special or exciting about you or around you, you just live a completely boring life that you don’t want to change. You basically don’t even LIVE, just watch your days passing by, without causing anything to happen… When a person answers your “How are you?” this way, you know that there is nothing to talk about with them, you show each other a few more social smiles, and that was it for the conversation.

Shall I say that for me, this makes Sweden probably the most B-O-R-I-N-G place on Earth? Which manifests in the most various areas of life: from the selection in the stores of food, cosmetics and other goods, the way people dress, the relatively way too less events (concerts, festivals, celebrations, etc, etc, etc) than in other countries, and the list goes on and on. Nothing special, nothing interesting, nothing exciting, – well, that’s all but apealling for me…

2. This was one of the first lessons I learned from my Swedish husband I had: that the Swedish system gives equal chance to everyone. This means two things: one is that the social net doesn’t let anyone fall too deep, indeed you don’t see too many homeless people in the streets etc, and this can be considered good, but two: one can’t really stick out upwards either.

And here we could go into a long discussion about how good is it that the #1 welfare state takes very good care of the unable, the unproductive, the criminal etc – at the expense of the able and productive. For now, my 2 cents on it: the Berlin Wall and the Eastern block broke down 20 years ago, because socialism simply didn’t work…

3. If I understand it right, the lagom concept originated from a very nice Viking tradition where everyone took their turn from the drink at the table, they shared what they had with each other – correct me, if I am wrong. To insist on keeping the lagom concept alive and make it the prevailing idea of life in general, beating the Swedish chests about how fantastically advanced they are in terms of promoting equality, a model country for the world and so on – and having a royal family in the meantime, reminds me slightly of Orwell: “All animals are equal , but some animals are more equal than others.” Just slightly… Doesn’t this put Sweden in a kind of schizophrenia? They can’t decide for either of the two, so they keep both?

4. Let’s take the equality part of lagom: it sounds sooo great, nice, advanced, tolerant and what you want, that in making laws, in treating women and men the same, dealing with different races and religions etc, equality is stated to be sooo important – but take a LOOK at reality how does it really work. Anyone heard about any racist stories, where if you have black skin or hair, and your name doesn’t end with -son, don’t even dream about getting that job, no matter your qualifications? Don’t get me started on this, please…

But okay, let’s see where equality indeed does work: one example is treating men and women. Here we have great advances: delicate, beautiful, fine girls whose role in society should be to make this world more beautiful with their kindness and creativity, love and take good care of the future generation, we see them in ugly uniforms of rough and tough roles, like security guards, soldiers and such… Somehow I have a little problem with imagining how loving, caring and kind such a woman could be at home with her man and children (if she has any)… On the other hand, strong men who should carry the world on their shoulders, they sit for hours sipping latte in the park, chit-chatting with their mates about which pampers are better for the baby’s butt…

I might be very bold with my opinion when I say that this kind of equality sounds wonderful on the surface, and very appealing to many, but indeed it is a nicely wrapped, very vicious hypocrisy that is killing the future of Mankind on a long term basis.

I might continue another time, but now the sunshine and the water is calling – one thing I definitely LOVE about the ramifications of lagom is the Allemansrätten, the Right of Public Access, and there are some nice beaches around :-)

Related posts:

Lagom (part 2)

Think outside the box
Don’t worry kid, we’ll only break you, for your own sake!
What does it take to be happy in Sweden?
Arbetsförmedlingen adventures – part 2
Arbetsförmedlingen adventures – part 1

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My Stockholm photo blog

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Think outside the box

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Karolinska Institute researchers just came up with an ingeniously insane study where they confirm that “distinction between psychological illness and creative thinking is wafer thin”, as they say it here on The Local: (Fine line between ingenious and insane: study).

Giving big, scientific words and explanations that seem oh so scientific, simply seems insanely ridiculous to me. Blatantly put: this study doesn’t prove a sh*t. For the very simple fact that there is no such a thing as “psychological illness”.

All those “diseases” have been and are being invented by psychiatrists, in order to sell meds for profits and control the population as a herd of sheep.

Watch the next phases of this story, it will go like this: soon they will STATE that indeed, there is a brain malfunction in geniuses, a certain “chemical imbalance” causes them to think and act in a super fast way. And the next step will be saying “no worries, researches to develop the right cure are already in progress” (without mentioning which pharmaceutical company is funding those studies), and a bit later, voila, researchers have identified the chemical factor which is missing/overrepresented in the brains of those individuals, from which it is just one step away to develop “the right cure,” in form of a new drug, of course (and guess which company will manufacture that drug…).

This is the standard routine of putting new psychiatric drugs on the market, just look at any of them. With a few other steps in between, so that it won’t be so obvious – and also with an ingenious PR where they sell the idea to all the authorities and to the media. Ordinary people then will have no other choice than to believe the ingeniously made-up story, because it comes from the authorities and experts, and they hear it all the time from tv, radio and the papers, so it must be true.

Oh, yeah.

And here we can see how ingeniously they are working on this plot:  psychs (=psychiatrists) are planning to classify independent thinking as a mental disorder – see NaturalNews article Now independent thinkers are considered diseased by psychiatry.

Simply ignore what these guys say, and think outside of the box, folks! :-)

These are the kind of things highly creative persons tend to play around with, watch video (warning: shameless self-promotion :-) )

And fortunately, there are sooooo many artists and thinkers, inventors around whose work I could put here to illustrate what a highly creative human being can accomplish, a good couple of names cross my mind, close and not-so-close friends, determining personalities of the past and the present and the creators of future of Mankind.

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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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Cancer research: forward or backward?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Who benefits really from the official cancer research efforts? Most probably not the patients. Since I’ve gone through a cancer, I am studying the subject from various sources available for the public, and sometimes I find astonishing facts they don’t talk about.

“Fight cancer”, “Beat cancer” are very popular expressions these days, and it is good so. Although October, the Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over, one can see many people wearing pink ribbons on their jackets, which is a demonstration of their will to help those women who suffer from this disease. And this is very much appreciated and should be acknowledged. Fundraising and information events, websites, donations, merchandise, advertisements all over the media, groups on social networking sites, individuals spreading the word – attention is certainly given to the subject and considerable amount of money is collected to fund cancer researches. In Stockholm, they had a beautiful demonstration with candles for the cause.

However, looking a little bit closer, I personally have some questions, doubts and reservations about these research programs and might be a bad person, but I didn’t donate one single cent and not intend to do so. Tell you why.

Fight. A key word when talking about cancer.

How do you best fight so that you win? You know your enemy.

A problem – any problem can be only handled if one knows the exact cause of it. This should be clear – how else do you solve a situation, if you don’t know what is it exactly?

In the case of (breast) cancer, it looks like this: each year $ millions are spent to find out the causes of cancer AND more importantly, develop new treatments. Let me suggest: treatments can be only effective when they target the root of the problem…

“The exact causes of breast cancer are not known.” In fact, according to the publicly available statements, causes of cancer are a mystery for the medical profession.

The theory of changed or damaged genes is wide spread, and this video gives a little hint on why does it occur:

“Damage or change in the genetic material of cells by environmental of internal factors sometimes results in cells that do not die and continue to multiply until a massive cancer cell or tumor develops.”

Excellent. The next step would be then to investigate these environmental or internal factors that damage or change the genetic material of cells, wouldn’t it?

The environmental factors are pretty much known for the scientists and for the public: bad nutrition, tobacco, certain chemicals that we use, etc.

Cancer research should go then in the direction of eliminating these factors: educating the population on correct eating habits, cutting back the use of harmful chemicals, and so on.

And cancer treatment would primarily consist of targeting the cause of cancer, the reason why those genes got changed or damaged: increasing certain vitamins and other nutrition supplements, cleansing and physical exercise that helps the body push out the accumulated toxins, boosting the body’s own self defense, the immune system and so on.

But this is not how it goes. Cancer researches deal mostly with developing the standard therapies by official medicine: new drugs, radiation, hormones and surgery.

And cancer treatments available in hospitals are mainly about giving chemotherapy and such to the patients. Can you see how adding extra chemicals into the already overwhelmed and weakened system would help the body to recover? I can’t.

So why then chemotherapy is a preferred and highly promoted method, when it has very many known harmful side effects?

The answer is easy: pharmaceutical companies have vast interests in introducing and marketing drugs.

As Clinical Study Results.Org openly admits: “Clinical studies designed for approval of a new drug are sponsored primarily by pharmaceutical and biotech companies.” Surprise, surprise!

One can predict the outcome of a clinical study on breast cancer treatment, if more than one-fifth of the Swedish Cancer Society researches are financed by Pfizer – can you guess from what pharma company will they recommend medicine to the patients? (see Pfizer Hid Evidence That HRT Causes Cancer via NaturalNews.com)

Another suggested treatment is hormonal therapy. About that, only one word: “Hormonal therapy can cause a variety of side effects including: Increased risk for cancer of the uterus” – from the information video on the National Breast Cancer.Org site.

Pardon me??? Treating one cancer by increasing the risk for another one??? Someone must be kidding here and it’s a very ugly joke.

Same for radiation therapy.

So what’s the solution? To invest more money in research?

The above mentioned Swedish Cancer Society (Cancerfonden) held a nice event last Saturday in Stockholm where people bought ten thousand candles or so and contributed to the funding. This organization alone has a target to spend more then 400 million SEK each year on research.

That’s a nice sum of money ($57M approx. and it’s only in one country), one can imagine to do great things with it. I wonder though why does cancer research need so much money to find out for example that tobacco or alcohol is not good for your health and there are certain vitamins that are vital for the normal operation of cells, when this has been already known for a good while.

I am more inclined to listen to what the so-called alternative methods recommend, because I believe that by well-balanced nutrition with supplements if needed and a general good care of the body physically and mentally, one does not need to be afraid of even such a threatening disease as cancer.

Therefore I intentionally didn’t link to sites of alternative practices, natural remedies, viewpoints or products, only referred to the information provided by the standard medicine, which is adopted and promoted by governments of the developed countries.

Well, look at the facts and the controversies they are giving and make up your own mind about it.

In the next round, I will share a few personal experiences that might help others as well – I am a cancer survival myself, so I put quite some effort to find out what works and what doesn’t.

And I do like that Stockholm Central Station got some nice pink color:


Photo: Stockholm Central Station in pink, for the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 2009

— Text and photos: Andrea Gerak

Update:

Former fundraising chief of Cancerfonden jailed for fraud (embezzlement of 2.5 million SEK from this society and 5.2 million from the Red Cross)

Also in Andrea’s Blog

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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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