Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More poor than stressed, and with nothing to blame apart their own individualism and political passivity.

SVT1 programme Debate contacted me for my views on the media-reports of stress and poor mental health among Swedish students, and their claims for more money from society. One of my answers was: what students do for society? "What government have the Swedish students brought down lately"? Or ever? What main law at the Swedish Parliament had passed, or being modified, or being deleted, under the pressure of a Swedish university students’ mobilization?

Photo: Student revolt Paris 1968

I am now in Sao Paulo’s huge and desolated airport, sitting among a few tired Latin passengers back from their low-paid jobs at Copenhagen and London. My connection flight to Santiago de Chile is experiencing a long delay. Well safe behind the Nr 27 gate desk, the nervous-smiling officer lady from Varig – the Brazilian carrier company - explains it was a flat tire which occasioned the now estimated four hours delay!

Hilarious as it sound, the so called developing-country people gathered around the departure’s gate did believe that explanation, and immensely. I guess it matches true stories about our own old battered developing cars with worn tires “smoother than a butt”, as Ernie put it - if I well remember it.

Come on. The delay is surely motivated in the hope of the voracious Carrier to catch more passengers in their route to Santiago de Chile. This is the continent in which buses do not stop at scheduled time-points. If they have only few passengers on board the bus driver will slow down speed to catch more passengers at the next stop. If the have more than plenty, they will not even bother to stop at all in the next one.

Well, let us use this space at the pathetic VIP lounge for some real Brazilian Nescafé instant coffee in tiny plastic artificial cups, and some blog-updating.

The Swedish TV Programme Debate (TV1, every Tuesday, sent nation-wide from Gothenburg) contacted me the 24 of March on my views regarding media information on the reported university student’s stress and burn-out, and their levels of poor mental health. The journalist of the SVT programme asked me to stand by for a possible participation in the debate panel the have planned for the Tuesday programme on March the 28th. I promised to provided my views through a blog I eventually wrote by that occasion on the 26-27 of March ( see below Is really ''stress'' what causes the main problem among Swedish students?).

The day before of the planned sending, SVT wrote to me and thanked courteously for the information I provided, but at the same time they confirmed that they have decided not to focus on the burn-out problem but they should instead debate the “economic” issues of the student’s situation. Finally, they totally deleted the announced theme on student’s poor health from the Debate programme. It was at the end never discussed in Debate, although announced in the day's programme.

I will here summarise what I told in advance SVT1 on what I was considering to say during that would-to-be Debate programme. It of course never would reach the Swedish public:

1. I would support an increase in the amount of studiemedel (the grant part of it which is provided by public means), but not motivated by the alleged "students' stress and poor health”, but simply because it is motivated in due right, common sense, and also in social-justice terms.

2. The Swedish university students do not seem to have more levels of stress than the general population of Sweden (see the blog below).

3. The general situation of the Swedish students - comparing this situation with that one of their counterparts from all over the world – is actually very good. The individual cases showed and described in the Swedish media about expensive living etc. among qualified student cases, it is not representative of the average among the Swedish students. I sustain this with help of statistics provided by the student union it self.

4. There are differences between educational programs in terms of demands and experienced stress. One illustration of higher expectations levels may be students of the law faculties.

5. The real problem is not in its origin health-related, but economic-related instead.

6. That real economic-related problem is of the kind that only can be solved by political means, exclusively.

7. The students should, instead of declaring themselves sick due to “stress”, go out and fight for their rights. This is the first health-related measure they should take for their own “health” interest.

8. One main problem to consider – together with an increasing of the amount of the so called studiemedel – is the issue of the administration and manipulation of the studiemedel funds by the Swedish authority called Studiemedelsnämnden. I comment on this separately.

Further, one main issue to discuss is this. How much would the Swedish students deserve such a raise in their study grant from the perspective of society? As students, during their study-time, what have they accomplished directly for the society in terms of social change? What are the social struggles the Swedish students are engaged in order to improve social structures beyond student’s own welfare?

For instance, what government have the Swedish students brought down lately? Or ever, for that part? What main law have been pass at the Swedish Parliament under the Swedish university students’ mobilization?

The bottom line here is that students seem just follow – either full aware, or just without thinking critically - the main stream of intellectual workers, professionals and high positioned employees of today’s Sweden.

The students have here only copy-cut, with no delay or modifications, the victim role shown by their seniors and specialists in deceiving. The students think they are now the “new” victims of a pretended stressful society that push pretended defenceless individuals against the wall of psychological despair and numbness. As if they were not part of the same society they cynically claim being alienated from. As if they were not main actors of the intellectual society behind the theoretical conceptualizations that justify a classical social paradigm:

The intellectuals that profit from the ignorance of the poor with the compliance of frightened politicians. Those expecting society to allocate more budget for their clinically unfounded sick-leaves in detriment against other priorities really needed by real unprivileged segments of society.

I repeat here once more: it is not true that it is the vast majority of working people in Sweden which complain about stress and psychological strain as the principal source of their work-related problems. It is the so called cream of the cream of educated people, mostly women, mostly in high-employees positions. Yes, believe it or not. They are mostly psychologists, social workers, teachers, and also doctors.

The more poor and uneducated the less stress they experience or report. The more educated and well paid the more stress they claim as a main job-problem.

And now they expect money in millions figures, for rehabilitation. Rehabilitation of what?

It seems I was right on this flight delay. During this time a growing crowd of passengers to the Santiago Varig flight has gathered at the gate. This is Latin America...