Is it a coincidence that MPs of Finland’s four largest parties aim to pass anti-begging legislation in the face of ever-growing poverty in this country as a survey by YLE showed? Aren’t the four MPs, who claim the bill has the backing of 102 lawmakers, concerned that the anti-begging motion is a copy from Norway, which came into force thanks to the anti-immigration Progress Party in government?
Mass killer Anders Breivik was temporarily a member of the Progress Party before he murdered 77 people on 22/7.
The MPs, Arto Satonen of the National Coalition Party, Social Democrat Kari Rajamäki, Center Party’s Antti Rantakangas and Reijo Tossavainen of the Perussuomalaiset party, can’t be serious. It appears they are since the Euro MP elections near on May 25 and want to show how tough they and their parties are against Europe’s most oppressed minority.
Is this the best these MPs can do? Is this how they plan to eradicate the problem of a minority like the Roma by sweeping the issue under the carpet?
The other question that this new bill brings to light is why is it so important for these lawmakers? Finland isn’t being invaded by thousands of Roma panhandlers. According to the MPs that drafted the law, an estimated 300-500 came to Finland last year from countries like Romania and Bulgaria, reports Helsingin Sanomat.
So what gives? Satonen claims that a register would permit the police to determine if the panhandlers are victims of human trafficking or organized criminals. This is an odd excuse considering that the police stated in July 2013 that these Roma beggars aren’t victims of human trafficking or linked to organized crime.
The anti-begging legislation is in my opinion racist because it singles out a single group, the Roma, as the culprits.
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The survey by YLE interviewed 48 welfare and religious leaders as well as charity and social workers in Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa Oulu and Turku. A clear majority of them, or 42, agreed that poverty has increased under the present government’s mandate.
In 2012, 18.3% of Tampere residents were low-income earners, while in Helsinki those receiving income subsidy rose to 65,000 in 2013 from 60,000 in 2010, reports YLE in English.
Matters are not expected to get better. Statistics Finland announced today that unemployment rose to 9.1% in February from 8.7% a year ago.
Even if dark clouds have gathered over the Finnish economy and there is every indication that poverty will grow instead of retreat for the time being, one matter is for certain: We shouldn’t succumb to populism and simple solutions and fixes to a social ill like poverty.
People like the Roma should be helped, not victimized.