It happens frequently. Media gets upset, or tries to portray something very normal as something gravely troublesome. I'll quickly run through two so called stories circulating this week. First out is the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, which you would do well not to read in general (though the articles by political commentator Lena Mellin are often worth reading).
Sweden has a system in place whereby former members of government get a number of months guaranteed income after they leave office, to facilitate their ability to find a new source of income. Aftonbladet has frequently created sensationalist headlines when members of government are forced to quit and thus being eligible for such guaranteed income.
Just three days ago, the newspaper wrote about how (soon to be former) deputy prime minister Åsa Romson will be eligible for a guaranteed income of 1,5 million Swedish crowns for one year (ca USD 180,000). And with this in mind, it's interesting to note the newspaper's article as of this morning, with the news that former finance minister Anders Borg has increased his salary by 500% since leaving office, which the newspaper feels begs the question: is this reasonable?
Let me clarify something: this is about a former finance minister who after three months of guaranteed income after leaving office voluntarily gave up that guaranteed income to start his own business. A business which has generated significant profits, which the company and Anders Borg personally pay income tax on, contributing back to the state. There is nothing to be upset about here, quite the opposite. Anders is doing exactly what Swedes ought to do: run companies, generate profits and pay taxes to the Swedish government.
The other piece of non-news today is courtesy of Swedish newspaper SvD, which to no ones surprise, is owned by the same media conglomerate which own Aftonbladet. The background of the story is that Mona Sahlin was forced to resign from the job as national coordinator for protecting democracy against violent extremism after having signed a false statement claiming one of her members of staff had a higher salary than he in fact did.
The minister, Alice Bah Kuhnke, whom Mona Sahlin reports to, has said that it's up to Mona Sahlin to hire the people she needs in the job as coordinator. Now, SvD is trying to spin the story into a story about how Alice Bah Kuhnke is lying as they've found her signature on the employment contract with the employee in question -- not the signature of Mona Sahlin.
I'm not surprised Alice Bah Kuhnke's signature is on that contract, and neither should anyone else be. It's not news. It's common practice. Who has implied authority to act on something isn't always the same as who has the delegated authority to act on something. Or to be succinct: the person signing an agreement is not always the person who's taken the decision, or been part of the decision making.
And so, we leave these news articles on the ever increasing pile of articles which never should have been written in the first place. What a sad reflection of journalism this day has been!