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Leader, Debate | Top it off, Vestre

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Leader, Debate |  Top it off, Vestre

Manager This is a leader. The editor expresses the newspaper’s position.

TV2 has this week “revealed” that new health minister Jan Christian Vestre (Ap) entered into an agreement on private health insurance for employees of the family company he managed before he fully entered politics. We write “revealed” in hyphens because there has been no secrecy here. The journalists have asked, and Vestre has replied, that, of course, Vestre AS – established in Haugesund – had health insurance for its employees.

Then TV2 questions the fact that Vestre was initially unsure when the insurance agreement was entered into; whether he has selective memory. So: That he is deliberately trying to cover things up. Well, this executive writer also has the function of general manager and can assure you that it is perfectly normal to be unsure when various agreements have been concluded.

Vestre then replied that the timing can be checked with Vestre AS, and rather there is of course no attempt to cover anything: The insurance was put in place in 2018 at the request of and negotiations with the employees. Top.

This is then held together with statements from others in the Labor Party, who have expressed that private health insurance undermines the public health system. In the comment section, there are screams about double standards and that not even the AP leaders believe in their own ideology.

TV2’s questions about these things are completely appropriate. Life and learning must be challenged, and there must be transparency about what practices top politicians themselves have had in the areas they are put in charge of. Then we can expect the politicians to answer openly and honestly about what is relevant. Vestre has done that, unlike other ministers who are no longer ministers.

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Top politics, and not least Ap, are also criticized for cultivating career politicians who have never had a regular job, and who in any case have no experience of management in the business world. When people like Jan Christian Vestre take a step forward, give up control of the family business, to do a job in politics, it is undividedly positive. We need more people to do that.

Then we cannot expect that Vestre or others have run their businesses as a model socialist practice according to the party’s program of principles. The fact that business leaders enter politics with experience from a pragmatic business world rather means that the understanding of reality increases around the government’s meeting table. And although Vestre has been both owner and general manager of the outdoor furniture manufacturer, he has not run the company alone. Agreements like this are entered into by the management, but in dialogue between several people, including union representatives.

However, no blank authorization is given for all kinds of business in politicians’ business past. Had Vestre AS refused employees a collective agreement or engaged in social dumping, it would have been much more problematic than the employees having received an extra benefit in the form of health insurance.

And even if, ideologically speaking, one would wish that the public healthcare system was always more than good enough, and that no one should be allowed to buy better services, the reality is not like this. Although it can be argued that private healthcare providers create greater staffing problems in the public sector, this is also a legal service where people are also lifted out of public treatment queues so that others do not have to go there faster.

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Unjust? Yes, but no more than financial funds can be used to purchase other benefits. When these advantages here can result in less sick leave, better conditions for employees and, in the short term, shorter healthcare queues, we have to put up with it.

Our top politicians must be in a critical spotlight and be challenged on their actions and attitudes. The press must highlight relevant matters for discussion – but then we must also be clear about what is actually perfectly fine. And what TV2 has come up with so far in this matter is perfectly fine.

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