Robert G. Kaiser

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Robert G. Kaiser (born 1943) is an American journalist and author. He retired from The Washington Post in early 2014 after a career of more than 50 years on the paper. During his career he served as managing editor from 1991 to 1998 and associate editor and senior correspondent from 1998 to 2014.



  • Within the fraternity of professional public opinion pollsters, Rep. John B. Anderson's independent presidential campaign is regarded today as a serious challenge that could result in Anderson’s election to the White House next November.
    • "Anderson Could Win, Pollsters Agree", The Washington Post (18 June 1980)


"Why can’t we be more like Finland?" (2005)[edit]

"Why can’t we be more like Finland?" (25 September 2005), The Seattle Times
  • Finns live in smaller homes than Americans and consume a lot less. They spend relatively little on national defense, though they still have universal male conscription, and it is popular. Their per capita national income is about 30 percent lower than ours. Private consumption of goods and services represents about 52 percent of Finland’s economy, and 71 percent of the United States’. Finns pay considerably higher taxes — nearly half their income — while Americans pay about 30 percent on average to federal, state and local governments.
  • [T]he United States could not simply turn itself into another Finland.
  • Too much of Finnish reality depends on uniquely Finnish circumstances. Finland is as big as two Missouris, but with just 5.2 million residents, it’s ethnically and religiously homogeneous. A strong Lutheran work ethic, combined with a powerful sense of probity, dominates the society. Homogeneity has led to consensus: Every significant Finnish political party supports the welfare state and, broadly speaking, the high taxation that makes it possible. And Finns have extraordinary confidence in their political class and public officials. Corruption is extremely rare.
  • I was bothered by a sense of entitlement among many Finns, especially younger people. Sirpa Jalkanen, a microbiologist and biotech entrepreneur affiliated with Turku University in that ancient Finnish port city, told me she was discouraged by "this new generation we have now who love entertainment, the easy life." She said she wished the government would require every university student to pay a "significant but affordable" part of the cost of their education, "just so they’d appreciate it."
  • Finnish society could not serve as a blueprint for the United States. National differences matter. Ours is a society driven by money, blessed by huge private philanthropy, cursed by endemic corruption and saddled with deep mistrust of government and other public institutions. Finns have none of those attributes. Nor do they tune in to American individualism. Groupthink seems to be fine with most Finns; con-formity is the norm, risk-taking is avoided — a problem now, when entrepreneurs are so needed. I was bothered by a sense of entitlement among many Finns, especially younger people.

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