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7.12.2006

Finland’s “net worth per capita” lowest in old EU, by alot…

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:16 am

This is truly appalling – Finland has the lowest net worth per capita (PPP) in the old EU with 38,754, the second lowest, Portugal, had 53,357. Compare that to the U.K.’s 128,959, U.S.’s 143,727, and Switzerland’s 144,186. If you look at the map below, Finland is in the same wealth category as Poland, Mexico, Argentina, and Iran.

Skeptics will try and claim that Finland’s lack of wealth is “thanks” to our generous welfare benefits, but if you look at the other Nordic welfare states with similar if not better benefits, they all have twice the wealth of Finland.

finland_poor_as_shit.gif

So what’s going on here economists? With a comparable GDP per capita than the other EU countries, how can Finland’s net worth per capita be 2-3 times less than all others? It’s quite embarrassing, and quite scary. I’m looking forward to hear you welfare statists about how this is a “good” thing…

global_wealth.jpg

  • Badgermushroom

    Fascinating.

    With a comparable GDP per capita than the other EU countries, how can Finland’s net worth per capita be 2-3 times less than all others?
    That’s a good question, I honestly do not understand why that should be.

    I had to look up “real net worth per capita”, its been years since my economicts Uni courses.

    “Real net worth per capita is household net worth, minus credit market liabilities of federal state and local governments, adjusted for inflation and population growth.”
    (from:
    http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/economicsunbound/archives/2006/03/rising_real_net.html)
    Thats the definition for the US economy, but it shouldn’t be that different from the definition used by UN-WIDER.

    Given that definition, I have little clue how this could be, considering the relative figures for Finland versus Sweden, Denmark, etc. The housing market developments might have been one factor, but this is figures from 2000, so it’s not likely to be that.

    I’m looking forward to hear you welfare statists about how this is a “good” thing…
    What has the welfare state got to do with this? Or is just that everything must be seen as a right wing vs left wing issue for it to be interesting? :-P

    -BM

  • Turjake

    I don’t think you can blame welfare statism for this, because, as you say, other welfare economies are a lot wealthier than Finland.

    I’m no economist but I’d say that the main reasons for this are twofold. Firstly, Finland really became a first world country economically in the 70s or so, and achieved parity in GDP per capita numbers with countries like Sweden only in the late 80s. Finland has traditionally been a generation or so behind the rest of the West.

    The second reason is the deep recession of the early 90s, which saw 20% of Finland’s GDP wiped away, and probably reduced Finnish capital even more radically.

  • Mikael

    I have absolutely no idea, thinking of that the GDP per capita is of the same class as most of the others. The other nordic-welfare states’ poitition makes me wonder even more.
    There was a good article about this in yesterday’s HBL – and the very problem with this report was that it offered no explanations, just the numbers.

  • Zark

    They say the numbers are from 2000, but the only reference in Statistics Finland are from 1998 and 2004. Between 1998 and 2004 Finnish household net worth has grown 47% from 100 060 euros to 147 450. I wonder if other Nordic countries have experienced similar growth?

    http://www.stat.fi/til/vtutk/2004/vtutk_2004_2006-05-09_tie_001.html

    (Unfortunately this statistic was only available in Finnish & Swedish)

  • T

    In TV it was told that the reasons are that Finland hasn’t been rich that long, as Turjake sais. So no old money. Another reason is that pension funds are managed by insurance companies, while in non-welfare states people simply save for their retirement. Yet another reason given was that real estate values are lower in Finland, however I find it hard to believe myself. Outside Helsinki area maybe, and including forests and farmlands.

  • True Economist

    Yeah. We _are_ Eastern Europe poor country. That is a Fact!

    It is funny when politicians are trying to convince us that we belong richest part of the world but in reality we are in middle (or little below middle). We have insanely amount of work to do to become rich nation but sadly our politicians try prevent any attempts to become wealthy in individual level and in broader community level.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    So no old money.

    Does Iceland have old money?

  • Tomi

    For some reason the public pension funds were not included (according to HS, I didn’t check it myself). In Finland they are among the biggest, about 60% of the GDP, and they exist as real assets, not as a “government’s promise”. Furthermore the figures are from the year 2000.

    That said, Finland has had much less time to create wealth, as Turjake wrote above. For the first time in our history an average Finn is inheriting more than the clothes of the parents to exaggerate a bit.

    And there is indeed a correlation between the welfare state and the economic growth, and thus wealth creation. In Finland, as in about every other rich country, a rapid economic growth followed the creation of, at least, a minimum amount of so-called welfare structures, or a greater state involvement in general.

    There was another study trying to estimate the “net worth” of different countries a while ago. There Finland ranked in the top ten, IIRC. But that study tried to estimate the natural resources and their replacement rates, too.

    And why on earth do you, Phil, think that a “welfare statist” would consider less wealth a good thing. You have understood the idea up-side-down, so to speak.

    Anyway, GDPs are a lot better indicators when trying to compare the “net worth” of rich nations – and their future too. A GDP measures the overall economic activity of a country thus including more than just the amount of capital within the economy.

  • http://pekkaeskimo.blogspot.com Pekka Eskimo

    Well the inheritance tax succesfully discourages people from collecting any extra capital for themselves. Pensioneers are busy trying to get rid of all their money and possessions so that there’s not much for government to steal when they die.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    Anyway, GDPs are a lot better indicators when trying to compare the “net worth” of rich nations – and their future too. A GDP measures the overall economic activity of a country thus including more than just the amount of capital within the economy.

    Would less wealth leave a country more vulnerable to a nasty fall if a recession hits? If alot of people lose their jobs in Finland, they have less money to keep themselves afloat.

  • antti (the redneck one)

    “Does Iceland have old money?”

    I don’t know about Iceland, but if you look at some cathedrals in Norway, which were built before the North Sea oil, the cod biting seems to have been paying pretty well off.

    Besides in Iceland, they can grow bananas with all those geothermal energy resources and their history consists of something else than participating in futile regional superpower wars with their grandiose neighbours.

  • jere

    Most of the other comments have covered the “real” economic factors:
    - low real estate values
    - pensions being managed by a 3rd party, therefore not part of personal wealth
    - late catchup on GDP per capita
    - recession

    but there’s one other social factor that i think is ignored here, maybe kind of touched on by Pekka Eskimo. finns don’t save much. most finns live fairly meekly as far as personal possessions, e.g. apartment, car, etc, but spend a _lot_ of money on travel and entertainment. with 6-8 weeks of vacation, most people spend more than half of that abroad. that adds up quick. i see finns who earn under 20k euro/yr taking trips to spain, greece, etc and then are also very generous with gift-giving etc.

    ps: iceland doesn’t have old money, but it has a lot, and it’s generally defined as belonging to individuals. iceland made a fortune investing state funds in overseas private hedge funds. plus, with the rest of their resources (oil/gas, hydro/thermal electricity, fish, tourism, etc) they are generally well off. and like norway, they keep their own currency very strong compared to other international currencies. this discourages immigration and also serves to inflate their wealth somewhat.

  • http://adynaton.blogspot.com/ a

    Why is this appalling?

  • http://aapocalypsenow.blogspot.com Aapo

    If alot of people lose their jobs in Finland, they have less money to keep themselves afloat.

    Exactly. This is one thing what made the 1991 collapse so severe. People didn’t have much wealth and the banks had shovelled money away for lousy securities. Then the unemployment rate soared from a practical full-employment, of some 3.5 per cent that time, to almost twenty within a year, firms and banks therewith started to go under etc. -you probably know the story.

    Of this research. As many other comments point out, Finnish economical history may indeed offer some explanation. Industrial revolution and urbanisation took place here much later, so the size of the urban class bourgeoise has been much smaller and there hasn’t been that much wealth accumulation.

    The oldest bank in the world was founded in Tuscany in 1472 and the oldest stock exchange in Amsterdam, 1602. Just try to imagine how Finland looked those days.

    Though it still sounds odd. As you mentioned, it’s hard to see Iceland as a bastion of old many either. So maybe there’s a trick within the stats, like something related to those pension liabilities?

  • http://pnykanen.vuodatus.net/ Pekka

    UK, Netherlands, Spain, France are old contries which robbed possessions from their colonies during many hundred years.

    Finland was obliged to pay taxes to King of Sweden during 1200-1809. Especially Sweden made use of finnish manpower in wars.

    I suggest that somebody should calcute the change of net worth per capita (PPP) in years 1900-2000. I am sure that Finland’s position would be better compared to the countries of “old money”.
    When Finland joined in EU for ten years ago we have got air under
    the wings.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe we should demand reparations from Sweden? It’s worth a shot.

  • Tomi

    Would less wealth leave a country more vulnerable to a nasty fall if a recession hits? If alot of people lose their jobs in Finland, they have less money to keep themselves afloat.

    After the “great depression” in the early 90s Finland’s economy bounced rapidly back, not because we had money (or credit), although it kept as afloat through the couple of years the depression lasted. Instead, it was the good education, as well as social capital that helped us back on track. Access to technology was important too.

    I mean, without those we would have spent “all” our money and credit in a couple of years and then what?

    In other words an economy needs four kinds of “capitals”: economic, human, social, and technological (at least I find this model pretty satisfying). In a sense the GDP includes all those elements, while a “net-worth study”, as far as I understand, only a part of the economic capital.

    So maybe there’s a trick within the stats, like something related to those pension liabilities?

    Even in Sweden some of the mandatory pension money is put in semi-private accounts, perhaps that money was included in their figures. In Finland it’s all public, in the sense that we have no direct control over it.

  • http://from-despair.blogspot.com Anni

    I don’t understand, why you are just trying to pick up bad things about Finland and tell them to the world. Finland is not the richest country in the world, so what? It could be better of, but why are you so angry about it?

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    I always thought it was strange how poor people in Finland appeared to save. It was always the same, at the end of the month everyone was broke, waiting to get paid. Getting paid once a month did force people to make sure they had enough money to get to their next payment, but there was no concern about putting any money aside for the future. And forget spending money on trips and so on. They blow a fortune just to a bar on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

    There was also no interest in doing overtime. That in addition to laws preventing how much overtime could be done. The attitude I saw was that the Government was just going ot tax the extra money away.

    In addition to the inheritence tax, there was also the wealth tax that prevented the accumulation of wealth. Take two people earning the same amount. One saves and one spends. The saver is rewarded with another tax bill, because he did not spend away his earnings and the state did not get it’s VAT. (But they did tax any interest he earned.)

  • gopha

    I don’t understand, why you are just trying to pick up bad things about Finland and tell them to the world.

    You sound like this American guy (I’m American myself), who is mad at me because, according to him, I bad mouth the US. The problem here is that people in our respective countries need to be told how shit really is time and time and time and even time again. It’s called caring about where you live and saying something about it in the hopes that someone will eventually do something about it.

  • http://from-despair.blogspot.com Anni

    First of all I don’t live in Finland. And the problems Phill is pointing out are not the ones I see as problems in Finland. It may be difficult to understand weelfare-state if you’re coming out side scandinavia, but that’s just the nordic way of dealing with things. It’s different from rest of Europe and America, but why does everything have to be better or worse? In Rome do as the Romans do.

    And caring about the place where you live shouldn’t mean telling everybody to do things as they were done in your homecountry. I live in Britain at the moment and I wouldn’t go round here telling that in Finland everything is better and in Britain things are terribly wrong. Things are very different here, but I wouldn’t say that they ae better or worse. World isn’t black and white, you know.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    Phil,

    I think this chart is even more telling. The poor of north American are basically absent from the poor (left) side of the chart, but Europe has a wide swath clear across from rich to poor. Now there are probably not any scandinavians sitting on the left side of this, but in terms of where the poor people are Europe or America, the clear answer is Europe.

    Its also interesting in that there are more rich people in Europe than the US.

    http://www.gizmag.com/picture.php?s=23&p=6571_7120622812.jpg

  • http://aapocalypsenow.blogspot.com Aapo

    Tomi:

    Even in Sweden some of the mandatory pension money is put in semi-private accounts, perhaps that money was included in their figures. In Finland it’s all public, in the sense that we have no direct control over it.

    I think this makes a difference vis-a-vis to other countries that have started to prosper relatively late, such as Ireland and Iceland. And in comparison with e.g. Germany or Sweden the it is then our history.

    In Finland it’s today’s pensionaries who are basically the first generation (when it comes to middle-class, which is what matters most in these comparisons) that will leave their houses as a legacy to the next one. And if remember that our home ownership rate is almost in Mediterranean levels (about 70%), but only with much more pricey houses due to climate, there has never really been any ‘easy money’ you could invest in wealth-creating. So consider them some kind of wealth pioneers, the hands that built Finland.

    I’m not very sure if ‘appalling’ is the best adjective to desribe these findings. Instead, in my opinion it only shows quite well how much and how quick this country has changed during the last 50 years It’s been in constant flux and in the whole world there’s maybe only South Korea to match that. The two biggest winners of globalization?

  • http://from-despair.blogspot.com Anni

    I agree with Aapo. The statistics just tell the state where Finland is now, and I wouldn’t find it that scary.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    And forget spending money on trips and so on. They blow a fortune just to a bar on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

    That’s a peculiarity, which is hard to miss about Finland. Everywhere else I’ve lived, one can easily spend rather freely on entertainment and dining—even people in eastern Europe could go out almost every night of the week, without financial detriment. However, in Finland, the whole paycheck disappears over one single night. It’s simply not affordable to go out several times-per-week.

  • N. Siinistö

    I don’t find it particularly “appalling” either, nor “embarassing”, nor “scary” that Finland apparently is among the 10% richest countries in the world.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Skeptics will try and claim that Finland’s lack of wealth is “thanks” to our generous welfare benefits…

    Obviously you don’t see all those people scooping 15ct deposit-bottles out of the trash, every day. Whereas other countries have lower taxes and correspondingly higher earnings, lower consumer prices and more capital wealth, Finland has the largest deposit-bottle collection in the world.

    Add that to your statistics, Phil.

  • Fenix

    Well Duh! Finns have been tricked into buying hundred thousand dollar homes for half a million. Half a million they do not have. Everybody and their brother is in debt up to their ears.

    Does not really surprise me.

  • http://aapocalypsenow.blogspot.com Aapo

    the largest deposit-bottle collection in the world

    My perception is something similar, but I see it as a really good thing. Deposit-bottles don’t belong to trash cans but to recycling bins, and it’s great if we this way get it right.

    I mean, when me and the boys are going to a bar and I finish my beer bottle (or actually a 1.5 liter Jaffa bottle filled with kilju -what is what you must drink if you happen to live in a poor country), then I just have to leave in by the street and it’ll be gone in ten minutes. Suits me, and mother nature.

  • PR

    No, average property prices in Finland must be, on average, substantially lower than in the countries at the top of the table. In fact, if you ranked the same countries according to: average house price / average salary, I think the order would stay much the same. Personal net worth in the UK is the result of escalating house prices (which double every seven years). In 2000, Finland’s property market had still not recovered from the recession. In fact, in real terms, house prices only fully recovered to their 1995 values last year.

  • Fenix

    PR.. 95 house prices were still recovering from recession..

    House prices were pretty high in eary 90es. Meaning. 1990, 1991. Then the recession came and house prices were slashed. I bought houses worth close to million (now) for 180 000 in 1993.

  • funny

    The result is not surprising. Finland is a poor east European country. The real funny thing is that many Finns don’t want to see this fact and behaves as if they belong to the rich west European club. Dudes!! You are in the same category of Poland Mexico and Argentina. See the reality and don’t pretend to be the world’s cleanest and richest country. Everybody will laugh at that.

    Finland is a poor and corrupt east European country. That’s the reality!

  • http://from-despair.blogspot.com Anni

    What does corruption have to do with this?

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    The result is not surprising. Finland is a poor east European country.

    Actually, for an increasing number of people, living standards are better in central-eastern Europe than in Finland. Undeniably, they have higher unemployment, due to the transition from communism; however, for those who are educated—at either university or vocational level—and perhaps know a few languages, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.

    In particular, real estate is cheap and plentiful—and so are building materials and services. After spending the last 5-years as a bicycle tourist in eastern Europe, I’ve seen the really nice homes people are building in the countryside—and cities too. Nicer than ours here in Finland. Everyone from plumbers to white collar workers.

    On average, we might have a little more paint on our walls—surprising, considering the high cost of paint here in Finland—but, I predict that within a decade, central-eastern Europe will race past us. If you’ve lived in both places, then it’s really hard not to see it any other way.

    For the most part, young people aren’t looking toward the state to provide for them. In a strange way, total and sudden economic breakdown of communism was an advantage; young people were forced to make a psychological leap right from the beginning. In that respect, we in Finland are stuck with plenty of old baggage.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    Where does income distribution come into all this? What is the loss due to income distribution. Take 1,000 from A, how much then goes out to B,C,D and how much ‘disappears’?

  • funny

    I agree with Kristian. Poland is lagging but Czech Hungary and Slovenia is doing quite well. If one visit Hungary Slovenia and Czech and compare the standard of living, then they would give higher score to those countries. They have already a very long history from Roman and midieval times and have plenty of inheritance. Even though they had some problems for several decades they are recovering very rapidly. Finland has virtually 60 years of history. Before that time the whole land was full of forest and barbarians. I think there is a long way for Finland to catch up the western and central Europe.

  • funny

    #33, I mentioned corruption, because that’s another silly stuff in Finland.

    As much as Finland is not a rich country, Finland is a much corrupt country. But Finns live in a fantasy that Finland is the cleanest country and behave as if they don’t see the corruption and answer that when they are asked. This kind of thing always give the high score to Finland in cleanliness.

  • saempy

    First of all I don’t live in Finland. And the problems Phill is pointing out are not the ones I see as problems in Finland. It may be difficult to understand weelfare-state if you’re coming out side scandinavia, but that’s just the nordic way of dealing with things. It’s different from rest of Europe and America, but why does everything have to be better or worse? In Rome do as the Romans do.

    …or you can giiiit out! Right?

    Or just maybe, there really is something wrong with Finland and people need to have the wool pulled off from over their eyes?

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Where does income distribution come into all this?

    Simply stated, it makes no sense to start a business here and employ people. The risk/reward ratio is completely unfavorable due to high income taxes and high startup cost. Of course, really high-margin businesses are slight exceptions. But, that excludes financial services, since nobody can take Finland seriously, due to public disclosure of its citizens’ private financial information (= julkiset verotiedot ). And obviously, people won’t hire socialists to manage their finances anyway……again, obviously!

    Most of the companies who employ us, are owned by shareholders somewhere else, in low-tax lands. We’re just the hourly workers. So wealth accumulation isn’t really our ‘thing’ here in Finland.

    We hear lots of talk about our ‘generous’ pension schemes, but when you consider that pension proceeds are taxed at the same high rates as workers’ salaries………and consumer prices here in Finland are extraordinarily high……it diminishes the value of those pensions considerably. But, I guess that’s why so many Finnish pensioners choose to live abroad, in lower-tax and lower-cost lands. Otherwise, they’d be stuck in tiny flats here in Finland. Dinner at restaurant maybe once-per-month.

  • a lamb with no guiding light

    funny wrote: If one visit Hungary Slovenia and Czech and compare the standard of living, then they would give higher score to those countries.

    Although Finns keep quiet about it, the Czech Republic leaves Finland in dust in the crucial field of ice hockey hair. By some international estimates, the Czechs have over twice as many mullets per capita as Finland – and growing.

    Finland has virtually 60 years of history.

    It’s a well-known fact outside of Finnish revisionist circles that before 1946 Finns lived in another dimension. This also explains the language.

  • saempy

    #39: Maximum mulletude! Mullets per capita indeed.

    Quite a few older guys with mullets in Finland. They must have been like a hot item here in the ’70s or something.

  • Anonymous

    Ah funny the idiot is back. So when are you going to pull that *you Finns are big meanies and corrupt dirty little asian people.

    Go fuck yourself and please do not breed insest is not the answer.

  • Åboy

    funny wrote (in post 32):
    “Finland is a poor and corrupt east European country. That’s the reality!

    Oh wow. You must live in some alternative reality then. Because last time I checked Finland was among the 20 richest countries in the world. You don’t have to believe me though, you can check it out yourself:

    http://www.aneki.com/richest.html

  • Åboy
  • Antti (the redneck one)

    Heh, compared to most of the world we are practically missing some gold plating on the shithouse lids and that is supposed to be the end of the world.

    Oh well, In the 80′s there was this damn drunk in the bus every friday I returned home from Joensuu. He was somehow related to Laakkonen brothers, who practically own the North-Karelia and he used to introduce all the passing lakeside etc. properties “we owned.” I think he was a car mechanic and judged every profession by its relation to cars. If you told him to piss of, he took his wallet and proposed money counting competition.

    So there is some civilization and class for Mr.Funny et al. for categorizing nations by net worth per capita.

  • Freeridin’ Franklin

    Kristian:
    After spending the last 5-years as a bicycle tourist in eastern Europe, I’ve seen the really nice homes people are building in the countryside—and cities too. Nicer than ours here in Finland. Everyone from plumbers to white collar workers.

    Sure, as can be seen from the upper middle class suburb of Petrzalka (Bratislava, Slovakia).

  • Anonymous

    Post 45. It looks astonishingly like Hervanta in Tampere to me…..

  • Freeridin’ Franklin

    Post 45. It looks astonishingly like Hervanta in Tampere to me…..

    Both are products of the same school of architecture, as well as overall ideology…

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    #46 Ha ha Franklin, that looks like where we lived for a while :lol:

    It was so damn cheap (125e/mo, rented from friends). And it definitely isn’t upper middle class. In fact, over half of those rabbit cages are empty. After the Wall fell, there was a mass exodus from tenement complexes. Usually, the ones who stay are unemployable. Others stay for strange sentimental reasons—like they’ve lived there for 30-years and can’t imagine moving away. It’s a different lifestyle for sure. Glad I experienced it.

  • funny

    #43, That shows how Finns are brainwashed by the government. Finns fill the question sheet singing like parrots “Finland is the cleanest country in the world.”

  • funny

    #42, Read the post by Phil again. You are living in a dream.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    You know Franklin, you’re absolutely right about the architecture and ideology. There’s a continuity that’s undeniable. In that sense, I think we’re a lot more eastern-European than some of us might admit. I guess we’re sort of like the ‘barbarian easterners of the north’ or something like that. It’s fine with me.

    When I ride my recumbent through those places—Czech R. Slovakia, Hungary, Poland—I always stop at local real estate offices to check prices. It’s not uncommon to find rather large homes and flats for 25K to 55K. The enterprising Slavs—even, say, construction workers—buy camping trailers and go to Germany for work. Once they buy a home or flat, their western salaries easily cover the loan payments and renovation costs.

    It might take them a few years to complete their projects, but ultimately they’ll have paid-off residences. And, pretty soon, those homes and flats will be worth several times their original purchase price. Compare that with trying to figure out how to afford a 250K mortgage in Espoo.

    Some people even build from the start. For example, an IT pro might work in Austria for a high salary, and then he’ll pay local ‘eastern’ prices for labor and materials. I’ve seen some really sharp looking homes—LARGE. Very ornate and tasteful too…..except perhaps for the color schemes. They use lots of bright pastels in central-eastern Europe. Very unusual by our standards, but it ensures that there’s always something interesting to look at, if you’re a bicycle tourist.

  • pi

    ..appalling..embarassing..scary..

    Isn’t it a bigger concern that the richest one per cent of the world’s population owns 40 per cent of the total household wealth, while the bottom half of the world makes do with barely one per cent?
    Rather than the, my house is nicer than your house bickering and oneupmanship between the fat cats some more effort should be directed toward achieving a more equitable balance worldwide.

  • saempy

    41: Are you anti-mullet then or what?

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Yeah, in the Czech Republic, tax rates are between 15% for low incomes and 33% for extremely high incomes. Very aggressive.

    I predict that many people will own nice homes, loan-free, well before they retire. And that’s not to mention all the private ownership of businesses.

    I guess countries can be categorized between those whose populations comprise ‘the workers’ and those whose populations comprise ‘the owners.’

    With its high-cost socialism that increasingly resembles a long-running Ponzi scheme, Finland will sooner remain in the ‘workers’ category; whereas the Czech Republic is undoubtedly destined for the ‘owners’ camp. I hope the Czech language isn’t too difficult for us Finns to learn.

  • issi

    Anni, I noticed you have started commenting at Phil’s site for not too long ago. Here is piece of friendly advice, or a warnig, sort of.
    You seem to be perfectly sane and your comments has a point, but that’s not the meaning of life here. You aren’t supposed to concentrate to real world, or how things actually are around you.
    - You know, like, if you see Finland or any other place good to live in or not.-
    All that matters here is digging the mud puddle for stats and neat graphics whitch tells whatever you want to rant about and then flatten possible rivals with your eternal wisdom and witty comments.
    Or, you may lean back and have fun of these classic angry young men and highscool kids beholding the absolute truth here. You can try to decide who really are serious, loonies, seriously loonies or just trying to be funny, some even succeeding (not me).
    But now, I have some financial problems to solve, the director of my bank just called and told that my account is full, so I have to go to bank and open a new one to have my medicore salary safe from the welfare state.

    Don’t strain your good mood trying to reason these guys.

  • issi

    yes, Antti. That was from Uuno, but I felt it suited so well…

  • Anonymous

    The figures also help to explain why most of Europe’s 20 year old rust bucket 2nd hand cars end up in Finland.

    The standard of living in Finland is low

  • antti (the redneck one)

    “…That was from Uuno, but I felt it suited so well…”

    Dammit, it was you. I even picked you on board once by the Ilomantsi road, as I didn’t identify you hitch-hiking early enough and got me a private tour on Laakkonen lakeside properties in that direction. :D

  • Åboy

    Anonymous wrote (in post 58):
    The standard of living in Finland is low

    Not true:
    http://www.scandinavica.com/culture/society/UNreport.htm

  • Åboy
  • funny

    #61, WEF report is based on answers to question sheets. Finns always fill the question sheet with “excellent” because the goverment ordered them do so.

  • funny

    #60, The report mention on the high standard of living in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Iceland is hardly a country. Finland is the fifth always in the list and pretend to be nordic welfare state. But that’s not true. I think scandinavian countries should expel Finland from the nordic council because Filand is not scandinavian at all.

  • Tomi

    Here are a few somewhat unorthodox figures in order to give – perhaps- a bit more balanced view.

    The money in the pension funds (which was not included in the study) this year is about 70-80% of the GDP. That’s about 21 000-24 000 € per capita.

    The government debt is one of the lowest in the euro zone, about 40% of the GDP. It’s the tax payers who have to pay the loan back, so in that sense it’s “one’s own loan”. In Sweden the figure is about 50%, in Germany 60% (which is about the EU15 average), in Italy over 100%. By the way Finland spends over two billion euros to pay back its loans this year. That’s about 5% of the budget.

    Finland’s figures are from 1998 (while most other figures are more recent, Sweden 2002, for example). From 1998 onward Finland’s economic growth has been remarkably faster than in most other rich countries.

    An average Finnish household is supposed to have about 75% of its total “net worth” invested in housing according to the study. In 1998 the housing cost still were very low after the depression, about a half of the current prices. That would mean, of course, an increase of several tens of thousands in “net worth” if current prices were taken into account.

    I’m quite sure that even with these “corrections” Finland would not rise among the very richest. “Old money” is still missing. Then again they explain the pretty ridiculous suggestion that Finns are as poor as, say, Mexicans. (Well, “ridiculous” in the sense that it would be against all economic theories – a exceptionally well-performing economy doesn’t bring about results – and the common-sense impression one gets by just looking around in those two countries.)

  • Oregon

    “When I ride my recumbent through those places—Czech R. Slovakia, Hungary, Poland—I always stop at local real estate offices to check prices. It’s not uncommon to find rather large homes and flats for 25K to 55K.”

    I spent two weeks in Brno in November and bought a 110m2 flat for our company. The price was around 130 000€. When I drive through the country towns in Finland, it is not uncommon to see large houses for sale at 70-100 000€. The property prices are high only in the capital, Tampere, and Oulu regions.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    If I’m not mistaken, the Czech Republic’s growth rate is actually higher than Finland’s In fact, even the Slovak Republic’s growth rate is almost twice Finland’s.

    I predict that, within the next decade, Finns will migrate to those lands in search for better-paying jobs.

  • Check!

    Reality check time, Kristian. The average salary in Czech Republic is 19000CZK, roughly 645 Euros. After taxes you’ll end up with smashing 481 Euros to spend on wooden products, supplies, paint and mortage/rent (+ beer and kebab of course). As the average salary is predicted to rise to 25000 by 2010, I predict Czechs will continue to emigrate for years to come.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    “Isn’t it a bigger concern that the richest one per cent of the world’s population owns 40 per cent of the total household wealth, while the bottom half of the world makes do with barely one per cent? Rather than the, my house is nicer than your house bickering and oneupmanship between the fat cats some more effort should be directed toward achieving a more equitable balance worldwide.”

    It is not for lack of trying. Read this here:
    Throwing
    Money at Poverty Deemed a Failure

    How about getting rid of most worthless aid programs and instead opening a bank account for each third-world person and depositing $1,000 in it for them.

    And how about teaching them to stop pumping out kids like crazy. Once people obtain wealth they have less children distorting the figures towards the poor.

    How about forcing their leaders to change or charging them with crimes against humanity for the failure to care for their own people.

    Small problem in all of this. Doing something involves dealing in the internal matters of other countries. Europeans generally don’t like to do that.

  • Åboy

    Kristian wrote (in post 66):
    If I’m not mistaken, the Czech Republic’s growth rate is actually higher than Finland’s

    Of course the relative growth rate is going to be high when your starting level is as low as low can be. Of course buying a car is a bigger change than chancing the tires to your existent one.

  • Tomi

    If I’m not mistaken, the Czech Republic’s growth rate is actually higher than Finland’s In fact, even the Slovak Republic’s growth rate is almost twice Finland’s.

    As usual, almost correct! Slovakia’s growth was in 2004 about 1% higher, Czech’s about 0.5%. This year they’ll probably fall behind.

  • a lamb with no guiding light

    Kristian (in Espoo) wrote: you’re absolutely right about the architecture and ideology. There’s a continuity that’s undeniable.

    Tall gray high-rises were not a purely Eastern European phenomenon, you know. Queensbridge isn’t in Moscow and Bronzeville isn’t in Dresden.

    saempy wrote: Are you anti-mullet then or what?

    I’m a worried citizen who thinks the government should do something about mullet growing before we’re entirely dependent on Central European, hockey-playing imports.

    funny wrote: Iceland is hardly a country.

    It’s more of a state of mind. (“How you doin’, bro?” “Icelandish.”)

    I think scandinavian countries should expel Finland from the nordic council because Filand is not scandinavian at all.

    I think the Mediterranean countries should expel Finland from the European Union because Finland is not Mediterranean at all.

  • http://from-despair.blogspot.com Anni

    issi. Don’t worry about me, I have other interest in life than protecting the reputation of Finland. This is just a funny activity while trying to avoid working. And it’s actually quite funny that people have time to be so angry with Finland, one really really small northern country. Why should they care what happens in Finland?

  • Kivipaasi

    Fred Fry: “How about getting rid of most worthless aid programs and instead opening a bank account for each third-world person and depositing $1,000 in it for them.”

    You been reading the Onion?

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/30234

  • http://finnpundit.blogspot.com Finnpundit

    Anni: And it’s actually quite funny that people have time to be so angry with Finland, one really really small northern country. Why should they care what happens in Finland?

    Finland is an exemplar of welfare-statist ideology. It is also one of the most successful countries in various international achievement studies. As it is also intent on exporting its ideological model to other parts of the world, it naturally becomes a subject of great scrutiny.

  • http://from-despair.blogspot.com Anni
  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    No, I had not seen the onion article. Now I am convinced that it is a good idea. If micro loans are good, then micro grants can’t be so bad either.

  • saempy

    saempy wrote: Are you anti-mullet then or what?

    I’m a worried citizen who thinks the government should do something about mullet growing before we’re entirely dependent on Central European, hockey-playing imports.

    Oops, I meant that comment for Mr. Anonymous Coward #42, who called me an idiot, then mustered up all his intellect and vomited out “go fuck yourself”.

  • Drakon

    A good source for Finnish GDP growth in the 20th century could be found in this economic history discussion paper by Hjerppe et al.

    http://www.helsinki.fi/iehc2006/papers1/Hjerppe.pdf

    For a short summary: in about 1900, the Finnish GDP was about 60% of EU15, and after that grew 12-fold in the following century (Sweden 9-fold, EU15 7-fold). Thus the GDP gap per capita between Finland and the EU15 closed around the 60s and 70s, with of course the recession bringing it back down for a while in the early 90s.

    This all corroborates the notion presented here earlier, that Finland was brought into the “rich club” only in the 70s and thus the people have actually had very little time for serious private capital accumulation, even when compared to Sweden, which was GDP-wise on par with the EU15 already around 1945.

    Finnish higher growth rates after the 50s can well be compared to the current growth in central-eastern Europe: if you start from a much lower level, good growth is so much easier than for the already wealthy, “sated” economies.

  • LaaLaa

    Even a blind can see Finland is the richest country in the whole universium. We live in the smallest houses/flats in the Europe(even though the density of population is low), we drive the oldest cars, we pay the highest taxes, our salaries are the lowest among the western countries(except for bluecollar workers) list just goes on.

    Ok, ok, we have the free healtcare and free education and all that. How long you have to wait to get an appointment with a dentist? Most of the Finnish Universities couldn’t make it to the top 500 Universities list.

    Summa summarum: Finland is ok place to live. I just hate to see how people are so brainwashed about Finland being so superb and rich when it really isn’t. Of course if you want to compare Finland to 3rd world countries, we are really really doing great.

    Keep up the good work Phil!

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ Fred Fry

    “We live in the smallest houses/flats”
    – With toy-sized kitchen appliances!

  • Thomas

    Generally, one can constructs measures, that provide just about any result one wants. This is just – yet another – way to compare countries to each other. How fair this comparison is, that’s another question.

    First of all – according to what I read – this study did not include assets, such as forests. It only included financial assets, and “housing” or perhaps “economically speaking” “real estate” (I’m not sure about how farmland is treated in this study). I could be wrong, but this is the impression I got from some article.

    Now, look at the populatation per square km in e.g. Germany, and compare to Finland. Then go one step further, and think, who owns these forests. Do they provide any “financial income” and do they have any real worth. Then think even one step further, if there are fewer people per squere km, then there are MORE owners in the mean, than in countries with denser population. Thus, if this aspect is left out of the loop, it clearly affects the result.

    Secondly, this study concerns itself with HOUSEHOLD assets (afaik). Now, if you live in a country with little “big government” (meaning all levels of public economy, state + lesser administrative instances) “net debt” (that is financial – not e.g. the Finlandia House, but easily convertible assets – assets less debt), where the HOUSEHOLDs do not have substantial financial assets, and compare that to a country where the situation is the opposite. Which country is better off?

    If the countrys “net debt” is substantial, but HOUSEHOLDs have lots of financial assets, then the situation is basically, that the HOUSEHOLDs have loaned money to themselves. The HOUSEHOLDs are creditors and debtors at the same time. The “big government” – once the credits are due – has to finance the paying to the debtors, one way or another. The financers in this case are the inhabitants (or citizens). I.e. the citizens have to pay money – via e.g. taxes – to pay back to themselves. Given the differences in the distribution of assets, this could mean enormous problems, and enourmous re-distributions of income.

    If you look at the OECD countries (this is according to the OECDs own statistics which everybody can check themselves) Finland, and especially Norway are in a VERY strong position in this sense. In Norway, the “big government” is basically gross-debtless (i.e. there is not even a need for any superficial “indebtness” among the different fiscal parties among “big government” since they all have enough money). Finland is net-debtless, and has been for a long time. The other countries where the situation is – approximately – the same, are Sweden and South-Korea. All other OECD countries are – in this respect – much worse off.

    Now what is the relevance of this for the current discussion? It ought to be self-evident. Net-”big government”-debt is simply postponed extra costs of the citisens (out of their financial assets). Seen in this light the discussion is again different. And I think the WIDER (wasn’t that the organisation doing this study) chairman said this – more or less – openly.

    And then there is the DREADED – more or less – global “housing bubble”, just waiting to explode. That – in case it happens – will change the setting (besides causing enormous problems – yet another nice feature of the oh so wonderful free markets) quite much, as some people have pointed out. Somehow I don’t think that “real estate” values in Finland are – relatively – more over-evaluated than elsewhere.

  • Pave

    Phil -

    You were waiting for the “welfare statists” to claim that this piece of statistics was a good thing. Instead you got some pretty good explanations for the figures (especially Tomi @ 64, Drakon @ 78, Thomas @ 81). Would be nice to hear if they convinced you.

  • Anonymous

    #77 saempy

    I meant Mr.funny not you. Mr.funny aka european is known for his racist arguements here among with his other idiotic babble. Sorry but I didn’t mean you or do you also support the “fact” that Finns are “Corrupt dirty little barbaric asian people”?.

  • why

    I think i t was not tipicly corupt, it is more like >
    *You do it for me, I do it for you*
    and ofcouse endless corprate bonuses))))))

  • Thomas

    Pave:

    “You were waiting for the “welfare statists” to claim that this piece of statistics was a good thing. Instead you got some pretty good explanations for the figures (especially Tomi @ 64, Drakon @ 78, Thomas @ 81).”

    Thanks for the positive feedback.

    But now to the point. The interesting thing about the three posts you mention, is that they complement each other quite well. They all bring forward different aspects, that contribute to the explanation in COMBINATION (each bringing different contributing aspects), without being in CONTRADICTION.

    Now, look at the “libertarian economics”. Contradictions everywhere.

    In this thread one complainer says that finns don’t SAVE enough, the next day he – or somebody likeminded – complain about the low GDP. If incomes are so extremely low, what is there to save from?

    Or, look at the “liberal” newspapers, one day they make headlines about the “shocking national debt” (which in fact is not true, there is no public economy net debt in Finland – a thing which naturally always goes un-mentioned), typically illustrating it by presenting the “raw figures” per capita. “You OWE 50000e”, or something such. Naturally when these “news” are presented NO COMPARISONS to other countries are made. The next day, the “shocking tax rates” are the cause of headlines. THEN comparisons (to other countries) are of course made.

    But the connection between Finlands – de facto low – national debt, and tax rates, this is too difficult for “libertarian minded” to grasp.

    Or, one day it is, “we HAVE to do this or that to get foreign investors to invest into Finland”. The next day it is “foreigners own all finnish companies” (like some complainer said in this thread). Can’t have it both ways.

    Not to mention international trade/globalisation. One day it’s open the borders, next day it is “protect copyrights”. Of course all “libertarian minded” know their Ricardian trade theory (a beautiful illustration of a CONCEPT under STRICT assumptions – that is clear) by heart, except for the little fact, that Ricardo REQUIRED that production assets (e.g. workers) are not moveable between countries.
    But closed borders, how does that combine with the idea of “open borders” of trade? I guess you need to be a “libertarian” to understand.

    Economics is a difficult subject. But by trying to simplify it into simple slogans, which are easy to remember for the – sorry for saying this – not always so extremely bright “libertarians”, is mainly a disservice to any good ideas (if any) the “libertarian movement” may have to offer.

  • Freeridin’ Franklin

    Most of the Finnish Universities couldn’t make it to the top 500 Universities list.

    Here‘s the list.

    University of Helsinki: #74 (“tuition”: 67€)
    Brown U: #85 (tuition: $32,254)

    I’d call that value for money from a student’s perspective. For the taxpayer, a degree from the U of H costs about 50k.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Franklin—

    Generally, I support non-tuition university education, as is common in all of Europe. However, I’d like to see more Internet-based instruction to add flexibility for students and also to save on costs.

    But, to keep the US v. Finland comparison in context, that 32K is easily paid-off on an american salary. The first few years could be a pinch, depending on the chosen specialty; but after university graduates reach, say, 32 or 33 years-of-age in the US, their incomes tend to be much higher than ours here in Europe—especially higher than ours here in Finland.

    In fact, skilled construction workers in the US earn more than university grads here in Finland, both in absolute terms and relative to cost of living. I found that out this weekend, via a phone call to an old acquaintance who hires employees for his construction enterprise. It’s not an exaggeration; they really do make more.

    As to those who say we need 40- 50- or 60-percent tax rates to maintain a steady national debt (one that neither grows nor shrinks), I don’t think that’s true. We can easily separate what is needed for fiscal soundness, from that which is merely superfluous redistribution.

    Naturally, better management would also help, like not letting our municipalities grow at such rates that cause housing prices to skyrocket. Consider that there’s greed on the municipal level—local governments want growth because it brings revenue. Consequently, we pay with higher housing costs. Obviously, government needs to be held accountable—not just simply ‘trusted.’

    Well-managed private capital is the only way that we will ultimately become the ‘owners’ of our destiny, rather than continue to be the mere ‘workers’ for someone else’s. Otherwise, in 10-years, we’ll be making excuses once again: Like, despite our low tiny bank accounts, crappy cars and small homes, we’re actually wealthy because we have forests in Lapland, etc. That’s no life.

  • Freeridin’ Franklin

    However, I’d like to see more Internet-based instruction to add flexibility for students and also to save on costs.

    There are many American institutes that offer PhD degrees without the need to read any boring books. I get generous offers of this kind in my email all the time. Very cost-effective!

    But, to keep the US v. Finland comparison in context, that 32K is easily paid-off on an american salary.

    The last I checked, American mean salary was slightly above $30k. Sure, MIT graduates and such might pretty easily get $60-80k, but you won’t be able to pay off a $150k student loan in six months, as you seem to put it.

    In fact, skilled construction workers in the US earn more than university grads here in Finland,

    Hell, skilled construction workers get more than university graduates here in Finland. It could partly be because they belong to unions that do their job.

    Well-managed private capital is the only way that we will ultimately become the ‘owners’ of our destiny

    Sure, as long as the capital is mine, which it won’t be in a libertarian paradise.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    There are many American institutes that offer PhD degrees without the need to read any boring books.

    Yes, I know…..

    BS $150
    MS $225
    PhD $335

    But, that’s not what I’m talking about :lol:

    The last I checked, American mean salary was slightly above $30k. Sure, MIT graduates and such might pretty easily get $60-80k…

    You don’t need an MIT degree. For engineers and IT pros, 60K can be attained rather easily. The 80K amount is more for engineers/IT pros with solid experience, working in a ‘team leader’ capacity.

    ……. but you won’t be able to pay off a $150k student loan in six months, as you seem to put it.

    Whoa! That’s almost a medical school loan! About 10-years of schooling in the US. But US docs make enough to compensate for it.

    Again, I don’t have a problem with the non-tuition university system here in Europe.

    Hell, skilled construction workers get more than university graduates here in Finland. It could partly be because they belong to unions that do their job.

    Probably true.

    “Well-managed private capital is the only way that we will ultimately become the ‘owners’ of our destiny”

    Sure, as long as the capital is mine, which it won’t be in a libertarian paradise.

    If you can’t access it, then it’s not well-managed. Your fault for not steering the political process the right way…………and mine too, since I probably won’t be able to access it either.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    By the way, on that 60K salary—an amount I’m sure you’d make in an area comparable to the Helsinki/Espoo region—here’s an easy to use calculator to figure-out net income……..

    http://www.irs.gov/individuals/page/0,,id=14806,00.html

    There’s an addition state tax of around 2% to 5%, depending on the state; if I remember correctly, it’s applied to after-federal-tax dollars.

    Keep in mind that your employer pays medical.

    For retirement, aside from america’s social security, it’s also common for employers to match contributions to pre-tax investment accounts. Not such a bad deal.

    Other companies have regular pensions, but I think the investment alternative is more popular.

  • http://finnpundit.blogspot.com Finnpundit

    Kristian: There’s an addition state tax of around 2% to 5%, depending on the state; if I remember correctly, it’s applied to after-federal-tax dollars.

    Actually, most states tax on the same gross income figure as the fed does. However, most of them acknowledge the same number of federal tax deductions individuals are permitted on the federal tax return (though they really don’t have to), in addition to any particular state deductions (for example, some states permit the deduction of contributions to education funds, called 529 accounts).

    If you can’t access it, then it’s not well-managed. Your fault for not steering the political process the right way…………and mine too, since I probably won’t be able to access it either.

    That’s a very good point.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ Fred Fry

    Willisms has a great post about wealth redistribution. There is even a nice charge illustrating the percentage the poorest and the richest 10th receive of the median income. Go see the chart.

    When Policy Favors Equality Above All Else. – Willisms.com

    Once again, Finland is on the bottom and the US is at the top.

    For those who need a little help with the chart, it shows that Finland and America’s poor both receive the same percentage of their country’s median income. It is even clearer that Finland’s rich are either highly penalized or have a high incentive to move out of the country.

  • http://www.economist.com On the way out

    This is my first time on this site and I’ve read the comments now to several of the posts. One of my co-workers (a Finn living in the US) pointed me to it as a healthy dose of alternative discussion on Finland.

    One thing I’ve found that most of the commentators are perhaps more literate than a comparable slice in the US (i.e., people who rant on blogs in the US). As an observer of both the US and Finnish political and tax systems and social mores and norms suggests to me that what people see depends as much on how they were raised and what they’ve been taught to believe by the state and by their parents, than it does on trying to see what the data might tell. American’s can be a knee-jerk in defending the left or right, or just America the good. But Finns seem to take their Nordic socialism as an equally good thing, something that really shouldn’t be questioned, much as most Americans don’t really challenge the basics of their society. In both cases it’s hard to take of the glasses that distort one’s vision but for Europeans it seems to me that many go to absurd lengths to defend a state system that takes more than 50% of their income in the name of collective social justice — perhaps this is because many owe their employment to state? There’s no absolute truth in the stats that Phil has published, no inherent “left” agenda vs. “right” agenda, but there are some striking numbers. I’ve found that many Finns react to a challenge to their system defensively, which is curious to me. I can’t understand defending a tax regime that takes more than half my pay without any question. There is a moral question to be asked as to whether the state really should have the right to take more than 50% of a working man’s income, any working man. When you look at all the other taxes the Finnish government loads up on, you have to wonder does it really need all that money, does it take it ensure some measure of collective control of the citizens? Is a fully-nanny state the most optimal way to organize a country? That debate seems limited to very small circles.

    In my 3 years of living in Finland, I’ve found that, like in France and other countries with strong inclinations towards social welfare systems (I’m a Canadian, so my history of social welfare is neatly split between Euro-style safety net with high taxes and more self-reliant version of the US), there is a managerial class which is frustrated with the social state and taxation, and the electorate which is cautious about giving up the perceived benefits associated with the high-taxation. Productivity might well be equal or higher in Europe but as others have noted, not many people open new business here that will employ many people. The Finnish and European managers still create wealth here but increasingly without the participation of actual workers. Check, for a moment, how many new manufacturing businesses there are in Finland. Quite a few. But then check the level of automation. Amazingly high. You can find factories all throughout Europe which make amazing, high-quality products. And they do so without many workers. Considering that employees are damn expensive in Europe, and it’s nearly impossible to downsize when business conditions change, we shouldn’t be surprised that when growing a company, the most attractive way to do so is with automation. And then to move as much of the profit, legally, to lower tax jurisdictions. So the managers themselves do fine, they take personal and financial risks, and they get sufficient reward. And the workers, well they shoot them selves repeatedly in the foot trying to protect a system which requires them to tithe most of their personal profit to the state.

    What seems most odd to me about Scandinavia, the Nordics, and Finland in particular is that, that at least in comparison the US, and to a lesser extent in Canada, there’s less debate about whether high-taxation is the best way to achieve social goals. Right now, like Kansas farmers who vote Republican against what their best interests would be (democrats are better for Farmers than Republicans, but Republics are perceived to be more socially conservative, which appeals to rural voters), I’m surprised how few Finns don’t see that they could collectively be a lot better off if they made more adjustments to their economies and labor markets and taxation systems. Will this system of benefits hold? Not for another 40 years is my guess. Demographics are making it very difficult to compete, especially as the labor market will shrink in the coming years and fewer workers will support increasingly more retired people. So today we pay 40% tax to support our pensioners but how will all of us in our 30s and 40s feel in 10-20 years as the number of retired people grow and our payroll taxes increase to sustain them? My bet is that the best, who also have mobility, will leave. And Finland will only be poorer for that.

    What’s also clear is that the much smaller wealthy here have figured out how to keep much of their money, and the working class, who are unwilling to question the system too much for fear of losing their benefits, pay the hefty burden of the taxation. The middle class is really too small to affect much change and doesn’t have enough money to take advantage of the tax shelters that the rich do, so they just suffer with gritted teeth.

    I’m happy to read this blog because at least there’s some debate.

  • http://aapocalypsenow.blogspot.com Aapo

    Generally, I support non-tuition university education, as is common in all of Europe. However, I’d like to see more Internet-based instruction to add flexibility for students and also to save on costs.

    I just want to comment on this one, since I’m a student myself and quite interested in the future of higher-education in Europe.

    In fact, this is one field where Europeans in my opinion should follow America’s example -up to a point. Universities across our continent start to be so underfund, in order to attract top researchers and provide decent tuition to their students, that definitely something must be done.

    The trick with tuition fees is the classic fact if people have to pay for something, they tend to make wiser choices. It should be of course combined with scholarships for the poor and state-secured loan schemes for everyone, but as a result the unis would have more money to spend per student and the students without serious intentions to graduate could put their skills to better use.

    Many claim that this would entrench the class divisions, but I wouldn’t say so. Many studies have pointed out how access to pre-schooling and good primary schools is much more crucial factor for social mobility. The effect of social class hits harder when the kids are small, and much less so when they’re older, already with some kind of idea what they will do with their lives.

    Free higher education is simply an income transfer to middle-class families and their children. It hasn’t much to do with meritocracy.

    What comes to online courses and such then, regarding the big picture, they’re peanuts.

  • Thomas

    Aapo:

    Having done some university teaching myself, I find it difficult to understand why there is a need to introduce tuition costs in Finland.

    Look at a typical “basic course” provided by a university. Whether 5 or 500 students attend, it doesn’t matter that much. The reason is that a university student basically “teaches himself/herself”. No university lecturer can offer you the basic skills taught in basic courses themselves. You have to be active as a university student, read, check the internet, … Therefore, I find it difficult to understand the need for extra funds for TEACHING (ok administration of records, checking answers to exams, … they add some burden, but it’s NOT linear in terms of costs per extra student).

    BUT, high status research might be extremely costly, and research efforts might fail (which – in contrast to product development projects, with whom research project are, sadly, most often compared – might be a success in and of itself). Research costs, but if universities “market” their need for funds based on increased numbers of students, I don’t believe it.

    University students should be independent researchers of their own field. Nobody is going to hold your hand and tell you the basic facts about your field of choice. YOU have to figure that out yourself.

    I find it sad that universities are treated like factories in the “general discussion”. Effectiveness measures – more or less idiotic – are introduced, and then the results are presented – without much consideration of their relevance – in forums such as this.

    If the number of degrees “produced” by a university is a relevant measure of effectiveness, then what signal does it send to the universities? What will be the result of this idiotic economism? More degrees, but less quality perhaps.

  • http://aapocalypsenow.blogspot.com Aapo

    Thomas:

    Yep, with basic courses it doesn’t matter too much how many are attending. But once your studies advance further you grow to appreciate some kind of interaction, and that’s usually easier if groups are smaller -depends on the field, but in my opinion independent studying can never completely replace face-to-faces teaching.

    And in general, better money also means better teachers and researchers.

    Nordic model (no tuition fees but, relatively speking, adequate funding from the government, plus strict admission) may work rather well, but it was more the continental Europe I had on my mind. You can’t be an independent researcher if there are neither available books nor functioning computers in the library. Remember that a country like France doesn’t provide any other kind of tertiary education (like our AMK’s) and everybody finishing the lycée is guaranteed a (some kind of) place in a university.

    But why I mainly would like to see tuition fees been tried in Finland is that it would make us regard studies more as an investment in our own future. If you regard it as a hobby, then fine -but hobbies usually cost money too. And there are also the world’s best public libraries and that ‘open university’ network out there, so I wouldn’t but any stuff about excessive economism etc. that easily.

    As I said, if you have to pay for something your choices tend to be wiser. Making the student benefit scheme more loan-based would do the trick as well, in case it’d be combined with post-graduation tax deductions and/or a plan where you start to pay it back only after reaching a certain income threshold.

  • Simo ca

    As usually, there is lots of debate on the statistics, which seldom can depict the actual way of living in a country, also because it is undoubtely true that Finns tend to be brainwashed by media and government and would always reply here everything is nice.

    Definitely, Finland is not a bad place to live in, in this moment. The state provides good services (except that health care could be much better), there is not so much working stress and taxes (for middle income people, which is the most) are not so high as it could appear. The problem is at most the cost of life, 22% VAT also on basic products and 17% on food.

    My question, to Tomi, Åboy and all the others, is then, why is it so that in Finland people drive the oldest cars in Europe (ah ah, there is the car tax in Sweden too, but still cars are much newer there) and live in smaller houses?
    Why is it so that while looking for a flat in real estate companies web pages, oikotie to understand, I found that the average interior furnishing of the houses is worth of a third worth country?
    Why do people dress in such a shabby way? Why don’t I see women with fur or with jewels walking around, like I do in Germany or even Italy where the salary level is much lower than here? Helsinki is probably the only western european capital without a shop of famous fashion firms like Cartier, Armani and so on. Can it be because of the population only?
    Where the hell does all this wealth go?
    Somebody can find an answer?

  • Drakon

    Simo ca, do you think there is a simply answer to explain it all? If so, could you share it with us?

    To speak for myself, I’d say a cohort of explaining factors would need to be conjured up, just maybe beginning with those geographical, historical and cultural even before going to economics or government policies etc. A lot also depends on your personal perception about such things as “people dressing shabbily” etc.

    And beside this, for even once in this blog I would like you (or someone) to explain this idea that Finns as a people would somehow be more prone to being “brainwashed by media and government” than other Europeans (or Americans, Asians, whatever)… Can anyone cite studies, figures, anything except private prejudice to back this up? Please?

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Aapo: What comes to online courses and such then, regarding the big picture, they’re peanuts.

    My idea regarding online courses is to make learning more convenient for students in Finland, but it would also broaden access to students outside of Finland—that is, students from other countries.

    Aside from generating additional revenues—Although that probably shouldn’t be the main reason—it would create a global classroom, especially if it is combined with teleconferencing.

    In my experience, it resembles the future workplace more than face-to-face meetings. For example, my colleagues are in Germany, Mexico and Holland. All different nationalities and ethnicities. I hardly see them, but speak all the time. At this point, we don’t do teleconferencing, but we might try it in the future……….guess I’ll have to start combing my hair more.

    I really think it should be an educational goal to get young Finns more active with people from other lands—if for no other reason than to gain new perspectives, such as the one elucidated by poster ‘On the way out.’

  • Dario

    @98, Drakon: “explain this idea that Finns as a people would somehow be more prone to being “brainwashed by media and government” than other Europeans (or Americans, Asians, whatever)…”

    For example, the number of self-referential articles that are published in newspapers periodically. HS has not lost any of the rankings where Finland was in good position, no matter how reliable the source was. Articles like this:

    http://www.hs.fi/english/article/1101980627726

    are countless. And also the studies cited in that article were reported with one article each, just check in the HS archive.
    Studies enphasizing negative phenomena are basically missing or their number is negligible. This study about wealth that ranks Finland in a bad position is the only one I remember in the last years.

    Yet and still, there are a lot of problems, so do not tell me that those negative studies are not there. Take a pick: high suicide rate, alcoholism problems, high youth unemployment, even the number of homicides (compared to the number of population) is among the highest in Europe (due to alcoholism)! Still, Finland has that kind of image of a safe country as black news are given far less attention than in other European countries.

    As a result, the picture Finns have of Finland is some kind of paradise, where the State provides the citizens with all they need of . Check the statistics on happiness, where Finnish say they are all happy.

    Drakon, I do not know whether you are finnish or not; I am not Finnish, so I am giving you a summary of the impressions I got during the five years I have been living in Finland. I travelled a lot, in Finland there are good and bad things as everywhere, but in no other country I found the blindness on problems that Finns show to me. When I talk to Finns about the bad things they do not admit the problem or try to find a justification even when the problem is clear.

  • http://finnpundit.blogspot.com Finnpundit

    93. On the way out: This is my first time on this site and I’ve read the comments now to several of the posts. One of my co-workers (a Finn living in the US) pointed me to it as a healthy dose of alternative discussion on Finland.

    You might realize soon that this is the only site in Finland offering a dose of alternative discusssion on Finland.
    for Europeans it seems to me that many go to absurd lengths to defend a state system that takes more than 50% of their income in the name of collective social justice — perhaps this is because many owe their employment to state?

    When you look back to the Middle Ages in Europe, even the local lord of the castle barely took more than a third of anything his subjects produced.  The contemporary welfare state is more exploitative than anything Europe has experienced in the past.  The only reason Europe has been able to survive on this anti-market scheme is because the American markets have sustained European heavy industry in terms of access to both markets, and capital.

    Is a fully-nanny state the most optimal way to organize a country? That debate seems limited to very small circles.

    Exactly.  The only cogent Finnish counter-arguments I’ve encountered are from economics professors at HKKK, and even these tend to be mostly anti-statist.

    But then check the level of automation. Amazingly high. You can find factories all throughout Europe which make amazing, high-quality products. And they do so without many workers. Considering that employees are damn expensive in Europe, and it’s nearly impossible to downsize when business conditions change, we shouldn’t be surprised that when growing a company, the most attractive way to do so is with automation.

    Japan, even more so than Finland and Europe, leads the way in terms of automation, for exactly the same reasons you’ve cited.

    And the workers, well they shoot them selves repeatedly in the foot trying to protect a system which requires them to tithe most of their personal profit to the state.

    I tend to think that the average blue-collar worker will trade excessive job security for a real chance to become wealthier at any time.  For what is security as a blue-collar worker, stuck in the same company for the next 40 years?  It’s a lifetime of boredom.  Secure boredom, granted, but still a lifetime of boredom, – the kind that will make you feel like laying down in front of a tank’s treadwheels.

    What’s also clear is that the much smaller wealthy here have figured out how to keep much of their money, and the working class, who are unwilling to question the system too much for fear of losing their benefits, pay the hefty burden of the taxation. The middle class is really too small to affect much change and doesn’t have enough money to take advantage of the tax shelters that the rich do, so they just suffer with gritted teeth.

    Well, that pretty much sums it up for me.

    You should post more often.  However, you’ll probably be attacked immediately, simply because I’ve found interest in your comments.  Keep in mind that this is simply because Finns are just poorly prepared to hearing incisive critical commentary on Finland from foreigners, even though they themselves giddily dish it out, as if they’re qualified to comment on globalist trends they refuse to apply to themselves.

  • Tomi

    Dear Simo, if you want to learn to argue in an adult way, please, don’t start by implying that everybody else is brainwashed and you only are celver enough to know the truth.

    And no, I didn’t write that “everything is nice”. I didn’t even address the question whether everything is nice or not. In fact, I don’t even know how I’d go about it if I for some reason wanted to make such a stupid claim.

  • Tomi

    Studies enphasizing negative phenomena are basically missing … Take a pick: high suicide rate, alcoholism problems, high youth unemployment, even the number of homicides (compared to the number of population) is among the highest in Europe (due to alcoholism)!

    What!? Never heard about such problems! Where did you learn about them? ;-)

    Anyway, you make its sound as if Finnish newspapers et al were full of praising news in the best Soviet sytle. How likely is that in a coutry whose press was evaluated to be about the freest in the world in a recent study (yeah, here we go again, but what can I do)? Anybody who still have doubts, why not check out hm … this blog by a fellow named Phil who constantly bitches about Finland. Where do you think he gets his stories?

  • Tomi

    You might realize soon that this is the only site in Finland offering a dose of alternative discusssion on Finland.

    Oh please, visit any discussion forum in Finnish. How do you think discussions go there? A: “Isn’t this a nice place this Finland?” B: “Nope, my friend, it’s better than nice.” C: “You’re both wrong, it’s perfect!”

    Hah!

  • Tomi

    Can anyone cite studies, figures, anything except private prejudice to back this up?

    Well, perhaps adult Finns are brainwashed idiots but the future seems less gloomy. In the PISA’s reading-literacy study (yes, that nonsense that can’t be true): “Students [were] expected to respond critically to a range of texts, applying their understanding of language, form, and genre.”

    Besides, where are all those “Alien ate my baby” or “Saddam was behind the 9/11″ stories?

  • Tomi

    When somebody signs his post with “On the way out” it doesn’t exactly encourage one to answer … and besides, is somebody still reading these?

    Anyway a few random thoughts: The Finnish system, with its countless official and inofficial checks and balances, is so complicated that even many Finns don’t seem to have a clue how it works. I wonder if anybody really does … The basic idea is pretty clear, though: it’s geared towards compromises between the “big players”, such as political parties, labor and employee organizations, the government, parliament, president and high officials – even NGOs.

    This kind of “consesus-seeking” is often criticized. Many people think that important questions should be politicized and made thus visible. On the other hand, it’s hard to find people who wouldn’t give at least a little credit to the system. Yes it’s dull, doesn’t give instant gratification – or anger – and waters down all solutions, and dismisses such problems that are not “lobbied” by any “big player”, but then again, amazingly enough, it seems to work!

    Let’s not go into standard yadda-yadda about the schooling system, public finances, economic growth, eaqual income distribution and what not – and yes, I almost forgot: happiness studies. Let’s take taxes, instead. Somebody who’s familiar with other kinds of systems would indeed expect that cutting taxes would be a heated issue in Finland, that all kinds of pressure groups would be demanding the taxes to go this or that way. But it’s not, really. Instead the Centre – Social Democratic government is just cutting them. Who knows where the consensus to do so was found, but somewhere in the myriad labyrinth of decesion making enough big players gave it an OK.

    In a way Finland is, not socialistic, for heaven’s sake, but more capitalistic than about any other country. What I mean is that Finland is lead like a big firm. The government along with the high officials are the “CEO”. Other big interest groups are the “board”, and citizens are the “owners”, in the sense that their sole role is to vote every now and then (unless they are involved in parties, labor or employee organazations and the like).

  • Tomi

    When I wrote above “employee organizations” I meant employer organizations. And I forgot to mention one very influential “big player”, the big firms.

  • Dario

    @103: “why not check out hm … this blog by a fellow named Phil who constantly bitches about Finland. Where do you think he gets his stories?”

    If you check all the posts where we started to argue on this things they were all started from articles showing Finland in excellent way. This is the first post where we start from statistics showing the opposite.

  • Simo

    @103 and the others:

    ok, probably I have used a term too strong, “brainwash”, but it is undoubtful that the attitude of Finnish media is too much self-satisfaction towards what goes well and sounds too much to my foreign and neutral (yes, I live in Finland, and I am grateful for what this country has offered me so far, so I have no reason to be against Finland a priori) eyes. Real problems are scarcely addressed by the media. The article cited in comment 100 is the perfect example for how much the media report how good and nice Finland is. This attitude is in my opinion wrong, as there is something wrong here, and there is no statistic needed: people here “look” poor, they seem not to enjoy the advantages of the wealth of this nation. Even in the poor south of Italy where I come from, you can see that there’s more money around from how the houses are furnished, just to give an example. I don’t know the reasons for this. It can’t just be that Finns prefer to spend money in things you cannot see, like travelling or drinking.

    Tomi, as for alcoholism and hihj suicide rate, and homicide rate, I can’t believe you never heard of such problems? Especially alcoholism and high suicide rate are VERY well known in Finland.
    Greetings.

  • Tomi

    Finland kept quiet and lied about its relationship with Nazi Germany, Finland has only taken a tenth of its quota of refugees this year, Discrimination, Immigration, Integration and the Xenophobic Right in Finland, Immigrants get fines following Kajaani pizzeria brawl last year, Not allowed to know your baby’s gender, Finland’s Left Alliance would punish employers, and women, Finns are third heaviest population in EU, Finnish security guard brutality, Finland’s third richest man one of largest recipients of farm subsidies, Finland 11th on UN’s Human Development Index, U.S. 8th, This is defnitely corruption…, Chairman of the Board of YLE didn’t even pay his TV-license, Welfare state discourages donations, Finns heart alcohol, Finns’ ecological footprint third-heaviest in world, Deported from Finland even if you have Finnish spouse and kids, YLE going after YouTUBE, 12.5% of Finnish children living in poverty

    And so on …

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    “Why do people dress in such a shabby way? Why don’t I see women with fur or with jewels walking around, like I do in Germany or even Italy where the salary level is much lower than here?”

    – After going to all the holiday events over the last week, I can say that at least the expat-Finns are sharp dressers with designer (quality) cloths, furs and jewels, etc. Or maybe they have been in the US too long and our society has corrupted them;)

  • Tomi

    Tomi, as for alcoholism and hihj suicide rate, and homicide rate, I can’t believe you never heard of such problems? Especially alcoholism and high suicide rate are VERY well known in Finland.

    It was naturally sarcasm. Everybody knows about them. The mystery is how they know when those kind of problems are never mentioned in the media. (That again was sarcasm.)

  • european

    Finland is also top in number of assaults. Finland is not as safe as Finns believe. If you suspect this, I can show you the statistics.

    #103, the freedom in journalism? You are joking. That kind of statistics are based on question sheet that Finns always fill with “excellent”.

    The proof of brainwashing?
    I have never seen any serious demonstration in Finland against the policy of the government. In other countries always there are demonstrations and arguments, but in Finland almost all Finns simply obey what government order (Actually the policies are first tried by Swedes and Finns just copy the Swedes. So probably clever Swedes have some idea.. ). And some silly demonstrations organized by are destroyed down by immense police power. I think you have seen several photos of hundreds of policemen and poor several demonstrators beaten by the police. That shows the reality in Finland.

    Finland is the most free country simply because Finns have no idea to express thus nobody oppress them.

    Ah! The perfectly free country.

  • european

    #97, Finns are poor. That’s the reality. Then question is why?

    I think it’s because the Finnish market is a very closed market. Monopolies rule the country. In supermarket you would find instead of cheap European (or american or asian or whatever) products with better quality, racks are filled with expensive Finnish products with poor qualities. Finnish monopolies choose Finnish products and Finns buy Finnish products with silly blue flag. And Finns higher other finns and give higher salary than Italians(here you can replace by any nationality) who would work better.

    Just assume a toy land with a cook and a barber. In other countries the cook would sell a dish at 10 Euros and go to the barber at 10 Euros say. In Finland the cook sell the dish (with poorer quality) at 30 Euros and the barber receive 30 Euros for haircut (but your hairs will look idiotic.). Are Finns earning 3 times more?
    No. This kind of economics system will not work in open free market with competition. But Finland has this strong nationalistic corruption that effectively closes their markets to outsiders.
    Think about the former communistic economy where they have double price for foreigners. And think about how the economy of east Germany was exaggerated compared to the reality! The reality of east German economy was revealed only after the unification and it was much worse than believed by the naive.

    I think you have to look at the statistics from Finland as you see the statistics from the former communist East Germany.

  • Drakon

    Simo,

    But Finnish media does report also the negative things. Unemployment, suicide etc. surveys are pretty much a yearly staple for the YLE and the newspapers. Just a couple of days ago the great increase in alcohol consumption and resultant health problems was widely available in the media. Positive news get more coverage, but I think that is pretty much universal. The fall of Saddam’s regime in the hands of the US Army very likely had more airtime devoted to it in the US media than the beginning of the withdrawal will.

    There is although this “image of Finland” idea in both media and private people that probably skews foreigners’ perception of the Finnish discussion. On average, I’d say the foreign editions of Finnish newspapers and the YLE foreign service try to give out more positive news than than they do in the domestic versions. This is the equivalent of the Finnish man-in-the-street, who will heartily complain about the government to fellow Finns but turns to a unwavering nationalist when a foreigner comes to bitch about Finnish policies.

    This cultural phenomena is as quintessential part of the Finnish psyche as sisu or different apprehensions towards the Swedes. To call it “self-satisfaction” or “being brainwashed” even is to not really understand how this concept and process works.

    About “the wealth of Finland”-issue, you still keep coming up with only anecdotal evidence to support your claims. To recap – you don’t need to compare the state Finnish and Italian house furnishings to determine the Finns as a people are comparatively poor. The Wider report quoted by Phil above does take care of that. On average, the Finnish people do have less possessions than people in the old EU countries, and several reasons for this have been provided in above posts. Furthermore, no one in this thread is trying to claim that a social democratic system would be ideal in terms of private capital accumulation – to do so would be utter folly.

    But then again, if someone was to claim that current and past Finnish economic policies have been wholly detrimental for the economic well-being of the country (someone has, and someone will), then they have to explain the fact that in a relative short time Finland has in terms of GDP and other indicators of “quality of life” catched up with Western Europe and even overtaken some countries – including Italy. Even though hardly everything is not well here, something has been done right. The real challenge therefore is to find the real reasons for both the comparative wealth and the comparative poverty of Finland and the Finnish people.

  • Tomi

    The article cited in comment 100 is the perfect example for how much the media report how good and nice Finland is.

    Or the American media, as it happened to be from the Washington Post.

    there is something wrong here, and there is no statistic needed: people here “look” poor, they seem not to enjoy the advantages of the wealth of this nation.

    Yes, they should stop doing statistics and ask you instead ;-)

  • Freeridin’ Franklin

    Pundy:
    You might realize soon that this is the only site in Finland offering a dose of alternative discusssion on Finland.

    Tomi:
    Oh please, visit any discussion forum in Finnish.

    Pundy is counting on his audience, which comprises of, as Kristian put it, the dumbest common denominator of Americans, on not being fluent in Finnish.

    As for being a platform for monomanic whining about the evils of the welfare-state in Finland in English, then this blog would probably be the primary one. For alternatives in Finnish, you might want to check out http://www.vapaasana.net or the fi-lib blog.

    I find this strawman-meme of Finns failing to see any room for improvement in their society a little tiresome. Its proponents seem to have met very different Finns than I, for instance. Then again, what would I know, only having been born in this country lived in it for a few decades and being fluent in both of its official languages. Of course, many people will go to lengths they would not otherwise go to in defending the status quo just to piss these knuckleheads off. Sometimes feeding a troll can be at least as rewarding as actual trolling.

  • Dario

    @115, Tomi: “Or the American media, as it happened to be from the Washington Post.”

    Tomi, the point was that news praising on Finland are more promptly reported than others (in my opinion). HS reported immediately what Washington Post wrote.

    I appreciated the comments of Drakon in 114 on “image of Finland” that is perceived by foreigners.Let’s talk about this. Here I am witnessing my impression on how Finns perceive Finland’s image. I have the impression that Finns underestimate the problems of Finland or prefer not to talk about them, whether it is due to media or other reasons. I am not the only foreigner saying this, so maybe it means something?

    An example could be the health care system. Finns are happy of paying taxes and having “free health care”. I noticed some talk as free health care is in Finland only. It is also in other European countries and some things are much better, for example the easiness to talk to a doctor.

    Here in Finland, there is a shortage of doctors (as opposite of nurses). In order to speak with a (public) doctor, you need first to talk to a nurse (or practitioner) and convince HER that you are sick. If she thinks you are not sick or it is a stupid thing, the visit is denied or you are sent to the practitioner. Since not all sickness might be so trivial to identify, this may lead to bad care in some cases and I do not like it. To give a comparison, in Italy you speak directly with the doctor.

    Another example could be about prevention and blood exams. I wanted to have a sample blood test to check whether values are fine (liver, etc). I was DENIED by the NURSE to have the test as I am young and healthy, so no need to do that. To give a comparison, in Italy my brother (young and healthy) did the exam in the public hospital and discovered something not nice, that was easy to take care in that moment but would have become serious in the future.

    So, these are just examples. In Italy (or somewhere else) other things do not work well that maybe here are fine and I do not deny it; instead my impression is that Finns prefer to not think about it or do not know about it. Why do I (and also others) have this impression? Is it the media? Is it the people I talk with? Am I wrong?

    P.S. No offense for anybody. I like Finland, that’s why I leave here.

  • european

    #118, Good point.

    For public health care system, I think basically Finland doesn’t have any “free state health care system”. Free health care has no meaning when you can’t see doctors.

    Actually I have found most relatively wealthy middle class Finns have private insurance and they go to private doctors and hospitals that provide better service and prosper with those rich customers whereas poorer Finns are living without any protection, even though they live in the fantasy that there is “free public health care system” that actually does not exist.

    It’s a real fun to see those Finns who live without any private health insurance criticize the US health care system and give a sympathy to poor US citizens without health insurance. They never realize themselves are under the same situation.

  • Tomi

    No offense for anybody. I like Finland, that’s why I leave here.

    Hmm … is that clever or what.

    Anyway, I can’t imagine that somebody could be offended by the kind of kind remarks you made. That’s called constructive criticism ;-)

    What somewhat irritatates me is when people who don’t have a clue what they are talking about tell “us”, you know, from above, kind of, how things should be done. Perhaps that’s the notorious “huono itsetunto”, insufficient self-esteem Finns are supposed to have. Traditionally Finland has been this asshole of the world, something to be ashemed of, more or less. But do we admit? Never! Fortunately the younger generations seem to have a better start in this respect – if not in all respects.

  • Simo

    Tomi @120, why is it so? I really see no reason for self-considering the asshole of the world. But again, I have lived here for 5 years only and now the situation is much better.

  • Tomi

    Simo, Finland was this insignificant piece of land, with inisignificant, poor and uncultured people, between rich Sweden and the totalitarian Soviet Union which told us what we were allowed to do. We had one thing to be proud of, the Winter War, but then even it turned out to be pretty much our own fault. Otherwise our historical role has been to act as a pawn in big boys’ games.

    Monty Python put it like this:

    Finland, Finland, Finland
    The country where I want to be
    Pony trekking or camping
    Or just watching TV
    Finland, Finland, Finland
    It’s the country for me

    You’re so near to Russia
    So far from Japan
    Quite a long way from Cairo
    Lots of miles from Vietnam

    Finland, Finland, Finland
    The country where I want to be
    Eating breakfast or dinner
    Or snack lunch in the hall
    Finland, Finland, Finland
    Finland has it all

    You’re so sadly neglected
    And often ignored
    A poor second to Belgium
    When going abroad

    Finland, Finland, Finland
    The country where I quite want to be
    Your mountains so lofty
    Your treetops so tall
    Finland, Finland, Finland
    Finland has it all

  • Thomas

    One way out:

    “There is a moral question to be asked as to whether the state really should have the right to take more than 50% of a working man’s income, any working man.”

    There is a moral question to be asked also, in case the state does take less than necessary, in order to pay for its costs.

    If in Finland, “big government” (I explained what this means in post #81) is net-debtless, then don’t you think it has “taken” exactly what is necessary, unlike governments that produce huge net-debts (and that is more or less all the low-tax countries, including the U.S.)? Because that is just a matter of postponing taxes, to future generations. Do we – the generation currently in power – have that right?

  • Thomas

    european:

    “Actually I have found most relatively wealthy middle class Finns have private insurance and they go to private doctors and hospitals that provide better service and prosper with those rich customers whereas poorer Finns are living without any protection, even though they live in the fantasy that there is “free public health care system” that actually does not exist.”

    What a load of crap. Where do you get these ideas. I believe I am part of the “relatively wealthy middle class Finns”, as are many of my friends, relatives, neighbours, … I do not know (at least I haven’t heard anyone saying this) ONE SINGLE person who has private health insurance.

    Yes, they have private insurance for their kids (as do I) but there are many resons for this. It’s not – at least in my case – any critisism directed towards the “free public health care system” (which is not FREE, it’s just free in the sense that your costs are covered by a free insurance to a fairly large extent). In fact I have two (out of three) kids with chronic diseases, but both have attended the public health care, regardless of the fact that I have an insurance. The reason is that there is really not anything to benefit from using “private” health care, due to the fact that the public care is the best.

    So, so much for your theorising about this issue. Do you have more “facts” to tell us?

  • Thomas

    Dario:

    “An example could be the health care system. Finns are happy of paying taxes and having “free health care”. I noticed some talk as free health care is in Finland only. It is also in other European countries and some things are much better, for example the easiness to talk to a doctor.”

    I’m not saying that there couldn’t be SOME truth to what you are saying. But, you said there is a shortage of doctors, not nurses, in health care. This is not really the case.

    And, a reason for the “shortage” of doctors (which has led to the practise you describe) is the fact that many employers expect “doctors testimonies” to such diseases as common flu etc. Now, if doctors are required to keep writing reports about people with some fever, sore throat etc., don’t you think it might tie up their hands unecessarily? The practise you describe is a sanitation in this respect.

  • Antti (the redneck one)

    Hey, chin up guys. Finland is not for the humppa-masses, you have to be a conoisseur to appreciate finnish contribution to the world. (A pun??!? Sort the damn intended or non-intended puns out yourself for a change.)

    The copper even in the worst Finland bashers computers here is probably produced by Outokumpu’s ingenious energy efficient method. In physics you have Nurmia-Taagapera formula and Reissner-Nordström geometry, in mathematics, Nevanlinna + Picard-Lindelöf theories and Mellin transform. Schmidt-Väisälä telescope is familiar to the astronomers. Just to mention few, I’m not going further into realm of Eurovision-Markku. Really, there is enough for a nation of 5e6.

  • Dario

    @125, Thomas: “Now, if doctors are required to keep writing reports about people with some fever, sore throat etc., don’t you think it might tie up their hands unecessarily? The practise you describe is a sanitation in this respect.”

    You see? You would never go to the doctor for a fever,sore throat or any other apparent stupid thing; all Finns do not do that, I discussed this many times, they are so hesitating when it occurs to go to a doctor. And why is it so? Because they would be turned down by the nurses.

    I remember when I was a child and had a fever over 38, my parents brought me to the doctor, who examined me and decided that it was not pneumonia, not meningitis, not whooping cough and it was a stupid influence. The DOCTOR decided that, not the nurse. There are so many sicknesses who look nothing at the beginning and become very bad after a short time. With all due respect to their education, it is not nurses’ job to evaluate these things.

    How many times does it happens that a person here is turned down by the nurse, get much worse after two weeks and then goes back in worse conditions? “I have a pain in the liver”, “No, it is nothing. Take Burana!”. Really good saving for the so precious time of doctors.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Yeah, I guess it boils-down to the apparent fact, that public healthcare costs less per-capita. But the innate competition between private insurers ensures better service. At least, that’s been my experience. Maybe a hybrid-combination of both is best.

    To analyze, if we were to stay 100% ‘public’, then perhaps we could write laws to mandate ‘better service’ (e.g. shorter waits, better access to docs). But the creation of such laws would depend on the public’s recognition of problems and its initiative to act politically.

    If the public—most of which hasn’t lived in other countries to make comparisons—doesn’t know that something needs to be fixed, then the message won’t reach elected officials. For this reason, private insurance can benefit people.

    For example:

    An insurance company might advertise: “Guaranteed access to a doctor everytime!” And the doctor must follow the this directive if he wants to keep his contract with the insurance company.

    To compete, another insurance company might advertise: “Guaranteed access to a doctor everytime! AND “Guaranteed diagnostic testing for illnesses!”

    This is an example of how advertising ‘educates’ the public about what type of medical service it should expect to receive. Without it, people will continue to think that—e.g.—being denied doctors’ visits and diagnostic testing is ‘normal.’ Therefore nothing changes.

    But—considering that insurance for low-income families could be subsidized—private insurance is more expensive per-capita. So, maybe a balance needs to be struck between which services remain public and which ones become private—the final result is a ratio.

    Even after such optimization is made, the overall cost will surely be higher than currently. Unfortunately, that’s where we’ll feel the ‘socialist’ pinch. That is, our high tax, low GDP and cash-poor economy will hinder us from paying for better medical care.

    I suppose the other option is to ‘do nothing’ and continue with what many deem ‘questionable service’ in Finnish public healthcare.

  • Anonymous

    I guess my last post, #28, got filtered.

    Again :-(

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    I guess my last post, #28, got filtered.

    Again :-(

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Oh, now it suddenly appeared. After those last two “got filtered” posts. Strange.

  • Oregon

    Finnpundit wrote “You might realize soon that this is the only site in Finland offering a dose of alternative discusssion on Finland”

    I am puzzled. Phil takes most of the topics from the short English language edition of Helsingin Sanomat so how can this discussion be “alternative”. In fact, it is very main stream, very much along the lines the Finns discuss. If you read the “keskustlut” posts on the Helsingin Sanomat web pages you easily find more alternative discussion than here, as you can find in any letters-to-the-editor section of any newspaper.

  • european

    #124,

    You are admitting that you have private insurances for children. That’s true and that’s what I have observed. As Dario mentioned the visit to the doctors are turned down by nurses so people with sick children used to go to private doctors. In private hospital doctors not nurses see the patients. If you suspect me, just go to any private hospitals and see how many middle class Finns are there to see doctors.
    If your fantasy is correct, why are there so many Finns when they can get free public health care?

  • european

    #125, you are joking surely.

    You can see the doctor after two weeks when everything is fine.

    I know many cases who went to the hospital for high fever, then turned down by nurses, then went to private doctors, and finally found to have a very serious disease not a simple cold.

    Thomas, I am sure you are joking.. right?

  • Let’s feed the troll

    If your fantasy is correct, why are there so many Finns when they can get free public health care?

    There are about 5-6 million Finns in the whole world. I don’t think that’s “many”. Surely there would be more if giving birth was free and more professional. But imagine a world of 10 million racist, dishonest and violent Finns. That wouldn’t be nice, would it?

  • european

    Thomas and others’ opinion is typical Finns. They have a fantasy that Finland has a “free” public health care and they are satisfied with it, even though they can’t see the doctor.

    If you are lucky enough, then you can see a doctor. But doctors in Finland allow only 2 minutes to a patient. Once I was seeing a doctor and was describing my symptoms, she stopped me (I was not wasting on blah blah but just one or two minutes I was using to describe my pains and etc.) and said “OK here is the prescription. Let’s see it will work.” That was it. That’s the reality of Finnish public health care. Thus I went to private hospital and I was able to discuss my symptoms and the doctor allowed 20 minutes and gave me explanation what to do and what to eat and not.

  • european

    #134, Why don’t you answer my question instead of being finnish?

  • Let’s feed the troll

    Why don’t you come up with a Funnyier routine?

  • a lamb with no guiding light

    european wrote: They have a fantasy that Finland has a “free” public health care and they are satisfied with it, even though they can’t see the doctor.

    They have a fantasy that they’re satisfied even though they’re not satisfied? What the hell are you talking about?

    If you want to prove that people are less satisfied with public health care than, say, the US system, you really need to do better than to just offer anecdotes. Believe or not, there have been studies done on public satisfaction with health care systems in various countries. Good luck finding one which supports your conclusions. You’re going to need it.

  • european

    #139,
    Finns are satisfied with their country. I don’t deny that. In some sense, I respect those positive mentality of Finns.

    It’s not surprising to see that Finns are very satisfied with the public health care system. But that satisfaction is the actual reason why there is no improvement in the system. When they are satisfied with it, is there any reason to improve the system? Definitely No.

    But in another sense Finns are living in the fantasy land… They are satisfied with the public health care system not because they receive good care but because the government and media say Finland has the best public health care system in the world.

  • Anonymous

    #140

    I haven’t met any Finn who wouldn’t deny the fact that there is problems in our healthcare and those problems need to be fixed.

    Being satisfied in the system doesn’t mean that they don’t think that there is no need to improve the system.

  • a lamb with no guiding light

    european wrote: It’s not surprising to see that Finns are very satisfied with the public health care system.

    Is it surprising that people from many different countries with public health systems express similar sentiments? Seriously, check out some of the studies on the topic. I think you’ll find that people in countries with public health care are not in general less satisfied with their systems than Americans are with theirs.

    Here’s an example of the genre. I think it at least shows that expressing satisfaction with public health care is not a quirk of Finnish mentality. It’s possible, I suppose, that Americans have an unusually negative mentality and are uncommonly dissatisfied with their country, but is any advocate of private health care prepared to argue that?

  • european

    #141, You are seeing a “small” problem in the almost perfect system.

    Well, I think the problem is fatal to the system.

    What kind of problem can be serious in the health care than not able to see doctors?

  • european

    #142, the US system is bad. But I think Finnish system is as bad as the US system. Finland doesn’t have a working public health care system as much as the US doesn’t have. Those who want to survive must have private health insurance in both countries.

    The difference? US citizens are dissatisfied with the system because they see the reality but Finns are satisfied with the system because they see the fantasy.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com Fred Fry

    144 – you don’t see doctors in the US suggesting that parents with diabled children request that their children not be resussitated if the process is needed while in the hospital.

    At least with the US system you know that you need private health insurance. Like like a defender of the public ‘free’ system, getting private insurance for his family. Clearly, something is wrong with that!

  • a lamb with no guiding light

    Fred Fry wrote: you don’t see doctors in the US suggesting that parents with diabled children request that their children not be resussitated if the process is needed while in the hospital.

    What, specifically, are you talking about?

    Also, why are advocates of private health care so enamored with vague, anecdotal evidence?

  • Freeridin’ Franklin

    Like like a defender of the public ‘free’ system, getting private insurance for his family. Clearly, something is wrong with that!

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Public and private healthcare do not rule each other out but complement each other. If one can afford it, why not spend a little extra in order to get better service? Their tax money will not go to waste as far as they’re concerned, since the availability of public care keeps the private prices in check.

    I always book an appointment from a private doctor, since 50€ isn’t an enormous fortune to me and I can choose when to go instead of having to rearrange my schedule according to the time I’ve given. The quality of care is not even an issue here. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have this luxury if the 20 minute appointment cost 500€. I also suspect that my credit doesn’t exactly cover six months of chemo, should the need arise.

  • http://aapocalypsenow.blogspot.com Aapo

    I reckon that health care is indeed one part of the welfare state where my people could think out of the box a bit more often. There are quite many tax payers who regard it as somewhat dysfunctioning, but still like to believe that it’s more equal than elsewhere.

    And it’s definitely not, as for example OECD has underlined. Most Finns with permanent jobs are covered by private, occupational health care, whereas the unemployed and those with irregular contracts go to the chronically overloaded public one. As well, within the public care, the working patients tend to get better/faster treatment than the rest.

    Hospitals themselves claim that this is because austerity and underfunding, but I’d say it’s more up to bad, out-of-date organising and hierarchies. Far too often the doctors have to use time for paper work and other ‘managerial’ duties. At least what I have done management studies, Finnish hospitals are usually used as the prime example of strict hierarchies and lousy delegation.

    Surely it would also help if all workers would be entitled to have one sick day by their own notice, but apparently the employer side presumes implicitly that everybody is a potential cheater.

    But if we’re to copy some other country then for God’s sake not USA. Maybe they can afford such a financial time-bomb, but we -as many, so delightfully eagerly have reminded us- aren’t that rich.

    You may have some real anecdote out there:
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/health/2005-09-01-kaiser-news_x.htm

  • Antti (the redneck one)

    I second Franklin here. No matter whether you go to private or public, you are still using the “system”. Both ways are KELA subsidized. I go to private dentist, because I can afford it and I don’t have to queue up, but my kids go to public dental ward, because kids practically don’t have to queue up here in Oulu.

    If I need to see the doctor, I go to see one on my workplace. We can book appointment directly on the net, without seeing the nurse. I don’t have insurance, as I’m happy on what the occupational health services and OYS has done for me so far. I had a little surgery a couple months back, got me a professor doing the surgery and paid 72 erkkis for the whole treatment. I’m going to send them a christmas card.

    I don’t see any reason to stick to ‘public only’ or ‘private only’ for ideologys sake. I’m just picking up the best the system as whole can offer.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    I actually wouldn’t mind if the private option were available to all workers, even if lower-income workers get subsidized. It probably wouldn’t cost that much more overall.

    In my own fantasy world, unions for service workers (supermarket employees, restaurant staff) should accept a trade-off that would forgo all restricting overtime-pay demands (for Sundays or after 23:00, etc.) in exchange for subsidized private health coverage.

    We might gain some economic efficiencies that would offset the extra insurance costs—like competitively priced meals at Finnish restaurants! Even if the cost isn’t offset entirely, at least we’d avoid a two-tier system…………except maybe for unemployeds, but they have lots of time anyway, so maybe waiting-around at a public health clinic isn’t so bad for them.

    At first thought, it seems counter-productive to include almost everyone in the private scheme. But, we might expect increased organizational efficiency within the medical community. However, that depends on how the insurance companies structure their contracts with healthcare providers. They might need some coercing.

    In any case, I favor a hybrid public/private approach, that should always be analyzed for best value. There’s no sense in privatizing those aspects which work fine in the less expensive public sector. There’s also no sense in accepting the cheaper public aspects, if a slightly more expensive private alternatives provide better value. It’s a balance.

  • european

    I wonder why Finland doesn’t learn from Sweden. Sweden always has been a role model for Finland. And for health care, Sweden provides a real public health care service when Finland does not. What’s the problem to Finnish politicians not to copy Swedish system ?

  • a lamb with no guiding light

    Here’s a hilarious chart from the OECD. The US _public_ health expenditure is currently higher than the Finnish _total_ health expenditure.

    (The figures are from 2004, but I doubt it has changed since then. This chart shows that US health expenditure, in 2004 at 15.3 percent of their GDP, was growing at a fairly rapid clip, whereas Finland was the only OECD country in which health expenditure went down between 1990 and 2004, to 7.5 percent.)

  • Thomas

    European & Dario:

    All your whining combined, has not pin-pointed any clear problems with the health-care system in Finland.

    I’m not saying there isn’t any. Sure there is. But e.g., not being able to see A “DOCTOR”, if you have 38 degrees of fever due to “the flu”. Is this really a problem? What would THE “DOCTOR” do. Take out his/her GERM-KILLER and heal you at that moment? Most likely – if pressed – he/she would prescribe antibiotics. What would that help. In the mean, for your case perhaps minimally, provided your illness was not viral. But from the public health care point of view, it would only cause more antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This is a problem caused by all THE “DOCTORS” all over the world who are all to willing to see their patients (and recieve handsome payment – from you, or more likely somebody else, like your employer, insurance company), and then get rid of them by prescribing more and more antibiotics.

    I do not hear that many stories of people, in their prime age, dying due to the reason of not being able to see a “doctor”, despite their life-challenging illness of 38 degrees of fever. But that is the message whiners like you seem to bring forward. I would like to see some more believable CASES. Cases that would clearly pin-point THE SYSTEM, not e.g. individuals (but so far I haven’t seen any examples of that, even). You guys need to PROVE your point, not jus report hearsay.

    And I think that – IN FACT – “doctors” do not know that much more than “nurses” when it comes to treating plain illnesses. Whether your medical schooling lasts 4 or 6 years, doesn’t make that much of a difference. Do you think nurses only train how to make beds for 4 years? The basic difference between nurses and “doctors” is the same as the one between “engineeers” and “University educated engineers”. The universitys role is to provide its students with the ability to do research. But an engineer from a university might be much worse than an engineer coming out of a non-university engineering school, when it comes to “practical engineering”. It’s basically the same thing with medical doctors and nurses. A medical doctor may be extremely skilled at doing medical science (for which he/she is trained), but might suck at providing care to individuals.

    So I simply cannot understand this whining about not being able to see a DOCTOR (which many of the “medical doctors” aren’t, in academic terms).

    And “european”:

    Where is your proof for your claim that “most relatively wealthy middle class Finns have private insurance and they go to private doctors and hospitals that provide better service and prosper with those rich customers whereas poorer Finns are living without any protection”? I asked for it once, now I ask for it for the second time. I guess you’re a bit to EUROPEAN to be able to answer this.

    And the MANY CASES you refer to. It’s very easy to refer to “many cases”, but often people referring to “many cases”, without being able to give any details turn out to be frauds. I’m not saying you are one, but your behaviour has some clear indications of it. Not being able to answer straigth questions, without bringing up new sweeping accusations.

  • european

    Thomas,

    OK. I already showed that you have a private insurance. You are a hypocrite. Why do you have it when you don’t need it? I think you are too much Finnish in that sense.

    And you say people don’t need doctors but need only nurses. OK, if you think so, I can’t object you. But just think that in another world outside Finland people need doctors. Probably Finns are strong enough to live without the help of modern medicine.

    One more thing. Influenza or cold is caused by virus not by bacteria. And doctors don’t use antibiotics against virus because antibiotics is used against bacteria. In some cases antibiotics is used when there is side infection. For example, if there is ear infection caused by the cold then antibiotics is used. In that case it is necessary. I know a case of baby who had a cold then later ear infection. The parents brought the baby to the nurse but turned down to see a doctor because it was a simple cold. But actually the baby had a ear infection which could cause a serious problem. Yeah Thomas you are right. The baby will not die of it. But he will be deaf. OK, if you think that’s not a big problem because he will live anyway again I respect your opinion. But I think other nonFinns will have different opinion. Anyway the baby went to the private hospital and then received the proper care there and was healed. So a happy ending.

  • european

    So Thomas you have a private insurance for your kids and your kids will be protected.

    And in the same time you say other kids don’t need private insurance. You don’t care whether they become deaf blind or have scars in their face if they don’t die.

    You are a great Finn! I really respect you.

  • european

    One more thing…

    In the case of the baby with ear infection.
    I want to add that the nurse was very kind, the parents said. She provided all information and help to heal the cold of the baby. But the result? She didn’t find the ear infection that can be a serious problem. That’s the difference between the doctor and the nurse.

    Sometimes people need more than kindness.

  • Pave

    On the way out -

    On behalf of one occassional commenter here: welcome to FFT although you probably stopped reading this particular thread already.

    Why is it morally questionable to tax more than 50% of people’s pay? Of course you can ask that question and it’s important to know if the tax money is spent wisely (a certain ice statue comes to mind). But is there a moral dilemma here? Accepting the facts that money is a social agreement and producing goods is always somewhat communal I simply can’t understand how one could present owning half of what you produce (this is of course purely theoretical since it’s impossible to calculate all factors) a human right of any sort. This is a society and you can’t leave it. There is no way of knowing what part of the big pile of junk you as an individual deserve, it’s all too complicated for us to see. The state is here to produce certain services for us that seem vital to most citizens. In Finland, those services include transfer of wealth in the form of progressive taxation and universal (almost free, almost working) healthcare plus other government handouts.

    So feel free to criticize how the tax money is spent, the effeciency etc. But to question the morality of it all, well, the state comprises of its citizens so taxing is just a form of allocation, thus even 100% would be quite ethical (probably not according to those who falsely see themselves free of society).

    And for those unable to understand me: I’m not talking economics here, merely

  • Pave

    …social philosophy. The job of a state is not to grow economically but to provide security to its citizens. Some of you tend to consider economic growth a crucial part of that and you might be correct. So taxing too much could cause harm to a society. But this doesn’t question the morality of taxing from the individuals perspective, only the effeciency of it.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Why is it morally questionable to tax more than 50% of people’s pay?

    I don’t think it needs to be argued within a context of morality. It’s far easier to frame an argument against 50% taxation, in terms of fiscal soundness.

  • Thomas

    “euoropean”:

    (Are you european, you sound “american” somehow)

    “OK. I already showed that you have a private insurance.”

    YOU already SHOWED I have private insurance. This has to be one of the most ridiculous phrases I’ve read on this blog. And there are many to choose from. It’s sad that this comes from somebody calling him/herself “european”.

    1. YOU haven’t SHOWN anything. YOU woudn’t know ANYTHING about my insurances, if I hadn’t written about them.

    2. I don’t have A private insurance, I have several.

    3. I DON’T have a private health insurance, but I (or rather me and my wife) have gotten private health insurance for our three kids.

    “You are a hypocrite.”

    You are an idiot.

    The reason people get private insurance for their kids are manyfold. But basically it’s financial arrangement.

    YOU brough this term “free health-care” into the discussion. I’ve never claimed health-care is FREE in Finland. Never. Unlike you, I’m able to register facts in my surrounding. I’m able to see that I use my credit card (or pay bills) every time a visit to the “doctor” is done. Be it private or public.

    But, people buy private health insurance to cover not only for the “doctor” costs, medications (especially) costs too. Or rehab. Or … Kids health insurances are typically also insurances against invalidity, and life incurances.

    I have three kids. All have private health insurance. Two of these three kids happen to have 2 chronic diseases each. In both cases the insurance has covered my costs from the FREE health care system more than well (I’ve saved money thanks to them). In the third case the insurance has been a “financial” loss.

    But still, I’ve mostly made use of the public health care system, simply because that’s where the expertise is in the case of these chronic illnesses I’m talking about.

    “And you say people don’t need doctors but need only nurses. OK, if you think so, I can’t object you.”

    Learn to read, and once you learn, learn to comprehend. I didn’t say that – in general – people do NOT need medical doctors, but what I said was that in many cases, like dignosing common flu, I think that a nurse can do it just as well as a medical doctor. Just because someone is a nurse doesn’t mean that the person is an idiot.

    “But just think that in another world outside Finland people need doctors.”

    For the common cold? Not bloody likely.

    “Probably Finns are strong enough to live without the help of modern medicine.”

    No more than anybody else. Have I claimed this.

    You surely excel in the art of Amplification&Distortion.

    “One more thing. Influenza or cold is caused by virus not by bacteria. And doctors don’t use antibiotics against virus because antibiotics is used against bacteria. In some cases antibiotics is used when there is side infection. For example, if there is ear infection caused by the cold then antibiotics is used.”

    More A&D.

    1. I didn’t say influenza is caused by bacteria, now did I?

    2. You can – afaik – have influenza like symptoms due to a bacteria.

    3. Most people having influenza, or “the flu”, go see a “doctor” for one single purpose. To get a “doctors certificate” allowing them to stay at home resting (which is the only cure to viral infections) instead of going to work.

    4. Many “doctors” do prescribe antibiotics – just in case – for illnesses that are most likely viral.

    5. Some patients who see “doctors”, want a prescription, just to feel that they are in good hands. When you whine enough you will get your prescription.

    “I know a case of baby who had a cold then later ear infection. The parents brought the baby to the nurse but turned down to see a doctor because it was a simple cold. But actually the baby had a ear infection which could cause a serious problem. Yeah Thomas you are right. The baby will not die of it. But he will be deaf.”

    So you know this for a fact? The baby got deaf? Can you give me the details? Or are you yet again A&D:ing?

    If what you say is true, and happened in Finland, I’m amazed. But I don’t believe this story without proof. I mean, any person who has kids know how common ear infections are. Every time ANY of our kids have been sick (flu symptoms) their ears have routinely been checked. Always. Regardless of the town, the profession of the person doing the checking, or whether the service has been public or private.

    So, the point is, I don’t believe you, “european”. But If what you say is true then that’s clearly a professional misconduct on behalf of the INDIVIDUAL in question. But still, in that case it is a mistake made by an INDIVIDUAL, not a failure of the SYSTEM. Get it?

    “And in the same time you say other kids don’t need private insurance. You don’t care whether they become deaf blind or have scars in their face if they don’t die.”

    A&D:ing again. You are quite a character.

    Where have I said that “other kids don’t need private insurance”? You bragged about SHOWING that I have bought private insurance for my kids (which you didn’t). Now maybe you could live up to your brave statements, and show WHERE I’ve said what you CLAIM I’ve said.

    “You don’t care whether they become deaf blind or have scars in their face if they don’t die.”

    Fuck off. Moron.

    “In the case of the baby with ear infection.

    She didn’t find the ear infection that can be a serious problem. That’s the difference between the doctor and the nurse.”

    You really are dumb.

    Ever heard of the term “malpractise suit”? One of the reasons – that medical treatment costs in the U.S. are so high – this what I’ve understood – is that “doctors” have to have so much insurance coverage for the case somebody accuses them for mistreatment, and they have to pay enourmous sums of money in responce.

    You talk about ONE case, riddled with if’s here and there, that might be true, but based on your pattern of A&D:ing here, I don’t believe it, not just like that.

    But if ONE nurse is enough evidence for the fact that NURSES cannot diagnose anything, then is ONE “doctor” making ONE mistake enough proof that NO doctor can do anything right?

    And you STILL have not shown proof for your earlier claim that “most relatively wealthy middle class Finns have private insurance and they go to private doctors and hospitals that provide better service and prosper with those rich customers whereas poorer Finns are living without any protection”?

    Instead of claiming that you have shown anything in my case, show that what you claim is trustworthy, by giving any evidence in support for the above.

  • Thomas

    Aapo:

    “but in my opinion independent studying can never completely replace face-to-faces teaching”

    If we talk about universities, what is their role. The only profession a university – if we are very very strict – “produces”, is that of a researcher. Now, if you do reasearch, then you basically explore the UNKNOWN. Who does the “face-to-faces teaching” for you when you do research?

    Face-to-Face teaching may be effective in some situations for some people, but even if you are studying towards a degree (not necessarily doing research) YOU yourself need to grasp the thing you are trying to grasp. Nobody else can do that for you.

    Different people learn in different ways, but for university students the main thing to learn is “independent learning”.

  • Thomas

    Kristian:

    “I don’t think it needs to be argued within a context of morality. It’s far easier to frame an argument against 50% taxation, in terms of fiscal soundness.”

    Since you brought this up, can you now please provide the “fiscal soundness” argument 50% taxation.

    I’m eagerly waitng for the response.

    And I would appreciate an answer with a minimum of hearsay, references to relatives, 1-case examples, and all the other classic Amplifications&Distortions classically used by “libertarians” (ok – I’m Amplifying a bit here, but at least I admit it) such as you.

  • Kristian (in Espoo)

    Thomas: ……can you now please provide the “fiscal soundness” argument 50% taxation.

    I don’t mean to avoid the question here, but after 161 posts this thread is slowly dieing. You’ll notice that nearly all my posts on this blog address that issue either directly or indirectly.

    On some details you and I agree, but on others………..well, let’s just say I haven’t converted you yet :-)

  • Thomas

    Kristian:

    “On some details you and I agree, but on others………..well, let’s just say I haven’t converted you yet :-)

    And you will not, unless you provide believable data, to cover your opinions. Sorry, that’s the way I am.

  • european

    Thomas the moron,

    I have made you confess that you have private health insurances for your kids.

    Anyway,
    1. you have private insurance for your kids.
    2. you claim you don’t need private insurance.
    3. What a moron you are..

    I am sure you don’t find the confict between 1 and 2.

    You claimed antibiotics are used against the flu. Then you spend paragraphs to ridicule yourself on the viurs and bacteria. I think you don’t know what is the flu.. you the moron.

    The third. Nurse knows what? You dream so. I think nurses are just assistants.

    And for the ear infection.. I have no time to explain other misconducts by nurses when I was hospitalized. I have seen numerous.. You don’t need to believe me. You are a Finn.

  • Thomas

    european:

    “I have made you confess that you have private health insurances for your kids.”

    Amplification & Distortion.

    You have not MADE me confess ANYTHING. Moron. I said quite openly, that I have private health insurances for my kids. Yoy did not in ANY way contribute to this “confession” (and it’s not a confession of anything, it’s simply a statement of a fact).

    “Anyway,
    1. you have private insurance for your kids.
    2. you claim you don’t need private insurance.
    3. What a moron you are..

    I am sure you don’t find the confict between 1 and 2. ”

    If what you claim would be true (which it isn’t), then there would be a conflict between 1 and 2.

    Your A&D:ing reaches higher heights post by post. Now, I would like you to substantiate your claim. Where have I said that private insurances are not NEEDED, or anything similar? I think you can live well without private insurance, but private insurances are a way to cover your FINANCIAL risk, when it comes to illnesses.

    You were the one who started this whole – ridiculous – talking about FREE healt care. I’ve NEVER said that health-care is FREE.

    “You claimed antibiotics are used against the flu.”

    A&D.

    No. I said that many “doctors” treat assumed bacterial infections, if a person suffering from viral influenza complains enough.

    “Then you spend paragraphs to ridicule yourself on the viurs and bacteria. I think you don’t know what is the flu.. you the moron.”

    I will not count how many paragraphs about just about anything you have spent on making yourself a fool. It seems you simply need to start your computer and hit the keyboard, in order for that. Asshole.

    “The third. Nurse knows what? You dream so. I think nurses are just assistants.”

    Is this English, or some newly invented language. I don’t understand wtf you are babbling about. What the hell do you mean?

    “And for the ear infection.. I have no time to explain other misconducts by nurses when I was hospitalized. I have seen numerous.. You don’t need to believe me. You are a Finn.”

    You have the time to A&D rather much. But once you are supposed to SUBSTANTIATE any of the numerous claims you make, then time runs out. I suggest you start administering your time a bit better.

    It’s easy to make general accusations, without any factual content. Anyone can do that, even a trained monkey like you. But, if you want to be believed, you should provide the details. The stuff you keep pouring out is simply not believable, just because YOU say so.

    I don’t need to believe you – NOT because I’m a Finn – but because you have repeatedly shown that you are simply a lier and A&D:er. It’s as simple as that. Describe one of the NUMEROUS misconducts by nurses that you seem to know of. Take the simplest case, so that you don’t need to “rape” the english language too much in the process.

    Otherwise I do not believe anything you say. Asshole.

  • True Finn

    Yes indeed. Finland is a poor ex-Soviet state.

  • Martin

    Statistics:
    You and I go to have dinner. I eat two chikens and drink one litre of wine. You eat and drink nothing. You pay the dinner, 50€.
    Statistics say we both had a good dinner, and best of all, it was not expensive.

  • bambo

    Post #68 Fred Fry wrote: Small problem in all of this. Doing something involves dealing in the internal matters of other countries. Europeans generally don’t like to do that.

    > And does Europeans include Brits, and even Finns? Hell yeah, they have involved in internal matters of other countries :D

    Post #72 Anni wrote: Why should they care what happens in Finland?

    > Because Finland is a part of the world like any other. Why should some Finns or let’s say the Finnish state care about what happens in Acer, Indonesia?

    > Post #73 … so that Onion picture is manipulated, no? :-?

    > Post #79 … that is well said! Thanks for clearing things out for the brain-washed kids :D

    Post #87 wrote: It is not an exaggeration; they really do make more.

    > For sure they do earn more generally over there in the US. A BA holder here working for the avaition industry earn about 15600/yr and same earn about 26000/yr in the US if not more :O

    And loads of the business bachelors degree holders here in Finland are unemployed or are cleaners for SOL or ISS. Whereas, would have a proper job elsewhere, for example U.S.A.

    Oh my God, I can’t continuing reading this…

    =-=
    My conclusion, Finland is poor now but hopefully things will change gradually. We can see that somewhat Finland has changed over the years but with the increasing amount of lay-offs, I am scared that Finland will be able economically battle Norway for example. Forget about “old money” e.t.c, we should collectively try to correct what the problem is over here – and we all know what it’s :D

  • joe boi

    Well there you go.. Finland is hardcore socialist shithole. If you ever consider starting your business here, you are reatard.
    Goddamn I want to get outta here right now!

  • http://www.verosirkus.com Sirkuspelle

    #7 No, Iceland was quite poor after WWII. The USA paid over a lot of money to Iceland for having the military base there, and the Iceland government in turn invested the money into renewing the fishing fleets and other infrastructure. This later made Iceland a rather wealthy country.

  • http://salihome.info/show/index.html sali

    In Iran, Putin Warns Against Military Action:
    http://salihome.info/show/index.html

  • pat willsis

    ur ite sucks

  • Mario Donoso

    To understand why the Nordic countries having high GDP Per capita values and GDP (PPP) per capita values and such a small net worth, you should look at disposable income per capita and specially disposable income per capita (PPP). Also the hosing affordability index is important to look at, because a great percentage of the net worth of a family depends on the equity in the house and the percentage of ownership.

  • http://tvonline.nfshost.com Elma Gritman

    Yes! an app that that enables me to see sky abroad!

  • http://- Mock Mock Mockin’ on Heavens Door

    The reason you see Finns mockin their own country here is that Finland is a free country. Lots of USA citizens bad mouth their country to the ground on the internet. In China or North Korea you go to jail if you critizise anything in their ‘perfect system’. It’s good to see Finns mockin their own land here. It means we are still free.

  • lnfidel

    My first impression of you is that you’re either an idiot or someone with a blatant agenda to bad-mouth Finland, but after reading a few more of your articles, I actually think you might in fact be both. My hunch is that you purposely wrote this piece in order to once again discredit Finland as some backward country in Europe – or actually not even Europe according to some of your other writings. My question to you is; if you really despise this country and its people that much, then why don’t you just move the hell out back to where you came from? The height of stupidity and impotence, has to be, staying in a place that brings so much discomfort to one’s quality of life that one has to constantly moan about it publically, yet being too feeble and inept to do anything decisive to get out of the situation.

    Then to the content of your article. You’re argument, that net worth per capita somehow paints the true picture of the state of affairs of a country, is erroneous. Many of  these countries e.g. Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Portugal, Greece etc all have a higher net worth per capita than Finland, yet today are bust and calling for bailouts from the group of financially solid nations, to which Finland belongs to. What does it say when residents of a country, that in reality are broke, have a disproportionately high net wealth per capita – in relation to their GDP per capita - on paper? To me it says that these numbers do not depict real wealth but rather a speculative economic bubble, and that the accumulated fake wealth merely is a sign of an excessive lifestyle, in which the residents of these countries have been living beyond their means. 

    Here are some other facts and statistics that could be more relevent in depicting the state of affairs of a country, if you de facto weren’t to busy pushing a spiteful agenda.
    Finland has the world’s forth most competitive economy in 2011-2012 rankings according to the Global Competitiveness Report. 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Competitiveness_Report

    Ranked the best country to live in the world according to parametres of health, education, economy and politics.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/08/15/interactive-infographic-of-the-worlds-best-countries.html

    6th place in 2009 on the Human developement Index.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index/Former_reports/2009

    Finnish school kids excel year after year in international student assessment studies. Does Finland have the best school in the world or the smartest 9th graders, you take your pick!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessmenthttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/4073753.stmhttp://ktl.jyu.fi/arkisto/verkkojulkaisuja/publication1.pdf

  • Michael

    The reason for a lower net worth per capita is that in Finland the state has fully funded pension programs for all citizens whereas in many countries people have those funds in their bank account and accounted for as part of the net worth per capita. Similarly, in other Nordic countries houses are bought with close to 100% debt and I am sure that is not taken into account in the calculation. The houses may be financially owned by the bank although it’s in the ownership of the household. In Finland, the household debt level is clearly the lowest in the Nordics. Finland is highly taxed and people get in return free medical services, universities, etc. Eg. in the US people need to have personal ”net worth” set aside for those services. I know this “study” is pasted from Wikipedia and unfortunately sources for it are unclear to say the least.

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