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Finland for Thought » 2007 » March | Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & the United States | Blog of an American living in Finland

Finland for Thought
             Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States

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31.3.2007

Finland gives aid to the poor people of the United Kingdom

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 2:43 pm

I just found out yesterday Finland payed over 100 million euros to the UK budget in 2006, apparently to support the poor peoples in the UK. We have known now for a while that the UK government is poor and has no money because they get aid from the EU in the form of payment reliefs. This has not been enough as their last resort has being to send over all the chavs as economic refugees to Finland. Shocking as it may seem to them that there are shower mixers and central heating. And bread you don’t need to put marmite on to hide the mildew. However the EU requires us here to raise the taxes to shell out additional money, though only a meagre 7% of the 442 million euros Finland contributes to the EU is directed to the relief of famine in the UK.

See here Blair and Prescott laughing after they’ve been to the soup kitchen, fed first time in weeks, benefit of the Finnish taxpayers money…

It is nice to know we here in Finland live in such a rich and well-to-do country. Maybe the only reason to feel inferior is that Sweden still pays more money to the EU than Finland. That is Swedish contribution is the greatest per capita, Germany is the biggest contributor if you just look at the figures.

30.3.2007

Italians busted by Finn

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 11:54 am

This is absolutely rich!

a Finnish entrepreneur had been asked to pay a significant bribe in order to get a construction contract from the EU for a project in India.

So far, authorities have arrested three Italians living in Brussels – a 46-year-old employee of the European Commission, the 60-year-old aide of an Italian MEP, and a 39-year-old businessman working in the real estate business.

If this reveals itself to be true, then some in Finland will surely say something to the effect that this is so typically Finnish…….and so typically Italian!

Seriously though, I really hope they can prosecute anyone who is taking bribes. I’m very pro-EU, and this type of activity shouldn’t exist. Can’t wait to see how this alleged caper unfurls.

29.3.2007

Terveyskeskus: No one here gets out alive

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 2:55 pm

Looks like the famous Finnish healthcare system is in the news again. Nothing surprising though. According to the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health….

…poor people die more often of diseases that might otherwise have been successfully treated with better care.

Diseases like asthma, diabetes, and pulmonary emphysema are more likely to kill poor people than those better-off financially.

I find it disturbing that poor people don’t get adequate care in Finland. Every modern country should be able to treat all its strata for these common diseases. Only a substandard underlying economic model can be to blame.

To compensate for bad economics, Finland uses an assembly line Terveyskeskus—or health clinic —system which involves near-anonymous physician-patient relationships. Just take a number and wait a few hours for the next available physician. No rapport is developed over time. The patient can only hope that good communication can be achieved during that short visit.

The bottom line is that a high-tax, low-wealth economic model simply can’t sustain good quality care for everyone. Consider that when combined, Ansiovero, VAT and Autovero are roughly the highest in Europe and prevent a sufficient investment base from developing in Finland. It’s no wonder that Finland is among the poorest countries in western Europe. This, despite having otherwise good economic indicators.

Of course, there’s no shame in being poor as a country, but it does cause a high number of people to be dependent on an overburdened, low-budget public healthcare system.

I’m very hopeful that Finland takes steps to change its economic and tax structures to enable wealth accumulation. In my opinion, given Finland’s status as underdog, it should strive to be among the lowest taxed and richest countries in western Europe rather than the highest taxed and poorest.

Ultimately, changes are necessary for the country’s economic wellbeing and also the health of its citizens.

28.3.2007

Satanic Eurovision?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 8:37 am

This is pretty funny. Evangelicals in Switzerland are condemning Eurovision as a Satanic event. The controversy stems from the lyrics of a Swiss singer, but Finland’s Lordi is also on their hit list….

The petition also states that the Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in May in the Finnish capital Helsinki, has increasingly become a platform for “the occult and Satanists”.

It makes reference to last year’s surprise winners Lordi who wooed fans with their “monster rock” and also faced accusations of being a satanic group – something they denied.

So, should we bring crosses and garlic just in case?

“Perhaps you need to get smarter leaders first before giving them more money”

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 8:08 am

The above quote from ‘Freeridin Franklin’ ‘hfb’ hit me as “my sentiments exactly” trying to figure out what to write. I’ve been fuming and spewing bile ever since that smarmy Paavo Väyrynen showed his mug on the telly. Now those who do not know of him are very lucky. If you need to find the most epitome Kekkoslovakian politician there is left, it is him. Paavo Väyrynen started his political career as a 23-year old MP in the year I was born, 1970, so I have been seeing his mug very often on the black & white telly. His career was raised by his good connections with Kekkonen and that old drunk Ahti Karjalainen.

  • 1975-1976: Minister of Education
  • 1976-1977: Minister of Labour
  • 1977-1982: Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 1983-1987: Minister of Forgein Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister
  • 1991-1993: Minister of Forgein Affairs

And the chairman of the Centre:

  • 1972-1980: Vice-chairman of the Keskusta party
  • 1980-1990: Chairman

Paavo Väyrynen was one of the last of the “old cadre” of pro-soviet leaders. He made his PhD dissertation on Finnish Foreign Policy in Åbo Akedemi in 1988, stating that “the political relationship between Finland and the USSR will not change in the foreseeable future”. Next year the Eastern Block had switched to market economy, and 1991 the USSR ceased existing.

Now as a politician he got some infamy over the jalasmökkiskandaali, basically living in Helsinki in an big apartment but having his official residence in a trailer cabin in his constituency in Keminmaa and of course collecting tax-free subsides for “travel expenses” and “keeping a second apartment” and so forth, probably making his media image somewhat “strained” The term “mediapeli” was probably invented by him at the time of the Presidential Elections of 1994, when after the fall of Kekkoslovakia he tried to implement Väyryslandia. The naughty press dug up some old documents from 1981, when Väyrynen was campaigning for Ahti Karjalainen’s election and allegedly tried to play the “Soviet Jack” with his liaison with the USSR “trade attache” Viktor Vladimirov. Of course the press was totaully to blame for his loss. After being so rudely pushed aside the people voted him to Brussels to the EU Parliament in 1995, with some 44000 votes – in the vain hope of getting him out of the country. He has been trying to wiggle back in ever since, being the presidential candidate, as apparently the “Kemijoki of thoughts” can’t compete with he other Eurocrats. His teflon-coating seems to make all scandals bounce, like trying to get state subsidies for a college of his own, when the Ministry of Education refused to accredit it.

Oh well, those drunk Laplanders voted him back to Parliament and now the slimeball is refusing to hand in his mandate letter for the Finnish Parliament. Väyrynen wants a minister position or to be the speaker of Parliament. Or he has said he is “available” for the position, but if he isn’t “given” a high-ranking position he will continue in the EU Parliament. Now these kindergarten antics are explained by a simple equation of greedy politician maths. If he hands in his mandate, the EU parliament position will end in 3 days, and he’ll come a member for Finnish Parliament – and cannot return if he’s not given a high-ranking job. Now a minister or the speaker get not only prestige, but also m-o-n-e-y… And its all about money, the salary of a MP after taxes is about 5000 euros, while an EU parliament member is getting some 10 000 in cash. So of course, why would he come to serve the people on such a meagre income?

BTW, a less fiery article on the antics of Paavo Väyrynen is in the HS international.

Hot, hot, hot!

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 7:49 am

OK, join the conga line. Anybody not been living in Finland can just go shaking their heads, but I love global warming. Yesterday Helsinki hit a record temperature of +17,5 C, (63.5 F) and theres been already people hitting the beach to catch some rays…

27.3.2007

Should ympäristö be Finland’s first priority?

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 1:43 pm

Some airlines, including SAS’ Blue1, are letting customers voluntarily pay an emissions surcharge. I’m in favor of cutting emissions Europe-wide—even worldwide—but is it really necessary for Finland to be on the front-line of bearing extra expenses for pollution?

Considering that geographic isolation already adds considerable costs to even the shortest excursion off the Finnish ‘subcontinent’—and the fact that Finland is one of the poorest lands in the western European spectrum—do such policies make sense for Finland to implement in advance, even if only done so voluntarily?

Sure, corporations are the first to pay these voluntary fees. Seems ok at first thought. But in essence, corporations could instead pay that money to their Finnish workers.

Finnair is still sitting on the bench with this one. And I hope it stays there. Although I support pollution cutting measures in general, they should first be implemented by countries which can most easily afford them. Finland should be on the tail-end of the process—or at best, slightly ahead of eastern European countries.

Times when I don’t want you bothering me

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:38 am

Americans love to say “How you doing?” to every random stranger they pass during their day. Finns are the exact opposite, they’ll avoid even eye contact with their next door neighbor. I like being able to make small talk with a stranger without fear they’ll think I’m intoxicated – and I don’t mind strangers making small talk with me. But here’s times when I don’t want you bothering me…

1. When I’m out in nature – I took a walk on a bike trail with my mother, almost everyone who passed said “HI” or “How you doing?” and one couple even began a conversation. And if you don’t say “Hi” back to them, they’ll think you’re an asshole.

2. When I having a conversation with another person – Many times this past week, I’ll be having a conversation with my sister or mother, and out pops some asshole who’s been eavesdropping on us the whole time and decides to chime in.

3. When I’m reading – If my nose is buried in a newspaper or book, fuck off.

phil_eats_oysters.jpg
4. When I’m stuffing my face with raw oysters in Baltimore

26.3.2007

Average conscript misses out on about EUR 11,300 in lost pay

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:12 pm

Conscription, which has very few differences than slavery, is tough on the conscripts and economy…

A report issued on Friday by the Ministry of Defence shows that Finland’s system of universal male conscription costs the average conscript 3,600 in lost earnings. The study examined the impact of the time of military service on the financial situation of the individual conscript, the Finnish national economy, and the local economies of communities with military bases.

The study estimates that the average conscript misses out on about EUR 11,300 in lost pay or unemployment benefits. However, the total financial losses are less than that, because of the per diem paid to the conscripts, and because room, board, and clothing expenses are met by the Defence Forces.

[...]The absence of conscripts and reservists from the work force also takes a bite out of GDP. According to the study, military service costs the economy between EUR 600 million and one billion, which is up to 0.6 per cent of Finnish GDP.

The Prime Karaokeminister

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 5:33 pm

Well, it seems that we’ll be expecting another jacket-potato revelation book in a few months. The Ilta-rags today posted first-hand accounts of one Mr.Matti Vanhanen, PM and one Ms Merikukka Forsius, MP had spent a.. hrm… “normal evening as two adult people” in a couple restaurants in Nummela according to what I read. Of course, the “sexiest man of Europe” has been plastered in the headlines and the young Green Party MP has also been in the headlines. Another blog kept by a National Coalition candidate mentioned the alleged liaison, to which both parties stated “weird election tactics”… oh well. I guess Mr. Vanhanen’s new lady friend knows how to keep her mouth shut, the ex-fling, or actually her publisher, is under investigation for libel (well, breach of privacy) regarding her book.

O tempora o mores – do I *really* want to know if the PM and the MP were singing karaoke. Geez, can’t you give them a break! Or atleast a tune!

24.3.2007

Rock & Roll Konsertit

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 11:32 pm

There’s quite a lineup here in the land of Reindeer and Santa Claus. But what’s amazing is that some of these guys are pensioners! I was barely a teenager at my first Stones concert in 1981. Then I saw a Deep Purple show later in the 1980′s—and even shook their hands at a ‘rock memorabilia’ exposition shortly thereafter. They were all considered old back then!

Even The Who is performing in Finland. In 1969, they played at Woodstock, the famous hippie era love fest. Unfortunately, the love was shortly interrupted when The Who’s Pete Townshend cracked Abbie Hoffman in the teeth with his guitar. Hoffman was an iconic political activist who attempted to commandeer the stage.

As destiny would have it, I happened to live within walking distance from Abbie Hoffman’s residence during a stint in the United States. But I didn’t realize the coincidence until his death was announced on the evening news.

What really amazes me is that some of these bands were notorious for their many decades of outrageous partying and super-heavy recreational drug use. Sometimes I feel the need to live through them vicariously, and I imagine sitting on my 65-foot yacht (every rock star needs one, right?) with my Finland for Thought entourage and partaking in some of the best Weed money can buy.

Each day would bring a whole new experience and opportunity for musical improvisation. Ah the rock and roll lifestyle………..Yes!

Ok, I’ll admit that my fantasy of life in the fast lane is pathetically mild when compared with the actual lives of rock stars. Just a few short years-ago, The Who’s own John Entwistle met a regrettable end due to a Cocaine-induced heart attack. At 58, he lived a near-full life. However, their former drummer, Keith Moon, wasn’t so lucky. He died a quarter-century prior from complications in treating his famous Alcohol addiction. He was only 32.

You know, as a vicarious rocker, I’ll take the mild side any day. Cocaine and Alcohol abuse simply wouldn’t fit into my rocker regiment. But considering that the rest of these guys are going where their fellow pensioners would never dare tread, who am I to judge which lifestyle is best?

Here’s the lineup:

  • Rolling Stones
  • Deep Purple
  • Thin Lizzy
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Genesis
  • George Michael (a young pensioner)
  • Aerosmith
  • The Who
  • Metallica (still saving for retirement)
  • Placebo (one of my favorite contemporary bands)
  • The Killers (I don’t know of these guys)
  • Party-on everyone!

    23.3.2007

    Veikkaus is needed to keep gambling under control

    Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 5:30 am

    I almost missed this one, perhaps because I’m not a gambler. The European Commission is threatening to force Veikkaus, Finland’s state-owned gambling racket, to accept competitors from private industry. Finland’s response:

    …the monopoly is necessary in order to keep gambling under control.”

    Ha! Ha! Ha! I can’t stop laughing about this one, because I’ve only ever heard this type of rationale here in formerly isolated Finland. They’ll say anything to keep a protectionism scheme going for as long as possible.

    And anything to extort more money from us. I think they used the same excuse for Alko, Finland’s overpriced, state-owned alcohol racket. That is, Alko is needed to keep alcoholism under control! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    As I slowly regain my composure, I’m once again reminded of how Finland’s over-taxed economy conflicts with today’s economic realities. Once Veikkaus is either dissolved or privatized, stock shareholders in other countries will receive profit dividends from Finnish gambling.

    One might think that profit dividends could stay here in Finland. But, unfortunately Finnish over-taxation discourages private investment. Too bad.

    On the bright side, Finland can take solace in knowing that its gambling profits will fund some other country’s Opera, Healthcare, Education……….

    It’s nice to be a charitable welfare state, isn’t it?

    22.3.2007

    Finnish Sairaalat: Most efficient hospitals in the Nordics

    Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 2:32 pm

    Here’s more great news! Finnish hospitals are deemed to be the “most efficient” of all Nordic countries.

    ….shorter hospital stays are the reason Finnish hospitals are so efficient. In Finland, patients spend on average less than four days in hospital.

    I am so pleased to know that if I am befallen with illness, I’ll be treated in the “most efficient” way possible. Ha!

    This reminds me of why having a high-tax, low-Wealth, Finnish-style economy is such a bad idea. But at least we perform well on the “Happiness Survey“, right?

    I just wonder if they asked any sick people…..

    Suomen Kansallisooppera avoids 500,000€ loss thanks to private donation!

    Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 3:59 am

    This is really great news! Thanks to a 550,000€ private donation, the Finnish National Opera avoided a 500,000€ loss in 2006, and instead it posted an operating surplus of 50,000€ !

    I’m especially pleased about this, because I’m not an Opera fan and don’t feel particularly obligated to pay for such extravagances with taxes from my little Finnish worker salary. Nevertheless, I’m glad the Opera exists. But I’m even more glad that some wealthy private individual likes it enough to donate!

    Finland needs to stop chasing-away people with wealth. Repealing the wealth tax was a good first step. But the unpopular inheritance tax still exists, and taxation in general is much too high. People with significant amounts of money leave Finland and never come back. And rightly so. Unfortunately, the rest of us not-so-wealthy ones are left to pay.

    Having a broad income spectrum in society helps everyone—rich and poor alike.  It affects everything from funding the Opera to funding KELA.

    21.3.2007

    Sweden: Are the fearless Vikings gone forever?

    Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 3:02 pm

    Now that the March 2007 elections have revealed Finland’s desire to be a stalwart traveler on the path to European integration and worldly competitiveness—an absolutely wonderful occurrence for this otherwise isolated country—it causes me to reflect on Sweden’s elections in September 2006. Sweden, like Finland more recently, obviously realized it can’t compete for capital internationally with obscene over-taxation and heavy governmental structures.

    Compared to Finland, Sweden isn’t the poorest country in the world, mind you. In fact, wealth-per-capita is nearly double Finland’s. That doesn’t say much though, because Finland is at the bottom of any western European wealth rankings. Sweden itself barely reaches above the bottom third—-slightly above its other lower-middle class Nordic cousins, Norway and Denmark. Countries like Germany (a significant part of which is formerly communist), Spain and Italy surpass Sweden by safe margins. Switzerland and USA have roughly double Sweden’s wealth-per-capita.

    For many decades, over-taxation and over-regulation by Socialist rulers have ensured that new businesses locate outside of Sweden. Skype is a well-known example. Even successful individuals have sought greener pastures abroad. For example, IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, along with at least one ABBA singer, have apparently found comfortable tax homes outside of Sweden. There are many others of course. The Swedish tax exile has become a special classification of world citizen who adorns his adoptive home with talent and tax revenues. Ideology-steeped Sweden is left in the dust. And rightly so.

    Finally, in the wake of the September 2006 elections, Sweden has a chance to change its standing for the better. Its new government promises:

    • Tax cuts on income to enable investment and incentivize work
    • Tax cuts on employer-paid wages to improve competitiveness
    • Tax cuts on wealth to encourage entrepreneurship
    • Tax cuts on real estate
    • Tax cuts for small and medium businesses

    And lastly, it even aims to lure back tax exiles who the Socialists so foolishly chased away over the years. Could it get any better? Finally, Sweden has a chance to really prosper, and its citizens can regain their dignity by ditching their world-renown image as helpless wards of a welfare state who can’t survive without reaching into someone else’s pockets. One would think they’d be overjoyed at the prospect of once again becoming strong, vigorous and independent. All this with only a minimal amount of sacrifice.

    But according to this poll, only a few short months after the election, about 51% are crying for the nanny state to come rescue them. Apparently, they can’t even withstand a small amount of temporary discomfort, even if it means a better life for them in the near future. Of the 51%, this leads me to ask: Who are these imposters dressed in Yellow and Blue?

    Surely not descendants of the fearless Vikings.

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