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Finland for Thought » 2007 » December | 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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29.12.2007

Finns believe the world will become more insecure in 2008

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 4:59 pm

The daily Helsingin Sanomat had a survey done by Suomen Gallup asking about peoples’ opinions on security and safety.

The future looks bleak.

The majority of the people are thinking a major terrorist attack somewhere in the world is more probable, but the most troubling issues are unpredictable climate change and poverty. Even though the outlook isn’t positive, over half think that the current world political situation is safe and secure. It seems that the feeling of safety and security rises by the levels of education and income. Only one in ten Finns thinks the world is going into a better direction, over half think it will be going for worse, and women are more pessimistic than men. Over three quarters think that a terrorist attack by moslem militants is very probable somewhere in the world, however only one in ten believe it might happen in Finland. When asked off a list of 10 issues ranging from aids epidemic to the Darfur crisis to name the worst and second-worst problems the top issues were climate change and poverty, the war in Iraq came forth as the single largest issue followed by the nuclear arms crisis in Iran, aids and other epidemics and the Mid-East Conflict. While young people noted the climate change being the most problematic issue, men brought up the War in Iraq and the nuclear arms crisis Iran, fearing armed conflicts.

Suspicion, fear and carefulness are the characteristics of the (Finnish) small-nation psyche. A small nation will survive if it stays quiet and forgotten and out of the field when the big boys are playing. Finns state that both the USA and Russia are threats to world peace – big powerful figures always ride resentment. However there is a dilemma, the climate change is a global issue, and to tackle that one needs to come out into the field.

 

So, how will the world be in 2008? Full of love or full of hate?

28.12.2007

What to Look Forward in 2008 in Finland

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:35 am

Great expectations for 2008.

- Alcohol will be less advertised and more taxed. There may not be adverts on television between 7-21, nor in movie theaters except when the movie is K18 (extremely rare these days). There may not be adverts of “happy hour” prices outside establishments. And, “buying in bulk may not be cheaper” so if a dachshund is 6 euros then you need to be selling the beer per bottle at 50c and a case for 12. Alcohol tax goes up 10-15% spelling out that maybe you need to shell out an 1,50 more for a bottle of kossu, 20c more for plonk, and beer guzzlers will imbibe 5c more tax.

- Car tax is revamped to reflect the CO2 emissions. The amount of tax will vary from 10 -40%. Also, the old set amount deductions will be taken away when calculating the tax. The tax will go lower on small cars and high on big cars, the average amount of total taxation is said to drop by one sixth – just in other words meaning – if you keep driving the Nissan Micra. And, a new law preventing you to packing four people on the back seat comes to effect, you may no longer overload a passenger vehicle even temporarily.

- Energy taxes will rise. The government is getting its money somewhere, so fuels and electricity will be taxed more. What this spells out is that you pay an average 50 more for gas for the Micra in a year and if you heat a house with electricity, your bill will go up by 30, if by oil you end up paying another 5 as compared to 2007.

- Entertainment will also be more expensive. The tv-licence will be 215,45 per year, or 18,60 per month if you go on a monthly plan.

- Equality will rise. All the counties will now belong to the same “means test” category where the living expenses before were categorised in I and II rate. This means many rural area pensioners get a 20-30 euro raise per month. All pensioners will also get a small index increase in their pensions, and a tax bracket change is implemented in the 13 000 -31 000 / p.a  bracket so that the pension isn’t more highly taxed than the equivalent amount of salary. However the rises won’t necessarily better the situation as the health care charges will be rising as well as the energy taxes.

- There is some light for the single parent households, an extra 10 for the single parent supplement.

- Taxation is getting lower. By 0,5% in all income scales. Huge relief, as is the few cents added to the mileage costs. To reflect the changing of times if a person has to have a second home to work in another town, you can now deduct a whopping 250 euros towards the rent.

- The national basic interest rate will rise from 4,25 to 4,75. meaning in other words that anyone with a debt will see their interests rise a fraction atleast. As a relief for those with unpaid debts, in 2008 the new law on collection sets a moratorium on debts. They actually can be written off after the maximum collection period, and you can die and the debts won’t be collected from the estate. Also, if you have been a co-signer, your liabilities end when the main signers debt gets written off.

So, with all that 0,5% – cannot afford no booze and cannot afford nowhere to go. Looks like 2008 will be another of these years.

27.12.2007

Case reports of liver toxicity linked to Herbalife dietary supplements

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:10 am

As I’ve always promised to suppositorise their wares to the pyramid-marketing assclowns trying to peddle their soap and supplements, I had a moment of “I told you so” when I was reading this.

Magic pills don’t make you thinner. And the more magic pills you take the more you’re bound to get sick – and then you’ll be on a magic diet.

Well, of course herbs cause effects on man. You can get high or you can get low or you can wake up dead – or with a squeaky liver. The iHealthBulletinNews blog writes:

A recent issue of the Journal of Hepatology reports on over 14 cases of acute hepatotoxicity in users of in Israel and Switzerland. The researchers found it difficult to interpret the findings as they could not ascertain the exact composition of the proprietary formulas, the composition of which can even vary from country to country. Thus, they could not state definitively whether or not the weight loss supplements caused the liver injury, but they thought it important to warn the public that herb-induced severe liver injury might be more common than previously thought. It is interesting to note that “ten cases of hepatotoxicity implicating Camellia sinensis [ed - tea, such as in green tea extract] have been reported” also.

Ah, so in Finland all medicine must go through arduous testing and its ingredients listed and it can only be sold at a pharmacy. But as “herbal extracts” are not “medicine” but “foodstuffs” they don’t have to be pre-screened. So next time you go popping in a pill, do ask yourself do you believe in marketing or knowledge?

24.12.2007

So this is Christmas – And what have you done?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 2:57 am

Another year over and a new one just begun


And so this is Christmas hope you have fun


The near and the dear ones the old and the young

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year

And so this is Christmas war is over for weak and for strong if you want it

For rich and the poor ones war is over the world is so wrong now

And so happy Christmas war is over for black and for white if you want it


For yellow and red ones war is over let’s stop all the fight now

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year

And so this is Christmas war is over and what have we done

If you want it another year over war is over

And a new one just begun now

And so happy Christmas war is over

I hope you have fun if you want it

The near and the dear one war is over the old and the young now

A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear

War is over if you want it war is over now.

So this is Christmas – Seasonal Greetings to All – And what have *you* done?

20.12.2007

New car tax: is it an improvement?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:30 pm

The car tax changes now at the beginning of 2008. Some cars will get cheaper, some will get more expensive, based on the emissions or simply put, the size of the engine. The size of the engine is often an indicator of a luxury car. On the other hand, a Lestadian family might want to get a minibus to be able to tranport the family around. While it may be cheaper for them to buy 5-6 Fiat Puntos with the new system, is that really smart? Last I looked, a VW minibus was about 73,000 EUR. Will that even go up now?

Some people also might want to collect cars, just to drive every once in a while. We call the tax a tax on emissions, but is a car emitting when it is sitting in the garage?  People who have Ferraris, for example, don’t usually drive them a whole lot. They are expensive to drive. For some, purchasing cars could be an investment. But if a resident of Finland wanted to invest in cars and collect them, the cars would have to be owned, registered, and stored in another EU country in order for that to be feasible. You can’t collect a car that has a fake tax-induced value and expect to sell it and make money. Many people also have a more practical reason for wanting a large engined car, such as for tranporting horses, but the car won’t be used very often. So it will have a tax based on emissions, and it won’t be emitting.

Finland previously had a nasty car tax with all its protectionism beaurocracy surrounding it – that will stay the same or even become worse. Taxing a car based on its engine size is not new – that is the way Russia does it or has done it in the past. We are really lacking one of the great liberties that citizens of almost all the other EU countries enjoy – to be able to buy a car from anywhere in the EU without being slapped with thousands in taxes for importing it. Not any change here, really, in the freedom of movement of goods and people between countries, which is one of the basic tenets of the EU.

Soon something has to give in. This is like it was to live in one of the Soviet satellite countries. One Hungarian told me how he smuggled currency from East Germany into Germany by gluing stacks of bills to his back bone, exchanging it in Germany, and then putting his hard German currency into a bank account. That’s not liberty. And all kinds of border control and customs and taxes and temporary licenses and beaurocracy to get something from one EU country to another is not liberty either.

Ok yipii, I can buy a Fiat Punto now for about 1000 EUR cheaper. I should be ecstatic, but I am not really. It looks like a quickly thrown together scheme to alleviate all the EC complaints and infringement procedures and make it “look” like the taxation has some valid reasoning behind it. I suspect the new taxation scheme will be incessantly complained about to the EC just as much as the former one.  But I am genuinely happy that diesels have gotten a lot cheaper. They don’t emit as much CO2 and are more efficient – basically none if burning biofuel, but the petrol based diesel fuel does emit some other noxious gases, as well as plenty of soot. And diesels can be more difficult in the cold winter.

I don’t know if anyone has tried this yet, but when the government heavily taxes cars coming into the country from other parts of the EU, they should also be obliged refund a similar amount if a Finnish resident were to sell  his or her car to someone in another EU country, or otherwise permanently unregister it and take it out of the country. There should also be lookup charts of what will be refunded if a Finnish resident were indeed to sell a car to someone in another country, corresponding to the tax that would be required from the same car coming in. Otherwise, the whole scheme is nationally discriminatory against the people in Finland.

See the new prices.

19.12.2007

Jyrki Katainen is right – Part 1

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 9:11 am

…but he’s also wrong about a few things.

The Minister of Finance, Jyrki Katainen, is sparring righteously with opposition members in Parliament over a review of the European Union’s stability program for Finland. On his mind are pressing issues, such as the aging population, quality of schools and funding of general healthcare. In Katainen’s words:

Väestön ikääntymisen myötä laadukkaiden ja kattavien hyvinvointipalveluiden – päiväkotien, koulujen ja terveydenhuollon – järjestäminen on jatkossa entistä haasteellisempaa.

A challenge indeed. To ensure future viability, Katainen addresses a problem that has plagued Finland since time eternal: Investment capital leaves for foreign shores or becomes diluted internally. In the past, it was due to plunderings by Sweden and Imperial Russia. In current times, it is due to falsely conceived ideologies.

An obvious step in the right direction has already been taken by eliminating the unpopular wealth tax. Now Katainen aims to chop the equally unpopular inheritance tax. Each of these have been major incentives for keeping money out of Finland. At this point in the economic cycle, it is extremely important that investment capital stays intact, and in the country. Otherwise it will only cause the impending economic decline to become worse, and employment to soar.

Unfortunately, the usual band of opposition naysayers only offers scathing criticisms. The SDP’s Jukka Gustafsson, Eero Heinäluoma and Kari Rajamäki, along with the Left Alliance’s Martti Korhonen, see fit to continue diluting Finland’s dwindled wealth. In all fairness though, they probably believe it to be helping the lower strata of society.

However, taking one person’s wealth is not going to make another person less poor in the long-run—in fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. That’s why I’m surprised to read that the Greens’ Anne Sinnemäki, one of my favorite parliamentarians with whom I wouldn’t mind a short romp if the lighting were right, unexpectedly broke ranks with Katainen:

Heinäluoma is right in saying that the combination in which there is no wealth tax, and in which the aim is to lift the inheritance tax on corporate wealth, is a bad one.

Upon first reading, my impression was: Apparently she’s been brainwashed by comrad Heinäluoma, a student from the marxist school of class envy. But after thinking about it, I now see where Jyrki Katainen is completely wrong. What I didn’t tell you above—and to what Anni alludes—is that he favors eliminating the inheritance tax on “corporate assets and farm and forest land.”

I’ll admit that it’s a logical approach. After all, nobody benefits if Finnish corporations are divested by their owners and assets delivered offshore to avoid the tax; jobs get lost that way. And paying subsidies to farmers just so they can pay their inheritance taxes also makes no sense; Finland doesn’t really need to continue that Ponzi game.

But to really make things right and convince us that he’s not just a tool for the upper crust of society, he should seek to eliminate inheritance taxes for EVERYONE. Not just for those who can afford to restructure their holdings to avoid them. So Jyrki, if you want to attain god-status among the Finland for Thought crowd, then koita uudestaan!

18.12.2007

Dogfight organizers to be charged

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:40 am

puppy.gif
I don’t get this sport at all, but it’s existed for hundreds- and possibly even thousands- of-years, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that it still goes on. I’ve read that everyone from LA gangs to rednecks in the southern United States involve themselves in this activity. Earlier this year, some NFL football players were convicted of running a major dogfighting operation on a large, secluded tract of land bought specially for their bloody venture. And now four-people from southern Finland are to be charged in an unrelated case:

Finnish police launched an investigation and quickly made arrests after the British Broadcasting Corporation informed them in July that an undercover reported had witnessed a dogfight in Finland.

I like dogs…little friendly ones that are sort of smart. And despite not being gay yet, I even like poodles! —but perhaps not of the boisterous and snappy variety. Big friendly dogs are ok too, I suppose. However, I could never warm-up to an aggressive attack dog that might suffer from a momentary lapse of reason and chew my nose off while I’m sleeping. There’s a fine line between feed and feeder, you know.

Unfortunately, I had two-negative encounters with dogs this year. In both cases, the owners let their not-so-little monsters roam untethered; and suddenly I became the object of their aggressions. Luckily, in both cases, administering a few hard kicks saved me from serious bacterial infections. The best defense is a good offense in such a case. I’m just glad I never encountered a pack of trained fighting dogs after digging their way out of the kennel to go on a people-eating rampage.

Any thoughts from dog-people out there? Has anyone’s poodle been eaten by a pit bull? Or visa versa? Has anyone been eaten by a pit bull? Or visa versa?

17.12.2007

Nothing smart about the TV smart card

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 12:52 pm

I shouldn’t even dignify this issue with a blog post cause I’m just feeding into YLE’s propaganda campaign but – This year Finnish television switched to the digital age forcing every household to purchase costly digiboxes in order to continue watching TV. This debacle has caused problems for many and has propelled tens of thousands to end their TV licenses (which costs each household $300.42 US each year), leaving YLE with huge budget deficits.

So the geniuses in government and at our state-run media organization have a solution for the estimated 200,000-300,000 viewers have protest the unfair license feeds …

Use of a pay-TV smart card for the financing of operations of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), Finland’s public service broadcaster, is getting more support.

Centre Party MP Antti Kaikkonen, the Vice Chair of the Administrative Council of YLE, mentioned such an arrangement as an alternative worthy of consideration by the Parliamentary committee that will ponder the future of YLE from 2010.

The TV smart card looks like a credit card and is inserted into a special device giving you access to particular TV stations, in this case, ALL TV stations. Here’s why this proposal is pure nonsense and will never see the light of day…

- Many digiboxes do not have smart cards slots, especially older and less expensive units. They’re rarely found on computer TV-cards and new TV’s with built in digital tuners.

- Each household just spent hundreds of euros to upgrade their equipment, only to find out a few months later that it’s obsolete and they’ll need to spend a few hundred euros more, something that could have prevented years ago with the knowledge of these smart cards.

- How will they manage this? Let’s say I have two TV’s in my house but I say I have three and give the extra card to a friend, how will they prevent this?

- A black market for illegal pay-TV cards has been around for decades, imagine how big this black market would quickly become.

- Surely this mess will make even MORE residents upset with the state-run media and cause more to abandon their TV license. Two-third of Finns already oppose the TV license.

13.12.2007

The American Dream Is Alive and Well … in Finland?

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 10:18 am

Interesting article about social mobility of the United States vs. Scandinavia sent to me by Pat Jones of Freedom Road entitled “The American Dream Is Alive and Well … in Finland!“… (quite lengthy, might want to read the whole thing)

Several studies released in recent years suggest that, contrary to popular opinion, Americans enjoy significantly less upward mobility than citizens of a number of other industrialized nations (some of the studies can be accessed here, here and here). German workers have 1.5 times the mobility of Americans, Canada is nearly 2.5 times more mobile and Denmark is 3 times more mobile. Norway, Finland, Sweden and France (France!) are all more mobile societies than the United States. Of the countries included in the studies, the United States ranked near the bottom; only the United Kingdom came in lower.

We’ve compared social mobility in Finland vs. the United States quite often on here, there’s a few points you need to keep in mind when doing so…

1. Social mobility in the United States is shrinking? You sure about that? Ask an African American or other minority. Or ask an immigrant. They might tell you differently.

2. Finland found wealth much more recently than the United States. Comparing the wealth of Finland’s current generation and their parents is more like comparing the United States’ 2nd generation (my parents) with the United States’ 3rd generation (my grandparents). Let’s compare Finland’s social mobility to Estonia’s social mobility in a few years and you’ll see what I mean.

3. Moving to a different earnings bracket in the United States takes much more than in Finland due to the wider range of salaries. For example, moving from the 20th to 30th percentile in Finland might require you to make $200/month more, while in the United States it might require you to make $300/month more.

Good and bad news

Tags: Everything — Author: @ 9:18 am

Sorry for my absenteeism lately here on Finland for Thought, and big big big thanks to Hank, Kristian, and Sirkuspelle for continuing to produce excellent articles! My mind has been very preoccupied over the past few weeks, had some good and bad things happening in my life.

The good news – I’ve accepted a promotion here at Nokia, starting January 1st I’ll be “eMarketing Manager, Internet and Applications” in the newly formed “Digital and Lifetime Relationship Marketing” team located our headquarters in Espoo. Everyone knows about that job search and recruitment process which consumes every square millimeter of your body. They’re like, “Hey let’s have that interview next Monday” and you’re like, “OK, I guess I won’t get a good nights sleep until next Monday”.

The bad news – I got word last week, via a generic message sent out to many on Facebook, that my best friend John from back in the states was killed in a traffic accident – a bus in Seoul where he’s been teaching had ran a red light. Facebook is not how you want to hear about your best friend’s death. What was the strangest thing is that all throughout Sunday people were talking about this on Facebook, but I was oblivious to it all because I hadn’t logged on. John would have turned 28 today.

jr_in_espoo.jpg
July 2007 – John visits me in Finland, we take a bike ride through the southern coast of Espoo and climbed some hill in the Soukka-area to get a nice view

Woman rejected from dance course in Pori for being a foreigner

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 8:45 am

Source:

http://www.promenadi.net/uutinen.php?lngID=102818

A dance club in Pori told a 31 year old Russian woman that she could not enroll for a dance course because the course was intended for only “natural Finnish people”. She was told that this is in the club’s rules. The woman read that the course was for everyone (“kaikille”) in the advertisment. It was found later that there was no such rule. This was clearly a case where somone in the club was just clearly discriminating against the woman.

But, Oops, I guess they forgot this part of the Finnish Penal Code:

Chapter 11 – War crimes and offences against humanity (578/1995)

Section 9 – Discrimination (578/1995)

A person who in his/her trade or profession, service of the general public, exercise of official authority or other public function or in the arrangement of a public amusement or meeting, without a justified reason
(1) refuses someone service in accordance with the generally applicable conditions;
(2) refuses someone entry to the amusement or meeting or ejects him/her; or
(3) places someone in an unequal or an essentially inferior position owing to his/her race, national or ethnic origin, colour, language, sex, age, family ties, sexual preference, state of health, religion, political orientation, political or industrial activity or another comparable circumstance shall be sentenced, unless the act is punishable as industrial discrimination, for discrimination to a fine or to imprisonment for at most six months.

Apparently, there is an official you can turn to if you have been discriminated against. The article mentioned a Minorities Ombudsman (“Vähemmistövaltuutettu” Not sure how that is officially translated. ). The contact person mentioned in the article was Rainer Hiltunen. In cases of discrimination, you can also press charges (=tehdä rikosilmoitus) at the local police station as well.

11.12.2007

Finnish drug cops are under fire

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 4:46 pm

Source

Finnish state prosecutors will launch an investigation into some members of the Helsinki Drug Squad, who are suspected of malfeasance, Finnish news agency STT reported on Monday.

But about 20 persons of the drug squad took sick-leave last Friday. The squad has about 35 members.

Jari Aarnio, Chief Inspector of the Helsinki Drug Squad, fears that the mass sick-out could hamper the investigation of serious drug cases.

Before the sudden bouts of illness, the drug police had been informed by Finnish State Prosecutor Ari-Pekka Koivisto that a decision would be coming soon on whether or not there is reason to suspect illegal activities among the drug police, said STT.

Last spring suspicions were aroused that the drug police had established close relationship with certain criminal groups. The police had agreed to overlook crimes committed by those in the criminal underground giving tip-off in drugs.

On TV last night, the spokesman for the drug police team was insistent that the policemen have been doing an excellent job and that this investigation that is being launched is “like having a bucket of shit dumped on our necks.”

Well, drug police have to have their snitches in order to make busts. If they arrest their snitches, then they don’t have any more snitches and don’t make any more busts, so it seems logical that they must turn a blind eye to some of the things the snitches are doing. It sounds like this is where the misunderstanding lies.

Nearly two thirds of the drug police force in Helsinki are on sick leave. They have cited “burn out” as the cause for the sick leave, which is, no doubt, some sort of protest.

9.12.2007

141, the magic number for agriculture in Finland?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 8:35 pm

Inspired by this article

Canola fielt

Canola field, source

141 is the number of the Article of Accession to the European Union that keeps Finland’s farming subsidies in place. Finland is pretty eager, it seems, to hold onto the subsidies. It is widely believed here that farming in Finland will not succeed without the subsidies. The subsidies for sugar beet farming were recently abolished, and the result was one of the two large Finnish sugar factories were closed. There is one left in Säkylä, and its future is also in question. Salo was the location of the other one. I wonder what they will do with the huge factory sitting on the hill there in Salo… It’s a good location for a theme park, in a town where you can actually find parking located also near Turku, which has no theme park, whereas Tampere does.

Sweden and Denmark are fighting against Article 141, according to the above linked article, saying that it gives Finland an unfair advantage. Well, SkÃ¥ne is in an altogether different climate zone from Southern Finland, and that’s where most of Sweden’s farming occurs. There are plenty of trees that grow there that don’t grow at all or very little in the wild in Finland, such as Ash, Hornbeam, Elm, Oak, etc. SkÃ¥ne doesn’t even get much snow in the winter. It is the same story with Denmark. But there is am economic bubble in Southern Finland that is just asking to be popped though. Why are fields in a place this far North selling for as much as 12,000 Euros a hectare? In Sweden, they can be around 2,000 a hectare for better producing land. The subsidies are what cause it. Or is it the threat of loosing the subsidies that is causing farmers to make their farming operations as large as possible, thus buying up all the fields and driving up the prices.

Finland is as far north as Alaska. Southern Alaska has a similar climate as Southern Finland, perhaps a bit colder. It is also warmed and buffered by the sea. They don’t bother trying go grow crops there like they do here, but rather import the necessary food from Canada and the the lower 48 states. On the other hand, Finland has an obsession – understandably so – to be as independent as possible. The wars and periods of rationing are still there vividly in many peoples’ memories. But some claim that farmers in Finland are doing too well, with their massive amounts of new, top-of-the-line equipment. So should we do away with the 141 subsidies? Who knows what the results will be.

If Finland fights back and keeps the subsidies, it would be immoral to try to sell the subsidized products outside of Finland. Otherwise, it could be viewed as dumping or giving an unfair advantage to Finnish agriculture. It also stands loosing its good ties with the Commission. Finland has been a good trooper in the EU, following the rules as much as possible. (except with personal data) Or could Finland do with a good marketing strategy and market unsubsidized food for a more expensive price, and use the arguments that Finland is cleaner. I can say from personal metal detecting experience that Southern Finnish fields have very little metal scrap in them, such as lead bullets or shrapnel. Go with a metal detector through farming areas in Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands and see what you turn up. Lead and other metals gradually leech into the soil. Central Europe is also much more densely populated and more polluted. For these reasons, I would personally rather eat Finnish wheat or rye any day. Well, we should know if Finland gets to keep the subsidies in about a year or so.

6.12.2007

A Taste of Nokia

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 12:04 pm

No, its not the rubber boots and tires this time over, its about the City of Nokia itself, or actually the scandal over their water works. In Finland, the land of 100 000 lakes, fresh ground water has always been taken for granted. On some summers like the last one when it was dry, people started to worry as their wells went dry, but on the other hand we have excellent municipal water systems. People drinking bottled water were looked at a bit strange, as the bottled water was usually the same tap water just put into the bottle.

Last week, around Thursday the people of Nokia had a rude awakening. Not your dead squirrel in the water tower this time over. Some braniac at the city water plant had at some point in history put in a few pipes to allow for the fresh water and recycled water to be used for say cleaning the sewage treatment basins. And installed a regular bidirectional valve. Which had been used for the past 20 years without an incident. Now due to a human error the valve was left open and when the pressure in the system was lowered overnight on the fresh water side, the water with the human element got through the valve, and an estimated thousand people got stomach problems, some 300 requiring medical attention in a hospital.

Today on the 6th the situation has gotten grave. After the initial shock and trying to purge the system, a mains pipe burst even worsening the situation. The use of tap water has been banned, even after boiling it isn’t safe, Schools and daycare centres have been closed and the Army has been called in to assisit with fresh water distribution. Not only do normal people feel the effects, but in a small town like that the domino effect shows – a lot of companies have shut down or are running at the minimum as everybody is sick. Theres two facilities in the area facing huge losses as they depend on the water – the Nokia Eden Spa has closed down, and as it was booked full for the Independence Day “long weekend” they’re looking at huge losses. Meanwhile across the town the Nokia Brewery has been forced to throw out 100 000 bottles of beer – as they were running on full and weren’t told until after two days after the fact.

And this is the problem. The government was caught pants down once again, even the National Health Institute has been preparing for epidemics like the avian flu. The National Defence Board has started investigating into more effective means of disseminating information onto the public. Of course, looking for the culprits has started, the water works of Nokia are under a police investigation. Meanwhile the Ministry of Health and Socaial affairs along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is trying to survey the public water works nationwide, to find out if any other water works have joined systems like that – the Helsinki water works stated for example that their systems are totally separated so this kind of backsurge isn’t even possible.

The real culprit is as always budget cuts. Infrastructure costs money. Helsinki has had mains pipes bursting regularly now… not really surprising as the mains have been laid in 1908. If it works, don’t fix it. Now after something happens then the government thinks it serious. And does nothing, maybe implements a few new rules and the counties must raise their tax % again. The City of Nokia has made something very politically un-Finnish. They’ve taken the full responsibility, and are promising compensations for the losses . Still the whole incident has left a bad taste in the mouth for many.

Happy Independence Day

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 11:53 am

suomen_lippu_valokuva.png

Today, Finland is 90 years old. I suppose in 10 years, people will be really celebrating, when Finland reaches 100 years.

One might be wondering why it is such a serious holiday. When Finland became independent, it got off to a very rough start and didn’t have much time to celebrate. Civil war followed shortly after becoming independent, as well as the Great World Wars. Read Hank’s history article for more details or the Wikipedia article. The picture is from Wikipedia.

Many people in Finland watch The Unknown Soldier (“Tuntematon Sotilas”) on TV, and/or watch the Presidential Ball and all the celebrities, diplomats, sports people, and so on going there. Some people will take candles to the graveyards where people who have fallen in the wars are buried.

Happy Independence Day!, Hyvää Itsenäisyys Päivää!, God Självstandighets Dag!

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