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Finland, the near-perfect republic

June 4, 2007

If there ever existed a near-perfect republic, what would it be like?

Would its economy be one of the most competitive in the world? Would technological innovation be king within its borders? Would its education system be at the top of the world class? Would it be one of the least corrupt countries around?

Some studies that have appeared in recent years have put Finland at the top end of all these categories. But behind Finland’s successes in many fields and noteworthy international recognition, there is one area where we haven’t excelled: integrating foreigners to the Finnish way of life.

When I moved to in the in the end of 1978, the foreign community numbered a mere 10-12.000 people. A great number of these “foreigners” were nothing more than Finns who were naturalized Swedes. But in the early 1990s matters started to change, especially in 1995, when Finland became a European Union (EU) member.

Most of the country’s 132,632 foreigners last year that live here today moved to this country during the past decade. The nationality, the biggest were the Russians (26,205) followed by Estonians (19,965), Swedes (8,398) and Somalis (4,831). By mother tongue, however, a different picture emerges: 45,224 people stated that it was Russian, 19,812 Estonian, 10,589 English, 9,810 Somali, 8,119 Arabic.

Despite their growing numbers, foreigners continue to be seen as a problem by some Finns, who do not see anything positive in them such as in the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries. They believe — erroneously — that most outsiders that move to Finland want to take advantage of the generous welfare-state system.

But if Finland is to survive and rejuvenate its population in the new century, it’ll be obliged to increase the size of its foreign population. Without them, the country’s population will continue to age rapidly. Statistics Finland forecasts by 2010 that over-65-year-olds will account for 17% and by 2040 they will grow to 27% of the population.

The biggest age group today is the post-war baby boomers (55-59 years) numbering 416,888 people.

Possibly one of the most challenging tasks that this country faces in the new century will be the conversion to a more multicultural society.The Finland of tomorrow will for certain be a very different place than today.

Foreign unemployment

While there are many ways to measure integration of foreigners in a society, probably one of the best barometers is unemployment. Without a job it is virtually impossible for anyone to build a future never mind be an active member of society.

The jobless rate among foreigners in Finland is one of the highest in the European Union. In April of last year it stood at a staggering 20%, according to the Ministry of Labor. That compares with about 6% during the same month for the whole population.

Olli Sorainan, a ministry of labor senior advisor, said the foreign unemployment in the EU ranges between 10% and 20% depending on the country.

The highest jobless rate in Finland was reported among Iraqis (62%), Afghanis (54%), Somalis (53%), Vietnamese (48%), Iranians (47%), and Moroccans (44%). The national groups with the lowest unemployment were the Chinese, Germans, US citizens, Norwegians, with 9%.

Finland’s high foreign unemployment rate is attributable to many factors. Sorainen blamed the high jobless figure mainly on two matters: many foreigners that come to aren’t job-seekers but are refugees or come for humanitarian reasons; and because Finns aren’t used to hiring foreigners.

Certainly we can’t expect that foreigners that move to Finland with rudimentary language and labor skills to be instantly hired by Nokia as well-paid executives. Even so, it sounds incredulous that “attitude” continues to be one contributing factor for high unemployment.

A recent report published by Statistics Finland and the Trade Register suggests that matters may be improving since the amount of immigrant-owned enterprises has doubled from 2001 to about 5,600 companies. Another encouraging fact is that the number of entrepreneurs out of total foreign job holders is 16% compared with 10% for the Finnish population.

The report shows that the majority of foreigners that establish businesses in Finland are in the commerce and restaurant sector (pizzeria and kebab establishments), with around 11% being “information-intensive” sector.

Even if the Statistics Finland and Trade Register report are proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and kicking in the foreign community, it sheds light as well on how difficult it is for some non-Finns to get a job. Establishing a business appears to be one of the most effective ways of escaping unemployment.

Some policy-makers correctly point out that more support and funding should be earmarked for encouraging foreigners to establish businesses. However, this is not a new government remedy for lowering unemployment.

Having lived in a number of countries and grown up in Los Angeles, a true “melting pot” (note the 70s term) of cultures, one matter is certain about immigrants: they don’t lack courage and aren’t afraid of starting life from scratch. The need to survive in a new country forces some to become resourceful, innovative and hard-working.

Finland must strive as a nation to defend and strengthen a society founded on social justice and opportunities for all. In the task, people from other cultures and national backgrounds should form part of this noble project called Finland.

Maintaining and accepting such high unemployment rates as present is not only shameful for a welfare state like ours, it’s squandering valuable resources at a high cost.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 13, 2008 1:03 pm

    – They believe — erroneously — that most outsiders that move to Finland want to take advantage of the generous welfare-state system.

    Then explain why exactly did then the Somalis (4,704). then come here to Finland? There was no war in Russia nor Estonia. They just don’t give a flying one for refugees.

    Besides which you cannot read statistics correctly. The numbers you give are “with foreign nationality” = passport, You need to cross-reference with “mother tongue” to get the real numbers as it is – surprisingly – illegal in Finland to classify anyone according to their “ethnicity” whatever that is.

    http://www.vaestorekisterikeskus.fi/vrk/files.nsf/files/D7758D69FFD46658C225746C002D6DE6/$file/Taskutieto_2008.pdf

  2. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 13, 2008 1:05 pm

    And the Russians – they’re mostly the “return ingrians” again what is “wrong” in Russia?

  3. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 13, 2008 1:14 pm

    – The highest jobless rate in Finland was reported among Iraqis (62%), Afghanis (54%), Somalis (53%), Vietnamese (48%), Iranians (47%), and Moroccans (44%).

    All of which countries are evidently former Finns colonies we drag the people by force from? Talk of refugees? And then the cousins of established refugees coming in sponsored by their relatives?

    Morocco being the prime example of a nation where the 2nd largest source of GDP is money sent bu expats and the 3rd largest industry is tourism. While the Finnish women think their beach gigolos are fun in bed, the beach gigolos just need to face the fact nobody else thinks they are much fun at the workplace unless they are able to perform other services than just being a beach gigolo.

  4. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 13, 2008 1:16 pm

    – Having lived in a number of countries and grown up in Los Angeles, a true “melting pot” (note the 70s term) of cultures, one matter is certain about immigrants: they don’t lack

    guns?

    why exactly do you want Finlland to become Los Angeles? Are you in the business of selling guns or drugs?

  5. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 13, 2008 1:23 pm

    And Finland is far from perfect. The current administration is continuing selling the national assets and making Finland into an impoverished hellhole. Finland might have had a small chance of competing to be the model republic in the 1980’s but thats ancient stuff gone into the drain long ago. The only thing a Finn can do is drink cheap alcohol imported from Estonia and look at how the country is going to hell in a handbasket – and that is my positive outlook only.

  6. Enrique permalink
    September 14, 2008 12:08 am

    –Besides which you cannot read statistics correctly. The numbers you give are “with foreign nationality” = passport, You need to cross-reference with “mother tongue” to get the real numbers as it is – surprisingly – illegal in Finland to classify anyone according to their “ethnicity” whatever that is.

    OK, thanks.

  7. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 6:39 am

    Theres for example a few statistics which show a few things:

    This is a bit of a comprehensive statistics on the population: if you look at the bottom you see in how many categories you can classify people. You can classify by country of birth, nationality=passport and language.
    http://www.stat.fi/til/vaerak/2007/vaerak_2007_2008-03-28_tie_001_fi.html
    A “foreigner” in most statistics is a person with a foreign nationality. But when you start making a prognosis of say how many people need services, you cannot look at their passports, you have to look at the languages.

    You said the amount of foreigners is: Russians (24,621) followed by Estonians (15,459), Swedes (8,196) and Somalis (4,704).

    But what about minority languages:
    – Russian (45 224), Estonian (19 812), English (10 589), Somali (9 810) Arabic (8 119).

    Oh yes, and you cannot count foreign passport = foreign language on that passport. Do the Swiss speak Swiss?

    What the statistics says is that Finland has a population of 132 708 foreign citizens as residents, which is 2,5% of the population. However there are 202 528 foreign born residents… ah, but you cannot calculate *them* either as theres a number of Finnish citizens born overseas… so of we don’t calculate Sedish as a foreign language then we get 172 928 people speaking some other language than the official ones which is 3,3% – but that doesn’t classify them as “foreigners”. And from the 2,5% of foreign residents become citizens:
    http://www.stat.fi/til/kans/2007/kans_2007_2008-06-05_tie_001_fi.html
    So thats over 4300 people disappearing from the classifcation of “foreigner” right there – but they don’t change their mother tongue.

    OK, so if we have then 133000 “foreigners” and you say theres 20% unemployment. Staggering 26000 people unemployed? Staggeringly no. That is the amount of people from babies to the elderly. You must pull out another statistic of whom of these is in the “workforce” aged 18-65 and theres a statistics of the “workforce” of foreigners which was in 2006 a whopping 45000 people.
    http://www.stat.fi/til/tyokay/2006/tyokay_2006_2008-07-04_tie_002.html
    So even if 20% of them are unemployed you talking of 9000 people spread across the country instead of 26 000… which amount can easily be halved as in the workforce is counted in students. So take out people in the universities and polytechnics and then we counted in people with disabilities, people over 55 which tend to get to hear they are too old to get hired, people without skills and people out of work by choice such as stay-at-home mothers. So how many people are “really” unemployed and how many people are “without work” and how many people fit in which category? *That* is a good question but it cannot be explained so simplistically at all. he figures don’t lie – but you need to know where they are pulled from.

    And I have a grand solution you can suggest your politician friends: we give all the unemployed foreigners a Finnish citizenship. And hey, the statistics got suddenly magically fixed – there is no foreigners unemployed.

  8. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 6:44 am

    Theres for example a few statistics which show a few things:

    This is a bit of a comprehensive statistics on the population: if you look at the bottom you see in how many categories you can classify people. You can classify by country of birth, nationality=passport and language.
    http://www.stat.fi/til/vaerak/2007/vaerak_2007_2008-03-28_tie_001_fi.html
    A “foreigner” in most statistics is a person with a foreign nationality. But when you start making a prognosis of say how many people need services, you cannot look at their passports, you have to look at the languages.

    You said the amount of foreigners is: Russians (24,621) followed by Estonians (15,459), Swedes (8,196) and Somalis (4,704).

    But what about minority languages:
    – Russian (45 224), Estonian (19 812), English (10 589), Somali (9 810) Arabic (8 119).

    Oh yes, and you cannot count foreign passport = foreign language on that passport. Do the Swiss speak Swiss?

    What the statistics says is that Finland has a population of 132 708 foreign citizens as residents, which is 2,5% of the population. However there are 202 528 foreign born residents… ah, but you cannot calculate *them* either as theres a number of Finnish citizens born overseas… so of we don’t calculate Sedish as a foreign language then we get 172 928 people speaking some other language than the official ones which is 3,3% – but that doesn’t classify them as “foreigners”. And from the 2,5% of foreign residents become citizens:
    http://www.stat.fi/til/kans/2007/kans_2007_2008-06-05_tie_001_fi.html
    So thats over 4300 people disappearing from the classifcation of “foreigner” right there – but they don’t change their mother tongue.

    OK, so if we have then 133000 “foreigners” and you say theres 20% unemployment. Staggering 26000 people unemployed? Staggeringly no. That is the amount of people from babies to the elderly. You must pull out another statistic of whom of these is in the “workforce” aged 18-65 and theres a statistics of the “workforce” of foreigners which was in 2006 a whopping 45000 people.
    http://www.stat.fi/til/tyokay/2006/tyokay_2006_2008-07-04_tie_002.html
    So even if 20% of them are unemployed you talking of 9000 people spread across the country instead of 26 000… which amount can easily be halved as in the workforce is counted in students. So take out people in the universities and polytechnics and then we counted in people with disabilities, people over 55 which tend to get to hear they are too old to get hired, people without skills and people out of work by choice such as stay-at-home mothers. So how many people are “really” unemployed and how many people are “without work” and how many people fit in which category? *That* is a good question but it cannot be explained so simplistically at all. The figures don’t lie exactly – but you need to know where they are pulled from. As we both know the Ministry of Labor and Statistics Centre come up with two figures for unemployment monthly. Neither one of them is “wrong” but neither one is the “whole truth” but a myopic view depending on the method of how to come to the figures.

    And I have a grand solution you can suggest your politician friends: we give all the unemployed foreigners a Finnish citizenship. And hey, the statistics got suddenly magically fixed – there is no foreigners unemployed.

  9. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 7:36 am

    – Would its economy be one of the most competitive in the world? Would technological innovation be king within its borders? Would its education system be at the top of the world class? Would it be one of the least corrupt countries around? Some studies that have appeared in recent years have put Finland at the top end of all these categories.

    Some studies are full of it… lets analyse these “studies” and what they tell us about Finland. Like statistics the studies “lie” as much if you don’t read how the researchers have come to the conclusions. Here is a good example of about 14 000 “lost youth” from the statistics and what explains the discrepancies http://www.stat.fi/artikkelit/2007/art_2007-11-07_002.html

    OK, but my view on these studies:

    The “competitive economy” it might be, as we can witness from the paper industry closures. Everything is leaner and leaner and theres a cheese slicer effect. And then the unemployeds compete to get a job. Really competitive.

    Technological innovation – why yes, they do invent all kinds of things – but where are the benefits? In a few technology companies who cannot make the innovation into a viably marketable product – or then they outsource the work to overseas. In the lend of the blind the one-eyed truly is king.

    Corruption – why yes the regular Joe on the street never sees any money changing hands. The small bureaucrats don’t take gifts. But that gives a good result as the corruption studies ask the perception of corruption. Small facts like the Patria scandal and the elections funding don’t matter. It isn’t a crime unless you get caught.

    And then the PISA studies… why yes, they appreciate Finnish education because the averages are good. And that is what the Finnish school system does, keeps everyone average. Not much competition is there? Except when the university exam time comes – was it now for medicine and law the average student getting in has sat the exams 3 times? Of course then it is “free” but where does Finland stand in the top rankings of international comparisons? Somewhere there – as they have no money to put into resources. Then again when you don’t have money to buy toys you make your own so I guess this explains the innovations.

    – Another encouraging fact is that the number of entrepreneurs out of total foreign job holders is 16% compared with 10% for the Finnish population.

    Yes well “encouraging” as the locals have experience with the tax office and are pessimists and it hasn’t rubbed off to the newcomers yet. Back in the days of the big recession the magical answer was for everyone to put up an enterprise and start selling soap. Fixed the statistics greatly but how many people selling soap to each other do we need? Does the economy of a village run on everyone selling soap to each other? Because the fact is that the production industries are outsourcing http://www.stat.fi/artikkelit/2008/art_2008-07-10_003.html and if there is no production there is not much money in the economy after a while. Another statistic also to look when talking about enterpreneurship is the amount of banktrupcies and the amount of enterprises that quit. While theres some 10 000 new enterprises starting each quarter theres about 9000 enterprises quitting for some reason or the other…. about a thousand of them in court for banktrupcy. Maybe this is what makes the “competition” figures look so good and maybe this also explains why there is no “need for workers” as is evident from the unemployment statistics.

    What Finland needs is more jobs, and by the looks of it the jobs are escaping the country at a high velocity.

  10. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 7:59 am

    And squandering valuable resources – the old truth is that if something looks too good it probably is. Now we look at the “enterpreneurial spirit” in Finland and there really isn’t lack of it. Or would this “make money and become rich” spirit. Now as everyone knows one cannot come rich in Finland with honest work. The welfare state has its hand in your pocket. But as the human animal operates on greed we have now had not only one but two pyramid schemes where someone has gotten the great idea of making a fast buck off peoples greed. The WinCapita system allegedly had 10 000 Fins “invest” hundred million euros into the pyramid… that is quite a mindboggling sum to think of. Another smaller scheme called GPP has just unravelled selling “pension insurance”… So what does *that* say of the country? We do remember Albania had a revolution in the 1997 due to a pyramid scheme taking all the money out of the system – they were probably high up in the “competitiveness” figures back then.

    The Statistics Centre article of how Finland is changing from a welfare state into a competition state: http://www.stat.fi/artikkelit/2008/art_2008-07-11_001.html?s=0
    So whatever the “model republic” might have been it surely won’t be a welfare state for long – you can not eat the cake and keep it too. But the government itself is giving mixed messages which ends up into the squandering of resources. And what was the major problems and critical issues that Finland was really having? Oh yes, some whining foreigners. Lets put all the proles on a multiculturalism course. That’ll surely fix things.

  11. Enrique permalink
    September 14, 2008 8:07 am

    –This is a bit of a comprehensive statistics on the population: if you look at the bottom you see in how many categories you can classify people. You can classify by country of birth, nationality=passport and language.

    Thanks. I was familiar with the Statistics Finland site but not with the Väestörekisterikeskus, which has a wealth of information. I added the information on mother tongue and updated foreigners by nationality. You are pretty knowledgeable with this type of information. Do you work with foreigners? Many thanks.

    –What the statistics says is that Finland has a population of 132 708 foreign citizens as residents, which is 2,5% of the population. However there are 202 528 foreign born residents… ah, but you cannot calculate *them* either as theres a number of Finnish citizens born overseas… so of we don’t calculate Sedish as a foreign language then we get 172 928 people speaking some other language than the official ones which is 3,3% – but that doesn’t classify them as “foreigners”. And from the 2,5% of foreign residents become citizens:

    That is an interesting point. Remember the difference of opinion on “who is a Finn,” well here he run into the same problem. So, if there are 202,528 people who were born outside of the country, it means that Finland is pretty multicultural (I am not talking about the policy). What about if they asked these people who were born outside of Finland the following question: What do you consider your national identity? It would be interesting to see the results.

  12. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 8:18 am

    – Possibly one of the most challenging tasks that this country faces in the new century will be the conversion to a more multicultural society.

    So I suppose your definition of “multicultural” isn’t: “scrapped remains of a welfare state turned into a cut-throat globalized capitalist state with huge income gaps, poverty, polarized society with ethic ghettoes the capitalist industries use as a resource of easily exploitable labor”? But that is what the direction looks like. Or as I say “to hell in a handbasket”.

    – Finland must strive as a nation to defend and strengthen a society founded on social justice and opportunities for all.

    Oh, but you just said we have to become “multicultural” – make up your mind now, you can’t have the cake and eat it too. Either we have the exploitable people or then we have social equality.

    Then again it is questionable how far Finland can afford to copy the Nordic Welfare State model with its limited resources in the first place. It has worked so far, but even Sweden has been showing symptoms of hiccup… Norway has oil and gas to support their regional policies, but Finland just thinks it has resources. The current political parties – the three largest having equal 21% of the vote at the moment cannot come into consensus of what needs to be done – so everyone does something and the direction… is interesting times in the manner of the Chinese proverb. But Finland isn’t as much alone any more – the rest of the EU is to be considered, but is the direction of the EU any clearer?

    – The Finland of tomorrow will for certain be a very different place than today.
    The only constant in the equation is constant change.

  13. Enrique permalink
    September 14, 2008 8:32 am

    –What Finland needs is more jobs, and by the looks of it the jobs are escaping the country at a high velocity.

    You are absolutely right. But we spoke about some of the reasons for the problem. Finland is in a sort of crossroads where it has to decide what to do. One fast way would be to lower taxes, which would impact public spending and the welfare state.

    But, as you know, this would be in direct conflict with our welfare state and values as a society. If you look at countries that invite foreign/national investment, they may use things such as tax breaks, qualified labor as incentives.

    I am certain that the government understands that it has to make some difficult decisions about the economy such as lowering taxes to fuel consumption and encourage entrepreneurship.

    Possibly after the globalization period, when we are all in the poor house, there will spring new values that could place emphasis on values such as “I care for you.” The 1960s, as you know, were a period where young people questioned the status quo and society’s values. It was quite remarkable after the hysteria of the McCarthy era.

    –So whatever the “model republic” might have been it surely won’t be a welfare state for long – you can not eat the cake and keep it too.

    Remember what we spoke of about how the predominant values of a culture may change? The same goes for a country and, certainly, for the welfare state. If you want to read something interesting about what happened the the first modern welfare state in the world (Uruguay), check:
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F06EEDD113EF930A35756C0A96E958260&n=Top%2FNews%2FWorld%2FCountries%20and%20Territories%2FUruguay

    Even though the article was written in 1998, things still haven’t changed that much in Uruguay in 2008.

  14. Enrique permalink
    September 14, 2008 8:51 am

    –Oh, but you just said we have to become “multicultural” – make up your mind now, you can’t have the cake and eat it too. Either we have the exploitable people or then we have social equality.

    Why do you think that by having more foreigners this will lead to a ghetto, cut-throat society? That depends on us and what type of society we turn Finland into in the future. If the Finnish education system teaches our children values such as respect for others and that everyone should participate in society; ie marginalization/syrjintä must be avoided at all costs. Why wouldn’t these values apply to foreigners as well. Don’t you think that if they didn’t, we’d be undermining our values? So, the question is, how do we motivate workers and create jobs at the same time? If we need foreign labor, what will lure them to work in Finland and not go to Germany? Would it necessarily mean downsizing our welfare system? Maybe we could look at Sweden in the 1970s and 1980s. Was it a successful model or a failure? One of my fears is just like present immigration policy, there is little effective planning on what to do. We are like a blind man walking feeling our environment with a walking stick. If Helsinki needs labor, where is it going to house them? This is one area we could discuss more in detail. However, more foreigners does not mean ghettos, which I see as a place where there are no opportunities and people live in abject poverty.

  15. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 8:58 am

    – I was familiar with the Statistics Finland site but not with the Väestörekisterikeskus, which has a wealth of information.

    Just remember always to cross-reference the data. The VRK has really precise population and county statistics, MOL is another place to go dig for unemployment and employment statistics and theres a few other places for specific statistics as well as well. The Statistic Centre has statistics made on the base of the raw data but they might have a different criteria of how they get to the conclusion – as I said its not 100% streamlined as with the “unemployment” numbers.
    Is the number being calculated from *all* or from the *workforce*? Two totally different figures. You need to know how the figures have been com by to me able to compare.

    Just FYI theres a few discrepancies there in the Taskutieto PDF on the EU nationals IIRC… or was it last years one. Irish and Iraqi was it or German women had switched numbers. What is one interesting page is the “number of immigrants” and “cities with immigrant populations”. So if you look at the graph then you can understand someone like Mary Mekko been out of the country 5-10 years from some smaller town and dropping their eyes as “how it has changed” whereas someone coming from elsewhere for the first time is wondering where all the immigrants are. People living here maybe don’t notice the change as much as they’re living through it. As I said you can’t pickle an era into a bottle. Many returning expats do so and hit the same brick wall as any other immigrant – they think they know things, but they know things from life on mars.

    – I added the information on mother tongue and updated foreigners by nationality. You are pretty knowledgeable with this type of information.

    Well I work with databases, and done bookkeeping and ledgers in my time, so calculations be it statistical or otherwise is always dependent on a number of things. I’ve been asked “why are the numbers different” so many times I tend to nitpick. Newspapers especially tend to float statistics without an analysis so the figures can be “fixed” to suit any agenda. As Mark Twain said there are lies, big lies and statistics and as a newspaperman he probably knew what he was saying.

    – Do you work with foreigners?
    Thats an interesting question. Do I work in a place with a multinational workforce. Yes. Do I work in some organization with foreigners. Well – I am not being paid so I’m pretending to work. And as some of the guys are Finnish citizens so are they “foreigners”? Hmmm…. so my answer is “yes but no”😉

    – What about if they asked these people who were born outside of Finland the following question: What do you consider your national identity?

    Ah, but we look at this little graph:
    http://www.stat.fi/til/vaerak/2007/vaerak_2007_2008-03-28_tie_001_fi_001.gif
    you have about 1/2 of them speaking Finnish as their mother tongue… so then that blurs the “national” bit slightly. Besides which a question like that might verge on the illegal classification by ethnicity… same thing as you have 13 000 people born in Finland a Finnish citizen into lingusitic minorities… not to forget you have some 3000 people born abroad with a foreign nationality, and some 4500 people with foreign nationality and born in Finland – whos mother tongue is Finnish… so that shuffles the pack somewhat. Of course there international adoptions and so forth to spice up the statistics but the question is to define the elusive “national identity”. I say those in Rome who do as the Romans do are Romans.

  16. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 9:32 am

    – Why do you think that by having more foreigners this will lead to a ghetto, cut-throat society?

    Nope, its actually the other way around. A cut-throat society needs to run the proles in the ghetto, and if the Finns struggle to keep out of the ghetto the easiest way for the “market forces” is to bring in foreigners and keep them unintegrated – so their exploitability is at the highest level. Like those immigrants in Spain told to go packing now that the economy slumps. Or the Turkish gastarbeiters in Germany. Having more foreigners is not leading to the ghetto, the ghetto is there – it needs population. I rather keep it empty so that the “market forces” have no pawns to play with.

    – That depends on us and what type of society we turn Finland into in the future. If the Finnish education system teaches our children values such as respect for others and that everyone should participate in society; ie marginalization/syrjintä must be avoided at all costs.

    Yes, so that is exactly why education is important and that people are educated of the works of society and the schools give the same values to all children = integrated.

    – Why wouldn’t these values apply to foreigners as well. Don’t you think that if they didn’t, we’d be undermining our values?

    Well if they are multiculturalist then they have their own values. Each little ghetto block with its own values. No sense of community except within your own little group. The “market forces” apply Divide et Impera. So instead of all the workers uniting, you get cliques competing.

    – So, the question is, how do we motivate workers and create jobs at the same time? If we need foreign labor, what will lure them to work in Finland and not go to Germany? Would it necessarily mean downsizing our welfare system? Maybe we could look at Sweden in the 1970s and 1980s. Was it a successful model or a failure? One of my fears is just like present immigration policy, there is little effective planning on what to do. We are like a blind man walking feeling our environment with a walking stick. If Helsinki needs labor, where is it going to house them? This is one area we could discuss more in detail.

    Yes, good questions all of them. Helsinki housing is one of my pet peeves – but as you see from that “competition statee” essay from the Statistics Centre – the Finnish Government has been opposing the growth of Helsinki into a metropolis since the 1960’s. Talk of regionalization… Helsinki region even being the motor of the country is not given the funding to run – the rest of the country is leeching on the money. Then again if we look at the option if there had been no control – Helsinki would have 4 million people and the rest would be scattered in the forests… Would that be good or bad? A different drive at least.

    – However, more foreigners does not mean ghettos, which I see as a place where there are no opportunities and people live in abject poverty.

    Well what do you call the suburbs of Helsinki now? Maybe people not in “abject poverty” except relatively, but not much opportunities are there? Unless you happen to “fit in the box”. There is always someone desperate enough to be brought in to do the job cheaper. Like I have said about the nurses. There is no “shortage of nurses”. There is a shortage of money and tenures. Finland churns out was it now 3000 nurses per year – after 5 years maybe 500 remain in the profession. And why is that? The job is hard, the pay lousy and you have only short-term contracts. So instead of making the profession something people want to do – the answer is to bring in foreigners from someplace where the conditions are if possibly worse and they think they are getting a good deal. There wouldn’t be all these Finnish nurses working for the NHS in the UK or Norway unless it was the same situation – the job is too crap for the UK nurses and the Finnish think they get a good deal. While on the one hand economically bringing in foreign nurses is a business decision – we wait 10 years. The nurse has either gone back home after saving enough money for a new house and childrens college, or then the nurse has integrated. She wants more salary and a job contract but as the culture of exploitation is there – what is the answer? To bring in some other nurse working for cheaper wages. So it continues on and on and on without anyone needing to address the core problems of the system itself.

    So I am not saying that “foreigners” are the problem, but they are given as a “solution” to a “problem” that really exists due to other reasons. So if these people with the mantra of “need workers” would actually hire the foreigners accounted for and present in the country I would not object – however they want a “disposable” workforce they can send packing home when they are not needed, while those who stay find themselves scratching up a living in the ghetto with no opportunities and while they were getting rich salaries as compared to home – they are now on the abject poverty level along with thousands of others. *That* is what I object to. Life in Finland can be good – we have no famine, war, earthquakes – but I don’t wish all this to be funded on the exploitation of people. Of course there is a need for seasonal workers from time to time, but like with the berry-pickers its a seasonal speciality job… how much of the society can be run as seasonal speciality jobs? Someplaces like the USA the whole economy is a seasonal speciality it seems…

  17. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    September 14, 2008 9:44 am

    – Finland is in a sort of crossroads where it has to decide what to do. One fast way would be to lower taxes, which would impact public spending and the welfare state. But, as you know, this would be in direct conflict with our welfare state and values as a society.

    Well, Finland was in the crossroads in the 1990’s. The values hardened and the generous welfare state wasn’t so generous any more. However it seems the decisions made then to “liberalize” the economy have now in 15 years resulted in the liberated industries escaping away. You look at the latest survey on the “hi-tech” Finland and its broadband connections. Even if done by Cisco which has its own interests. The government expects private market forces to take care of the infrastructure – and what is the result? Finland is now in 13th place. Really is this the way to go – down the drain?

    – I am certain that the government understands that it has to make some difficult decisions about the economy such as lowering taxes to fuel consumption and encourage entrepreneurship.

    Oh please, the Finnish Government does nothing put pay people pay double for the privileges of living in Finland. We’ve heard all the same mantra now… was it since 1978 to “encourage enterpreneurship”. I’d have a business if there was an opportunity to make any money. There is not. End of story.

    Maybe if the country had really gone bankrupt in the 1990’s and scrapped the welfare state back then – we would be living in a very different place now. But as it seems the status quo is being defended by the “powers that be” and it is more or less having the country in a breathing apparatus all the donatable organs being harvested and waiting for euthanasia.

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