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Thread: Greetings from Finland

  1. #11
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Welcome!
    Thanks from NorthernLight

  2. #12
    Sally Sitter Paris's Avatar
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    Howdy. And welcome. I bet you get a lot of northern light nowadays.
    Thanks from NorthernLight

  3. #13
    Veteran Member EnigmaO01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernLight View Post
    Hi Spooky

    Thanks for the leading questions

    Current tax rates in Finland are progressive. Value added tax is currently 24% on white goods etc., and 13% on necessary items. Income tax is paid in two portions, a national tax and a local tax, with the local tax being variable, bit like federal and state taxes.

    Yes, Finland is one of the 'welfare states' with high taxation, large government expenditure as a share of GDP, though this has been falling in recent decades. Safety nets are mainly 'minimum subsistence' as a last resort, with earnings related unemployment being the main safety net, paid for in part through union contributions, and which is usually significantly higher than the base unemployment income (can be as much as 70% of the salary for up to 18 months). Deductions also include a national insurance payment for health care, with co-payments on top for things like doctor or hospital visits, and also subsidized prescriptions, with a ceiling of about 500€ per year, as well as several reimbursement levels, with 100€ reimbursement for various preconditions like diabetes, cancer etc.

    You asked if I would rather keep my money and build my own safety net. The answer is that it would clearly be more expensive to do that. Not all taxes goes to cover employment safety nets or medical costs, with obviously infrastructure, regulatory institutions, water, electricity, forestry, environment, military etc., being paid for out of direct taxation. So considering the cost of medical insurance in the US, I'd say for me, this payment system is probably cheaper, with the benefit of getting something substantial and reliable in return. Health care here is excellent. Many citizens also have private health care through 'occupational health', so this puts less burden on the tax-funded primary care system.

    Likewise, there is nothing stopping citizens from taking out other insurance plans as a way to provide further safety nets, so in that sense you are not reliant totally on those safety nets decided by the government. In fact, many people do just that.
    In other-wards you get what you pay for. And welcome!

  4. #14
    Bizarroland Observer Thx1138's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum, have a cinnamon roll and some Alice Cooper.





    Thx
    Thanks from NorthernLight and MaryAnne

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightSwimmer View Post
    Why do you consider this to be "quite radical"?
    Hi NightSwimmer

    Thanks for your close reading of my intro and your question.

    While the list of values is fairly run of the mill, how I read into those issues is where I start to be quite radical. As an example, I talk about 'managed risks', and this relates to one of the key effects of wealth, which is diversification of investments and in that sense, less risk. So what actually happens to that risk? It's very often pushed downwards. For example, working class people have their equity invested in their job and their current skill set. If that set becomes obsolete or their job disappears from the market or is oversaturated, the 'risk' associated with changing economies is carried painfully by that worker, and to a lesser extent by the wider society depending on how much they have to 'carry' that ex-worker or whether they are investing in giving opportunities to retrain.

    Talking to accountants that I've know over the years, one of the key issues in any deal making is how risk is distributed, with the accountant paid to provide as little exposure as possible. Again, what happens to the risk? It gets shoved down the chain. So, when it comes to making money 'work', the outcome can be summarised as profit going in one direction and risk going in the other. For me, that is a recipe for disaster in any economy, and so we need a radical rethink about how we see risk, how visible it is, and what we do with it. Much of the subprime mess was the result of new risks introduced into the market in such a way that it was hidden until it was too late. But even having said that, that was an extreme event that negatively affected many people. In ordiinary circumstances, the way that risk moves around and is managed has many many negative effects. One of my 'radical' ideas is therefore to limit the areas of the economy where 'speculation' is allowed to operate. I would look to ring fence different sectors so that speculators cannot monopolise the profits of those sectors and move risks down the chain.

    When I talk about sustainable policies, I think that companies should be far more accountable and provide an awful lot more information to consumers. As an example, or a background to this, a lot of people would like to make a clear difference to the environment, but they don't have much feedback on how their individual choices are making a difference or just adding to the problem. There are schemes in Finland for example, that allow electricity consumers living in apartment blocks to track how much electricity is being used, via sensors and feedback displays. Consumption can be compared to a target or again consumption of other similar blocks, creating an atmosphere of competitiveness and activism. If you go out the front door and you see the display is on 'red', meaning the building is below its target, you ask whether you left the TV plugged in on standby or the WiFi or other devices. You then get used to switching them off when you are not in the house. So, the take away from that is that people would love to make a difference, but we need feedback information in a loop, so you have action and then feedback and then revised action and so on.

    If you apply that principle to other issues that need addressing, you would say that products and services that consumers buy need to have more information connected to both environmental impacts but also social impacts of those products. That means you need government to create a framework or INDEX. For example, food in Europe has by statute Nutritional Information, which lists the ingredients and basic nutritional content. This is supposed to help consumers choose healthier foods. I think we could also seek to measure 'carbon footprints' for products as well as social indices like 'wealth distributions' within the product chain. How much of the profit of the product is distributed through wages, management and shareholders. Thinks like a CEO pay to median salary index.

    Globalisation says that if something can be made cheaper in China then better to have it made there and shipped to the US or Europe. But this is a very narrow picture of the consequences of production. There are many hidden costs, such as shipping, environment costs of shipping ordinary goods thousands of miles, social costs of sustaining low wages in developing countries. Yes, someone always benefits from that kind of economy, but overall, there are hidden costs that all of society pays in the end. I call it the Madonna Doll Economy, because the end product is sometimes just not worth all the activity and resources put into it, even if you can persuade people to buy it. The opportunity cost is too high (these people could be making more useful products). But who is going to tell the market what it can and cannot make?

    The answer I think is making things more visible, so that if people see the environmental and social costs associated with the products on the shelf, they can start to make much more informed choices and also shape the economy in ways that they currently feel powerless to do. In the end, the consumer really is the boss - but we have done very little to mobilise consumer power - focusing instead on political power. But adding these kinds of indices would be considered quite radical I would think.

    Indeed, any kind of attempt to redistribute or manage risks in a way that involves government ringfencing certain kinds of economic activity would be see, I would think, as radical.

    Sorry for the long answer, but context is everything.

    EDIT: couple of typos
    Last edited by NorthernLight; 12th August 2017 at 01:12 AM.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thx1138 View Post
    Welcome to the forum, have a cinnamon roll and some Alice Cooper.


    Thx
    how very friendly
    Thanks from Thx1138 and MaryAnne

  7. #17
    THE PUNDIT DemoWhip's Avatar
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    Hei Marc! Iloinen, että olet täällä!

    Thanks from Friday13

  8. #18
    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    NL may be over-qualified for this board, he needs to learn how to do neener-neener posts.

  9. #19
    Swamper chaos's Avatar
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    Welcome, Marc
    Can you see Russia from your house?
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  10. #20
    Veteran Member
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    How are the Muslim refugees doing? How is Finland doing with the refugees?

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