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Thread: Greetings from Finland

  1. #21
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernLight View Post
    Hi peeps

    I'm 48 years old, living in Finland, and interested in politics and economics. I follow politics in the UK, USA and Finland, with general observations further afield too. My own politics is for the main left of centre, though I would be considered quite radical in my economic philosophy.

    I value productive societies with safety nets, managed risks, democratic institutions, and clear demarcations between preserving social values while maintaining economic activity. I believe in sustainable policies, joined up government, and social and ethical accountability throughout the public, private and third sector.

    I'm quite convinced people will look back on these times in just a few centuries and consider us mad for how we organised society, but i accept that change in politics takes time.

    I hope to engage here with passionate and thoughtful people from every corner of the political landscape.

    Happy if you call me NL or just Marc
    Hi, NL guy. You will find plenty of conservative Social Darwinists here who don't think society should have ANY 'safety net', not in any way, shape, manner, or form. If people can't 'hack it', can't 'cut the mustard', can't take care of themselves, then screw 'em! Social safety nets are just plain EVIL! If people starve to death, even in the midst of a rich society, then that's just natural selection at work. Best not to interfere with such a natural process.

    Ironically enough, those SAME people are often howling to get alla that Darwan ape-man monkee bizness noncents outta are skools!

    I don't think you have to deal with those kind of knuckleheads in Finland.

    Lucky you!!
    Thanks from Ian Jeffrey, Friday13 and MaryAnne

  2. #22
    Galactic Ruler Spookycolt's Avatar
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    Aren't those safety nets required or caused by the high unemployment rate in Finland?

    Because those safety nets that you all pay high taxes for exist caused many people to quit working since the state will take care of them?

    Finland's economic performance is also dreadful.

    It seems to me that the more you increase safety nets the worse a nation performs.

  3. #23
    Southern Strategy Liberal OldGaffer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    Aren't those safety nets required or caused by the high unemployment rate in Finland?

    Because those safety nets that you all pay high taxes for exist caused many people to quit working since the state will take care of them?

    Finland's economic performance is also dreadful.

    It seems to me that the more you increase safety nets the worse a nation performs.
    Case in point.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by DemoWhip View Post
    Hei Marc! Iloinen, että olet täällä!
    Kiitos DemoWhip! Iloinen, että olen täällä! Mä oon suomessa asuva Britti mies, joten suomeani ei ole paras. Kiitos tervetulleista!

    Found the other person from Finland

  5. #25
    Galactic Ruler Spookycolt's Avatar
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    Well the closest I have to Finland is my Irish, the rest is African so it will be nice to have a perspective from that area.

  6. #26
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    Thanks all for the greetings - I like the place already!

    Just as a general note, I'm not here to defend Finland specifically, since Finland is full of people from the full spectrum of politics. Where I think people might have a misconception about Finland or misrepresent what a 'social welfare society' actually is, I'll endeavour to clarify. Clarifying the Finnish system doesn't mean I agree with how things are necessarily set up here.

    Also, while I have lots of opinions about politics, I'm also here to get a clearer idea about other people's views. I hope that people don't therefore take the view that 'he's a leftie' and therefore all discussion becomes generic. I'm not here to defend someone else's politics (i.e. leftist parties or candidates), since I'm not a member of any political party. I'm here to find out about YOUR politics and so I'm more interested to hear how people connect their politics to their own experiences. My own experience is of growing up in deep poverty in rural Wales, UK. That necessarily puts a focus for me on social mobility and how it works, as well as on intergenerational poverty and its dynamics, and economic systems in general.

    I'm assuming that most people have areas of their lives that really inform their politics much more strongly than newspaper headlines or campaign slogans and talking points. And that experience and personal reflection I respect greatly, regardless of the political affiliation a person has.

    warm regards

    NL
    Thanks from Friday13 and Sparta

  7. #27
    Galactic Ruler Spookycolt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernLight View Post
    Thanks all for the greetings - I like the place already!

    Just as a general note, I'm not here to defend Finland specifically, since Finland is full of people from the full spectrum of politics. Where I think people might have a misconception about Finland or misrepresent what a 'social welfare society' actually is, I'll endeavour to clarify. Clarifying the Finnish system doesn't mean I agree with how things are necessarily set up here.

    Also, while I have lots of opinions about politics, I'm also here to get a clearer idea about other people's views. I hope that people don't therefore take the view that 'he's a leftie' and therefore all discussion becomes generic. I'm not here to defend someone else's politics (i.e. leftist parties or candidates), since I'm not a member of any political party. I'm here to find out about YOUR politics and so I'm more interested to hear how people connect their politics to their own experiences. My own experience is of growing up in deep poverty in rural Wales, UK. That necessarily puts a focus for me on social mobility and how it works, as well as on intergenerational poverty and its dynamics, and economic systems in general.

    I'm assuming that most people have areas of their lives that really inform their politics much more strongly than newspaper headlines or campaign slogans and talking points. And that experience and personal reflection I respect greatly, regardless of the political affiliation a person has.

    warm regards

    NL
    Sorry but you jumped into the fire.

    Just kidding.

    I wish you the best of luck in trying to stay neutral.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    Aren't those safety nets required or caused by the high unemployment rate in Finland?
    You put forward two points here - one that high unemployment causes safety nets or creates a need for them. The other issue is the context of the question, i.e. the unemployment rate in Finland, which is currently higher than it has been since the early 1990s, especially among the under 25s.

    First thing that comes to mind is that if you have high unemployment, you cannot afford particularly good safety nets. So, any safety net that is effective shouldn't have to function for long periods, otherwise they become unsustainable. So I wouldn't say that high unemployment causes 'expensive safety nets', but that the safety nets become expensive in those circumstances. So, avoiding high unemployment becomes necessary if you are going to have good safety nets. l

    Second point was that high unemployment requires safety nets. Well, it does if you are going to avoid people who are in transition (becoming redundant) due to economic shocks to the economy from becoming trapped in poverty. While people are unemployed, they are not only taking money from the insurance scheme, but they are also not putting a lot of money back into the economy. So while high unemployment requires a safety net, the way that safety net functions is probably more important than whether it exists at all.

    Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Finland enjoyed almost full employment. The safety nets were very comfortable, but not many people used them for long periods. The work ethic in Finland is very strong, while the economy was likewise relatively stable. But slow growth in European markets together with a very rapid collapse of trade with the USSR was a huge shock to Finland's small economy. Lots of things had to change in Finland thereafter. The system wasn't set up to cope with 25% unemployment, so the safety nets were drastically trimmed.

    Another problem with the Finnish economy was that banking was liberalised in the 1980s and personal debt levels also increased significantly, and this was a big factor in how people struggled with the economic circumstances changed. This made matters worse. Everything seems sustainable when you have a regular and reasonable income and you plan on that basis, but once the income is gone, then it's a different matter (same with Greece). That comes back to the management of risk and how that risk is distributed and whether the system can take a shock based on those risk profiles. The deregulation led to consumers taking on far more risk than was sensibly manageable - not in normal circumstances, but in unforeseen circumstances, like the sudden collapse of the Soviet economy.

    Finland's current employment rate is recovering, and is about 8%. It is better than that of France (10%), but behind that of its neighbour Sweden (7.5%). Perhaps the biggest factor and challenge is that Finland's employment rate (61.4%) is 10% behind that of Sweden (72.9%), even though unemployment lags by only 0.5%. The reason is that the ageing population factor is hitting Finland earlier than any other country in Europe, because of the demographics post-World War II. This has led to a quite severe restructuring of the Finnish economy (and government spending) in the last decade in preparation for these increasing effects of ageing. You can basically see Finland as an early indicator of what is going to hit all Western economies in the next 10 to 15 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    Because those safety nets that you all pay high taxes for exist caused many people to quit working since the state will take care of them?
    Simple answer here is no. When the safety nets were strongest, employment was at its highest. The safety nets have always been seen as periods of transition. The safety nets give a roughly 18 month window in which to find new work or start a path of re-education or retraining. A period of six months is usually enough for most people to get over the effects of working for 10 or 15 years non-stop, and given the high employment in general, life on the dole can be a lonely life. Not to mention that the work ethic is very strong in Finland. People want to be productive on the whole. Of course this changes when the economy receives a grievous shock. And that's the problem really. That's when you have a different measure of how effective the system is. Clearly it becomes unsustainable. But in normal circumstances, it worked very well. So perhaps the emphasis should be on creating stable economies rather than simply saying that in times of crisis we cannot afford a safety net, so in that case, we have to assume we are always in a time of crisis. That kind of financial planning tends to create far worse poverty traps.

    Policies on unemployment in Finland have changed towards an 'activation' policy, which is about getting longer term unemployed people into the labour markets. This has brought about changes in how the unemployed are supported in their job searches, how training is done, how rehabilitation of the long-term unemployed happens etc. There is a lot more stick in the system now than there has been in the past. But as many observers have said, activation only works when there are actually jobs to go into. If there are no jobs available, then activation is flogging a dead horse. Other problems are emerging too - young people in particular have been affected by unemployment, which runs at 25% for the under 25s in areas of Finland. Add to that problems of regional decline, as more people go to the cities in search of work, and you have a whole set of interrelated problems for which there are no easy answers. Now it's fair to say that if you have a large portion of a generation growing up in poverty, then this poverty starts to become more than just economic in nature - it becomes educational, health-related, cultural and a poverty of hope. These are far more dangerous in themselves. This is not just a dependency. It feels more like abandonment. All Western economies are facing the same challenges in this, I think you would agree Spooky.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spookycolt View Post
    Finland's economic performance is also dreadful.
    lol. Not sure what to say to this. In terms of current economic performance, Finland is currently in the world's top quarter ~45 (IMF). But in terms of indicators of future economic performance, Finland is very well placed in the top ten - things like educational performance, innovation, and lack of corruption and social stability. Finland has already seen how electronics and IT can drive an economy forward through the success of Nokia. This produced many many positive spin offs that are starting to pay dividends, as Finland's high-tech industries are growing rapidly. Considering Finland is a population of only 5 million, and only began industrialisation some 80 years ago, it's a very significant improvement and achievement.

    Here you can see the pattern of GDP growth, which is pretty good. You can see the various regional and global shocks that have interrupted what has otherwise been very strong economic growth in the last 50 years.

    finland-gdp@2x.jpg

    Thanks for your question Spooky - hope this clarifies things a bit more.
    Last edited by NorthernLight; 12th August 2017 at 12:17 AM.
    Thanks from BigLeRoy, Friday13 and MaryAnne

  9. #29
    Radical Centrist BigLeRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernLight View Post
    You put forward two points here - one that high unemployment causes safety nets or creates a need for them. The other issue is the context of the question, i.e. the unemployment rate in Finland, which is currently higher than it has been since the early 1990s, especially among the under 25s.

    First thing that comes to mind is that if you have high unemployment, you cannot afford particularly good safety nets. So, any safety net that is effective shouldn't have to function for long periods, otherwise they become unsustainable. So I wouldn't say that high unemployment causes 'expensive safety nets', but that the safety nets become expensive in those circumstances. So, avoiding high unemployment becomes necessary if you are going to have good safety nets. l

    Second point was that high unemployment requires safety nets. Well, it does if you are going to avoid people who are in transition (becoming redundant) due to economic shocks to the economy from becoming trapped in poverty. While people are unemployed, they are not only taking money from the insurance scheme, but they are also not putting a lot of money back into the economy. So while high unemployment requires a safety net, the way that safety net functions is probably more important than whether it exists at all.

    Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Finland enjoyed almost full employment. The safety nets were very comfortable, but not many people used them for long periods. The work ethic in Finland is very strong, while the economy was likewise relatively stable. But slow growth in European markets together with a very rapid collapse of trade with the USSR was a huge shock to Finland's small economy. Lots of things had to change in Finland thereafter. The system wasn't set up to cope with 25% unemployment, so the safety nets were drastically trimmed.

    Another problem with the Finnish economy was that banking was liberalised in the 1980s and personal debt levels also increased significantly, and this was a big factor in how people struggled with the economic circumstances changed. This made matters worse. Everything seems sustainable when you have a regular and reasonable income and you plan on that basis, but once the income is gone, then it's a different matter (same with Greece). That comes back to the management of risk and how that risk is distributed and whether the system can take a shock based on those risk profiles. The deregulation led to consumers taking on far more risk than was sensibly manageable - not in normal circumstances, but in unforeseen circumstances, like the sudden collapse of the Soviet economy.

    Finland's current employment rate is recovering, and is about 8%. It is better than that of France (10%), but behind that of its neighbour Sweden (7.5%). Perhaps the biggest factor and challenge is that Finland's employment rate (61.4%) is 10% behind that of Sweden (72.9%), even though unemployment lags by only 0.5%. The reason is that the ageing population factor is hitting Finland earlier than any other country in Europe, because of the demographics post-World War II. This has led to a quite severe restructuring of the Finnish economy (and government spending) in the last decade in preparation for these increasing effects of ageing. You can basically see Finland as an early indicator of what is going to hit all Western economies in the next 10 to 15 years.



    Simple answer here is no. When the safety nets were strongest, employment was at its highest. The safety nets have always been seen as periods of transition. The safety nets give a roughly 18 month window in which to find new work or start a path of re-education or retraining. A period of six months is usually enough for most people to get over the effects of working for 10 or 15 years non-stop, and given the high employment in general, life on the dole can be a lonely life. Not to mention that the work ethic is very strong in Finland. People want to be productive on the whole. Of course this changes when the economy receives a grievous shock. And that's the problem really. That's when you have a different measure of how effective the system is. Clearly it becomes unsustainable. But in normal circumstances, it worked very well. So perhaps the emphasis should be on creating stable economies rather than simply saying that in times of crisis we cannot afford a safety net, so in that case, we have to assume we are always in a time of crisis. That kind of financial planning tends to create far worse poverty traps.

    Policies on unemployment in Finland have changed towards an 'activation' policy, which is about getting longer term unemployed people into the labour markets. This has brought about changes in how the unemployed are supported in their job searches, how training is done, how rehabilitation of the long-term unemployed happens etc. There is a lot more stick in the system now than there has been in the past. But as many observers have said, activation only works when there are actually jobs to go into. If there are no jobs available, then activation is flogging a dead horse. Other problems are emerging too - young people in particular have been affected by unemployment, which runs at 25% for the under 25s in areas of Finland. Add to that problems of regional decline, as more people go to the cities in search of work, and you have a whole set of interrelated problems for which there are no easy answers. Now it's fair to say that if you have a large portion of a generation growing up in poverty, then this poverty starts to become more than just economic in nature - it becomes educational, health-related, cultural and a poverty of hope. These are far more dangerous in themselves. This is not just a dependency. It feels more like abandonment. All Western economies are facing the same challenges in this, I think you would agree Spooky.



    lol. Not sure what to say to this. In terms of current economic performance, Finland is currently in the world's top quarter ~45 (IMF). But in terms of indicators of future economic performance, Finland is very well placed in the top ten - things like educational performance, innovation, and lack of corruption and social stability. Finland has already seen how electronics and IT can drive an economy forward through the success of Nokia. This produced many many positive spin offs that are starting to pay dividends, as Finland's high-tech industries are growing rapidly. Considering Finland is a population of only 5 million, and only began industrialisation some 80 years ago, it's a very significant improvement and achievement.

    Here you can see the pattern of GDP growth, which is pretty good. You can see the various regional and global shocks that have interrupted what has otherwise been very strong economic growth in the last 50 years.

    finland-gdp@2x.jpg

    Thanks for your question Spooky - hope this clarifies things a bit more.
    This is all EXCELLENT economic analysis, NorthernLight. As a professional economist, I'm impressed. I'm also curious: How you did manage to go from Wales in the UK to Finland? When was that move made in your life and, if I may ask, why?
    Thanks from Friday13

  10. #30
    Above the FRAY Friday13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernLight View Post
    Thanks all for the greetings - I like the place already!
    Well, here I am, late for the party...again. Just saw this thread. Welcome, NorthernLight!

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