Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Finland For Thought highlights a very familiar feature of the Finnish welfare state landscape.
Sweden just cut its interest rate, from 2% to 1.5% and, given its independent status from the European Monetary Union, is probably more nimble than Europe (and Finland) in confronting the economic malaise that is taking hold of Europe.

Broadly speaking, what does this mean in layman’s language? Sweden is trying to reduce the cost of borrowing by reducing interest rates, thus hoping there will be more spending by consumers and businesses. Usually artificially induced economic activity can mean a rise in inflation. However, given that the prospects for economic growth are so low (due to high taxation and declining demographics), not only is there no danger of inflation, but there is a real danger of deflation: the reduction of all prices and wages. To put it even more broadly, Europe is getting collectively poorer, when compared to the rest of the world.

Finland, which is tied to the EMU, unfortunately can’t take the same kind of early independent action as Sweden, and will probably share with Europe the experience of sinking into greater national poverty. Most likely no one will notice, - or care - yet in a welfare state the stress lines will manifest themselves in all the familiar places: uneasing, and possibly increasing unemployment, more cuts in services, and longer waiting lines.

Monday, June 13, 2005

More good news coming from Iraq.

If it was this easy to accomplish so much, we should try to do it again, in Syria and Iran.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The moronic Aatos Erkko has apparently published a typically lame-brained thesis in the “Foreign Policy” journal of Finland. NewsRoom Finland has a summation.

Aatos Erkko, main owner of Finnish publisher Sanoma Oy, does not think a deepening transatlantic relationship would require membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).

Just exactly why a deepening transatlantic relationship is necessary in the first place is not explained. Finland’s membership in NATO is not in the interests of the United States.

In an interview for the latest issue of the quarterly Finnish Journal of Foreign Affairs (Ulkopolitiikka), Mr Erkko was quoted as saying that he was a firm believer in the European security system, not the US-led military one.

This is essentially the same “security system” that coulda woulda shoulda stopped the Yugoslavian holocaust, but didn’t.

Mr Erkko is known as a stern proponent of close transatlantic relations. In contrast to that reputation, in Ulkopolitiikka he dishes out strong critique of the United States, saying, for example, that the recent European tour of President George W Bush was a smokescreen.

Bush’s tour reached those it was designed to reach: the New Europeans, where his words were very welcome. The opinions Old Europe are basically irrelevant.

He added that the US could act as a global example, but instead chose to act in the manner of an autocrat.

Basically, what he really wants is for the US to set a European example. But that would be catastrophic to the entire world, as Europeans have been pretty incompetent not only in stopping wars (Yugoslavia), controlling their currency (run-up of the euro), and implementing political integration (the failed constitutional referendums), - just to name a few.

"The complex of a big country is shocking and it leaves us no choice but to behave well toward the US," he was quoted as saying by Ulkopolitiikka.

So that should not be too difficult for Finns, who’ve worn kneepads vis-à-vis the Soviets for four decades.

Mr Erkko also describes the Bush administration's foreign policy and worldview, guided by neo-conservatism, as dangerous. He told Ulkopolitiikka that the neo-conservatives were as dogmatic as Soviet Russia was in its day.

Neo-conservatists are dogmatic about freedom. I suppose Erkko finds fault with that.

He feels Finland is currently a very irrelevant country as far as the US is concerned. The question is, Mr Erkko adds, whether Finland is beneficial to the US or not. Finland is not, he answers.

Damn right. And Americans should keep Finland at a distance, because no good will come from associating with such a country.

Mr Erkko told the periodical that all kinds of foreign policy activity were now called for, in particular more active involvement in EU policy than at present.

Good luck with all of that, considering the EU’s latest debacle.

The senior publisher also lauds President Tarja Halonen.

"Our president approaches the matter seriously and has attempted to create a discussion forum with President Bush. And she has succeeded in that.”

Tarja Halonen was completely ignored by the Bush Administration when she last visited the US. To imply that she has succeeded in creating a ‘discussion forum’ is completely false.