Malicious insinuation of minorities in Finland

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

In one day Finland’s image changed in the eyes of many people and the world. On April 17 the racism and malicious insinuation of minorities in Finland achieved a beachhead because of our lack of resolve. That weakness has now spoon fed a right-wing populist party that is threatening values like social equality for all.

Finland is learning how to throw good punches back at the ogre of racism. One of the best ways to tackle this monster is to question the countless malicious insinuations of minorities by parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS).

One of the biggest stereotypes being marketed by some PS MPs is that immigrants and refugees abuse social welfare, are lazy, and therefore have little to no worth in our society.

Here is a blog on Uusi Suomi by PS city councilman Hemmo Koskiniemi of Rovaniemi, where on the basis of he-said-she-said testimony, labels an immigrant living in public housing of abusing the system. Migrant Tales called the City of Rovaniemi and asked if they ever got a call from Koskiniemi and if what he claims is true.

This type of insinuation by politicians like Koskiniemi not only shows their laziness to get the facts first before pointing the accusing finger, but the eagerness of some PS politicians to become social-media lynch mob leaders.

Sociologist Alan Bruce shows how the culture of prejudice is built:  “Its (racism) final stages sees it as it really is: hate-fuelled, other-centered loathing with a set of solutions (final or temporary) to address what is now labelled a “problem,” he writes. “Yes, a ‘problem’ created by…. the racists themselves… They minimize their nastiness by a desperate and false effort to blend in to normal politics. It looks like a rat, it walks like a rat, it sneers like a rat, it stinks like a rat: it is a rat.”

The ability of the PS to build good ethnic relations in Finland is a near-impossible task for the party. They don’t care about integration but instead drive home the point that diversity is some illness that must be stamped out with hearsay and stereotypes.

When politicians like the PS vehemently claim that immigrants and refugees abuse the social welfare system, they conveniently forget to back up their allegations and mention how the system is being misused by Finns, who are the majority in this country.

As a reporter working for Apu magazine in the early 1990s, when Finland was suffering from one its worst-ever recessions in history, I did some investigative journalism on social security fraud. At the time, Finland’s immigrant population totalled a mere 55,587 people, or 1.1% of the population.

One of my sources was a ministry of labor official who told me that moonlighting alone cost the state yearly between 100 million and 900 million Finnish marks (16.8 million and 151.8 million euros).

We could ask two important questions in light of the 1994 article that was never published by Apu because it was a hyper-sensitive topic in those days for politicians as well:  Why are we still in the dark about how many people in this country abuse social welfare?

Overturning and busting myths is a key weapon in the fight against prejudice. Sensible politicians should stand up to the malicious insinuations put out by the PS of immigrants, refugees and minorities.

Such leadership is needed now.

  1. Mark

    Enrique

    – “It looks like a rat, it walks like a rat, it sneers like a rat, it stinks like a rat: it is a rat”

    Lol. That’s a good one.

    With all this talk of ‘equality’, that minority groups should not receive extra support, either in terms of additional benefit or resources, or in the form of positive discrimination in labour markets, it is very clear that PS do not even understand the most basic of distinctions that underlie the Nordic welfare system model.

    Equity and equality in social welfare are two very different concepts.

    Equity relates to valid categories of need, and so allows for people to be treated differently between categories but the same within categories. If you have heart disease, you get more support in terms of health care than someone who doesn’t have heart disease, regardless of what you’ve paid in insurance. That’s the nature of insurance, it spreads risk.

    Equality on the other hand equalises different treatment that has historically been based on invalid categories. You should be able to advance in employment regardless whether you are male of female, black or white.

    In other words, categories are valid when they address valid needs. Even disadvantage in the labour market is a very clear and distinct need – so while positive discrimination seeks to create equality by breaking the principle of equality, it does so because it operates for a time under the principle of equity, ensuring treatment reflects legitimate need.

    Now come on PS. Show us you have the brains to understand the basic principles of the modern Nordic Welfare system.

  2. Seppo

    – “They don’t care about integration”

    This is an important point. I would like to see the “immigration experts” of Persut for once attack the real issue – how to make immigrants already in the country to integrate better?

    – “Why are we still in the dark about how many people in this country abuse social welfare?”

    To me this is not an important or big issue. Basically all people getting social money are poor. If some poor people get a bit more than they actually deserve then so what? If someone really prefers to sit at home with unemployment money, which in Finland is not high, rather than going to work, fine with me. That’s not a life one should be jealous of.

  3. JusticeDemon

    Ricky

    Moonlighting is specific benefit fraud. You can say many things about moonlighters, but by definition the one thing you cannot call them is work shy.

    Our more rabid contributors have claimed here that immigrants refuse to work and rely instead on benefits. If this were true, then it would be reflected in statistics on decisions to reduce benefits on grounds of refusing work or training. In each case a local employment office would make a coded decision, which should be entered in the mol data system in the same way as all other decisions. There is probably a unique code for decisions to cut integration allowance on corresponding grounds. In other words, the claim of our rabid friends should be specifically verifiable or falsifiable.

  4. David

    The money that Denmark has saved over the last decade shows that immigration especially from outside Europe was very costly to Denmark. There is no way or getting way from this is a cold fact. Where the PS are going right is having the view that “I do want Finland to have a multi cultural society so convince me why Finland should have one” which is with most of the views of Finnish citizens today. Where parties like SKP Vihreät have gone wrong is having the view that a multi cultural society is a benefit with no draw backs and part of the argument is quickly knocked down with the reports which we get from countries like Denmark .
    Of course there are members of PS who would use the word “Financial abuse” when it comes to immigration but are the majority are stating the facts that certain areas of immigration are expensive to Finland and can this be justified to be seen as a benefit to Finland.

    The blog should not be called “immigrants abuse the social system” which is avoiding the real issue .It should be a sensible bigger picture looking title “How much does immigration cost “.

    • Enrique

      –The money that Denmark has saved over the last decade shows that immigration especially from outside Europe was very costly to Denmark.

      That is disputable what you say. Ever thought about the lose to the country’s image, loss of skilled labor and foreign investment?

      –Convince me why Finland should have a multicultural or intercultural society? Let’s just say culturally diverse society.

      It already is. Such values are in the Constitution and the laws of the land. If you change your mind (a bit late in the game) you tell me how you are going to do that? How are you going to stop Finland from NOT being culturally diverse in a globalized world?

      –“How much does immigration cost “.

      If immigration cost society as you claim, then why do countries invite immigration? Countries like the United States and others would be bankrupt by your standards. Immigrants ADD to the economy; ie they are a benefit to the country.

  5. JusticeDemon

    David

    Finland was uninhabited during the last ice age. Everyone living in Finland is descended from immigrants. How much money could have been saved by preventing immigration over the last 15,000 years?

    Time scale is everything. You can save a lot of money over a time span of 15-20 years simply by not having children. Why doesn’t Denmark legislate to ban childbirth?

    Try using your brain instead of parroting populist nonsense.

  6. David

    Finland was uninhabited during the last ice age. Everyone living in Finland is descended from immigrants. How much money could have been saved by preventing immigration over the last 15,000 years?

    This view has no relevance in 2011 Finland. The immigration debate is not about about the past but the present. If you brought that into the immigration debate in parliament as your secret weapon people would just laugh at you

    Time scale is everything. You can save a lot of money over a time span of 15-20 years simply by not having children. Why doesn’t Denmark legislate to ban childbirth?

    This would be a choice based around Danish people and their forward progress. Immigration is a situation its brought into the country many times against the choice of its citizens and by doing do it then costs Denmark billions of Euros

    • Enrique

      –This would be a choice based around Danish people and their forward progress. Immigration is a situation its brought into the country many times against the choice of its citizens and by doing do it then costs Denmark billions of Euros.

      So you think immigration translates to a loss for a country? There is no other benefit?

  7. Seppo

    – “Time scale is everything. You can save a lot of money over a time span of 15-20 years simply by not having children. Why doesn’t Denmark legislate to ban childbirth?”

    This is maybe not the best example but there’s a point. When you look at the costs of immigration you should have a longer time span in mind. It takes 20-25 years for a a newborn baby to become “productive” for the society. During those years the society has to spend a lot on daycare, schools, health care, universities etc. Only after that will the person in question start earning regularly and paying taxes – “paying back” what he got earlier.

    Most immigrants are grown-ups who have done their schools, some even universities, already. You might have to invest in language teaching as well as pay social benefits during the time it takes for them to find a job in Finland. For some of them it takes a few months, for some a few years to become “productive” but usually never 20-25 years. An exception are some older immigrants who sometimes never go to work but just settle with living on social money. All in all, there are good possibilities that immigration, even the humanitarian one, is economically beneficial for the receiving society.

    When you count how much immigration costs you have to take into account the taxes that those immigrants who are working pay. I don’t know much about this but I would assume that if the employment rate (työllisyysaste) among a certain group of immigrants is above 60% then they are paying more to the state than costing it. There are a few groups who might be below this but immigration as a whole for sure gives us more than it takes.

    However, I don’t think that humanitarian immigration, taking refugees, should be seen as something that should be economically beneficial for Finland. Quite the opposite, it is a kind of charity we are doing, just like development aid.

    • Enrique

      –However, I don’t think that humanitarian immigration, taking refugees, should be seen as something that should be economically beneficial for Finland. Quite the opposite, it is a kind of charity we are doing, just like development aid.

      Seppo, do you think that these people will be living off welfare all their lives? I feel sorry for them if you do.

  8. JusticeDemon

    David

    You didn’t answer my point. Why calculate the “savings” from a population policy over a period of 5 years? Why not 50 years or 15,000 years? Childbirth is extremely expensive if we count its costs over only 15 years. Time scale is everything.

    Do you think the Danes chose an intelligent time scale for this cost-benefit analysis? What time scales were considered?

    That question requires you to think. I know that thinking is hard work, but why don’t you try?

    Your racism is showing with that remark about the a choice based around Danish people. Everyone living in Denmark is either an immigrant or the descendant of an immigrant. Take a long enough time scale and there are no Danish people at all.

  9. David

    The figures that Denmark showed that illegal immigration cost Denmark billions of euros where legal immigration brought billions of euros to the economy . PS would not disagree that controlled legal migration can bring some benefit to Finland. but their argument is that illegal immigration does not and there fore should be avoided . Which is shared by many Finnish people . There is and argument that strict illegal immigration laws would reduced legal immigration as people would not want to work in country which would have strict laws when dealing with illegal immigration. Denmark has shown this not to be the case .

    Finland is not multilateral yet it still does not have:

    The ethnic cleansing of the population due to high immigrant birth rates.

    Politically correct policing where the police have a fear of being called racist so they do not get involved when a white person is the victim of a race attack

    Its does not have tension between ethnic groups which spill out into violence towards each other like a modern Balkans .

    It does not have the fear that the government are scared of offending the Muslim population so they drag anyone into court for having a sensible view with its comes to Islam as a warning to others that a governments fear overrides a sensible debate .

    If Finland does not have theses then it can not be called “Multicultural” yet.
    So could tell me what multiculturalism would bring where theses factors could be seen as something where we would feel comfortable living with because the benefits of immigration and multiculturalism make this justifiable

  10. Mark

    David

    The way the DPP jumped on the report was heavily criticised by its authors who said “it cannot be known how non-Western immigrants affect the economy of the kingdom”. Their calculations were not meant to capture the cost of immigrants, but some of the costs involved in welfare, education etc. What they also said is that in the short-term, costs would be higher because immigrant families had more children, but the overall effect would be for one family to produce more tax payers than the average Danish family in the future.

    Marianne Frank Hansen, one of the lead economists on the report had this to say about the DPP’s reaction: a tougher immigration law “is a somewhat exaggerated conclusion to be drawn from the report.”

    Exaggeration? By nationalists and populists! Now there is a surprise.

  11. Seppo

    – “Seppo, do you think that these people will be living off welfare all their lives? I feel sorry for them if you do.”

    You miss the point completely. What I meant was that a country does not take humanitarian immigrants, refugees, in order to get economical benefits of them. To me this would be absurd. People are suffering but we want them here to encrease our tax revenues. Almost like taking advantage of people who are already in a voulnerable position.

    No, we take refugees because we want to help, we want to care. Or the majority of us do.

    Maybe you did not read my previous comment through but I just explaned how, in my opinion, even humanitarian immigration can and eventually will become beneficial. Most of them will get a job and start paying taxes. Same way I know that some never will. These are mostly a) women from cultures where women usually stay at home and b) people who were so old when they came that they just don’t have the chances to meet the requirements of the Finnish labour market anymore. To make sure once more, those who will never work are in the minority, and most humanitarian immigrants will eventually get jobs.

    Non-humanitarian immigration is another thing. There a country can be selfish and look more just at the economical benefits the immigration has or has not.

  12. David

    Of course most if not al of usl are immigrants but like i said that is in the past and not now,So to say that we should accept the problems of immigration because we our selfs did the same thing many thousands of years ago is a ridiculous view The problem with large scale immigration and especially non European is the possibly that this immigration will displace people and force them to live in a society which is not based around them from which problems will occur . This is why integration polices have failed because how can you integrate people onto a society which is designed by people who are culturally and genetically different to the host nation and from this failure we are now seeing the problems. Being against immigration is for many a way to preserve their cultural and sense of belonging and balance. So using childbirth costs compared to immigration cost is not a valid argument. Unless the costs of child birth are due to immigration births theses are not a threat to Danish identity but when immigration is a threat to that identity which the Danish people are paying for then then somehow this is unacceptable. You could use a valid argument that how much does Calsberg cost the Danish government because of the problems of beer would bring to the Danish people this would run neatly aside immigration

    ” Your racism” : Like they say if you use the word racism you have already lost the argument

    • Enrique

      –This is why integration polices have failed because how can you integrate people onto a society which is designed by people who are culturally and genetically different to the host nation and from this failure we are now seeing the problems.

      Where and why have they failed? For how many have they failed? What does failure mean?

      Culturally and generically different? Now you have surpassed yourself, David. One of the arguments used by the far-right and anti-immigration group is what you are saying: Because they are so different from us they cannot live with us.

      In other words, a bunch of baloney. Any person with minimum knowledge of what culture is knows that people are not guided like robots by culture. Since when are people’s behavior guided by genes?

  13. Mark

    Seppo

    – “These are mostly a) women from cultures where women usually stay at home”

    If a woman stays at home and has just one more child than the average Finn, let’s say 3 children, to round it up, then in 20 years, that child is paying taxes and being productive. If her husband is working, then she will not get very much in the way of benefit and if she hasn’t worked, she will get the minimum childcare payments. The lost revenue of income tax is about 80,000 over 20 years. However, once her child is earning, in a slightly better job one presumes that she could have got as an unskilled worker, then over a lifetime that child will contribute something in the region of half a million Eur to the treasury, income and value added taxes, more than paying for their education and more than paying for the choice of the mother to stay at home being productive for society through reproduction and child care.

    Now if she has five kids, which would not be unusual for an immigrant family though it would annoy the hell out of the racists, then the three extra children above the average means that the reproductive activity of that mother contributes an extra EUR 1.5 million to the Finnish economy seen over the span of 65 years. Grey figures, yes, but the rationale is perfectly justifiable.

    Those are the time scales through which to view immigration – and a very different picture it shows.

  14. JusticeDemon

    David

    It looks like you are not using the term illegal immigration in the standard sense. Allan made a similar error. An illegal immigrant is normally understood as an alien who is not a client of the immigration system. This includes clandestine entrants and overstayers. It does not include asylum-seekers or displaced persons seeking shelter.

    Laestadians have the highest birth rate in Finland and they have been living here for 150 years. Can you explain why Finland has not been ethnically cleansed as a result?

  15. JusticeDemon

    David

    Your racism was only just showing a few posts back, but it’s clearly visible now after only a light scratching.

    Being against immigration is for many a way to preserve their cultural and sense of belonging and balance.

    You are disoriented and confused by discovering that the world is bigger than your own sandbox? – Well boo hoo hoo – it’s time to grow up a bit.

  16. Mark

    David

    – “Like they say if you use the word racism you have already lost the argument.”

    Who is they? And how are you supposed to have a discussion about racism without using the word racism? Or do you think that any argument trying to prove or reduce racism is lost? That’s usually the starting point for racists to argue with anti-racists, no?

    – “This is why integration polices have failed because how can you integrate people onto a society which is designed by people who are culturally and genetically different to the host nation and from this failure we are now seeing the problems.”

    Were you ever educated David? Whoever told you that genetic variation was a bad thing? Whoever told you that genetic variation was a barrier to social integration? Whoever told you the ‘failure’ to integrate was a result of genetic diversity? David, you are a textbook racist. Now fuck off and get a proper education.

  17. Seppo

    – “…then the three extra children above the average means that the reproductive activity of that mother contributes an extra EUR 1.5 million to the Finnish economy seen over the span of 65 years.”

    Yes, Mark, this is absolutely true. This is how humanitarian immigration becomes economically beneficial even though the current employment rates of some groups are quite low.

    Should we try to point this out to the anti-immigrationists?

    David, what do you think about these figures?

  18. Mark

    Seppo

    – “Should we try to point this out to the anti-immigrationists?”

    We could and should. Though there will be no convincing thing. If you present them with data, they ignore it and move on to arguing from another angle.

    Interestingly, I was speaking to a Finn yesterday and he was telling me how things have been in Finland over the last 40 years or so. He told how he has been criticised by neighbours and others just for talking to Roma people. He has been very interested in finding out what their circumstances have been and how to get the young Roma into full time education. And he said he has faced very strong and very vocal resistance to that work. No racism in Finland? What a joke!

    • Enrique

      –No racism in Finland? What a joke!

      The PS have shown this with flying colors. Racism has been a problem in waiting that was not brought out by immigrants but by some PS politicians who found a great way to get votes to further their political careers. Believe it or not, I had people on this blog in 2008 who told me that racism was a minor problem in Finland. Denial helps racism grow. However, it is truly sad what we are seeing in Finland.

  19. Allan

    Now fuck off and get a proper education.
    Now if I told Enrique that he would bar me. howcome you are allowed to be rude, is it positive discrimination?

  20. Mary Mekko

    The Mustalainen of Finland fascinated me when I saw them first on the ferry from Stockholm. The women were all dressed up in their finery; their young men were in zoot-suit, 1950’s sharp outfits. Of course, their older men are fat and not too fine, but that’s common in India, too, whence these people emigrated. I remember going to one of their small villages near Oulu on my own, after meeting one of the young ladies by chance, sitting around and trying to chat (I with no Finnish, they no German or English), but they were very friendly and hospitable to me, a Yank.

    Of course, I quickly found out that all over Europe, including Finland, these people are not welcome at all, and the fact that I talk to them at all, or jsut stop and stare at them, was heavily discouraged by my local friends. Somehow I was given the idea that they could be dangerous, and that my friends were actually a bit afraid of them, esp. their men.

    Later I found out that my friend’s previous family name was FLINK, before the Finlandization of surnames in the 1920’s, and several told me that it was a Mustalainen name. They looked horrified that I had befriended a “hidden gypsy”, who of course looked very Suomilainen. It’s possible also that it is German, Swedish or Jewish Yiddish. In any case, Finns are to me just normal humans: they want to feel safe, and they don’t feel safe with outsiders close by.

    IF those outsiders then live as parasites, the reason for hatred is practically ten-fold, since no working Finn has the right to refuse to support new outsiders. We Americans resent it also, and speak openly at grocery stores against those who use foodstamps. I think that the idea of “no free lunch” is a basic human instinct; if someone else is eating with YOUR money, that is wrong. New immigrants can be put to use immediately for all the jobs “no Finn wants”, and it can be stipulated that they MUST take whatever job is offered, cleaning and so on, regardless if in a country of origin “that woman stayed home”. Well, if she wanted to stay home, let her stay home, in her own country, but when she comes to Finland, put her to work! No one can hate someone who makes an honest contribution; they’ll appreciate her labor, good will, and intention to build up her kind and beautiful host country. Imagine doing such parasitism in reverse in those countries – they would take a machete to you!

  21. Mark

    No idea, Allan. Maybe. Maybe you are quite happy to agree and support Nazi ideology.

    It’s funny how you are keen to make points about manners and have not one bit of inclination to condemn racism in Finland (of any kind, to anybody)? And neither have you contributed much to an atmosphere of respect around here. But hey, I’m sure you’re losing no sleep over that.

  22. Mark

    Mary Mekko

    Gosh, you started out so well. I even thought you were going to mention the ‘racism’ word and point out that there has been considerable racism against the Roma in Finland. But, nope. Somehow, your early experience was the platform for a diatribe against immigrants. Go figure!

    – “In any case, Finns are to me just normal humans:”

    I think think this was the start of your decline. So some humans are not ‘normal’? The ‘parasites’ you mentioned, I suppose. And who are they? The poor, black ones who don’t speak Finnish or cannot get a job immediately on entering Finland? But then, you would bring back slavery and MAKE then work, doing the jobs we don’t want to do. What’s that, cleaning your fucking toilet for you?

    – “I think that the idea of “no free lunch” is a basic human instinct: if someone else is eating with YOUR money, that is wrong.”

    No, it’s a right wing ideology used to justify the idea of removing the social safety net for the poor, because that safety net relies on redistributions of wealth, an idea that many ‘wealthy’ people find very offensive for some reason, even if they have made their money from exploiting the labour of the poor. Actually, many poorer people also buy into this ideology for some reason. That’s a real dupe.

    What you forget Mary is that we live in a society: That is, a place where all the citizens pay some of THEIR money in return for the institutions of governance, security, and other infrastructure to make society function.

    One of those securities is that we provide a basic welfare for the poor. That saves money in policing and gives them more possibilities to find work, especially if one of the criteria for getting work is a ‘an abode’, for example. The Roma you mention are a good example of what happens when a community of poor fall through the cracks and find it very difficult to get back in.

    One element of the flow of money or profit is that while money flows in one direction, risk is supposed to flow in the opposite direction. That’s the job of investors, to ensure their investment is not a risk. In other words, that the flow of money is always in the direction of those with the money in the first place. What that means is that the poor carry the most ‘risks’ of society – poor health, lack of housing, effects of crime, poor education. If something goes wrong, you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s the poor that are going to feel it first, feel it hardest and feel it longest.

    Funny then that often this burden of risk pushes them into the gutter. This is where people like yourself Mary, like to ‘individualise the problem’, and typically blame the poor person for not being good enough.

    Most politicians recognise that this is not a good situation, for anybody. Lots of angry poor means less security generally and actually more money having to be spent on policing. So it makes good financial sense to have a safety net, which at the same time should still not disincentivise people, because we need cheap unskilled labour to do our shitty work, as you put it.

    – “Well, if she wanted to stay home, let her stay home, in her own country, but when she comes to Finland, put her to work! ”

    Oh, Mary! What is ideology you have? Work, work, work, money, money, money, parasites, parasites, parasites! Is there nothing else in your head?

    By ‘staying at home’ having kids, that woman is being rather more productive than many people who go to work. That is because she is producing new workers for the future, and she carries most of the burden of looking after them and raising them. She does all that ‘work’ that is needed to make new workers and she doesn’t really get paid that much for it. She is ‘gold’ to society. You would have a different view if you had to pay all the costs of care for other people’s children! 🙂 Of course, the idea of paying anything for OTHER people is probably enough to give you palpitations, eh!

    – “No one can hate someone who makes an honest contribution;”

    What’s the reverse of this? It’s okay to hate someone who doesn’t make an honest contribution? And who gets to decide what an ‘honest’ contribution is, Mary? Hate, parasites, less than human. Sounds very charitable. Are you religious, Mary? Maybe not. I’d bet my house that you are a person of privilege, because you work so hard to justify your entitlements (money) by attacking those people who have the least. Funny, though, the biggest threat to your money does not come from the poor, who might steal it off you, but rather from other wealthy people, who manage to exploit the system to increase the flow going in their direction. Like the CEOs who have now seen a 13% rise in their salaries, and back to the double digit annual increases we have seen all through the previous decade of economic stability. What is the equivalent GDP increases? 3-5% annually? Clearly that 13% is coming out of your pocket too, Mary. I bet you don’t complain about that.

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