Two important stories this week that may have far-reaching implications for Finland

by , under Enrique

This week was marked by two important news stories that will could have far-reaching consequences on our country: Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP James Hirvisaari’s expulsion from the anti-immigration and anti-EU party, and positive words about immigration by Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen. 

Kuvankaappaus 2013-10-5 kello 8.20.40
Verkkouutiset is published by the National Coalition Party. See full story here.

While the first news about Hirvisaari dominated this week’s headlines, it was interesting to note how this far-right anti-immigration MP has been turned into a scapegoat by Timo Soini and his party.

Hirvisaari was sacked because he took a picture of his guest, Seppo Lehto, making a Nazi salute in parliament. It wasn’t because of his conviction for ethnic agitation or for all the racist and far-right statements he’s made in the past. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget that Soini accepted Hirvisaari’s candidacy (and his anti-immigration rhetoric and lunacy).

Even if the PS wants to convince us that “its racism problem is over,” think twice because it is far from over. With or without Hirvisaari, the PS continues to be an anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam party that aims to keep Finland white at all costs.

You don’t have to look too far in the PS to find the likes of Jussi Halla-aho, Olli Immonen, Juho Eerola, Vesa-Matti Saarakkala, Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo and a long list of others to understand that the party’s racism problem is still a festering issue.

Why is it ok for an MP like Juho Eerola to admit being attracted to fascism and why didn’t his aide, Ulla Pyysalo, get expelled after her name was found on a neo-Nazi associaton list?

Remember City Councilman Risto Helin who gave a Hitler clock to a neo-Nazi club in Vaasa? Why wasn’t he sacked from the party?

Doe the Hirvisaari incident tell us that it’s perfectly fine to house fascist, Nazi ideas in the PS and be a racist but a no-no to make a Nazi salute in parliament or with a Hitler mask?   

The expulsion of one far-right anti-immigration hothead like Hirvisaari is not enough. We need leadership and a shift in attitudes and values that will help Finland steer a new course on the intolerance front.

The second important piece of news this week was by Interior Minister Räsänen, who is no friend of gays, immigrants and immigration. She did, however, speak in a positive manner of the important role that Finland’s immigrants should be allowed play in this country’s development in this century.

The main point Räsänen made was that immigrants bring more money than take from society. Contrary to what politicians like Hirvisaari say, immigrants foster economic growth.

”Taking advantage of the skills of immigrants is vital to Finland’s well being,” she was quoted as saying on Verkkouutiset. ”Those that come [to Finland] from elsewhere should be seen as involved and active participants [in society]…”

If immigration is an important pillar of economic growth for many countries, why do some still believe that it is an economic and social burden? Why does the interior ministry have to tell us something so obvious, that immigration fosters economic growth?

The answer is simple: Because the debate on immigration, immigrants and our ever-growing cultural diversity has been hijacked by the likes of politicians like Hirvisaari and others  thanks to our silence. We are still taught at schools and at home that foreigners are a threat and should be eyed with suspicion.

Taking into account our aging population and the social and economic deterioration we face as a nation in this century if we persist to believe our urban tales about immigrants, it would be suicidal today not to challenge intolerance, prejudice and racism in Finland.

  1. vesajarv

    Well, you are not being fair or objective.

    PS aims to keep Finland white at all cost? Really? How have you come to this strange conclusion?

    PS don’t talk about races or skin colors, yes, Halla-aho criticizes Islam, but it is about a culture not about a race.

    PS is not against all kinds of immigration, so it’s a bit wrong to say it is anti-immigration party either. Foreigners are welcome here to work for example.

    “The second important piece of news this week was by Interior Minister Räsänen, who is no friend of gays, immigrants and immigration.”

    not a friend of immigrants? When have you heard Räsänen to say something against immigration?

    “Contrary to what politicians like Hirvisaari say, immigrants foster economic growth.”

    Räsänen is referring to the OECD-report about migration:

    http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/social-issues-migration-health/international-migration-outlook-2013_migr_outlook-2013-en

    The report is not actually that positive. Take a look at page 161. It turns out, that when all the costs are summed the number goes negative: -0.13.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Hi Vesa (?), do you think that the PS is a pro-immigration party? Does it support cultural diversity?

      Many countries have secured economic growth thanks to immigration. In Finland we’re still discussing whether immigration is bad or good. In the backdrop of this debate you will find refugees not the majority of immigrants who are working and paying taxes. Why such a distorted picture? Because some politicians, like some who belong to the PS, claim that immigrants only live off welfare.

    • JusticeDemon

      vesajarv

      The report is not actually that positive. Take a look at page 161. It turns out, that when all the costs are summed the number goes negative: -0.13.

      There is no such figure on page 161 of the OECD report. You seem to have plucked it from a table on page 159 entitled “Estimated net fiscal impact of immigrants, with and without the pension system and per capita allocation of collectively accrued revenue and expenditure items, 2007-09 average – Percentage of GDP”

      Could you explain exactly how that figure was calculated, and based on what definitions and assumptions?

      Please bear in mind that Finland had zero inhabitants 10,000 years ago and immigration was unmanaged for most of the time following this. If immigration had an automatically negative economic impact, then Finland would now have no economy at all.

      Halla-aho criticizes Islam, but it is about a culture not about a race.

      Funny how we are regularly accused of “racism against Finns” here, when we discuss certain prevalent aspects of society, such as alcohol abuse, consigning the elderly to institutions, and economically and socially excluding anyone who displays or declines to conceal detectable differences from an assumed cultural norm. Evidently you are out of step with your fellow PS supporters in suggesting that it is not racism to talk about culture in this way. If so, then you’d better watch your back. A certain ad baculum element tends to characterise the treatment of dissent in the company that you have chosen to keep.

  2. vesajarv

    Many country’s have secured economic growth thanks to immigration.

    Currently we don’t really benefit from the immigration. We have unemployment of our own and the immigration mostly just worsen the situation.

    One problem is that our society and our welfare model is not built for immigration. It means, that it is very expensive for our government to support the immigration. We are living on debt currently and this can’t go on. We are proud of our welfare model, free education, support for the poor and so on, we don’t want to just throw that away.

    Now there are people who think: Let’s take care of our own people first. This is what PS is saying also, I think.

    For our society to stay up as it is now we need higly educated workers, that work in firms, that are able to compete in global markets. Yes, our free education attracts foreigners to come here, but after they are graduated, they usually leave Finland. High taxes, cold winter, maybe the people etc. drive them away. We cannot choose the people that will stay here.

    Our welfare model is a fragile system. It requires high working morale from most of its citizens.

    Immigration especially humanitarian immigration will cost us a lot, lets be honest, but I still think we should help as much as we can afford.

    • Mark

      Vesajarvi

      Currently we don’t really benefit from the immigration.

      What a totally pointless, spiteful and ill-informed statement. For a start, how do you measure benefit? Do you measure it on the individual level, that NO immigrants ever benefit Finland, ever? Do you measure daily, weekly, monthly or yearly? Do you measure it by the size of their tax contributions, so that you ‘punish’ them twice, first by saying they don’t work, and second, by saying that the work they do do is not paid enough to contribute sufficient tax to make them ‘profitable’? Do you measure it by immigrant millionaires, do you measure it by cultural diversity? How do you put such a value on human lives and then right them off so casually as being of ‘no real benefit’? How do you do that without cutting out your eyes, cutting out your heart and completely suspending your intellectual integrity exactly? I’m curious!!!

      We have unemployment of our own and the immigration mostly just worsen the situation.

      Actually no. Many unemployment issues are faced in rural areas, while immigrants are mostly concentrated in population centres. Immigration has very little effect on those high rural unemployment rates, in either direction. It has been shown time and again that immigration rates DO NOT AFFECT underlying, what’s called ‘structural unemployment’. The rates remain relatively steady even during large influxes of immigrants.

      One problem is that our society and our welfare model is not built for immigration.

      This is a bit circular if you are saying, immigrants shouldn’t come here because we are a bit racist, so it’s not good for them. Likewise, there is nothing in the welfare model that precludes immigration – in fact, immigration as an investment is faster and often a cheaper way of creating a ‘labour unit’ than bringing a child up from birth.

      We are living on debt currently and this can’t go on.

      Over 90% of the world’s economic activity is related to debt. New money, i.e. growth, enters an economy specifically and only through ‘debt’. The financial impacts of immigration are miniscule.

      We are proud of our welfare model, free education, support for the poor and so on, we don’t want to just throw that away.

      This stinks, this comment of yours. As an immigrant, I contribute to that education, both through occasional teaching seminars and through paying taxes, and the idea that Finnish beneficiaries of that would stoop to talk about OUR education and welfare support, to the exclusion of immigrants, is just disgusting xenophobic thinking. There are NO signs that welfare services are threatened by immigration in Finland. On the contrary, the immigration of nurses and doctors, practical nurses and other workers from abroad have helped to maintain those services.

      It means, that it is very expensive for our government to support the immigratio

      Care to put some figures on that, some analysis – or are you just perpetuating these ideas to defend your own racist and xenophobic attitudes?

      Immigration especially humanitarian immigration will cost us a lot, lets be honest

      There is nothing honest in your post. It’s a manipulative rant full of myths and undercurrents of racism. There is no truth, no facts, no real analysis. Is that the output of all that expensive and valued education you speak of? Sounds like it ain’t worth shit, if you ask me!

  3. vesajarv

    Could you explain exactly how that figure was calculated, and based on what definitions and assumptions?

    It is explained above in the document. It adds the expenditure on education, health and active labour market policy and also the indirect taxes are taken into account. The number is actually a “difference in characteristics between immigrant and native-born households.”

    Please bear in mind that Finland had zero inhabitants 10,000 years ago and immigration was unmanaged for most of the time following this. If immigration had an automatically negative economic impact, then Finland would now have no economy at all.

    Hmm… We didn’t have no economy at all, how could we, if there were zero inhabitants. The people, that moved here built the economy from zero.

    Funny how we are regularly accused of “racism against Finns”

    Well then you can just say they are wrong. Ask them, who accuse you of that: “If Halla-aho can critize Islam, why can’t we critize your culture?”. That should silence them. Try it next time.

    • JusticeDemon

      vesajarv

      It is explained above in the document.

      No it isn’t. That’s why I am asking you to explain it. Show us exactly where, in this 400-page report, the definitions and assumptions are set out and justified.

      The people, that moved here built the economy from zero.

      How can that be true if “the people that moved here” were immigrants? You are claiming that immigration has a negative economic impact. Or are you suggesting that “the people that moved here” were somehow not immigrants after all?

      A little consistency, please!

      Could you also explain why the highest unemployment rates in Finland are in regions with the lowest concentration of resident immigrants?

  4. vesajarv

    By benefiting I mean economically. Yes, there are groups of immigrants, high educated people, like doctors and nurses…well, which country doesn’t want high educated people. But when you look at immigration as a whole, it’s not economically profitable. We don’t have jobs for everyone, and an unemployed person costs no matter if he is an immigrant or a native born.

    It has been shown time and again that immigration rates DO NOT AFFECT underlying, what’s called ‘structural unemployment’. The rates remain relatively steady even during large influxes of immigrants.

    Really? Do you have some facts to back your claims?
    Only way the immigration wouldn’t have an affect on employment is if they would be educated in some field that native borns are not. This doesn’t seem to be the case. A lot of native born and immigrants are competing with the same jobs and there’s not enough jobs for all.

    in fact, immigration as an investment is faster and often a cheaper way of creating a ‘labour unit’ than bringing a child up from birth.

    Yes, this is true, but we haven’t succeeded in this very well. We are not that attractive country, it appears.

    Over 90% of the world’s economic activity is related to debt. New money, i.e. growth, enters an economy specifically and only through ‘debt’.

    Well, tell that to the greeks 😉

    The financial impacts of immigration are miniscule.

    Nobody knows the total cost, exact number is impossible to calculate. I would ask you to show some data, but I already know you don’t have it.

    There are NO signs that welfare services are threatened by immigration in Finland.

    Yes, they are threatened. Listen to the news lately? No, I am not saying it is all because of immigration, but it is because of the depression, high unemployment and the debt.

    • JusticeDemon

      vesajarv

      But when you look at immigration as a whole, it’s not economically profitable.

      A lot of native born and immigrants are competing with the same jobs and there’s not enough jobs for all

      You seem to view the national economy and labour market as a zero-sum game. By that reasoning, it is similarly “not economically profitable” to have children, as every child will eventually want to take one of those precious jobs.

      Isn’t it remarkable that with sixteen times the population of Finland, the unemployment rate in Germany is only about 7 per cent? You’d think it would be well over 90 per cent with only a finite number of jobs available in each country…

    • Mark

      But when you look at immigration as a whole, it’s not economically profitable.

      This is simply unsupported by the evidence of a great many studies. The picture is best described as diverse, and such gross conclusions would be false and simply show a lack of understanding of the various related issues. Your view of jobs and employment dynamics is simplistic at best, and misleading at worst, as JD has already pointed out.

      You demonstrate no understanding of the factors that feed into unemployment in Finland (e.g. geography, skills, changes in employment sectors, market inefficiencies), where the key dynamics are in the economy overall and policy, not in the sheer size of welfare budgets per se. It depends on what kind of labour skills are available to the market and what kinds of business, products and services are being produced in local economies. It is very dependent on time and place. Immigrants might be more willing to move to do work, for example (think of the many migrants doing strawberry picking in Finland).

      Really? Do you have some facts to back your claims?

      Yes. Here, here, here , and here!

      These studies cover both OECD countries and countries like the UK and Australia. The third link is specifically to a report on Finland.

      The report on Finnish structural unemployment does not mention immigration once, but rather:

      It is strategically important to cut structural unemployment in view of the imminent population ageing in Finland and the resulting stagnation in labour supply. There is a risk that Finland will face simultaneously high unemployment and labour shortages due to a declining labour force. While the present bottlenecks in labour supply can be eased now that the labour market has, from 1 May 2006, been opened to workers from the new EU Member States, reducing structural unemployment will be much longer process.

      On the link between immigration and effects on unemployment levels, the short-term and long-term effects may differ, as you would expect, given that integration takes some time. As regards the UK, here is a quote from one of the above!

      Our analysis focuses on a range of labour market outcomes: employment, unemployment, participation and wages. The main result is that we find little evidence of overall adverse effects of immigration on native outcomes.

      And from the other study:

      We find no association between migrant inflows and claimant unemployment

      Here is another conclusion from the OECD report:

      An OECD study of the impact of immigration on the unemployment of domestic workers in OECD countries (including the UK) during 1984-2003 found that an increase in the share of migrants in the labour force increases unemployment in the short to medium term (over a period of 5-10 years) but has no significant impact in the long run (Jean and Jimenez 2007)

      This was the conclusion of the Australia study:

      This paper uses both statistical causality techniques and conventional structural models to investigate the relationship between immigration and unemployment in the post-war period in Australia [i.e. the longer term]. The tests find no evidence of any association from migration to unemployment.

      Short term effects are seen and to be expected. Dustmann, Fabbri and Preston (2005) found that in the short term, non-EU immigration had a small negative effect on the less qualified, but a POSITIVE effect on those better qualified natives. So, it’s typically a complicated picture at the best of times.

      Your next point was, if I can paraphrase, that a job for an immigrant must be a job taken from a native:

      Only way the immigration wouldn’t have an affect on employment is if they would be educated in some field that native borns are not.

      First, immigrant skills can be either substitutes or complimentary for existing skills in the labour market, but the effects of either are rather complicated from an economic point of view. For example, while substitute skills increases competition in the labour market and can drive down wages, the overall effect of this is not necessarily increased unemployment, unless the existing workers refuse to accept lower wages or alternatively higher productivity for the same wage, in which case unemployment in natives might increase for a period.

      However, lower wages can equate to a more competitive business environment and possibly higher growth, which in turn leads to MORE jobs being available. For example “By 2000, the model predicts that immigration reduced the total earnings accruing to native workers by about 2.8 percent of GDP and increased the income accruing to native employers by 3.1 percent of GDP.” (see Borjas 2006)

      Likewise, complimentary skills can improve productivity for both groups of workers, native and immigrant. Increased migrant populations also increases demand and entails several kinds of investments, which in turn lead to increased GDP.

      The situation in Finland is similar, as another paper concludes:

      The Granger causality test shows that when level of immigration increases, GDP per capita also increases.

      That paper also found that unemployment also increases, but as mentioned earlier and clear from other studies, this is expected and likely to be short-term only. The other factor is that as the economy adjusts to a larger population, the risks and costs of an ageing population are spread out instead over a larger working population as a result, though this solution is a generational effect that must be balanced by longer-term planning.

      Well, tell that to the greeks

      All governments add money to the supply by creating government bonds and securities (borrowing from investors), but the issue is how much ‘insurance’ you have to pay on those bonds, how risky they are deemed to be in terms of a default. For the Greek government, they were solvent up until the economic crash, which very few people anticipated, and could have continued at that level of debt, but the economic crash effectively pulled away their security.

      The cost of borrowing increased for all countries as a result, but Greece couldn’t ‘afford’ the additional costs and went into default. In other words, the poorer economies suffered the most – but of course, it’s always easy to blame the ‘poor’ economies for being poor and for borrowing too much, but borrowing is also a form of government investment and is still regarded as a legitimate way of stimulating growth and services.

      The key choice for economists trying to find a way out of recession or ‘bankruptcy’ is between ‘printing money’ and thereafter coping with the challenges of inflation, or taking the path of austerity. As few governments have found a way to control the detrimental effects of inflation (which is a problem of price control), the only alternative in the ‘great recession’ has been default, bail-out and austerity, but this is also another ‘experiment’ that we really have no idea if it will be successful. What we do know is that 93% of the recovery following the recession has gone to the richest 1%, with the 7% left shared out among the rest. This is typical also of the longer term growth in the last 30 years, though Finland has fared much better than other countries in spreading the wealth, probably due to the strong unions. While this protects wages up to a point, the argument has been that this depresses demand for services and slows growth, though the report previously mentioned in fact points out that Finland has achieved strong growth in jobs either side of the 90s recession in spite of those conditions of strong wage controls.

      The Scandinavian models, with their relatively low levels of pay inequality, appear to be just as effective at generating employment growth as the more flexible but more unequal models of the US, Australia and Canada.

      This suggests that jobs are created even in situations where wages are not being pushed down by ‘cheap’ immigrant labour, as in Finland, suggesting that instead, immigrants are simply more willing to do certain jobs than native Finns thus ensuring at least a small surplus in employment demand for those jobs done typically by immigrants.

      The simple fact is that there are no easy answers to the problems of wealth distribution in terms of ensuring adequate jobs and growth and spreading the costs of both workforce training and an ageing population. However, on the global level, it is clear that the argument about debt control is one way of shifting the moral force of the argument towards ‘individualising’ what are effectively problems of wealth distribution throughout the global economy as a whole. Greece invested heavily in public sector workers and then paid the price of being too exposed when the crisis hit.

      Nobody knows the total cost, exact number is impossible to calculate. I would ask you to show some data, but I already know you don’t have it.

      Just because an ‘exact number’ is not available doesn’t mean there are not useful estimates. Most government spending is based on assessments rather than exact numbers. Here’s one citation from the US, which experiences a very significant immigration influx, far greater than Finland’s.

      On balance, immigration lowers the U.S. GDP by about .1 percent per year. Statistically, accounting for margin of error, this is close to zero. (Hanson, )

      and from the recent OECD report:

      We show that although the fiscal impact of immigration cannot be pinned down to a single and undisputable figure – as its measurement depends on many assumptions – the impact of the cumulative waves of migration that arrived over the past fifty years in OECD countries is on average close to zero, rarely exceeding 0.5% of GDP in either positive or negative terms” (Dumont, OECD Report)

      So, while I agree that an exact figure is not possible, the overall general model of these effects on GDP are consistent. This is also a fairly consistent finding, country by country. There are positives and negatives, and there are short and long-term effects. The conclusion is that immigration entails redistributions in the economy, of labour, wages, skills etc, but the overall effects in previous decades have been fairly small.

      The second Finnish study mentioned above found positive effects on GDP at least in the short term, and this may be because Finland is one of the first countries ALREADY experiencing the effects of an ageing population: The authors of the above mentioned Finnish report concluded:

      As evident from their positive impact on GDP per capita growth, immigrants and their children will be a great asset to Finland in the future.

      As said, the one factor that acts as a future game changer, is increased population ageing. This is the single biggest factor where immigration can positively affect GDP in relation to the size of the work force and the dependency ratio.

      There are predictable economic effects from immigration, and they do need to be considered and planned for. The effects on low level salaries is well known, and it appears that employers typically benefit more than other sectors (e.g. taxpayers, low wage earners) of a society, but much of that is down to structural elements in the society, in the policy and in employment conditions (discrimination, protective legislation, wage security etc.), and not specifically in the dynamics of immigration.

      In other words, they can be positively affected by policy choices and planning. This is something the infamous Danish study didn’t consider, that costs to the government were not weighed against the benefits of lower skilled labour supply to the overall economy. But often too, the one’s most negatively effected by increased labour supply at the low end are other immigrants. Focusing clearly on effective education for the children of migrants though is a very important factor in gaining the full benefit of immigration.

      No, I am not saying it is all because of immigration, but it is because of the depression, high unemployment and the debt.

      And yet immigrants are so easily made the scapegoats.

  5. vesajarv

    So as a summary, you are saying, that whether we benefit from immigration or not depends on what kind of migrants we manage to attract and get here, right?

    I agree on that.

    There’s a lot of links in your post, but first of all our situation in Finland is very unique even when comparing to other nordic countries, so these reports are pretty useless and then the reports from Finland are bit too old. A lot has changed till then.

    I wasn’t talking about immigration in general, I was talking about Finland’s situation now.

    Do not compare us to the US. They can take immigrants, immigrants don’t cost them much: You go there, you are on your own basically. You get very little help and support from the government.

    Yes, there were a lot of talk about the labor shortage in Finland, like in the document:

    “According to Isbom (2003), a labor shortage has been predicted to
    strike nearly all fields in Finland in the next few years”

    next few years? Well, it’s 2013, and we still don’t see it.

    Yes, one of our problem is, that our people are getting old, which puts pressure on our government, more demand for health services. We need nurses, doctors…but where do we get the money to pay their salaries?

    Debt is always bad. The money can bring growth, IF it is used wisely. Have we used our money wisely? Well, we have wasted a lot of money, and the unemployment is, well, hopefully starting to stop.

    Taking more debt is not going to save us.

    from the document:

    “The structural shift towards jobs with higher human capital content is beneficial for the Finnish economy as a whole. On the other hand, consistent with the notion that lower-skill manufacturing jobs face the toughest cost competition in the present stage of globalisation”

    This is our problem. We don’t have lower-skill manufacturing jobs. We need high educated people. So we can’t just say welcome to everybody, who wants to come here.

    Like in the document:

    “…authorities should determine how many and what type of immigrants are needed. Finland has to define clear goals and guidelines for their immigration and integration policies. In this respect, restricting the immigration of people with low qualifications to prevent integration difficulties and the negative impact on the economy can be considered as a policy option.”

    …and the fact is, that the humanitarian immigration will most likely have negative impact on the economy. I am not saying we should stop helping, I am saying we should face the facts.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      So as a summary, you are saying, that whether we benefit from immigration or not depends on what kind of migrants we manage to attract and get here, right?

      Well, no, not really, though I clearly see why you would want to shift the argument in that direction. Some economists have shown that skills levels in the short term effect employment prospects, and that low-skilled workers are the ones to suffer the immediate effects of increased competition in the labour market, but these things typically level out, and the problems that persist are exactly the problems I’ve already mentioned as ‘structural unemployment’. In other words, the highest unemployment levels are seen in rural areas in Finland, because the economies there simply don’t provide enough jobs or, as is also true, those economies have been going through a diversification process since the early 1990s.

      There are wider issues too in terms of trying to attract only educated or skilled workers to Finland. First, the idea that it’s okay for Finland to poach other countries’ workers and leave the bill for education and training to them is somewhat morally questionable. While you mentioned foreign students often go home, they have at least paid for their education and subsidised the education of other Finns through their higher student fees. That’s called getting foreign governments to help pay for your own institutions of higher education. Do you start to see a pattern here?

      The other issue with attracting workers from countries where wages might be lower is that those are the countries most in need of holding onto their professionals in order to sustain growth, otherwise, migratory pressures increased. Therefore it is very questionable that Europe as a whole would follow a policy of stripping the best talented workers from developing countries and then complain that other individuals in that society that suffer as a result would not be allowed to follow that gravy train.

      Also, people can benefit their community in different ways. It is often perceived that an immigrant woman for example, staying at home and having 9 kids, is just a huge drain on the welfare state, but the product of her UNPAID labour is 9 individuals who themselves will later be taxpayers and will help overcome Finland’s fairly low replacement rate of 1.84. As usual, people all too easily take a rather blinkered and prejudiced view of these questions. That’s not to say there are poverty traps or problems in terms of training immigrants or facilitating integration, but the idea that you deal with that problem by ‘shutting the door’ is laughably naive and self-destructive.

      There’s a lot of links in your post, but first of all our situation in Finland is very unique even when comparing to other nordic countries, so these reports are pretty useless and then the reports from Finland are bit too old. A lot has changed till then.

      lolol. What an idiot. If that is your approach, I will not entertain such a witless buffoon. Right, let’s see how honest that statement was or how much it was just a convenient way to just dismiss clear evidence that contradicted your statements. In what way is Finland unique and EXACTLY what are the mechanisms by which this uniqueness makes these studies of immigration and employment in other countries ‘useless’? My guess is you will not even attempt to answer this question. So, you want to keep this discussion instead at the level of beer-glass politics, yes? Excuse me while I just fart into my glass in anticipation of the hot air that’s will soon come from your direction!!

    • Mark

      Vesa

      “…authorities should determine how many and what type of immigrants are needed. Finland has to define clear goals and guidelines for their immigration and integration policies. In this respect, restricting the immigration of people with low qualifications to prevent integration difficulties and the negative impact on the economy can be considered as a policy option.”

      I disagree with the author’s comments. I think this is feeding into the popular debate rather than being a direct conclusion of his own research. He did mention that immigration has had a very negative press in Finland and has caused division, and this comment is more a response to that than the research he did.

      The key factor in looking at humanitarian immigration is the length of time over which it is viewed. Typically, the benefits of this type of immigration are still there but they take longer to accrue and require more initial investment. The employment rates of Somali refugees who have been living in Finland 15+ years is e.g. close to that of natives (58% vs. 63%). However, if you take recent arrivals into account, that employment rate can look pretty grim, and the ‘costs’ likewise are higher. Of course, you can always treat immigration like a game of lottery, where you are always dreaming of the big win, where all the world’s best intellects and most productive workers will suddenly move to Finland and make all the Finns rich overnight. That’s treating immigration as a form of entertainment. 🙂

      The fact of the matter is that you get out what you put in, and that diversity is typical, but that human potential can always be tapped and allowed to flourish if given the right circumstances. This should be the basis for all our immigration and integration policies, not short-term calculations of ‘what do I get out of this’.

      …and the fact is, that the humanitarian immigration will most likely have negative impact on the economy. I am not saying we should stop helping, I am saying we should face the facts.

      The justifications for humanitarian immigration are altogether moral and political, and for that, there is a price, and it’s worth paying. But these are not issues about which Finland has the luxury of discussing, like Marie Antoinette contemplating the fate of the starving serfs. The commitments to international treaties that protect the world’s persecuted if they have the fortune to escape their tyranny have already been made. Finland’s contributions to this have been among the most morally anemic, to say the least, so discussions about cutting us off even further from the moral legitimacy of modern nation states who share a responsibility in preserving human rights in the world would not exactly be seen as a particularly ‘Nobel’ course of action, to use a pun.

  6. vesajarv

    You are claiming that immigration has a negative economic impact.

    No, I haven’t claimed anything about Finland’s economy 10000 years ago.

    Or are you suggesting that “the people that moved here” were somehow not immigrants after all?

    Correct term is I believe a settler not an immigrant. First people to come to a new region are called settlers.

    Could you also explain why the highest unemployment rates in Finland are in regions with the lowest concentration of resident immigrants?

    Are you asking me this, because you don’t know? You are aware that the rate is percentage, so the value depends also on the population of the area? Maybe you can figure out the rest yourself?

    • JusticeDemon

      vesajarv

      I haven’t claimed anything about Finland’s economy 10000 years ago.

      So this is not about immigrants at all, but about Finland’s economy?

      It’s no surprise that you fall over when you shift your ground so fast.

      Correct term is I believe a settler not an immigrant. First people to come to a new region are called settlers.

      Back in the land of the logical, a settler is merely one type of immigrant. A quick look at immigration statistics for places like North America and Australia shows that all newcomers are counted as immigrants, whether they joined wagon trains with a view to building a Little House on the Prairie or came to help their relatives working in the New York packing district.

      Anyway, I’ll give you the first person. What about the second and third? Finland still has the lowest population density in Europe. Why are we not all settlers?

      You are aware that the rate is percentage, so the value depends also on the population of the area?

      So what? The point is that Finland experiences the highest unemployment percentages in parts of the country with the lowest percentages of immigrant residents. I want you to explain this, because it very obviously undermines your assertion that immigrants cause unemployment. Or do you have some fancy theory showing how the presence of immigrants in Uusimaa causes unemployment in Kainuu?

      Anyway, you have avoided the most important question: do you think that the national economy and labour market is a zero-sum game? In other words, do you think that the number of jobs in the economy is finite, so that any increase in population means more people chasing each job? You really do seem to be arguing in this way.

  7. vesajarv

    low-skilled workers are the ones to suffer the immediate effects of increased competition in the labour market, but these things typically level out

    Typically maybe, but not in Finland, because as I previously quoted we simply do not have lower-skill manufacturing jobs here, little, but clearly not enough anyway.

    First, the idea that it’s okay for Finland to poach other countries’ workers and leave the bill for education and training to them is somewhat morally questionable.

    Well, tell that to the Germans 😉

    While you mentioned foreign students often go home, they have at least paid for their education and subsidised the education of other Finns through their higher student fees.

    There is no student fees in Finland. Currently there are some trials, so that some master’s level programs charge a tuition fee from non-EU/EEA students.

    http://www.studyinfinland.fi/tuition_and_scholarships/tuition_fees

    Therefore it is very questionable that Europe as a whole would follow a policy of stripping the best talented workers from developing countries and then complain that other individuals in that society that suffer as a result would not be allowed to follow that gravy train.

    I partly agree, but if the talented workers want to come to Europe, they should have the freedom to do so. Like now in Finland, we have a lot of talented engineers, who are moving to Germany or Sweden, where there’s work. It’s a competition.

    You are right in that we shouldn’t put our faith on immigration to solve our problems. We need to do it ourselves, we need to focus on educating our own people, they are most likely to stay here.

    you deal with that problem by ‘shutting the door’

    I am not shutting the door. Have you read anything I’ve written?

    • Mark

      vesa

      There is no student fees in Finland. Currently there are some trials, so that some master’s level programs charge a tuition fee from non-EU/EEA students.

      You are quite funny. First, you state categorically there are no student fees in Finland, but then you add, except the ones for foreign students. These fees were introduced in 2010 and are supposed to run for five years. Let’s see what happens when the trial is over. 🙂

      Currently, 8000 euros per year is the average annual tuition fee in those Master’s programmes that charge fees.

      And these are the courses for which fees can be paid, which runs to three pages and covers almost every single degree programme. 🙂

  8. vesajarv

    Finland’s contributions to this have been among the most morally anemic

    Well, this is really sad. You really don’t know what you talking about, do you? Finland has signed UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. In addition to that Finland takes quota refugees yearly, only 6 other European countries do the same, this is according to wikipedia.

    The agreement we have signed states, that we must take all asylum seekers, that come here, whose lives or freedom are threatened.

    I am not an expert on this, but clearly you’re out of line.
    What do you gain by spreading your lies, tell me? This is insulting.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      Well, this is really sad.

      Obviously not sad enough to impact on the attitudes of a significant number of Finns. As you yourself JUST saw fit to quote to me from one of the documents:

      …and the fact is, that the humanitarian immigration will most likely have negative impact on the economy. I am not saying we should stop helping, I am saying we should face the facts.

      So, you want to tell me on the one hand that Finns have a positive attitude to humanitarian immigration, and on the other, you want me to face the facts that this ‘immigration’ has a negative impact on the economy’. Are you telling me the glass is half full or half empty, because now it’s pretty hard to decide.

      Your clinging in this matter to the Wikipedia table for ‘quota refugees’ (the UNHRC resettlement programme) is understandable, as it lifts Finland’s ‘contributions’ far beyond what they are in reality by international comparison.

      Some real perspective, Vesa. Finland has some 20,000 residents (at a massive rate of 20 persons/week (4 families) over a period of 20 years) who have come from the post-/conflict zones of the world, like Somalia, Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Iraq etc. I’m not counting the Ingrian Finns from Russia and Estonians etc., as this is quite normal immigration in neighbouring countries – i.e. Sweden has 186,000 Finns living there.

      Sweden, a country of similar geographical size, political structure and cultural background, but with twice the population, nevertheless has 400,000 citizens of similar origin.

      And just to put this into further context: http://www.nationmaster.com/compare/Finland/Sweden/Immigration

      Since the 90s, Finland has started to get its act together, but prior to this, in comparison to Sweden and other European countries, Finland regularly propped up the table.

      http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/imm_asy_see_198-immigration-asylum-seekers-1980-89

      Now tell me that they don’t want to come to Finland because it’s cold! And then, while you are at it, look at the statistic on the same page for Sweden, for Norway, for Denmark or even Canada (plenty cold there in the winter)!

      I hardly think the refugee quota you mentioned gives a full picture of the situation in regard to giving refuge to asylum seekers, Vesa.

      Alternatively, look at overseas development aid, another measure of one’s conscience in regard to international affairs and the plight of others – ODA as a percentage % of GNI (gross national income – 2010 data) Sweden = 0.97, Norway 1.10, Denmark 0.90 and Finland 0.55 (it went down in 2011, to 0.53%). However, Finland only attained this meagre level in 2009. Go back to 1978 and Sweden, Denmark and Norway were giving respectively 0.90, 0.90, and 0.75. And Finland in 1978? A whopping big 0.16%.

      The average since 1975 has been 0.38 (Sweden’s average has been 0.89 for the same time period). Yes, the average for all 24 DAC countries for the period is not much better (0.39, dragged down by particularly poor rates for Greece and Korea), but in terms of the Nordic countries, Finland has certainly been the stingy one. For perspective, the UN ODA target is 0.7% of GNI. But PS want to cut it, not increase it.

      But yes, other countries, including Canada, France, Germany and the UK give even less in terms of GNI, though they are by far among the biggest donors overall – BUT, these countries also take one hell of a lot more asylum seekers, so you might argue that they are contributing in other ways too. Also, they contribute far more by way of private charity donations. This is where Finland does outperform Sweden, but is dwarfed by the donations of Denmark and Norway (both countries of similar population size to Finland). Moreover, almost unique in DAC countries, there are NO tax breaks at all on charitable donations in Finland, which are known incentives to charitable giving.

      When you look at the trends in donations, the rate of increase for those large EU countries below Finland in ODA have averaged around 10% (2010) on the previous year (the UK will hit it’s 0.7% target next year), while Finland’s was 1.69%. Finns are not planning to get any more generous any time soon, it appears.

      Further perspective, the nationals of these developing countries send over three times as much in the form of remittances (portions of their salary) as given in development aid.

      Meeting the UN ODA target was one of the Millenium Development Goals – target 13 for Goal 8 Address the special needs of the least developed countries. This is one grade where Finland will not be getting an A.

      But of course, it’s all lies, terrible lies, isn’t it Vesa?

    • Mark

      Oh, and I was right that you wouldn’t in any way attempt to support your ridiculous claim that studies on immigration in other countries were ‘useless’ in regard to Finland because Finland was ‘unique’.

      In what way is Finland unique and EXACTLY what are the mechanisms by which this uniqueness makes these studies of immigration and employment in other countries ‘useless’? My guess is you will not even attempt to answer this question.

  9. vesajarv

    JusticeDemon

    This discussion is getting a bit silly now, don’t you think? What is the point of discussing what Finland was like 10000 years ago? No, do not answer it. Let’s just drop the subject, it’s not going anywhere.

    And what’s with that unemployment rate. Why do you want to compare the rates in two parts of the country. Use ONE number, the unemployment rate of the whole Finland. Yes, immigration in Finland as it is now raises the unemployment rate, because the unemployment rate of immigrants is greater than native borns. Not much, because there are not so many immigrants here.

    No, it’s not a zero-sum game, but the jobs just don’t magically appear. Currently we are in a situation, where we lose more jobs than new ones are created. So it’s more like minus-sum game, if you can use the term here.

    • JusticeDemon

      vesajarv

      You have asserted that movement of human beings from one geopolitical area to another must have a negative economic impact, particularly on employment. If this was strictly true, then no economy could ever come into being, as the entire population is descended from human beings who moved in this way.

      You have asserted that immigrants cause unemployment, but again if this were true, then we would expect to see a positive correlation between immigrant density and unemployment rates. In fact we see the opposite. The reason for this is obvious to anyone who understands migration and the labour market. Your solution to this uncomfortable detail is to stand so far back that you can no longer see it. That is simply dishonest axe grinding. Why not simply deny that modus tollens is a rule of inference and then you can always be right about absolutely everything even when you contradict yourself?

      Yes, immigration in Finland as it is now raises the unemployment rate, because the unemployment rate of immigrants is greater than native borns.

      More dishonesty arising from lack of even the most basic attention to detail. It takes the average native born at least 16 years to enter the labour market, and the average age of securing first employment is considerably greater than this. For a fair comparison, you must discount the unemployment rates of immigrants who have been in Finland for less than 16 years. As Mark pointed out, we then find that employment rates converge.

      No, it’s not a zero-sum game, but the jobs just don’t magically appear. Currently we are in a situation, where we lose more jobs than new ones are created.

      And immigrants are responsible for this, how exactly? Immigrants in Finland were not responsible for securitising subprime mortgage sales in the USA, nor did they purchase these poisonous packages on behalf of European banks. Immigrants in Finland were similarly not responsible for the rightwing political dogma that allowed this to happen by deregulating the financial sector in the 1980s. Immigrants did not make the costly strategic errors that wiped out over 75 per cent of the value of Nokia Corporation between December 2007 and September 2010.

  10. vesajarv

    Oh, and I was right that you wouldn’t in any way attempt

    Ok, Because of your insults, I automatically thought that you really didn’t want me to answer it..”

    No, I am really not going to lecture you about Finlands uniqueness. Use wikipedia.

    Here’s some homework for you:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_model
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Finland

    If you wanted to know the country most similar to Finland I’d guess Sweden. So if you have some reports from it, that might be useful. No, US and Australia does won’t do. But don’t bother to search. There were already good reports about Finland, which will very probably beat all your findings about Sweden anyway.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      So if you have some reports from it [Sweden], that might be useful.

      Okay, here you go. The question asked in the research was whether immigration flows affected unemployment in the period 1997-2011 (both in Sweden and the UK). The answer was clear:

      The immigration rate had no significant affect on the unemployment rate both in the UK and Sweden

      But don’t insult my intelligence with this claim of Finland’s uniqueness, Vesa. Either you put up or have the decency to say you don’t know what you are talking about and you weren’t aware of the REAL research evidence on this topic.

      And NO, the Nordic model does not offer anything that suggests that immigration would be more expensive – you seem to forget that Finland massively cut the benefits system after the 90s recession and have not increased them since! Finland now sits firmly in the middle of the EU average (old EU-15) on benefits spending (source: Eurostat):

      eurostat benefits spending

      Also, let’s not start to confuse these issues that were under discussion. The first point was about structural unemployment and it’s problems in terms of high unemployment rates. Second was the issue of whether GDP would be negatively or positively affected by immigration. The research from Finland showed a POSITIVE gain in GDP as a result of immigration. Other research from other OECD countries (including the other Nordic countries) were more or less even, depending on the time frame. So stop squirming and being lazy and trying to get out of actually having a real discussion about this.

  11. vesajarv

    Mark

    but then you add, except the ones for foreign students

    no, not foreigners but for those non-EU/EEA students, that are not permanently resident in Finland AND for some MASTER degrees only. I don’t understand, what are you raving about. Are you applying?

    • Mark

      You know what I was referring to, mostly Asian students, and nowadays in Finland, mostly Chinese.

  12. vesajarv

    Mark

    So what was the result of the Swedish study:

    “To conclude this study, we can say that the influence of the immigration flow on the unemployment rate of the host country gave mixed results.”

    “The immigration and integration policies chosen by the Government of the host country play an important role in the successful performance and adjustment of immigrants. Moreover, years of schooling, work experience and motivation factors of migration can be determinate aspects in the adaptation to the local labor markets.”

    And also:

    “…analysis of immigrants showed that the average years of schooling is much lower compared to the natives. Thus, a large proportion of immigrants were concentrated in low paid industries”

    • Mark

      Vesa

      Cherry picking results, I see, but none of these points made in the paper actually support your claim that immigration does not bring economic benefit or that it will definitely increases the rate of unemployment everywhere, at all times, for all time. In fact, all the research that I was able to find was consistent in saying there was no consistent link.

      “To conclude this study, we can say that the influence of the immigration flow on the unemployment rate of the host country gave mixed results.”

      This ‘mixed’ result refers to the additional ‘one-year lagged analysis’ they did, which was significant in the Swedish data, but not the UK data. This ‘lagged’ analysis was to test if there was a period of integration and therefore an association at least in the short-term, which there was in Sweden but not the UK. I guess you really don’t have a clue what it is you are reading and are in fact guessing as to whether ‘mixed results’ signifies something that benefits your argument.

      The immigration and integration policies chosen by the Government of the host country play an important role in the successful performance and adjustment of immigrants.

      I really don’t see why you are bothering to quote this. This is not a point over which you or I disagree, clearly. But it also isn’t the point that we were discussing, either. The clear fact of the matter is that integration policies and education and training are important factors in avoiding migrants from becoming marginalised.

      “analysis of immigrants showed that the average years of schooling is much lower compared to the natives.”

      This is first generation migrants. This educational deficit diminishes rather quickly over subsequent generations, relative to similar socioeconomic classes. Or are you going to compare immigrant children with the children of wealthy Finns, just to show how much they are ‘inferior’?

      Thus, a large proportion of immigrants were concentrated in low paid industries”

      So now we are back to the point made by JD and supported by the facts, which is that rural areas have seen the largest increases in job losses in manufacturing, much of it do to over-specialisation in particular sectors, with the increased risks associated with it. Declining tax bases in rural areas and failure to find qualified health and welfare staff to service the ageing rural population (with the higher costs entailed with scarce labour) is causing its own problems, completely separate from immigration. Rural jobs have declined by over 7000 (1995-2004) (source: OECD Rural Policy Review).

      Ironic isn’t it that we are talking about immigration as the problem, when the key problem in rural areas of high unemployment among young people is outmigration of those young people to population centres. Rather than telling immigrants not to come to Finland, you should be telling young Finns not to abandon the countryside. The answer is entrepreneurship and service industries, of which there are growing opportunities in rural areas. But this entails diversification of employment sectors, and it’s achieving this that is the key challenge in tackling high rural unemployment. Some areas of Finland have 36-50% population already over the age of 65, which is the expected figure for the whole of Finland by 2040. And the key problem is that Finland doesn’t have enough foreign migrants in the rural areas to balance out the population.

      The lower skilled workers you seem so worried about are mostly in the rural areas, areas of low foreign migrants, where competition from foreign migrants is likely to be low. But the key reason for the unskilled unemployed constituting a higher proportion of total unemployed is that university educated rural citizens have typically obtained their education in the larger cities and prefer to stay there afterwards. So while you are right to link low-skilled unemployed with problems of high unemployment in RURAL areas, you are wrong to link that to immigration. It’s exactly as I first pointed it out to you – that this type of high rural unemployment is a problem of structural unemployment. There are two things rural Finland needs – more young people, whether that is immigrants or natives, and more diversification in employment sectors, with the training opportunities matching the actual jobs available, i.e. service industries.

      I strongly recommend you read this report from the OECD on Finland’s rural economy and its challenges.

  13. vesajarv

    So, you want to tell me on the one hand that Finns have a positive attitude to humanitarian immigration, and on the other, you want me to face the facts that this ‘immigration’ has a negative impact on the economy’.

    Yes… I say, we want to help, our government, most of our people, even though it costs us. What’s there so difficult to understand?

    So this link of yours:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/compare/Finland/Sweden/Immigration

    Our asylum seeker acceptance rate is same as Sweden’s. Well that doesn’t really tell much, maybe just what kind of asylum seekers we get here.

    “Now tell me that they don’t want to come to Finland because it’s cold!”

    Probably not. But who knows, what is the reason. We have good benefits, our government treats them well. If they would come here, we would have to take them, of course, if they lives are in danger, just like many other countries do. We have signed the agreement.

    overseas development aid? Nothing to be ashamed of there.

    About private donations. We outperform Sweden, well that’s good news. Remeber also, that we don’t have very rich people here, because of high taxes and so on.

    Morally anemic? Yeah, right!

    • Mark

      Morally anemic? Yeah, right!

      So, you simply ignored all the ODA data going back to the mid-70s showing a clear trend that Finland was clearly a very stingy donor compared to their Nordic cousins.

      There is often a failure in turning policy into practice here in Finland in regard to many issues relating to overseas development. Lots of hot air and pious phrases and then lots of failure to act on them in Government.

      Take the issue of promoting the Millenium Development Goals and in particular Children’s rights – have a read of this, and pay attention to the recommendations, as they highlight exactly the lack of progress and continuity between what is said and what is done in the name of human rights abroad in Finland. Better still, download a copy of the full report and have yourself a read, as there is much more detail behind this problem in the report itself.

      Recommendation 4. The human rights policy of Finland should focus on implementation rather than on “declarations”. Finland should concentrate on designing and disseminating good practices of social policy and good governance that facilitate the materialization of the rights of the child in children’s lives. Finland’s own relevant historical experience of “growth with equity” can be used as an inspiration.

      I was wondering whether you would use Finland’s ‘poverty’ as an excuse to dismiss the ODA data and sure to form, you give me this:

      Remember also, that we don’t have very rich people here, because of high taxes and so on.

      Once again, you are not paying attention. The ODA figures were based on GNI, i.e. gross national income, so relative wealth is already taken into account. There are no excuses, Finns are a damn sight more stingy on this issue than their Nordic cousins and this is well-known in the Nordic community and in the development field! I don’t see how you can argue against that, to be honest.

      Concern about the level of Finnish assistance

      Sweden, Norway and Denmark already allocate 0.7 per cent or more of their GNI to official development assistance. In the peer review, the OECD urges Finland to verify how it intends to meet its commitment to reach the same level by 2015.“The Government is committed to increasing the otherwise frozen development assistance funding by using the auction revenues obtained from the EU Emission Trading System,” says Heidi Hautala. “We are doing our best to ensure that Finland will meet its target.”

      “The 0.7-per cent target is also a question of prestige. Other countries assess Finland on its basis,” adds Miia Toikka, Secretary-General of the Service Centre for Development Co-operation.

      “However, the biggest challenge for Finland is to ensure that the decisions made by other ministries are not in conflict with our development policy,” Toikka continues.

      Toikka’s final point is exactly the same point addressed in several ways in the summary report “Poverty and Deprivation of Children as a Challenge for Finland’s Foreign Policy KEY MESSAGES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION” I linked to above.

    • Mark

      Yes… I say, we want to help, our government, most of our people, even though it costs us. What’s there so difficult to understand?

      Ugh, your inherent contradictions, perhaps! On the one hand you tell us that Finland should only take qualified and highly skilled immigrants and that other [humanitarian] refugees are a drain on the economy, and in the same breath you say you want to help humanitarian refugees. Why did you see fit to mention the cost if you are happy to help? Seems to me that you are seeking reasons to say no to humanitarian immigration. Nothing you’ve said really supports the idea that you actually want to improve the integration process for refugees or migrants here in Finland. I guess you want to help them, but that this translates into NO actual ACTION to help them. Oh the road to hell…and all that.

  14. Mark

    Vesa

    I recommend you read this article, which discusses the word of George Borjas (who I quoted above and who was also quoted extensively in the Methodology of the Finnish study) and the work of David Card, two of the most eminent economists in this field and pretty much directly opposed in their views. The article tackles in great detail all the relevant and up-to-date dimensions of the field.

    Perhaps after reading that article and absorbing it’s useful points, we can have a more informed debate about this topic!

  15. vesajarv

    Mark

    I don’t understand why you attack me. Is it because you think I am supporting PS? Well, I am not, but it really shouldn’t matter either.

    I’m not your enemy.

    I’ll point few your deliberate misunderstanding:

    Seems to me that you are seeking reasons to say no to humanitarian immigration.

    I haven’t said anywhere, that we should say no or reduce humanitarian immigration. But I am WORRIED, if we increase humanitarian immigration, which you seem to suggest, that we should, that we’ll end up with lots of problems. Take a look at Sweden for example. We are in a quite good position here regarding humanitarian immigration. There are some problems, but we should be able to handle those.

    Ironic isn’t it that we are talking about immigration as the problem

    Are we? I am not. I am talking about immigration because this site is about immigration. I haven’t been talking about our unemployment in general, I have been talking, how immigration has affected our unemployment.

    Or are you going to compare immigrant children with the children of wealthy Finns, just to show how much they are ‘inferior’?

    This is possibly the stupidest comment from you this far.

    If you continue this ‘discussion’ in this level, I’ll stop responding to you entirely.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      I don’t understand why you attack me. Is it because you think I am supporting PS?

      I’m not attacking you, but when you start responding to the hard work of providing you with factual data and sources as a basis for intelligent discussion, and your responses are dismissive and frankly insulting to the intelligence of good normal folk, my cynicism is likely to show. Your response to a perfectly legitimate comparison of immigration data analysis on the question of impacts of immigration as ‘useless’ sets the tone for the rest of my responses to you, though I have tried to abide by my basic rule of arguing based on facts and the realities as best we can establish them. I’m not arguing from a point of view of ideology. However, in this discussion, in the context of Finland, and in a discussion about overseas development aid and the often-mentioned strategy of ‘helping immigrants closer to home’, it’s worth pointing out that PS do not want to increase the ODA budget, but cut it. I know you haven’t mentioned this, but this is just context for this debate. If the hat doesn’t fit, don’t choose to wear it.

      I haven’t said anywhere, that we should say no or reduce humanitarian immigration. But I am WORRIED, if we increase humanitarian immigration, which you seem to suggest, that we should, that we’ll end up with lots of problems.

      Actually, you brought the issue of humanitarian immigration into the debate and only in the negative context of the additional expenses and a presumed negative impact on the economy of Finland. You make these presumptions without looking at real and substantiated arguments, and you said nothing positive, and still haven’t really, to offset that negative tone. You say you want to help, but have actually offered no concrete suggestions for how you actually expect Finland to help.

      I am more than happy to address concerns about immigration, but when you ignore relevant facts or arguments, my conclusion can only be that it is prejudice feeding that concern and not any realistic sense of how to make the best of immigration economically AND socially. In fact, being blissfully ignorant of the ‘unwelcome sign’ that you are putting up to foreigners doesn’t make me any more sympathetic to your concerns. At some point, I guess I will decide that you have made your mind up and will stubbornly continue to believe that immigration of low skilled workers is bad, bad, bad. A concern expressed in such a way is no better than a superstitious fear! What can I say, wake up and join the 21st Century, mate!

      If you continue this ‘discussion’ in this level, I’ll stop responding to you entirely.

      Oh, cry me a river. This is from the man who responds to real argumentation with the spurious argument that studies in other countries are useless because Finland is unique. Shall we be topical and call that a case of Finnish exceptionalism?

  16. vesajarv

    The employment rates of Somali refugees who have been living in Finland 15+ years is e.g. close to that of natives (58% vs. 63%)

    I am a little curious about this. Something doesn’t add up here. What are the percentages 58% and 63%? Our unemployment rate is currently about 9%. Close to that of natives?

    • Mark

      Employment rates, not unemployment rates. Actually, I misremembered the Finnish rate, which is 69.9%.

      I take this from a previous comment of mine:

      the employment rate among Somalis who entered Finland in the four years from 1989-1993 is 58%, compared to the Finnish population employment rate of 69.9%.

  17. vesajarv

    The lower skilled workers you seem so worried about are mostly in the rural areas

    Just a quick note. Native borns probably, but I meant that lot of immigrants are lower skilled workers also, and because we don’t have these types of work here, it is very difficult for them to find work.

    The whole discussion about rural areas are really not relevant here, because as you’ve said, there are very few immigrants there.

    • Mark

      Okay, talk to me like I’m five and explain to me exactly what the different levels of jobs are available in the different sectors in the different parts of Finland.

      I say this not because i want you to partronise me for having the intellect of a five-year old, but because I’d really like you to provide some facts this time so that this could be at least a fact-based discussion. I mean, come on, it’s certainly got to be your turn this time!!!!!!

      The whole discussion about rural areas are really not relevant here, because as you’ve said, there are very few immigrants there.

      Actually it is, in many different ways, as I’ve already pointed out, the vast majority of low-skilled workers in Finland ARE in the rural areas. But the level of this discussion is so trivially superficial on your part that I really doubt we’ll get anywhere beyond the grossest and totally uninteresting level of vague generalities.

  18. vesajarv

    Just a quick comment still, if you may.

    The ODA figures were based on GNI, i.e. gross national income, so relative wealth is already taken into account.

    No, I belive you don’t understand the whole picture. We have a regressive income tax. What it means is, that the rich pay more taxes (even relatively more, because income tax percentage is higher for richer people). So the wealth is distributed more evenly. This is not taken into account in the GNI, or do you disagree? So I think my argument is totally valid.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      No, I belive you don’t understand the whole picture. We have a regressive income tax. What it means is, that the rich pay more taxes (even relatively more, because income tax percentage is higher for richer people). So the wealth is distributed more evenly. This is not taken into account in the GNI, or do you disagree? So I think my argument is totally valid.

      All the Nordic countries have similar tax structures. The comparison of ODAs that I made was with the Nordic countries. Here is a relevant comparison of the various tax rates in Sweden and Finland. Not much difference, and certainly not enough to make any difference in how the GNI is calculated. Or would you care to make a specific comment this time?

      GNI is similar to GDP, except indirect business taxes are not deducted. Therefore it is a measure of economic activity, not a measure of wealth distributions within a country. I think your comment on distribution is completely irrelevant. Do not confuse GNI with GDP per capita, the latter being subject to aggregation biases, i.e. GDP is not a measure of standard of living, though it is often used as such.

  19. vesajarv

    Or would you care to make a specific comment this time?

    Certainly. I try to explain more clearly. Concerning private charitities, you have to note the wealth distribution. As an extreme example, think Bill Gates, he can easily throw few millions to anyone, he has still enough money left for his own use. Understand now?

    Just a hint to take this into consideration when comparing us to US or similar countries, whose wealth distribution is very different than ours. That’s all.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      God this starts to be tiring.

      Certainly. I try to explain more clearly. Concerning private charitities, you have to note the wealth distribution. As an extreme example, think Bill Gates, he can easily throw few millions to anyone, he has still enough money left for his own use. Understand now?

      So, you explain your comment about ODA based on GNI as irrelevant to Finland first on the basis of a spurious argument about wealth distribution, and then, you introduce a completely unrelated argument about private charity donations based on wealth, while this has absolutely nothing to do with ODA budgets or the fact that Finland’s contributions have been abysmal by Nordic standards for the last 40 years bar the last 4, which is even though just approaching HALF that of the other countries.

      My comparison was not with the USA, by the way. I specifically pointed out it was with the other Nordic countries. Also, claiming poverty in regard to Sweden would be rather lame and incorrect, considering that Finland has actually enjoyed higher economic growth than Sweden since the early 1970s. If you look (Tables 9 & 10)at GDP since the 1950s to the 1990s for Sweden and Finland, you find that Sweden’s GDP was roughly twice that of Finland, while the population level was roughly twice that of Finland’s also. That means GDP was roughly equivalent. Next bit of mythology you want to throw into the mix?

  20. vesajarv

    Your response to a perfectly legitimate comparison of immigration data analysis on the question of impacts of immigration as ‘useless’ sets the tone for the rest of my responses to you

    What? I studied your links to reports about Finland’s situation and agreed with them. I doubt, that you think, that the reports about US or Australia explain the situation in Finland better, but correct if I am wrong.

    it’s worth pointing out that PS do not want to increase the ODA budget, but cut it.

    Ok, so why do you think it is worth pointing this out. I said I am not supporting PS and PS is just one political party, they don’t represent the majority in Finland, and other parties have no plans of cutting it, that I know of.

    In fact, being blissfully ignorant of the ‘unwelcome sign’ that you are putting up to foreigners

    Again, I am not putting any unwelcome signs anywhere. Don’t put words into my mouth.

    immigration of low skilled workers is bad, bad, bad

    Currently this is the case in Finland. This is not fixed though and with good government actions we might get these jobs here in the future, but it’s not certain.

    No, rural areas are not really relevant, when discussing the effects of immigration to unemployment. Rural areas ARE relevant, when discussing unemployment in Finland in general, you might have something interesting to say about it, I’m sure, but maybe this is not the site for it.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      What? I studied your links to reports about Finland’s situation and agreed with them. I doubt, that you think, that the reports about US or Australia explain the situation in Finland better, but correct if I am wrong.

      If you had studied this topic with even a modicum of interest, you would realise that studies in all countries consider a very simple basic scenario, where new ‘foreign’ labour enters a labour market, and the key question is how that new labour affects existing employment levels. On top of this basic scenario, you can add various factors, from the skills level of labour, to geographical dispersal (both native and immigrant), to age, to training, to integration periods, to wage levels, to employment structures (minimum wage, discrimination law etc.), to economic conditions (diversification, recession, globalisation etc.), to social protection (welfare support, training, integration services in addition to migration services etc.). Now most of these factors are considered to varying degrees in modern research, and ALL of these factors are relevant to Finland’s situation. However, for some reason known only to yourself, you decided that Finland’s position as a Nordic welfare state means that these other studies are not relevant, but again, you didn’t say what it was about the welfare state that makes any or all of these factors that are generally studied irrelevant. In fact, not only did you say not explain yourself, you felt that it was quite enough to dismiss them as ‘useless’. In my book, that is not only disrespectful to those whom you are discussing with, I also find it an indication of your general level of understanding of these issues (which is low) and also a blindness or denial of that lack of understanding to the point where you feel you can simply dismiss the research so glibly.

      I’m still waiting for you to add something concrete and substantive to this argument.

      Ok, so why do you think it is worth pointing this out. I said I am not supporting PS

      Actually, you stated you don’t support PS after I made my comment. And my comment was for the general audience also, as I assume many of your comments are too. Or shall we pretend that the 20,000 visitors to our blog every month are not privy to this conversation, Vesa? Hint: It’s a blog!

      Again, I am not putting any unwelcome signs anywhere. Don’t put words into my mouth.

      So you are happy to see the full diversity of immigrants and refugees arriving in Finland, and your comments about them being detrimental to the Finnish economy arrive only as friendly and sage advice? Excuse me while I fart into my coffee cup! There you go, even on the hot air stakes!

      Currently this is the case in Finland.

      And yet you’ve offered no evidence. What generalised statements you have made have generally been shown to false, even while you refuse to acknowledge it. Still, I cannot deny that there are far more educated and knowledgeable people than you who also think the same, so it’s perhaps not merely a case of ‘lack of education’. There’s a certain blindness and informational bias at work here.

      No, rural areas are not really relevant, when discussing the effects of immigration to unemployment

      And I’m guessing you are not going to explain this comment either!

  21. vesajarv

    a fact-based discussion.

    Fact based, yes. You seem to throw these reports at me, you even found a bachelor thesis from somewhere, but you seem to fail in really analysing them. You talk about GNI and GDP and stuff. Don’t. It is better to present your thoughts by using the common language, like you were talking to a normal person and your thoughts get through much better. Not like a five year old, though ;), quite funny if you got that impression of my writing. I try to be sensible, I try to write to the point.

    Your thoughts are too much stuck in your reports.

    Immigration creates demand and therefore can create new jobs. This is a good starting point. You should have pointed this out probably. You didn’t because it wasn’t in the reports? That is why creative thinking is also important, creates new pathways.

    You have to also understand, that Finland is a small country and dependent on international trade. We must buy quite a lot of stuff from other countries, so we need to sell them something in return to balance things. We don’t have much natural resources, we have wood, but the demand for paper has plummeted, we don’t get much from tourism either, so we have to sell our brain ‘capital’. So our situation is quite unique.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      Your thoughts are too much stuck in your reports.

      Yawn. So bereft of arguments, analysis or an ability to actually follow the REAL debate, you go for an all out ad hominem instead.

      Here’s some plain language for you. You are talking out of your arse and it’s so painfully obvious, it’s embarrassing, but as usual with folks like yourself, your ignorance is actually some kind of buffer to real criticism or the painful realisation that you’ve been found out.

      You have to also understand, that Finland is a small country and dependent on international trade. We must buy quite a lot of stuff from other countries, so we need to sell them something in return to balance things.

      You really have no clue about how modern economies work, do you? For the record, increased tourism is actually one of the forms of diversification currently driving Finland’s rural economy.

      You have to sell your brain capital so your situation is unique?

      Bollocks, most of the Western economies are in exactly the same boat.

      Cheerio, mate. Not worth the effort.

  22. vesajarv

    So you are happy to see the full diversity of immigrants and refugees arriving in Finland, and your comments about them being detrimental to the Finnish economy arrive only as friendly and sage advice?

    Yes, now you got it. Like overseas development aid, it’s all detrimental to our economy, but we still do it. Not all things should be measured only by money, you know. Humanitarian immigration is not meant to beneficial to our economy, we don’t do it because of that.

    Could this be something we can finally agree upon.

  23. vesajarv

    Immigration creates demand and therefore can create new jobs.

    You have actually said this, sorry. You write so much stuff, which is not that important and the important stuff is easily left unnoticed.

  24. vesajarv

    Immigration creates demand and therefore can create new jobs.

    Of course, if the immigrants are poor, they don’t have the money to buy these goods. Also I read somewhere, that many immigrants send money to their home countries. This is bad for our economy of course. And then we have these immigrants, that after doing their work go immediately back to their own country and spend their money there, also bad. Of course they have this right, I am not denying this from them, but yes, it’s tricky for Finland to win in this ‘game’. There’s no winning formula.

  25. vesajarv

    Mark

    I can understand you much better now. You gave me a hint when you mentioned the visitors of this blog. This has become some kind of a migrant vs. native-born match you have to win at all cost, right? (Well, I don’t really know if you are a migrant or not, I just guess.)

    But wouldn’t it be better, that instead of fighting, we could try to find some common ground?

    I’ll try first.

    Yes, it is possible, we could benefit from immigration. Currently we are not, to me this is clear, higher unemployment rate for immigrants vs. native born is clear sign of this. BUT in the future, it could be possible. Our government will need to do quick, correct, (and many) decisions, though.

    Future is always hard to predict, especially in this case.

    We have some good possibilities:
    – In tourism:
    tourists coming from Russia.
    the tourist to the northern Finland.
    – Game industry looks promising. Here we also have lots of immigrants working, we don’t have much of these skills yet, because we have just started our game-education.

    I am also interested in hearing how would YOU change our politics. Would you increase the refugee quota, or increase our aid? I assume you are an immigrant and so we are in the same boat. Would YOU be willing to lower your standards (higher taxes etc.) and how much to help others?

    Aren’t you worried at all? Aren’t you worried about the situation in Sweden? Badly handled immigration adjustment (is this the correct word?) will hurt you, if you are an immigrant, more than us, the native borns. It is unfortunate, but problems with badly behaving immigrants will lead to difficult times for all the immigrants, even to those, that behave well: racism increases etc.

    Immigration (when done in large scale) has caused a lot of problems in many countries of Europe: crime, insecurity, violence. Do you think, that we in Finland could do this better than others, why and how?

    • Mark

      Vesa

      I can understand you much better now. You gave me a hint when you mentioned the visitors of this blog. This has become some kind of a migrant vs. native-born match you have to win at all cost, right?

      It’s always nice to be told by a complete stranger what it is that motivates you in the most personal way. 🙂 On the them vs. us idea, you should probably read a blog entry I did for Migrant Tales in March last year.

      On the issue of what actually motivates me to write here and comment, it’s several factors. You might be surprised to learn that I am in favour of immigration controls and also the need for integration of migrants. What I’m concerned about though is racism and xenophobia creating a form of second-class citizenship and status for immigrants once they arrive.

      I’m concerned also that issues of identity get taken over by politicians who start telling their citizens what they are supposed to say, do, wear and believe in order to be considered a part of the ‘national’ family, especially when the nationalism on offer is so narrow that it seeks to define or influence even the art that society celebrates. That smacks of the fascisms of old.

      I’m concerned that during these debates, racism is dressed up with respectability by pseudo-intellectuals who present very dubious arguments about the ‘cultural superiority’ of European nations, an idea that comes in only just above the kinds of genetic and racial superiority that fed previous forms of fascism.

      But wouldn’t it be better, that instead of fighting, we could try to find some common ground?

      It would be better Vesa, but to start that process by first telling me that I’m in a ‘win at all costs’ kind of war isn’t exactly laying the ground of mutual respect, is it?

      But I will answer your questions later, when I have some free time.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      I am also interested in hearing how would YOU change our politics.

      I wouldn’t say that I have a ‘change agenda’. On the basic level, I think Finland should figure out this immigration issue in relation to its own changing demographic and diversifying economy. Simply bringing lots of immigrants here and hoping it will magically transform itself into a thriving and diverse economy that addresses the fundamental challenges and threats to the wellbeing and prosperity of Finns is not a good solution. I think that social factors and economic factors feed into each other and that you have to be very aware of both elements when figuring out an immigration policy. As my own thoughts on these topics are diverse, it would perhaps be better if I wrote a series of blog posts dealing with the following issues that I would see as relevant. I’ll consider this in the coming days, as to what structure to use and how best to address the various questions. Of course, you are welcome to contribute your viewpoint on any issue.

      Anyhow, these items listed below, rather than being a change agenda, reflect some of the dimensions that I think are relevant to discuss and formulate policy around. This is off the top of my head, so I should sit down with the list and refine it and add to it. I think the list also reflects more strongly the issues that came up in the discussion with you today, while I’m not sure the jobs issue is my greatest concern. I’m more concerned with the human rights issues involved, the freedom of identity and the basis of tolerance in the face of diversity, as these are fundamental challenges for modern societies, that despite two world wars built around antagonistic nationalisms, we still don’t seem to have figured out.

      Immigration debate:

      Work for immigrants – problem groups (young, women, older immigrants)

      Language skills / work skills/ training

      Geography – where immigrants live, how the native population responds etc.

      Short-term and long-term picture in terms of integration/education

      Matching labour skills to a diversifying service sector (problems for natives and immigrants)

      Competitive labour effects – likely outcomes

      Previous mistakes on immigration

      Discrimination as a self-fulfilling prophecy

      Finland’s internal challenges urbanisation/diversification/cultural diversity

      Cultural challenges / mental health issues / marginalisation

      Benefits of immigration

      Native population concerns

      The rise of far-right politics in Finland and abroad – what does it mean?

      Politicisation of the immigration debate and ethnicising of politics

      Issues of national identity, globalisation, wealth and power distribution

      Providing an enabling environment in which people can flourish – wellbeing economics

      Cultural diversity and thriving populations (London, New York, Paris, etc.)

  26. vesajarv

    Yes,I understand the thought of cultural superiority, but it goes both ways also:

    On an occasion I happened to find out, that an immigrant family of a non-western culture have their own private jokes about some of the features of our culture, a very stereotypical sort. I didn’t say anything at the time, but was guite upset of finding this out. It got me thinking, does this make me a racist. I understand it is perhaps partly some kind of coping mechanism for them: They are alone in a strange country, a way to protect their own culture from western influences, (they had young children.) But undoubtedly there were some cultural superiority aspects in there as well.

    First things, that came to my mind: How unfair, how can they, after all we’ve done to them, tried to help, they make fun of us. Of course these are forbidden thoughts, that I am not really allowed to think, but probably quite normal thoughts, that pop into mind quite spontaneously to others as well.

    I would have accept from Swedes the same kind of attitudes with no problems. (The Swedes get their share in return.)

    There seems to be quite a thin line between being proud of your culture and keeping your own culture as superior.

    And this clearly complicates the attempts to an open dialog between different cultures.

    Well, anyway, I concluded, that I should just ignore it, and not let it get in the way of a communication.

    I know, that our westerner’s superiority-attitudes are much bigger issue, because immigrants are in the minority here. Fascism is a bit strong word to use here, to me at least.

    • Mark

      Vesa

      On an occasion I happened to find out, that an immigrant family of a non-western culture have their own private jokes about some of the features of our culture, a very stereotypical sort. I didn’t say anything at the time, but was guite upset of finding this out. It got me thinking, does this make me a racist. I understand it is perhaps partly some kind of coping mechanism for them: They are alone in a strange country, a way to protect their own culture from western influences, (they had young children.) But undoubtedly there were some cultural superiority aspects in there as well.

      First things, that came to my mind: How unfair, how can they, after all we’ve done to them, tried to help, they make fun of us. Of course these are forbidden thoughts, that I am not really allowed to think, but probably quite normal thoughts, that pop into mind quite spontaneously to others as well.

      Thanks for writing about the thinking process that you saw play out in your own head. It was interesting. As a first general comment, I think a lot of our thoughts that spontaneously emerge in our heads are in part driven by our own beliefs, in part a realisation of how such ideas are seen by others in society (those we agree with and those we might not), in part a mixture of tensions resulting from those thoughts – and then in the final analysis, what kind of ownership takes place, i.e. what conclusions we draw from that ‘internal play of ideas’.

      I think your interpretation of the motives of foreigners to caricaturize elements of Finnish culture is probably correct, a away of reasserting their own culture in the face of ‘difference’, and I agree that this is in essence a hierarchical positioning of cultures that we all too often fall into, preferring and valuing more what is probably in essence only MORE familiar. Does getting upset make you racist? I doubt it. And you were certainly prepared even then to take some distance from those feelings. I think this is the key. An attack on Finnishness is also in effect an attack on your ‘personal identity’ in so far as you identify yourself as Finnish, even though the matter being criticised isn’t necessarily that important in itself.

      This is a very important point to realise – much like religion builds on a sense of incontrovertibility, that you cannot challenge one part of the idea without challenging the whole idea, so that an attack on one small part of the culture all too often feels like an attack on the whole culture. I think this is where we can step back from this and not make the mistake that so often afflicts religions, that to be ‘wrong’ or ‘flexible’ about one element of the belief or identity doesn’t mean that the whole thing is undermined – i.e. pushing us into ever more strict forms of conservatism and dogma.

      In that sense, it is important to differentiate between ‘identity’, as an idea of something fixed and singular, and to rather move instead to understanding it as a process, of identification, that we can step into and out of with some freedom and flexibility, in a way does not make us feel like even the smallest ‘attack’ is the signal for a cultural war. The sage advice would to be choose your battles wisely. Defending and explaining core values and principles is much more important that creating an environment where any criticism opens up a huge divide.

      I think the idea that ‘how can they make fun of us after all we’ve done for them’ is a ‘power’ position that you are trying to take. The criticism makes you feel vulnerable, defensive, and the idea about ‘gratefulness’ establishes a moral high ground from which to approach this ‘vulnerability’, that positions them as ‘wrong’ and your freedom to live without this ‘attack’ as being the justifiable norm. This is a VERY normal response to our own insecurities which we all do all the time, from small encounters, to intimate relationships, to national wars. Just because it’s normal though doesn’t mean it shouldn’t go unquestioned.

      I wouldn’t say these thoughts are forbidden, but i know what you mean. It is honest to accept you feel this way, and if you are immediately criticised, then we don’t really move forward much, because you will just defend those thoughts, probably by reasserting and reinforcing the sense of morality invoked. Perhaps we need to get past both the uncomfortableness of the thoughts themselves, the feeling of having to defend them, and the sense that this is somehow the ‘final’ truth of the situation.

      The easiest way to challenge these thoughts is to take ‘ethnicity’ out of the picture – how would you feel if this was a Finn saying this about an element of Finnish society? Would it be less challenging? And if this was someone you very much respected and admired saying these things, would it actually make you stop to think that perhaps this ‘national’ characteristic was too much taken for granted as being so great? Would you be more prepared to take some distance and NOT identify so closely with that characteristic being talked about?

      This is useful, because it shows us the process by which we take distance from issues of identity, and when we get very defensive and therefore ‘close’ to our identity.

      Of course, I could just as easily direct these thoughts at foreigners as to the Finn. We all benefit when we can take some distance from these things, even if after all that, we would make the decision to defend a national characteristic or practice; we do so from a much stronger position, and not simply as a knee-jerk response fed by feelings of being ‘violated’; we would also have made space for a more critical view of that practice, and this space would be seen as part of the NORM, and not something fundamentally to do with the OTHER and their desire to ‘attack’ our culture, to which we orientate therefore defensively. Even if a comment appears to arrive out of ‘their’ nationalism, taking the ethnicity out of the comment is a bit like defusing the potential bomb that it can become. Recognising that we take these ‘national’ positions in part as a way to reaffirm the familiar when we are in unfamiliar territory is therefore helpful. It gives us a safer place from which to then approach the unfamiliar.

      There seems to be quite a thin line between being proud of your culture and keeping your own culture as superior.

      And this clearly complicates the attempts to an open dialog between different cultures.

      I completely agree with this and would say it’s a very valuable insight to have.

  27. vesajarv

    Of course, you are welcome to contribute your viewpoint on any issue

    Thanks. I’ll take a look, probably don’t have much intelligent to say about them, maybe in some narrow field.

  28. vesajarv

    Mark

    That’s a good explanation of the process. I understand it and have thought about it myself also. Funny thing about it is, that I am not able to internalize it, so that I would stop thinking these ‘forbidden’ thoughts. When you are in the moment, it’s not a thought yet, it is more like an impulse. Not acting on it is like it takes some energy from you, you’d rather let yourself go.

    I am tempted to think, that these ‘thoughts’ are part of the human nature, you cannot make them go away. It could be related to how our brain processes things: categorization etc.

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