Category Archives: Finland

Future For Youth?

Four years ago in most European nations young people were hopeful that with further education there would be ample opportunities to secure a good job.Today, the unemployment rate in Spain or Greece is over 50% for young people with scant prospect of changes during the coming decade of their life. Stylia Kampani, now works as an unpaid intern for an important Athens newspaper. What happens after the end of her internship is unknown. “None of my friends believes that we have a futureor will live a normal life. That wasn’t quite the case four years ago.” She is now part of a lost generation which is doomed to low wages, uncertan job security and loss of control over individual lives. European nations have not learned the lesson of America’s Depression when the federal government created jobs for youth like the CCC. It funded the theater, opera, symphony orchestras and provided many job opportunities in society.

Germany recruits some  skilled workers from Greece or Spain. In the UK anger is directed at immigrants because the government has done nothing to offer youth a chance for the future. Oh, it has tripled the cost of college. Youth needs to go beyond protest and organize political parties which pledge to create jobs, and, in so doing create hope. If governments refuse to act to create jobs, the end result will be emergence of neo-fascist political parties based on hate an violence.

Is American Youth More Violent?

Jeremy Laurence, writing in The Independent,  argues there is something about the culture of American education which leads to repeated outbreaks of school violence in which students shoot their peers. Granted, over the past twenty years, there have been such murders in Norway or Germany or Finland, but  Laurance wonders if there is something different in America which so often results in killings. A few days ago, One L. Goh, a student at the Christian Oikos University, took out a gun and killed seven students while wounding others.

Professor Frank Ochberg of Michigan State University argues such outbreaks occur when individuals are subject to what they regard as mistreatment or bullying or they suffer form mental illness. He points out that in many cases they even openly state a desire to engage in violence. Obviously, such  feelings are found in schools throughout the world, so why do American schools display such frequent outbreaks?

One factor that is definitely American is our society’s belief that everyone has a right to carry a gun and they have a right to carry one even in schools. This is a rather strange belief and it certainly results in easy access to weapons of destruction. I understand that the NRA says people, not guns, murder. Of course, if it was difficult to get a gun, that just might reduce mass killings.

Trouble In Lapland

We regret to inform our readers there are difficult times for the people inhabiting northern regions of Finland. No, the bears are OK, no there are no snow monsters, but there is a more serious problem that  threatens the lives of honest, decent folk in Finland–PRAYING! The town of Lieksa in northern regions of Finland has about 12,500 people, but this includes recent arrivals from Somalia who now number at least 220 people.

These immigrants are Muslim and they want to pray! At times there are about 90 people in the Lieksa worker’s hall who are engaged in the serious crime of  praying to God. Long time inhabitants are worried. First, they pray, then God knows what they will do since there are least 220 of them versus 12,300 of ‘us.” There is even a report that a Somali  guy stabbed another Somalia guy! Wow!

We wonder if the good folk of Lieksa have considered moving over to Norway. Things are much safer there. Of course, some might note a recent shooting which killed over 50 people, but the good news is the shooter was a native born Norwegian.

Perhaps, Karl Marx Was Right

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the ongoing mantra among conservatives, liberals and libertarians has been that capitalism is the only way to function in a modern society. As I recall, Karl Marx predicted that capitalists were greedy and only concerned withe their own economic interests which meant they would be more than happy to destroy the middle class and create a society in which a small group of wealthy were in control. As one examines modern capitalism, that prediction increasingly describes what is.

In nations like the US and England, the top one percent control about 20% of the wealth and the top 5% control over 40%. Statistics reveal the middle class has been continually declining in wealth over the past twenty years. In other words, exactly what was predicted by Marx is now a reality. Does this suggest that Capitalism is inherently designed for the top five percent while the remaining population lives off crumbs thrown by those above?

Perhaps, it is time to revisit Karl Marx and pose a different question: were his ideas insightful, but placed in the hands of those who never understood him, the result was an economic disaster? After all, isn’t that what happened to the ideas of Jesus Christ?


Open Letter to Republican Party Leaders!

Ladies and gentlemen, and all those who seek to keep America free from terrorism, it is time to act against the leading proponents of terrorism–WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES! From Columbine to shootings in Finland to shooting in Germany and to the horror in Norway, the culprits are always the same –WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES! For some reason, organizations like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck have focused attention on the wrong males. It is not Muslim males that engage in mass murder of the innocent, but WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES who grab guns and spray bullets killing innocent children. We arrest thousands in America who are of the Muslim faith, but if you added up all the people killed by all the Muslims we have arrested, it would not be a tenth of innocent individuals killed by WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES!

I know that Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney and some of the other guys whose names I can not spell, constantly warn of Muslim terrorists, but never of WHITE CHRISTIAN MALE terrorism. Examine the evidence. White Chrisitan males and females are candidates of the Republican party(Oh, there is that black dude, Cain, but he is certainly not very Abel as a candidate). What does this suggest? The entire coterie of Republican white male and white female candidates are simply potential terrorists. Keep America safe from terrorism, lock up all the WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES and send them to prison. At least, the rest of we Muslims and Jews can then live in peace. Put it this way, would you like some WHITE CHRISTIAN MALES living on your block and threatening the lives of your children??

Michelle Rhee-Anti-Education Leader

Michelle Rhee has become the new darling of right wing conservatives because of her crusade against incompetent teachers. She has also gained support from liberals such as Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Ms. Rhee believes we can educate children for excellence by:
Identifying excellent teachers
Paying excellent teachers
Getting rid of incompetent teachers.

It is difficult for any sane person to disagree with her goals. I have taught 12,000 teachers in America over the past fifty years. In so doing, it is clear Ms. Rhee is correct in stating some teachers are excellent and there are also “excellent teachers.” How does she know which are the incompetent and which are the excellent ones? The answer is simple: scores on tests. This is the central issue which has allowed people like Rhee to gain support of both right and left wing individuals.

Let me examine her ideas by exploring several points:

1. The sum total of data in the world doubles every four years. Few, if any books used in science classes this year contain the latest information concerning the universe. But, we test children and those who repeat back incorrect answers –based on the most recent knowledge– receive high grades and are deemed successful by Ms .Rhee.
2. Ms. Rhee believes the end goal of learning English in school is something termed, “reading comprehension.” Of course, most parents and lovers of literature believe developing a love of reading significant literary works IS the basis of exploring English. Most believe being able to express oneself in cogent terms or to be able to be intellectually and emotionally impacted by reading is why we read books. But, those goals are NOT tested.
3. Anyone who is interested in the minds of youth wants them to engage in critical and creative thinking not only for their own lives, but for the economic, social and political development of our society. Those qualities are NOT tested.
4. I am the author of a high school text in American history. Anyone who has written a textbook understands demands of publishers and school boards guarantee those books are boring to read. Just about every history textbook currently in class contains several historical mistakes. For those who love history, we want youth to engage in history in order to develop their critical thinking capacities, NOT to pass a test on which they feedback what they were taught.

Now, as to teachers, let me explore a few points:

1. At present there are fewer than 1000 males playing major league baseball, fewer than 2,000 playing professional football, fewer than 700 playing in the NBA. If you added in those playing on college and high school teams, the estimate might go as high as 75,000. In other words, out of 150,000,000 males in our society, at tops 75,000 can be considered “excellent.”
2. Similar figures would emerge from identifying outstanding lawyers, judges, doctors, artists, writers, political leaders, scientists, etc…
3. In other words, we can expect from the 3,000,000 teachers about 100,000 -tops– will be deemed “outstanding.” REALITY is that most teachers will be “average” and about 10% can be classified as “incompetent.”

In order to have “quality teachers,” one needs a teaching force that is assisted by (a) an outstanding curriculum that has meaning for students and motivates learning, (b) leadership that assists ongoing learning on the part of teachers, (c) an environment that motivates learning, and (d) teaching methods that assist the average teacher to become more adept at teaching and stimulating learning.

The real issue that should consume considerable effort is how does one create a curriculum for 21st century schools and how does one impart that curriculum?

One can double teacher salaries, but the law of “outstanding” means there will only be a handful in any successful school.

Build A Place To Hide From Bombs

There is a movement in Finland which would compel owners of apartment buildings to construct civilian defense shelters. It is about time we got around to building defense shelters. I watch Fox News and they say terrorists are all around and one day they will receive instructions to bomb us and destroy the United States of America. Terrorists are clever, they even have made small bombs that fit into bras and when they go off it is best for men to watch out for their genitals. I wonder when apartment buildings are going to have not only smoke detectors but require all inhabitants to walk through a screening device to make certain they have not brought home the bomb.

An assumption of this effort to build bomb shelters in apartment buildings is terrorists will only focus on large buildings. Why has no thought been given to individual homes? What happens if terrorists begin to blow up your home? It is time for screening devices at each and every home in America. Protect America, and protect it by first starting to protect individual citizens from their loved ones. Just remember, a terrorist could be the woman holding you in her arms.

Poverty Leads To Begging, Not Reverse

Alexander Stubb, Minister for foreign affairs in Finland came out in opposition to his own party’s idea to make illegal begging on public streets. Mr. Stubb raised the interesting and quite novel idea that banning begging does not address the real issue of–POVERTY! Gee, this is innovative, imagine a political leader who believes there is poverty in his nation which causes people to beg or seek aid from the government! He sees panhandling, which in his nation, is frequently carried out by Roma immigrants, as a European wide problem that requires broader thinking on ways to deal with poverty among Roma people. He argues discrimination and prejudice has resulted in too many Roma not being able to secure decent paying jobs which results in begging on the streets in order to feed their children and family members. “Poverty is not a crime, but naturally if lyou add to the equation organized crime in some shape or form, then it should be tackled using the normal legal means available.”

Many Finnish political leaders seek to work with Romania and Bulgaria which are nations from which their Roma immigrants come and urge education and work programs that would address the issue of poverty. Stubb scoffed at a law which would fine poor people seeking to get money. How would fining the poor lead to the end of poverty?

Romas Face Hatred In Finland

Historically, Romas and Jews have confronted hatred in Europe on grounds they are “different” or they “look different.” A recent influx of Romas into Finland has unleashed a backlash among conservatives and nationalists who do not “those people” living in “their country.” Amnesty International complained to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen concerning lack of action to prevent the ongoing campaign against European Union citizens. “The lack of action on the part of the EU is shocking” and he demanded programs be instituted that enable Romas to obtain meaningful work. A Finnish member of Parliament, MP Hakola is introducing legislation that would make begging a crime. In other words, if one is poor, the best way to deal with poverty is to place the person in jail.

I was raised during the Depression when millions were reduced to begging due to poverty. The best response to poverty is always -WORK!

Immigrants And Multiculturalism In Finland

Among the remarkable examples of modern life is the increasing number of immigrants into Finland who come from all parts of the world. The northern nation is no longer a land of tall, blue eyed and golden hair folk, but a modern Finn comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Stubb, welcomes changes but fears it has also aroused an opposition that “reeks of racism, nationalism, populism and xenophobia.” He defends allowing refugees to obtain asylum which he believes is ethically right. Stubb denounces those who argue immigrants are living off welfare payments since data does not support that contention. Ironically, a problem is the openness that Finland offers to those seeking asylum.

Many Finns are upset because so many immigrants come from European Union nations such as Bulgaria or Rumania which hardly qualify for anyone claiming they fear returning to violence. However, those nations still retain many who discriminate against minorities in their nation such as the Romas.