It’s a long and sordid tale. How Finland has gone from being a country predominantly populated by a large and secure middle-class: sufficient income, good public health care, a guarantee that if nothing else, they would have a place to live and enough to eat. Now we have soup and bread lines, a nearly year-long wait in some areas for a dental checkup. I once waited nine months for an MRI, to determine if I had brain cancer, the most likely diagnosis. If that had proven true, odds are good I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this essay. And it wasn’t too thrilling waiting for nine months to find out if I had a death sentence or not. How did we get to this dismal state? More importantly, how do we get out of it?
Once, Finland had industries: shipyards building ice cutters, paper mills, factories supplying decent jobs with fair wages, and then along came the most magical toy every invented, the mobile phone. Nokia, at one point, provided 40% of Finland’s GDP.
Finland joined the European Union. And we moved from the markka to the euro, the primary argument being that it would provide protection, a stable currency. A cup of coffee then usually cost six marks, about a euro. Now, in downtown Helsinki, you can expect to pay three times that, or even more. My personal cost of living has risen by between a third and a half since then. I’m talking about the basics, food and housing, and I live modestly. My currency certainly doesn’t feel stable. I don’t think that part of the plan worked out.
We have shortages of health care workers, stagnant wages, factory jobs shipped overseas, an explosion in housing costs, and all these problems are worsening every day. The Great God Nokia reported a loss of 368 million euros in 2011, had brought in 600 million less than in 2010. It’s closing factories overseas. It recently announced plans to cut 10,000 more jobs over the coming year and is making good on its word. The news reports more layoffs regularly. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. It plans to shut down more production and research facilities in Finland. In June, Moody’s downgraded Nokia’s rating to junk. Bye bye Nokia.
A new nuclear plant is under construction, many or the workers are Polish. Cheap labor. Personally, I would prefer to pay skilled Finnish workers to build something that has the potential to wipe the nation off the map, at once providing safety and jobs. But nope, let unemployed Finns sit at home. Blow the country to smithereens. Money, after all, is of importance beyond all else. And while we face a coming financial catastrophe, let’s also bail out other countries. Let’s all share in the poverty.
The Maastricht Treaty, the document that fundamentally created and governs the European Union, rules out intra-EU bailouts. Article 125 TFEU states that the responsibility for repaying public debt remains national and prevents risk premiums caused by unsound fiscal policies from leaking over to partner countries. The clause assures sound fiscal policies at the national level. Further, the European Central Bank’s purchase of distressed country bonds violates the prohibition of financing budget deficits (Article 123 TFEU).
Lastly, the rules for inclusion in the EU are clear and strict, as set forth in 1993, in what is known as the Copenhagen Criteria. A nation must be a stable democracy that respects human rights and the rule of law. It must have a functioning market economy capable of competition within the EU. The twenty-seven countries that make up the EU are these: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, there are five candidate countries: Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey. Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina are considered potential candidates.
Take a look at that list, and tell me how many of them meet the criteria that the EU has set forth for itself? Very fucking few. So, what options do we have? We can accept them, and redistribute the wealth of Europe, or dissolve the EU and create a new Euro-zone that lives up to the rules of the EU as originally set forth. I think ignoring its own founding principles is grounds for dissolution. This means essentially redrawing the map of Europe. There’s nothing new in that. It was done after the Second World War. It can be done again. Or my personal favorite: let the others do what they want, Finland secedes from the EU, returns to the markka, and goes its own way.
Europeans often view The United Stated with antipathy. Its ignorance and arrogance destroyed the economy on a global scale. Yet, I sit here in Finland watching as the business models that destroyed the U.S. economy are implemented here. Ask yourselves, why would these countries with cataclysmic economies be allowed into the EU? The answer is obvious, and is in progress. SO THEY WILL REQUIRE BAILOUT LOANS. And who is lending the money and bailing them out? Why, the self-same entities that destroyed the U.S.: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch, and Goldman Sachs. Greece, for instance, is paying the bond market 18% interest for loans. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Tell me who is more witless, the U.S., which let it happen, or the European Union, which after watching it happen and being shown the consequences, is allowing a repeat performance by the same financiers, who shouldn’t be playing global football, but residing in jail cells. Dumb and dumber.
Allowing impoverished nations into the EU with an open door border policy has had a disastrous social effect and created terrible racial strife across Europe, especially in the Nordic countries. Here in Helsinki, for instance, organized Romanian beggars are hated and derided. Are they better off? They were poor and miserable at home. Now they’re poor and miserable in a country that hates them. And cold. That was unnecessary, even cruel, and the consequences will inevitably be painful as petrol is thrown on the racism fire.
In the final analysis, I can only say, screw the EU. Let’s kiss it goodbye, turn our backs on it and go our own way.
With his first internationally published novel, Snow Angels, James Thompson proved himself Finland’s best and most popular representative in the rise of Nordic noir. It was selected as one of Booklist’ s Best Crime Novel Debuts of the Year and nominated for an Edgar Award, an Anthony Award, and a Strand Critics Award. His novel, Lucifer’s Tears, has received critical acclaim from all quarters, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus, and was selected as one of the best novels of the year by Kirkus. His novel, Helsinki White, was released to critical acclaim in the U.S. in March, 2012. He is also a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books. The first three books in his Inspector Vaara series have been optioned for film.