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Letter: I am a 21-year old Student from Finland

Here is a photo of a young man from Finland holding up a letter he wrote ala the style here in the United States recently of messages from the 99%. But this one is different. He is not telling us about his hardships due to a poor economy and failing government. Instead he tells us about how he has been watching Americans suffer and that he feels horrible for us because this is not the way of life in Finland. The letter is hard to read, even in full size, so here it is typed out:


I am a 21 year-old student from Finland.

It makes me sad to hear how Americans are suffering.

Here, our taxes are high but we all benefit from them.

I grew up in the countryside and always had access to the same services that people in the city did.

My university is known around the world in my field and my education is not only free, but my government pays ME to go to university. Everyone has a right to this.

Everyone has a right to the best healthcare, there is no such thing as health insurance.

I am young now and able to take risks and pursue my passion because I will never have to worry about starving if I loose my job or my business fails.

I know that when I am old my state pension will be there for me so that I can enjoy my retirement.

We call this the Nordic Model, and under it we live well and our businesses are among the most competitive in the world. I am grateful to have been born a citizen of a country that cares for its people, and I hope that one day the USA will take example from us.

I am the 99%.

He is the 99% of Finland and proud of it because he living in a country where the 99% are prosperous and happy. Now, before anyone comments that this is not real, no, I cannot prove it is. But in enlarging the photo, on the wall in the background is a map of Finland, his t-shirt has a letter with an accent above it, and his English is good, but very basic. Grammatically and word usage is correct, but simple as when English is not their first language and is not being used everyday. Truthfully, though, his English is better than many American-born citizens…. Anyway, this is enough proof for me to feel this is legit. Even if it isn’t, that’s not important. This really should make us think. It did me….

Now, first off, talk about embarrassing! A 21-year old man feels sorry for the people of the “almighty and powerful United States of America.” This is more humiliating than some foreign citizen laughing or throwing angry remarks towards us. Other countries are now beginning to pity us. Do you hear that, Mr Congressman? Ms. Representative? Your lack of doing what is in the best interest of the people of our country is being noticed by young, regular citizens of a country the size of one of our states and I’m sure with no more than half the population of that state.

And even more importantly, why can our government not learn from the successes of other countries? Obviously what we have been doing here is NOT WORKING! Obama has implemented his health care plan, known as Obamacare, and those people and parties opposed to Obama and/or Democrats are twisting the facts in order to mislead people into believing that this system will hurt rather than help the people of this country.

Did you know that Obamacare is modeled after one of the most successful health care systems in the world, which is Switzerland? There are cons, as any plan will have pros and have cons. But the downfalls of the healthcare in Switzerland are minimal when compared to the benefit their system offers to the people.

Briefly, here are a few facts about Finland, which came up in my search result when I googled asking if Finland was a socialist country (I did this because so many people (Tea-Baggers) treat the word and concept of “socialism” as though it is death at our doorstep).

Because means of production are not state owned, Finland cannot be considered to be a socialist country. However, being a Nordic welfare country, Finland has socialist characters in the form a large public sector.

Finland has a thriving private sector, including e.g. worlds biggest mobile phone manufacturer Nokia. This has made Finland into a very prosperous country; according to World Bank (2008) Finland is the 10th richest country in the world, measured by nominal GDP per capita.

Finland’s public sector is large, comprising about half of the GDP. Practically all health and education services are provided by the public sector. Even though this model could be called socialistic, it is very effective. High quality health care is available for all, and this costs only 7,5% of GPD (e.g. in USA the costs is 16%). Also education is free, and the quality of education especially in primary and secondary schools is among the best in the world.

Because of the large public sector, tax rates in Finland are high. Typically employees pay approximately 30% income tax, but the rate is heavily progressive, and can be much less with low salaries. Also the mandatory payments to various pension and other funds by both employer and employee account for about one fifth of actual salary. Additionally general VAT is 23% and there are also corporate taxes.

To summarize, the Finnish economical model is Nordic welfare country.

Both the boy in this photo who wrote the letter and this summary states that the taxes are high, that “typically employees pay approximately 30% income tax.” Ummmm… that’s what I pay now when combining Federal, State and SSI into one. Sooo… what’s the problem here??? Why can we not learn from the successes of others???? WHY?

Anyone care to move to Finland with me? I will even buy you a reindeer when we get there.

Don’t assume I’m joking….


  1. 30% taxes are not v high – in my country too it is in that range. Amazing. It orks for them, so why not for others?

  2. i have long hoped we here would find the right balance between Capitalism and Socialism…it seems though that the Socialism we do now have exists mainly for the rich. oh well…continue…

  3. I would say at a rough guess ( and I’ve never even visited America ! ) that one of the differences must surely be the amount of money you spend on wars??
    Finland priorites health and welfare. America clearly hasn’t in the past..
    Don’t you all pay private health insurance too? whereas I think in Finland it’s all state controlled so obviously cheaper than profit making private companies..

    • We spend way too much on defense and military. Over half our taxes go there. That is one of the big scuttlebutts here is that we are only invading other countries so the military can take all that tax money. We have no need to be in Afghanistan now. None at all. Bin Laden is gone – which supposedly was the primary reason (I have some doubt as to whether Bin Laden was the actual core to 911, but that’s another post). And now threatening to invade Iran over supposed Nukes – which I don’t believe. We pulled out of Iraq, so have to go somewhere to keep spending money on military. I think the reason behind wanting to invade Iran is because there is no western privatized banking system there. Again, that’s another post.

      Yes, our insurance is private, combined with medicaid/medicare which are gov’t programs available to elderly and those low income people which fit the requirements. And there are requirements. Simply being unemployed does not make you a candidate for Medicare/Medicaid (I can never remember which is which). For example, if you are pregnant, then you’re covered. If not, no coverage. If you are on disability, the you are covered. If not, no coverage. What went wrong here is that the private insurance companies became greedy as hell. They started cutting off people from getting insurance for a plethora of reason. Primarily, pre-existing conditions. If someone has been diagnosed with, say, diabetes and they go to change jobs, thus needing to change insurance companies (insurance coverage is almost always funded through your employer unless you purchase private insurance directly), then the new company’s insurance provider can deny coverage because your diabetes was pre-existing. So it is difficult for people to change companies if they have a pre-existing condition. They’re stuck with whoever they’re currently working for. Rather like me…. Although I don’t have MS, there’s something going on. So if I were to change jobs, I risk being denied insurance due to all the recent tests.

      Plus, those that don’t make enough income but don’t meet the requirements for medicaid are screwed.

      Small businesses often do not offer insurance packages because it has gotten too expensive for them to provide it. Here, the smaller the company, the more they have to pay in order to provide insurance. The insurance companies “play the odds.” Fewer employees mean the greater chance of having to pay out for an ill employee with few other employees premiums to pad their pockets. With large companies, there are more paying premiums, thus easier to cover the few that get sick or injured.

      And then, since private insurance is the only means that most people can get insurance, and the gov’t does not regulate the insurance companies, they have free reign to set the costs at what they want. So it is not becoming a luxury only for the privileged who earn a lot of money. A household of 4 with an income of $40-$50,000 would have a very difficult time paying insurance premiums to cover 4 people. And $40-$50,000 is now slightly above the average household income in the US. So insurance is becoming a luxury.

      Obama has started up Obamacare, which is modeled after Switzerland. Everyone is required to buy private insurance, unless you are in an income bracket where you cannot afford it. Then there are subsidies provided to those who cannot afford insurance – basically, gov’t paid coverage pretty much like our current Medicaid/care – but with no other requirements as there are now. Additionally, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions. I’m not positive, but I believe (at least hope) that there is some kind of cap as to what the insurance companies can both charge in regards to premiums as well as the hospital, or whoever they owe payment to. That’s another thing we’ve had problems with… for example, the hospital may charge 200% over what an MRI really costs, therefore making more profit because the insurance company will pay that bill. Then the insurance companies simply jack up their premiums to cover the high cost of medical bills.

      Plus, there are currently very high deductions as well as co-pays. After my MRI’s and other tests, I owe several thousand dollars now. I can’t afford what I currently owe. So I may end up doing a medical bankruptcy – which puts the costs back on to the taxpayers. I took a huge pay cut last month to cut back on my hours, and my boss also became greedy and decided to cut my hourly rate, too. I’m salaried, but when computing the hourly rate, she knocked off a few bucks. Pure greed. After my insurance premium is taken out of my check, I can just barely cover my expenses – and I have very little expenses. No credit cards. No kids. etc.

      I don’t know if Finland is the perfect answer for us, but their system is obviously working for them. Our system is not. It’s crashing fast. Our country is literally becoming a place for the financially elite – those that make six figures or more. Anyone else is screwed, which is the majority of the country.

      I could go on and on, which I already have. Bet you didn’t expect all this. In a nutshell, the private companies are controlling our country. There are now organizations which write bills that eventually are passed, such as ALEC. Yes, conflict of interest.

      Plus college tuition has gone up over 300% from when I attended (1982-1994) thus becoming another luxury for the privileged. If a student qualifies for financial aid, then they’ll graduate college with a major debt over their heads – and no guarantee of a job.

      We need more government control, more caps, more assistance. But the Republicans cry out and call is “socialism” and their sheeple think that socialism is like leprosy. The Republican Party wants less gov’t control (unless it’s something that suits their needs, like the laws that started the War on Women which are regulating women’s reproductive rights) than we have now over the corporations. Just imagine… the state we’re in now is largely due to the greed and corruption of the private corporations. Let’s just turn them even more loose with fewer regulations. We’re screwed then. Plus, Bush set up these tax breaks which primarily benefit the corporations. Now they’re making billions in profit and paying less percentage in taxes than I do. Then we have the churches… 501(c)3’s… non-profit. They don’t pay any taxes, yet they rake in millions, some make billions, of dollars a year. Their profit is enormous. If they were required to pay taxes, then our country would not be hurting as bad as we are.

      We need to use other countries who are successful as models. What we’re doing isn’t working. But the Republicans try to stop anything that is different than what we’re already doing because so many stand to lose out on the enormous profits they’re making. They’ll still profit, but may drop from the billions to the millions. Awwwww….

  4. This kid is as smug as he is naive.

    Finland is a relatively small country, that hardly allows any immigration from the “other” countries outside Scandinavia/EU. The majority of citizens have voted to keep immigrants out. They are a homogeneous and insular country. They can effectively put socialist government to task because of these factors. Not because they have a superior system. It is the system that works.

    America is much, much larger, and in the 20th centrury the focus has been on immigration and national development. Perhaps socialism could be put to use, but the dynamics and constraints are much too different to say that is 1 to 1.

    The kid rightfully has a superiority complex. But why does he care about the US? He’s already better off. Enjoy it, and maybe smile once in a while. But don’t let those non-white immigrants in buddy. Then you become a real welfare state.

    • “Non-white immigrants”???? That right there shows how ignorant you are. Normally I will not allow racists to openly post your ignorant hatred towards other races on my site, but decided to go ahead and let yours through. We all need to be reminded that people like you do exist in this world and hopefully Darwin will prevail and evolution will eventually rid the world of your stupidity.

      This kid is not smug – he cares. Which says a lot more than you. You only care about you. I pity you for that pathetic quality. He has more knowledge in his little pinky than you do in your whole body, mind and empty soul.

      I’ve spent too much time on the likes of you. Shoo, scat. I don’t care for cockroaches. Someone have any Raid on them???

    • Take a real good look around you here, and if you have half a brain and your eyes can actually see, you might just grasp that those who makes racist remarks have no friends here. This isn’t Rush Limbaugh land or Fox News, and there’s no crowd of ditto heads and didiots to parrot back in mindless unison your favorite hateful rants and false fantasies.

      Upptz yours, pal! Maybe you best be moving on.

        • Michelle: RE: “Did you read that whole rant????” I’m replying down here cause I’ve got 9 comments from others in my drop down and can’t type in the right box to reply to you. To be honest, I was trying to do something else while I was reading your “rant” and I kinda sped read through every other sentence, but felt like I got the gist of it.

          I just read the whole thing word for word now, and you covered an amazing amount of ground and I can tell you were blazing out all that info at blinding speed. Moving straight to what you had to say about our currently dysfunctional US private health insurance and health care system, almost all of what you wrote, I already know – through my own employment history and also because my elderly father has been in seriously poor health since 2003, with several issues, so I’ve had to deal with much of what you wrote about, personally for him and indirectly for my mother, who is in better health than my dad but also elderly, and unable to deal with all that is involved in trying to care for my father.

          But during my second read, the biggest thing that got my attention is that you may have to file for medical bankruptcy due to very high deductions and co-pays, in combination with a reduction in work hours because you are sick, and a reduction in rate of pay – which really sucks. This is all just incredibly WRONG!!! And the USA is the only wealthy country that allows its citizens to go bankrupt and/or lose their homes because of the out of control high cost of medical expenses and a system that leaves people like you with insufficient insurance coverage at the time when you need coverage the most, when you are seriously sick.

          It’s an intolerable outrage, and it’s looking like the US Supreme Court is going to gut Obamacare in June and ruin any real health care reform after discussing ridiculous and infuriating arguments about the dangers of Congress forcing Americans to buy broccoli – if there is a mandate allowed that requires all Americans to buy health insurance if they can afford it, which is the only way to make health care affordable for all Americans.

          I could add much more, but I have to stop now, because I can feel myself going into a rage, and I literally can’t “afford” to have a stroke – because I live in America.

        • Yup. Sucks. Some of the best medical care and doctors in the world and yet it can destroy most people. The Supreme Court will kill it…. most have been bought out by the major corporations, and I’m sure most are the insurance companies. Our country is entirely ran by the corp’s now… very little gov’t. Sad. Yeah.. BK. I went through a regular BK about 20 years ago and survived. If I do, I just need to pay off my van first so they don’t take it. Other than that, I have no debt. Credit sucks after my divorce – I couldn’t get credit to save my life now. And I used to have a 720 score…. Oh, well. Life goes on.

  5. Now they spread this letter here in Quebec. The things is that here in Quebec, we have too many things that are differents than Finland, we can’t pay student to go at school. Student has to do their part. Now the government is asking to the richer students to pay 63 cents / day (The previous offer was 89 cents / day) and now we have a “revolution”. Come on!
    Students are spoiled, they should do their part!
    The middle-class and low-middle-class is paying 89% of their Degrees without having a Bachelor’s salary. Anyway…

    • Although it is great that Finland pays for their students to go to a university or college, I do not necessarily feel that the we should do that here in the United States. However, I do firmly believe that our tuition is much too high now. I paid for my college education and graduated debt-free, which was very nice. Now it is almost impossible to go to college by paying your way through. Students have to get loans to pay for the high tuition fees. And now, many colleges are increasing their tuition even more.

      Many of our colleges are state ran, like the one I attended. Purdue University. And it is one of the top colleges in the country. However, states have been cutting back more and more on the money which goes to the state colleges. So this passes on to the students.

      Education should not be something for the rich or privileged. And no college student should have to graduate six-figures in debt. At least not by attending a state-run college. If they want to go to a private school, like Harvard, that is different. But state run schools should have the same tuition per cost of living as when I went to school.

  6. I’ve got family in Norway, and I truly believe that the quality of life there is better in many areas than it is here. We refuse to consider looking at the models used in other nations for things like health care, education, energy and infrastructure…it is arrogance, and it is to our detriment.

    • It is absolutely arrogance and is destroying our country. It’s great to hear you confirm that life is indeed good in Finland. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but I don’t think anyone is looking for perfect.

  7. Dear Michelle… I must say, first I read the whole thing. And second, I can’t think where I’ve seen it better explained or more logically laid out than you did right here. And it IS enough to make one RAGE at the greedy pants who think they are entitled to everything they want and then everything that everybody else has or had, or even thought about having. What a sad state/nation we live in, that it is more important for corporations to fill their pockets with arbitrarily fixed prices, because their relatives in the insurance companies will pay and then just charge us poor suckers who have no money and no health. And they think they can push us around, because they been getting away with it forever. And not only that, if they DO fail, ie the bottom falls out of their little upside down pyramid scheme – don’t worry the government will pay the banks who will pay them so they can all stay rich like they always been,.
    Sorry – if that was one run on sentence, or even a run on rant, but I AM PISSED and I AM NOT going to take it any more!!!!!!!!!
    this has got to END. And if it means becoming a socialist country, then so be it. Democracy is just a hollow word that really means capitalism and fork it over.

    • Right on! I’m impressed you read my comment which was longer than the post! I rather suffer from ADHD when it comes to websites. Although when I come across one well-written and something I’m passionate about, I’ll read the whole thing. I’m a bit more of a speed reader – and has nothing to do with the quality, it’s just that I want more more more! There’s so much more out there to read, learn, rant, etc.

      Anyway, I do hope you feel better. I have never really been the kind of person that gets overly mad, especially for any duration of time. But now, I’m pissed off and it’s not going away. I am sick and tired of being a martyr for the damn freakin’ politicians and corporations. We’re only here to put money in their pockets and they don’t give one flying fuck about us (pardon my language, but it really is very appropriate there).

      There are no guarantees that Obamacare is perfect, and it probably isn’t. But it is a helluva lot better than what we have now. And the fact that it has been proven as greatly effective for TWENTY years in Switzerland says a LOT about it. Yes, our country is quite a bit different than Switzerland, so all the tangents that come off of insurance may be different and have different results. But we have to start somewhere. Sitting on a laurels is doing us no good – just the greedy assholes in charge of this mess.

      And honestly, there are many features about Socialist countries which work. It is not a “bad” word. It is not communism. It is not a dictatorship. It is the gov’t keeping some decent amount of control on the corporations so that they do not take advantage of the citizens… like they are now. Capitalism is also great… when it works and is used properly. It isn’t now. I’m not saying to turn into a socialist country, but only to study and understand the parts that do work and consider utilizing those successful features here. When our Forefathers wrote the Constitution, they did so knowing that as times changes, so would the needs of the Constitution. Well, now it is time. And I don’t mean taking away our rights, but in providing us with more rights, and limiting the power the corporations and Congress/Senate have over the people of this country.

      One thing that really needs to be done is that absolutely NO gov’t official can directly accept monies or gifts of any sort, and donations need to return to being anonymous (although I’m sure that the likes of the Koch Bros’ and ALEC would tell behind the curtain that they just donated half a million or something. And also that NO gov’t official can buy ANY stock and ANY time. End of story. They can when they are out of office. But there is too much selective bill passing based upon who has bought what stock from whom. I know a bill was just passed recently about this, but there’s something in it – and I can’t recall what – that still gives Congress some flexibility, I think. Something I didn’t like… Anyway.

      So glad you shared, and here I am writing another book. Sheeshhh… it’s naptime now. I love weekends and napping. (yawn)

  8. My wife’s family were originally from Finland and have had the pleasure of visiting relatives there. What they observed seems to agree with the young man’s letter. It’s a very homogenous society which makes reaching an accord easier than in the multi-everything USA. There have probably been only a few times in the history of our country that we could agree on some kind of common purpose. And, if money is your purpose…you are less likely to share. Having a well educated work force is in our country’s best interests, however, debt incurred by students now surpasses credit card debt. If you are $30,000…$40,000 or more in debt, I doubt you will become a social worker. That doesn’t bode well for our social saftey net and the professionals we need to help the least among us. One other thing I learned about Finland is that their men have the highest sperm counts because the quality of their environment is high! On the down side…there is also a lot of alcoholism because of the lack of sunlight during specific times of the year.

    • The student debt is now absolutely ridiculous. And I had not thought about it from the point of view that not all jobs with college degrees are necessarily high paying. I was just thinking a graduate would be lucky at all. Now thinking about those jobs which are labors of love, i.e social workers and teachers, they could die still owing college loans.

      That really is awful. No one should have to be that high in debt for going to a state run college. Private is different, but not state ran.

      • Yeah, it’s pretty awful. Back in 2009 when I was still in college there was a national day of action against tuition hikes; that was the year the kids in UC- Berkeley and other UCs had massive group walkouts. It was lead by SDS, a student group I was involved in but sadly I see the hikes keep going up since that time.

        • Yup. Because they’re taking money for eduction and spending it on military and defense. Very sad. Our priorities are really becoming skewed. Of course we need to keep up the defense, but we don’t need to be overseas in “war” any more, nor did we to begin with as far as I’m concerned.

      • I’m lucky I even got to school at all. Students like myself don’t have access to any kind of financial aid (e.g. FAFSA). Good thing i got a few, rare scholarships to cover me. 🙂

  9. Maybe this isn’t the best place to continue this conversation since there are so many potential posts and this one has already sparked good dialogue…but the student debt issue bears looking at. I was lucky that I lived during a more humane time and didn’t incur all this debt, but on the flip side, I have no idea how my own children are going to be able to swing a post secondary education. I believe it really is a more pressing national security issue than terrorism if folks would just think about it.

    • It is. Most absolutely. I think there is a lot more to this “terrorism” than we will ever know – primarily a way to pilfer our tax monies. Plus, I’m beginning to notice more of a trend on gaining more and more control over every day citizens of this country. I’m beginning to wonder if there is some validity to some of these conspiracy theories….

      Here in New Mexico, the state lottery has a fund which covers the tuition costs for in state students at our state run colleges. My boss’s daughter is graduating high school this year and doesn’t want to go to UNM, but she may not have a choice. Her parents cannot afford out of state tuition, and they’re really against her building that enormous amount of debt. Like you, I went during a time it was affordable and paid as I went. Those are days gone past.

  10. Hello. So I speed read the whole page, because I was interested in seeing what you Americans were speaking and with mentions of Finland. So to that military founding, I wish to comment. Finland and Soviet Union fought for 5 years in WW2, of course Finland lost to a enemy 100 times bigger. In this time period fits two wars. Winter war where Soviet Union attacked Finland, and the continues war where Finland attacked Soviet Union. After SU’s victory they demanded that the Finnish army couldn’t be more than this and this size and they couldn’t be paid more than this and this. Finland still obeys these demands, but I could bet we would have bigger army, just in case I mean we are next to Russia, if we could.
    On what I’ve heard I think Americans should start off by respecting education more. Here education is up most importance. If you don’t go to an high school you’re scum, nowadays. But start with the basic education.
    Oh and just wanted to mention here we really don’t see rasism much. Of course there’s it, but it’s kept hidden. Because one word and you might be in real trouble.
    I DO NOT want to insult anyone! I like Russians and Americans, and I have friends in both. So please don’t be offended.

    • Oh, I’m not offended at all. Too many Americans have their priorities way out of line. Our education system is failing quickly. We used to have an incredible public school system, but not anymore. Too many cutbacks. A good education is becoming something for the elite only.

      And the racism? Oh, don’t get me started. I cannot stand racists and bigots. Close-minded, shallow, selfish idiots.

      Thanks for stopping by! Too bad our government didn’t follow in the same footsteps as Finland did when our economy collapsed. Your country held those responsible that should be. Not here. We hold their hand and give them money and tell them everything will be okay.

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