Posts Tagged ‘Scandinavia’

National jealousy Day in Finland.

May 9, 2019

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National Jealousy Day, Finland.

 

It’s a well-known fact that through the decades the social democratic nations of the world consistently outperform most other democracies. And this outperformance is not just based on money only but includes social cohesion, societal levels of fairness and equality, empathy for others, acceptance and tolerance of differences, lower incarceration rates. Those social democratic nations are mainly concentrated in Northern Europe and the Scandinavian countries, including Finland.

Each year on the 1st of November, Finland publishes the names of all taxpayers and lists  all their earnings and the amount of tax they have paid. On that day, very early in the morning many people have spend hours queued up to get their first glimpse of those that have paid the highest amounts of taxation. It s seen almost like an honour to have paid the highest taxation therefore helping paying for the things that Finland strives for  to improve the country. Under the freedom of information Finland decided to lists those details in order to inform people of how much, where and by whom the taxation is paid for.

Have a look; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/11/finland-has-just-published-everyone-s-taxes-on-national-jealousy-day/

In Australia we don’t publish a list of taxpayers but instead we have the annual list of the richest which seems to be shamelessly published each year. We seem to tolerate with a nudge and wink how most of those very rich are happy to evade taxation and there is a  sense of admiration on how in Australia we treat taxation as an evil best avoided and lowered as much as possible. Apart from the US I know of no other country where taxation is held with such contempt, all richly manured and egged on by our shallow lot of politicians.

Indeed, with the present race for a national election of Government, it seems essential by most parties to lower taxation and give back taxation to the people and seen by many as a Trump card to win Government.  At the same time we witness almost on a nightly basis, TV footage of the brutalisation of our elderly in our underfunded understaffed and undertrained ‘Aged Care’. Each time the Australian Government gives a tax cut, your mum and dad will suffer the consequences in Aged Care. Your son and daughter will suffer in education, and the pensioner will eat Spam and Gruel.

Think about it! Look how in the US, Donald Trump is twisting and turning in order to avoid making his financial records public. Is that true democracy or is this a disgrace? Look at how in Australia many private hospitals are now listed in the tax havens of the Cayman Islands. How is this allowed to happen?

We used to be a fair nation!

1864 Denmark. ABC, SBS and Coen Brothers.

November 19, 2018

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A hair-raising selfie around 1942 in Rotterdam

The Australian Broadcasting Commission or better known as ABC together with SBS are under threat by our Government. We all know they are obsessed by selling and privatising everything that’s not bolted to the floor. We know that since electricity was considered a saleable commodity and privatised, costs have blown out. Paying the electricity bill for many people is now a nightmare and fear driven. Many switch off power unable to afford it. Yet, we all use the same electricity coming down from all those poles and wires. The advice lately is for consumers to ‘negotiate’ the best deal with the myriad of companies that are re-selling electricity. The mind boggles. It is possible to save hundreds of dollars by doing that. How ridiculous a proposal that is! Are we supposed to ring around to get a good deal? What next? Negotiate our water, garbage disposal. Have you ever tried contacting an AGL or other electricity provider? You get a call centre from Shri-Lanka!

I can’t think of a single utility that the Governments has sold that actually brought better and cheaper services. The holy grail of ‘let the markets decide all’ works marvellously for shareholders and big end of town, but not for the consumers. Aged care, hospitals, education, post services, un-employment services, child-care, you name it. All are now inferior in their service delivery. Australia has one of the most unequal education systems in the world. The copying of England’s private school method has proven to have had disastrous consequences. Our education system is called a ‘A national calamity’.

https://www.theeducatoronline.com/au/breaking-news/a-national-calamity-australia-2nd-most-unequal-education-system-in-the-world–report/257471

The people of Australia at present own ABC and SBS radio and TV and are the last of the Mohicans that give pleasure to millions, and it is free from commercialisation. True, SBS does have advertising but it also provides all those programs available on Smart TVs and ‘On Demand’. This is what we now look forward to. However, our present ‘Market and US’ copying driven Government is getting increasingly stroppy with the ABC, which is seen by the present Liberal Government as biased and critical. Both the Chairman and Managing Director have been sacked. The fear now is that the position will be filled with Pro- Government stooges. Funding is being cut and all is set to sell the ABC and get the Murdoch’s News Media with Bolt and Alan Jones.

But, as I started this piece. SBS ‘On Demand’ has give us many evenings of great TV watching. We have seen 4 episodes of the 8 series of a marvellous TV series named; 1864 Denmark War.

https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/1864-denmarks-war

What I like about most of the Scandinavian series is the naturalness of their actors. They  look like normal people. None of that made up perfect looking actors so often featured on English/American speaking TV drama series. The American Coen brothers have made another movie. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6412452/

I can’t wait to see it. They are one of our most favourite film makers. One of their previous movie, ‘No country for old men’ is superb. But, on TV the foreign mainly Scandic series are my favourite with English subtitles. It’s so much better than studying power bills.

 

Australia needs to pay more tax.

February 14, 2018

 

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Listening to our politicians one ends up feeling we are paying too much tax. The figures from those whose job it is to come up with clear facts tell a different story. Our Prime Minister is forever ramping up the idea that if we only lower tax, Australia will boom like never before. The slightest hint that already now, with the present level of taxation, we are struggling to keep our hospitals and schools going is met with howls of derision.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/countries-where-people-pay-most-tax/

We seem to be doing the Fox Trot in tandum with the US where the people are also told the furphy that if only  tax would be lowered, fortunes are there for the taking. Boom times lay ahead for those that will accept taxation lowering, especially for the large Corporations. Now, like a bolt from the sky, canny journalists have discovered that most large Corporations in fact don’t pay any tax. Giving them tax cuts makes little sense.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-14/company-tax-rate-cut-arguments-missing-evidence/9443874

No, if we would only look at countries that have much better and stronger economies including generous welfare,   pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits  etc., we would be following the Scandinavian countries, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and many more. All the above countries have much higher overall taxation regimes, including a social tax that pays for welfare.

The opposite can also be shown that lowering tax rates go hand in hand with increasing poverty, decrease quality health services, underfunded education , infrastructure decay, public transport creaking, and much more.

Of course, the lure of lowering tax rates is music to the ears of Corporations and the rich but inevitably will show up with an increase in rough sleeping, social crumbling, and more misery. If you look at low taxation paying countries you will also see increase in incarceration, crime, shootings and  poverty.

Don’t fall for it.

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Elder abuse.

February 4, 2018

A few days ago I noticed an ABC news item that struck me as relevant. It dealt with the growing queues of elderly people missing out on levels of subsidised in-home care. Often people need respite and care either for themselves or another person such as a partner or family members. A segment on TV news dealt with same issue.

Footage was shown of an elderly woman hoisting her severely affected Alzheimer  and Parkinson husband up in a sling from one side of the house to the other. A steel beam was bolted onto the ceiling and an electric block and tackle system was used to move her husband about the house. Another case was how a woman needed to be helped from her bed into the electric chair in which she could perform most house-hold duties. It is the relentless care day in day out that many need respite from. But, as always the money for those essential services is lacking. Yet we talk about tax cuts!

The article is here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/govt-scrambles-amid-growing-queue-for-home-care-packages/9387692

Here is a sample of the article; “The latest figures reveal there are now 101,508 people in the queue for appropriate home-care packages.More than 60,000 have no package at all, and 40,000 have a package at a lower level than what they need”.

And then this morning on the TV, ( where else)? The Prime Minister being interviewed, waxing lyrically how tax cuts to corporate Australia was going to help employment and profits. He followed this up with while looking up,   prophesying by seemingly divine inspiration, that this would then guarantee increased wages to the workers. Surely he must have felt thickening of his insincerity.

I mean, look at America. Do the wages there go in tandem with corporate profits? In Australia profits in businesses between 2016/17 went up 20%, yet wages a mere 1%. The trickle down effect is a huge joke.

 

It seems a logical conclusion, that if countries keep giving tax cuts, it eventually means no tax will be raised at all. Pity for those that are waiting for home-care packages.

If you want to take an example to follow. Look at Northern Europe ,especially the Scandinavian countries were taxes are very high, but so are  welfare levels. AND, their economies are booming. Our Prime Mister, Mr Turnbull, should try and raise revenue. A sugar tax alone would bring in hundreds of millions a year and save billions on health care. Our GST could be raised on a level with overseas countries. Why does the government never mention raising revenue and income?.

And right on the heels of the above article, another one popped up this morning about elder abuse which now seem more often than not to come from within the family.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-04/the-silent-epidemic-of-elder-abuse-in-our-suburbs/9383812

I know if I get ripped off by own family or need to be moved around in a sling suspended from a steel beam, totally gaga, I will, before that arrives, have the sanity and means to get-out-of-here-quick smart.

Restoring old furniture to former glory.(Grand-kids)

December 28, 2014
Old Cupboard and round table

Old Cupboard and round table

It is the only way. Do something useful and Christmas will soon be over. We all know that all norm explodes and insanity becomes king during Christmas. Did you see that footage of demented shoppers on boxing day? Twisted faces gripped in shopping frenzy. They camp overnight in sleeping bags in front of David Jones. On Boxing day they buy what they don’t need and don’t even want. The magic of the advertisers now have voodooed the world’s population in ‘shopping means saving’. Everything you buy is ‘saving’. ‘Save’ here, the poster tells us. We carry bags full of goods home and are now even richer than before.

The grandkids are staying with us for a second time but tablets are locked away in my sock drawer. It has come to that now. My socks are behind lock and key. I have Norwegian socks and someone in this family ( I won’t mention names) has taken to wearing them without shoes and tramped around the tiled floor and even outside in the garden. Can you believe this AND with Norwegian socks?

With an hour of tablet withdrawal suffering and some twitching button fingers, the boys soon were on their way to activity. One started reading a 600 Michael Grant page book. The other started building a real working V8 engine toy, given as a Christmas present. . We had the Lamb Raan on Christmas day. It was given it’s well earned standing ovation.

Now that things are settling back to normal ( That’s if Ms ‘normal’ ever lives here) I decided to finally heed Helvi’s frequent requests to finish stripping the remnants of paint from an old farm cupboard that we had lugged from Holland together with an old table and lots of kitchen thatched chairs, all of which came from the (approximately) 1780’s Saxon farm that we had bought during our stay there between 1973-76. The cupboard was painted by us while living in Holland. It was fashionable to go and hand paint old farm furniture and give it a ‘Scandinavian’ look. Strictly speaking Finland is not Scandinavia, but so what? It was close enough. Anyway, we were foolish, young, passionate and great home makers. Our kids were young and learnt Dutch within a few months. I can still see them riding their little bikes to primary school a couple of kilometres away… And now, and now… We are having their kids over with Internet tablets.

The grandkids. Sometimes I wonder, if the future will make another one of those monumental great medical discoveries whereby grandkids will be born first, completely bypassing children. They, our grandchildren are immensely mature and so easy. Full of innovation and wisdom. Questioning and yet guileless and pertinent. It wasn’t like that when their parents were young, or perhaps they were and we were the nervous inexperienced parents. Or, is it the ‘other’ parent that brought in the more restive, innovative gene? Who knows and does it now matter?

Today I took out the stripper bought four years ago and stripped the last bit of dark blue from the cupboard. Tomorrow I’ll get some shellac and French polish the whole thing. I used to French polish doors and architraves many years ago when French Polishers were as rare as a Stradivarius and just as expensive. ( I made a good earner)

With the old round table near the cupboard we decided some time ago that it was too dark for the small space that it lives in. It casts a gloomy spell over the rest of the room. It imposed itself as too dominant and was used to be looked at in a larger farm type room with open fire or a piano with a Rachmaninov score nearby.

I painted the top of the table a stark white and it cheers up the whole of that area.

And that is how the Christmas period has passed, yet again. A miracle. It is over.

Idealism in Chaos ( A Greek Tragedy)

May 15, 2012

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Another big fall in world markets, billions will be wiped off and Greece is tottering on the brink of total economic collapse. Good morning!

Some European countries which were supposed to be examples of how society ought to distribute wealth more equitable are now being lined up to fall like a row of dominoes set up on the dining table of good and well intentioned but un- equitable sharing of the rich Euro baked pork dish with crackling good social security till the grave.

What went wrong? Was it the apple sauce?

The answer might well come from the dining table itself. The excessive ladling out of all those goodies without balancing it to an equal generous increase in taxation revenue was always dodgy. The expenditure didn’t match the income. A classic case of economic delusion that one can live beyond means was always a premier lesson at the kindergarten of economics. If you keep scooping the sand out the sandbox will finally be empty.

The lure of getting more with less income seemed to have overtaken the world of capitalism. Election after election the sound economic principles of setting expenditure to income was eroded away. The voters swallowed it like marsh-mellows on a stick held above the fire of greed and avarice. Right wing governments took over with the promise of more for less and we were all seduced by this ugly Judas kiss. And look at us now? Will there be blood on the streets once again?

With Portugal and Spain queuing up after Greece with youth unemployment at a staggering fifty percent it seems to be hovering on a similar precipice into economic collapse.

In Australia we keep rubbing hands together with glee in how we seemed to have escaped the GFC turmoil with our scooping up of mineral resources. In the process we seem to forget that this is due to luck much more than sound economics. Take out China, and we too would be lining up at soup-kitchens.

Are we too taken in by the lure of more for less? Notice the upheaval in the suggestion of raising taxation on our resource mining companies. Notice how the Three hot headed Musketeers of our resource companies have taken on Australia and its citizens daring to utter getting paid a fair share of the economic resource pie. Notice too, how the principal of taxing those that defile our environment is fought against tooth and nail. Millions are being spent in advertisement opposing this very sound and principled way of making the environment spoilers pay for it. We too are cruising for a bruising being taken in by the fairy floss of more for less.

At least in Europe there seems to be a return to the left with new governments willing to find a solution in bringing the rich back to the kitchen table of give and take.  In France, the rich will have to pay much more tax and many are questioning how anyone should have more than they can possibly need. Capitalism has gone berserk and the masses are paying for the sins of the rich. The poor, for too long have been denied a share for which they have worked just as hard as the rich, which, in the majority of cases inherited the wealth enabling them, with the regimes of lower and lower taxation, to keep on exploiting handy taxation loopholes and fattening themselves on the pork crackling of lenient taxation laws.

It is not for nothing that the collapsing economic capitalist world is looking anew at Scandinavia. They were always looked at askance and with suspicion. How could a taxation regime of over fifty percent continue to thrive giving its citizens a world of social welfare that would sooner or later end in total collapse and disaster? Well, the Scandinavians did not and now seem to own the only beacon of light and insight in perhaps having a solution for those countries on the brink of economic disaster.

We should perhaps look anew at those prophets of lower taxation being the only way forward. Just look how, with the new budget, we have delayed Foreign Aid? We have the top three wealthiest in our society owning over 30 billion. Or is it 40 billion now?

How just is our society and how moral when we can’t support foreign aid anymore and at the same time support not raising taxation for the obscene wealthy?

The Bike in Rotterdam

May 1, 2012

The Bike in Rotterdam.

During the war in Rotterdam, there was no electricity. My dad, who already then, was very much into electric things, moved the dynamo (generator) from the front wheel of his bicycle to the rear wheel. He put the bike on a stand and in the evenings and in the dark, would peddle like possessed to provide my mother with some light in the kitchen to cook by on her little pump-up kerosene single flame cook top. Not every evening, some evenings there was no food. Brothers and I would go to bed early.

I read recently that there are hotels in Scandinavia (where else) whereby guests can reduce their accommodation cost by doing the same, peddle to produce power. The hotel of course has a converter which measures each bike’s produced energy being fed back into the national grid, which then converts into money and deducted from the bill. Nice idea hey? Now, as we all know we have a problem with weight as well as being the largest per capita of CO2 producers. Let’s put our thinking caps on. Hmmm…., what could be done to give relief to CO2 emissions and weight?

Eureka!

We subsidize all homes with a converter and a power point able to feed back our own produced electricity. We further get provided with bikes and stands with a lead to go into the converter. At every opportunity we jump on the bike(s) and lower our energy bill and hence the CO2. I am sure that if people that can afford to stay in hotels can do it, so can many of us. Just imagine the unemployed being able to earn a bit more to supplement their unemployment income. (Please don’t call it ‘dole’, it is a demeaning term.) The elderly who are sometimes inclined to getting a bit hazy in mind can defer Alzheimer by also jumping on the bike and get fitter than ever. Younger couples with increased fitness will, and getting all tingly in between those peddling thighs, hurriedly, disappear into the bedroom and by some kind of mechanism will convert their conjugal movements into even more electricity.

I am sure that the bike generated electricity will make more and more sense as the price of energy will inexorably increase to much more than at present. People that complain about the cost of electricity can do something about it and the more they peddle the lower the power bill.

Just imagine if politicians took up the cause. What could be more edifying than seeing Abbott on the bike stand inside Parliament House peddling like he so often does but… generating energy for Australia? I can’t think of no better way of dealing with all Liberal politicians including Slipper and Thomson. On their bikes, the bloody lot of them, eight hours a day.

Australia would be featured as a leader in saving the world’s ecology. Soon other countries will do the same.  Merkel would be powering ahead of Sarkozy .Whole armies, instead of fighting at useless wars and on killing fields would be put to work on bikes. Wars would be forgotten and Anzac Day would just fade away and being replaced by jubilant celebrations of peace and a clean world. Monuments of soldiers would be replaced by giant bikes and lithely shaped thighs.   just imagine, instead of wasting time texting and fiddling with Iphone and staring at little screens, the time was spent generating electricity and lose weight at the same time? What about converting all poker machines into power generating bicycles?

It would be so moral.

The mind boggles what many will come up with.