This article is a nice adjustment to all that Scandinavia-worship, by the UK Guardian. Read it and make sure that you don't want to move to the mosquito-filled ice-cold hell that is Northern Europe. It is a dreadful place*. Just don't go there! You will become suicidal if you do.
Kidding there, because it's in my interest to have a lot of nature left over in case I desire to move Snakepit Inc. back into Finland. But not completely kidding, because an important reason for those things which are going well in Scandinavian countries is social cohesion, and because there are a lot of mosquitoes and depressive people up there.
And as Michael Booth, the nasty-minded humorist at the Guardian, writes:
The myriad successes of the Nordic countries are no miracle, they were born of a combination of Lutheran modesty, peasant parsimony, geographical determinism and ruthless pragmatism ("The Russians are attacking? Join the Nazis! The Nazis are losing? Join the Allies!"). These societies function well for those who conform to the collective median, but they aren't much fun for tall poppies. Schools rein in higher achievers for the sake of the less gifted; "elite" is a dirty word; displays of success, ambition or wealth are frowned upon. If you can cope with this, and the cost, and the cold (both metaphorical and inter-personal), then by all means join me in my adopted hyggelige (home).
Well, not really "as the humorist writes," because he writes from the outside. That's why he is not sticking well enough for social cohesion. If you get my point. He thinks he is a tall poppy! How dare he! More seriously, the jury is still very much out on how the Scandinavian "miracle" would work in a more diversified society.
I think that the "ruthless pragmatism" argument is wrong, by the way. The reason for that pragmatism is something which I have thought about a lot, and that has to do with how much rational thought and evidence is allowed to influence the political systems of various countries. If I had to simplify a bit, I would say that the Scandinavian countries allow a lot more rational stuff to affect the political discourse than the politicians in most other countries, including the US.
I don't know the reason for that, but I believe the differences are real**, and one reason why corruption and bribery are so rare in Scandinavian politics.
To conclude, it seems that Michael Booth must have met me:
I am very fond of the Finns, a most pragmatic, redoubtable people with a Sahara-dry sense of humour.There you go. When I open my mouth sand falls out.
*As the story is humor I can't be bothered to correct all the mistakes Booth makes. Just enjoy the parody.
**Based on both following the news and debates in Finland now and on what beliefs I had etched into my brain when I was growing up. I come across all innocent and naive about the power of facts and logical arguments because I was made to expect that this is how the world works. But do note that the difference is not huge or that Finns aren't watching soap operas from the US most of the time.