Tag Archives: Finland

Is there anything in the atheistic worldview that rationally grounds human rights?

Support for free speech in different countries
Support for free speech in different countries (Source: Pew Research)

I think it’s useful for Christians in America to look at what is happening to Christians in other countries, so that we can understand what the future holds for us. Most other countries are further along the road to secularism than America is, so you can how a secular government reacts when a Christian exercises his or her free speech rights in public.

Here’s an example from Finland:

A Christian politician who is under police investigation for sharing a Bible verse on Facebook has spoken out about her shocking ordeal.

In June, Finnish politician Päivi Räsänen called out the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for its participation in the Helsinki Pride events, sharing a passage from Romans 1 to prove her point.

As a result, authorities opened an investigation into Räsänen, who is a member of The Christian Democrats party and also the former Minister of the Interior.

Speaking to Faithwire, Räsänen said that she was motivated to share the scripture after hearing her church denomination had decided to endorse events that are in contradiction with God’s word.

She perceives that the government’s criminal investigation of her “offensive speech” will cause other Christians to be frightened about speaking out against sin in public:

One of the most shocking elements of this case is that the authorities have decided to charge the politician with “agitation against an ethnic group” — an accusation that she believes is not only false, but also something that will also have grave ramifications for the Finnish Christian community and freedom of religion as a whole.

“Already the fact that a police investigation has been started and there is a suspect of a crime has a significant effect to freedom of speech and religion in practice,” she told Faithwire.

“I am worried that the police investigation has had a chilling effect among Christians. It seems that many Christians in my country are now hiding and going to the closet now that the LGBT-community has come out to the public.”

The politician said she was concerned that Christians will become increasingly less inclined to share scripture on public platforms out of a fear that they are will be arrested for offending a certain group of people.

Wow, she’s right about that. Unfortunately, in America, I have yet to see pastors in any church I’ve attended warning people about the loss of liberties that Christians experience when they are ruled by atheists. And I attend conservative PCA and SBC churches, although I would not attend an SBC church any more.

Here’s another story from South Africa, where a Christian doctor has lost his medical license for merely expressing pro-life views:

A hearing by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) against an anti-abortion doctor got off to a rocky start and had to be temporarily adjourned on Tuesday in Cape Town.

Jacques de Vos, 32, is facing charges of unprofessional conduct and was prohibited from practising medicine due to his views on abortion.

The former intern at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg allegedly told a patient more than two years ago that a foetus was a human being. He allegedly likened abortion to killing an unborn human, while working for the gynaecology division during his intern year.

At the hearing it emerged that De Vos was only a week short of finishing his medical degree before he did his community service.

South Africa is a communist country, which means that the rulers of the country are atheists. Communism is an atheistic ideology that does not recognize human rights. This is because in order to have human rights, you need a God to design the universe with those rights, such that other humans have to respect those rights. Atheism starts with an accidental universe, and finishes with humans that evolved accidentally, through a process of evolution that was random and unplanned. So, it’s not surprising to see governments in atheistic countries mistreating Christians, and using the power of government to compel them to act like atheists.

It would be nice to see leaders in churches setting aside some time to warn Christians about the dangers of being ruled by atheists. But what I see happening with young people is that atheism is being sold to them as glamorous through false ideologies. Socialism, which has only ever made people poor, is presented to them as a solution to poverty. The Southern Baptist church that I recently attended was mostly concerned with opening up our borders to refugees and illegal aliens, and equalizing incomes by giving power to a secular government. If it were up to me, they’d be focused on evidential apologetics, rolling back radical feminism, and explaining how the free market system produces prosperity. But they have other priorities. By the time Bible-believing Christian leaders realize that anything is going on, it will be too late to stop it.

Are Nordic countries succeeding with socialism like Bernie Sanders says?

Individials pay extremely high income taxes in Nordic countries
Individials pay extremely high income taxes in Nordic countries

Last week, I saw back to back studies on Nordic countries reported by the far-left UK Independent and Barron’s magazine. We’re probably going to hear more about how great socialism is from socialists, and since they seem to point to Nordic countries as proof, we should probably look at the studies and see what the truth is.

Let’s start with the report from Barron’s. You’ll have heard of Barron’s if you’re an investor.

It says:

Although there are areas—especially in taxes and labor market regulation—where socialist elements still exist in the Nordics, the region is by no means socialist today. In fact, according to the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic freedom, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark rank among the 30 most capitalist countries in the world.

These countries used to be socialist in the 1970s and 1980s. Socialism means a huge government work force, high taxes, massive regulation of private sector businesses, and massive spending on welfare programs. You didn’t have to marry before having children, the government would give you welfare. You didn’t have to take care of yourself, the government would give you free health care. You didn’t have to save for retirement, the government would give you a pension.

The article mentions one country in particular – Sweden. And here is what socialism looked like in Sweden:

In 1960, for every 100 “market-financed” Swedes (i.e. those who derived their income predominantly from private enterprise), there were 38 who were “tax-financed” (i.e. dependent on the public sector for their income, whether as civil servants or as recipients of payments from the state). Thirty years later, that number had risen to 151—in other words, there were significantly more people living off of the state than paying into the system. This reflects Sweden’s move away from a capitalist free-market economy to a socialist model.

When people talk about socialism, they mean more people living off the state than paying into the system.

But socialism can’t last forever. Eventually, the people in the private sector realize that they are keeping less and less of what they earn, and they stop working, or just leave. The article notes that IKEA, which started out in Sweden, moved out to avoid paying the 57% corporate tax rate.

Eventually, and this is the part that Bernie Sanders is ignorant about, Sweden slashed or eliminated taxes across the board, then cut their government spending on welfare, subsidies and gv:

A major tax reform in 1990/91 slashed corporate taxes from 57% to 30%. Income from shares was exempted from taxation, while capital gains from shares were taxed at only 12.5%.

The top marginal income-tax rate was set at around 50%, a reduction by 24 to 27 percentage points for the majority of the workforce. The proportion of earners taxed at a marginal rate of over 50% dropped from over half to only 17% paying income tax to the central government.

The reforms continued over the following years: in 2004, the estate tax of up to 30% was scrapped. Today, there is no estate tax in Sweden. The abolition of the wealth tax, which had already been cut, came into effect retroactively as of 1 January 2007. The corporate tax rate continued to decline, getting cut from 30% to 26.3% in 2009 and to 22% in 2013. Property tax rates were also cut substantially.

Between 1993 and 2000, social spending dropped from 22.2% to 16.9% of GDP, economic subsidies from 8.7% to 1.8% and public-sector payroll costs from 18.2% to 15.6%.

Sweden might be a little further ahead of some of the other Nordic countries. Over in Finland, they are still climbing out of it, and the massive government spending is so hard for socialists to cut.

Here’s a story from Finland about their government-run health care system – the same kind that Bernie is always bragging about, and telling us how well it works in Finland.

Far-left Reuters reports:

Finland’s coalition government resigned on Friday a month ahead of a general election, saying it could not deliver on a healthcare reform package that is widely seen as crucial to securing long-term government finances.

Healthcare systems across much of the developed world have come under increasing stress in recent years as treatment costs soar and people live longer, meaning fewer workers are supporting more pensioners.

Nordic countries, where comprehensive welfare is the cornerstone of the social model, have been among the most affected. But reform has been controversial and, in Finland, plans to cut costs and boost efficiency have stalled for years.

The very health care systems that Bernie lectures American voters about are all in decline and failing:

Other Nordic countries have also grappled with the need to cut costs. Sweden is to gradually raise its retirement age and has opened up parts of the healthcare system to the private sector in a bid to boost efficiency.

Denmark will gradually increase the retirement age to 73 – the highest in the world – while cutting taxes and unemployment benefits to encourage people to work more.

If you learned anything from this article, I’d like you to do me a favor. Please share and/or tweet this post, or share and/or tweet the posts from Barron’s and Reuters. We have an election coming up in 2020, and right now, the people are being lied to by foolish socialist politicians who talk and talk about things they have no knowledge about. We need to correct the views of the American people with facts. We can’t make the mistake of electing Democrats who are terrible at health care, and only good at making promises to spending taxpayer money. They have no idea how economics actually works in the real world, and we need to do everything we can to keep them out of power.

 

Sweden turning to capitalism as money for government spending runs out

I hear a lot of people in my office predicting doom and gloom for the United States. Rubbish. The worst that’s going to happen is that we have the kind of slow economy that France has, and that will only last until we run out of money to borrow.

Yahoo News explains what happens when socialists run out of money.

Excerpt:

The Nordic model, known for high taxes and its cradle-to-grave welfare system, is getting a radical makeover as nations find themselves cash-strapped.

[…]In the wake of a banking crisis in the early nineties, Stockholm scrapped housing subsidies, reformed the pension system and slashed the healthcare budget.

A voucher-based system that allows for-profit schools to compete with state schools was introduced, and has drawn attention from right-wing politicians elsewhere, including Britain’s Conservative Party.

In 2006, conservative Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government accelerated the pace of reform, tightening the criteria for unemployment benefits and sick pay while lowering taxes.

Income tax in Sweden is now lower than in France, Belgium and Denmark, and public spending as a share of GDP has declined from a record 71.0 percent in 1993 to 53.3 percent last year.

Just so you know, his numbers might be out of date.

The latest Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom says this:

The top individual income tax rate is 57 percent, and the top corporate tax rate has been cut to 22 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and a capital gains tax. The overall tax burden is 44.5 percent of GDP. Public expenditures make up about half of GDP, and public debt is below 40 percent of GDP. The government is attempting to expand investment in infrastructure and research while reining in welfare spending.

The United States had this:

The top individual income tax rate has risen to 39.6 percent, and the top corporate tax rate remains at 35 percent. Other taxes include a capital gains tax and excise taxes. The payroll tax holiday expired at the beginning of 2013. The overall tax burden amounts to 25.1 percent of gross domestic income. General government expenditures are slightly over 40 percent of GDP. Total public debt equals over 100 percent of the size of the economy.

So we are actually worse than Sweden now, in terms of government spending as a percent of GDP.

Denmark, too

More from the Yahoo News article:

If Sweden is the Nordic country to have gone the furthest in shrinking its welfare state, Denmark has moved the fastest.

When her Social Democratic government took power in 2011, there was little to suggest Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt would make any dramatic changes to the country’s cherished welfare state — funded by the world’s highest tax burden.

After a centre-right government had raised the retirement age and reduced the unemployment benefits period from four to two years, “Gucci Helle” — as she is known among her detractors — went on to cut corporate taxes to 22 percent from 25 percent.

Other reforms have included requiring young people on benefits to undertake training, and withdrawing student aid to those taking too long to finish their studies.

Denmark has been spurred into action by a persistently sluggish economy since a housing bubble imploded in 2007, leading to anaemic household spending.

But among Danes there is also a sense that the welfare state was ballooning out of control.

In 2011, a TV report aiming to show what life was like for the poor in Denmark visited the home of a single mother on benefits, whose disposable income turned out to be 15,728 kroner (2,107 euros, $2,860) per month.

“Poor Carina”, as she was later nicknamed, sparked a national debate on the level of unemployment benefits, with one pollster crediting her with fuelling a rise in the number of people who felt benefits were too high.

It would be nice if we had journalists who could do a story like that.

A different article from a Swedish newspaper called The Local has more on the new Sweden.

Excerpt:

One in ten Swedes now has private health insurance, often through their employers, with some recipients stating it makes business sense to be seen quickly rather than languish in national health care queues.

More than half a million Swedes now have private health insurance, showed a new review from industry organization Swedish Insurance (Svensk Försäkring). In eight out of ten cases, the person’s employer had offered them the private insurance deal.

“It’s quicker to get a colleague back to work if you have an operation in two weeks’ time rather than having to wait for a year,” privately insured Anna Norlander told Sveriges Radio on Friday. “It’s terrible that I, as a young person, don’t feel I can trust the health care system to take care of me.”

The insurance plan guarantees that she can see a specialist within four working days, and get a time for surgery, if needed, within 15.

I used to make fun of Sweden for being so socialist, but then I started to read more about them on Reason.com and from the Cato Institute (two libertarian sites) and my mind changed. These new articles confirm for me  that Sweden is improving their economy by embracing the free market system and rejecting socialism. Obviously, there is more to do, but the trend is good, and the results cannot be questioned. What could the United States do if we acted more like Sweden? It seems like just as they are moving away from government control of health care, we are moving towards it! We are embracing old ideas, and we need something new.

I am still worried about the European countries because of the breakdown of the family, the disrespect of marraige and the low fertility rates. But still, this is a good sign for those of us who are worrying that we need to cheer up. This is how socialism ends. We’ll get there.

Obama gives $529 million loan to firm that outsources manufacturing to Finland

From ABC News. (H/T Doug Ross Journal)

Excerpt:

With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.

Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the job of assembling the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car has been outsourced to Finland.

[…]The loan to Fisker is part of a $1 billion bet the Energy Department has made in two politically connected California-based electric carmakers producing sporty — and pricey — cutting-edge autos. Fisker Automotive, backed by a powerhouse venture capital firm whose partners include former Vice President Al Gore, predicts it will eventually be churning out tens of thousands of electric sports sedans at the shuttered GM factory it bought in Delaware. And Tesla Motors, whose prime backers include PayPal mogul Elon Musk and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, says it will do the same in a massive facility tooling up in Silicon Valley.

An investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity’s iWatch News that will air on “Good Morning America” found that the DOE’s bet carries risks for taxpayers, has raised concern among industry observers and government auditors, and adds to questions about the way billions of dollars in loans for smart cars and green energy companies have been awarded. Fisker is more than a year behind rolling out its $97,000 luxury vehicle bankrolled in part with DOE money. While more are promised soon, just 40 of its Karma cars (below) have been manufactured and only two delivered to customers’ driveways, including one to movie star Leonardo DiCaprio. Tesla’s SEC filings reveal the start-up has lost money every quarter. And while its federal funding is intended to help it mass produce a new $57,400 Model S sedan, the company has no experience in a project so vast.

Doug Ross’ post linked to a description of the car’s features:

Yikes. The EPA has finally released its official fuel economy rating for the Fisker Karma, and it’s not high: just 52 MPGe, an all-electric range of 32 miles and 20 miles per gallon on gasoline when the battery runs dry. This is well below the numbers that Fisker reps were bandying about in past years: 67.2 mpge and an all-electric range of 50 miles.

The Wall Street Journal explains who stands to gain from these taxpayer-funded loans.

Excerpt:

A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.

The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.

[…]Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, confirmed that the former vice president backs Fisker and purchased a Karma. “He believes that a global shift of the automobile fleet toward electric vehicles, accompanying a shift toward renewable-energy generation, represents an important part of a sensible strategy for solving the climate crisis,” she said in a statement.

Fisker’s top investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a veteran Silicon Valley venture-capital firm of which Gore is a partner. Employees of KPCB have donated more than $2.2 million to political campaigns, mostly for Democrats, including President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign contributions.

Officials at Kleiner Perkins didn’t return requests for comment.

We have been in a massive economic downturn that started when Nancy Pelosi took the gavel from John Boehner in January of 2007. And this is what the Democrats have been doing?

Andrea Mrozek responds to the Ontario prostitution ruling

This article from the Toronto Sun was written by Andrea Mrozek of the Institute for Marriage and Family Canada.

Excerpt:

Following the path of Sweden by criminalizing Johns is one possible solution, with considerable support among women’s groups and anti-human trafficking activists across the globe.

The Swedish model prosecutes the buyer.

“A person who obtains casual sexual relations in exchange for payment shall be sentenced,” reads the law, “…to a fine or imprisonment for at most six months.”

The government there simultaneously helps women out of the industry, with shelter, counselling and job training — and a hand out is what prostitutes need. After all, 90% of prostitutes say that’s what they want.

A Swedish independent inquiry published in July 2010 says the results have been a success. Prostitution, organized crime and human trafficking have decreased.

This is in stark contrast to other countries, like neighbouring Finland, where purchasing sex is allowed. In Sweden, about 400 to 600 women are trafficked into the country annually. In Finland, 10,000 to 15,000 are.

I think this is a good, evidence-based, case against legalizing prostitution. Notice how she cites actual outcomes in other countries to show the impact of changes in law on society.The IMFC is basically a family and marriage policy think tank. They have conferences, they publish research papers, and they engage the culture. They are affiliated with Focus on the Family Canada. What I find exciting about the IMFC is that get their positions on social issues published in mainstream news publications. Can you imagine? And the reason why they can do that is because they are good at research. And good research influences policy makers and public opinion.

But sometimes people make statements that just express their feelings and opinions – not what is really true. And they don’t supply evidence for their views from neutral sources, either. I was arguing with a guy on Facebook recently about gun control. I offered two pieces of evidence to him: 1) the 1997 gun ban in the UK that doubled violent crime rates in four years, and 2) legalizing concealed-carry in certain US states drastically reduced violent crime rates. For the life of me, I could not get him to talk about whether firearm laws (liberal or conservative) affect crime rates. I think we need to take a lesson fro Andrea Mrozek and talk about policy issues using evidence. No one cares about feelings, opinions, sob-stories, whining, blaming, complaining and name-calling. Just. Use. Evidence.