I'm writing in English, which is strange in itself since I really love my own language, Finnish, and since I detest the power position that the English language has in global communucation... but I'd get way too many complaints from American friends if I didn't write in a language comprehensible to them.

Jun 25, 2010

Under the North Star

I've mentioned many times I love my country... as it is. But I think it's funny too in some way, especially the national emotions of shame and melancholy.

Here's something for Midsummer Eve. Kari Tapio singing "Here under the North Star" - old guy, well-known song. Original melody is Italian, but this tells about Finns. My favourite lines:

"On täällä elämä raskasta työtä, ja siinä harvoin on onni myötä. Sen tietää vain yksin suomalainen." Translated: "Life here is heavy work and fortune rarely follows you. Only a Finn will know this."

Here's the youtube version, sorry about not fitting youtube videos in my blog...

Jun 21, 2010

Arizona Arizona

There's been a lot of talk about the new immigration law in Arizona... Some of it is fairly amusing, some interesting and some annoying. I haven't researched the facts very much, so if you know more, please tell me. This is what I've understood so far:

People in Arizona voted for a law that allows the police to check any immigrant's papers to see if they are legally in the US. Problems with the law: how can the police enforce this law without racial profiling which in itself is questionable?

I'm a legal immigrant to the US and when I got my green card status I was told that I need to keep documents on me at all time to be able to prove that I'm legal. I haven't in fact always had my wallet on me - yesterday for instance I went on a walk without it... would I get in trouble if something had happened? Most likely not unless I was very unlucky. You see, I'm white and look like my roots are from northern Europe. Even in Arizona I'd most likely not be harassed. How could a police even suspect that I'm not third or tenth generation American?

What if I looked Latino though? What if I was from New Mexico, tenth generation American and looked like I was Latino, and even spoke Spanish? The proponents of the law were trying to make sure it wouldn't allow for racial profiling, but how else would the police know who to check? The law is clearly meant to reduce the amount of illegal immigrants from Mexico and South America. So what will it do without racial profiling? Will everyone be checked all the time? But I don't think there's any law for American Citizens requiring them to have ID with them at all times - so if they are checked they could be in a similar situation as illegal immigrants - no papers.

The whole situation seems to me very strange...

Jun 6, 2010

No blog...

... it's very hot so don't want to write much. Taught about the book of Ruth today. Realized that the relationship of that book to the book of Judges is similar as Miyazaki's My Neighbour Totoro vs. for instance Pan's labyrinth, or maybe even Gandhi. In one there are some few good people, but mostly evil, and it's scary and horrible but if you suffer through you feel like you've gained something. In the other people are so nice and help each other out that you read the whole book or watch the whole film smiling, and come out with a feeling that the world is after all a beautiful place.

Both have their places I think.

Jun 1, 2010

Continuing the discussion on health care

It seems like there wasn't enough said about health care yet, so let's start a discussion here. Mainly the Finnish system vs the American one. They are very different. In Finland we pay with our tax money so that (hopefully) everyone gets health care by public health care stations and hospitals. Everyone gets a government heath care insurance when they are Finnish. Besides the public options, there are private hospitals and dentists that you can use, and employers often offer work related health care. Terms for this vary a lot, but they are often provided by the private facilities.

Complaints: for public options there may be long lines for different operations. This depends very much on the place. Private options don't get covered by the government insurance (you can get a private one too but people rarely do) unless they're for treatment of a sickness, in which case the insurance covers a part of it. Medication gets partly covered by insurance but can still get fairly expensive.

American system: people get insurance through work, by buying it themselves or through government options (Medicaid for poor, Medicare for elderly, besides these there are options for low-income families' children like CHP+.) These vary very much depending on states. In some states employers give more insurance than in others. Small businesses might not do this. Students in general seem to be covered well by insurances but if they have wives or children the insurance gets fairly expensive.

Without insurance people can still get treatment in emergency rooms. Hospitals pay for this (not sure if the state gives them subsidies - anyone?)

Complaints: Many people still don't have insurance, which they seem to be fine about until they get sick. Having read loads of credit reports in my former job I know that medical bills are a major credit problem across the country. If people are fine with losing their financial credibility this might not be such a problem - nobody goes to prison for unpaid medical bills - but for those who want to pay their bills this will be a major issue, since they tend to be VERY high.

In some states and insurance companies pre-existing conditions might be a reason for not getting insurance. Pregnancy mostly counts as a pre-existing condition, so if you don't have insurance in the beginning you will not be able to give birth without some serious hospital bills, unless you're poor enough to qualify for Medicaid (you have to be poor indeed since I've never qualified.)

In BOTH systems there are always complaints about delays or bad care. I've had to wait for acute care during after-hours both in Finland and the US, and I've sometimes been cared for faster than I'd ever imagined in both countries. In Finland this seems to depend on where you are, and how unlucky with timing (for instance, falling on ice the same day that everyone else does the same...) Also, a friend of mine keeps telling me Tampere has about the worst birthing facilities in the whole country. Bad luck if you have to give birth there (this might have changed, or be changing). In the US it equally seems to depend on place and luck, but of course you might have more of a choice. Unless your insurance, like mine, only covers their own place.

Covered everything important? What do you think?