Finnish Him!

Today we’re talking about Finland.

Finland is so hot right now! Number one in education, chock-full of beautiful, athletic people, close to the top of the Happiness Index, boatloads of reindeer, world-class infrastructure, dominant in all those economic/health/quality of life categories; the Finns are absolutely crushin’ it.

How do they do it? What are their secrets? 

Finland is just crushin’ it these days! Flag via CIA Factbook, so don’t do anything weird with it.

This of course should be at the top of every U.S. politician’s agenda (figuring out how to co-opt things and ideas from other countries in a way that is beneficial to us) but it’s not easy to admit when you’ve been outhustled, outmaneuvered and outcoached. The truth is, we’re being out-America’d.

It’s time to put the pride aside America. Time to head to Helsinki, flat-billed MLB hats in hand, and say, “Alright, how’d you do it?” Better we do this now as opposed to a Kent Brockman-esque welcoming of our new Finnish overlords in 2085. “Hail, Finns!”

Now of course it is ridiculous to compare Finland to the U.S.A. – they’re about the size of New Mexico, and we’ve got 310 million more folks to deal with – but there is much to be gained by studying, and hopefully stealing from, their ways.

Clearly our fatcat politicians lack the initiative or vision to enact any sort of useful Finnish Extraction and Implementation strategies, so let’s break this down ourselves and make some action points to get the ball rolling.

1. The first thing that strikes me about Finland is how clean and majestic everything looks. Look at any pictures of Finland online. That whole dadgum country looks like a screensaver. I suppose it’s possible they just shove all their trash under the snow (unleashing a horrific river of garbage in the summertime?), but the country just seems incredibly tidy.

1a. Action Point: Stop throwing beer cans out the window, and build more majestic things like mountains, lakes, fjords etc.

2. The second thing I notice about Finland is that it seems cold. Could this be a secret to their success?

2a. Action Point: Turn Florida into an enclosed Arctic Tundra, give each family a herd of reindeer, and wait for the murder rate to drop.

 3. Last but not least, we have got to get some of that Finnish happiness, prosperity, health and overall quality of life here in the States. But how?

3a. Action Point: This may be a bit tricky diplomatically, but I say we go to Finland and offer every teacher there 3x their yearly salary to come back and teach in the U.S. In addition to setting up Finnish schools in every  major county, we also should set up Finnish Life Institutes, where our young people can learn how to be successful in today’s world from folks who know how to get it done.

The way I look at it, this isn’t admitting defeat or weakness; it’s reloading. Lebron was humble enough to admit he couldn’t do it alone, and look at him now! We need to do the same as a country. America is still great, but this Finnish infusion could really help us get back on track.



Filed under Fjords, Foreign Lands, Foreign Policy Fixes

64 responses to “Finnish Him!

  1. Hi Mighty F,
    You’ve been reblogged:
    No Flattery:), just the truth!

  2. Pingback: Being Out-America’d « A True North

  3. Dear “F” Man,
    First, I love your blog, especially this post on FINLAND – creative, FUNNY, “FAMILY FRIENDLY”, and oh so true.
    Second, you are an inspiration. A reminder, I must add more levity to my posts on education in Finland and how Americans need to sit up and pay more attention to the “little guys”, especially those with great educational track records.
    Third, I have been researching the educational trend for all children to feel successful. …forgetting that we learn from our FAILURES. Hmmmm, another “F” with a positive spin.
    Fourth, yes, we have been “out Americanized” by the Finns in our desperation to “Leave no Child Behind” and “Race to the Top”. As I understand from my research. Forty years ago the Finns based their current educational system on the best educational research available – Yep, it was American educational research. Go figure!

    Donna – (With permission, I will repost your post and honest, I will try to lighten up regarding the current faltering American public educational system.)

    • Thanks Donna! I wish I had a teacher like you… maybe I could’ve learned some math, or perhaps even started a blog featuring a more reputable letter! 🙂 In all seriousness, I’m all ears as to any ideas people have about how to make education better in this country. The movie “Waiting for Superman” was pretty eye-opening/disturbing… it’s just so frustrating to see something so crucial be so neglected and so poorly executed. We look forward to hearing more of your ideas!

      • But “F” is a great letter! We learn from Finland that a nation’s economy is tied to a strong educational system for all citizens. Last night I read in TIME that “for the first time the net worth of the average Canadian household is greater than that of its U.S. counterpart…” The brief ended with… “owing to the U.S. housing crisis.” I would add that the Canadian education system is right up there with the Finnish education system, Therefore, doesn’t it make sense that economy+education=a higher net worth? (Oops, and I was trying to turn over a more humorous leaf… Time to read more of your posts and learn lighten up:))

  4. Can Florida keep the palm trees????

  5. FinLand is amazing n HeLsinki wins the titLe as the city that does not sLeep…traffic at 0300 is exactly like traffic at 0900 everywhere in the world. Very modern n entertaining. I wouLd go back again )

  6. Finland girl

    I really enjoyed reading your post! I love travelling and always think; “why do we not have that in Finland”, but you really made me think of my home country with “new eyes”! Yes, we do have clean nature (and no, we don’t hide things under the snow, at least not that much;) ) Yes, we have good education and welfare systems and so many other good things here. Many do complain that our food is not known around the world, but hey, try different fish dishes and fresh berries and most will love it! And the language… well, most (young) people speak English so no panic if you’re travelling here:) It’s not a paradise, but I feel safe and appreciate all the opportunities we have here. Thank you for reminding me of them!

    • Alright! Much love to all our Finnish brothers and sisters. I’d be glad to try some of these Finnish foods, I’ll eat anything!

    • But chocolate! It IS food, I swear!! I need my Fazer every now and then. And rye bread. And salmiakki!!!
      The sad truth is that we Finns cannot market and sell the good stuff we have. I hope we are not too modest with our educational success! (Hey, I am trying my best here in WA to export Finnish know-how of education – would love to get some help, and more readers to my blog 🙂 thank you!)

  7. Great post, so many things caught my attention: first of all, looking to other countries for ideas ? Sounds so un-American – at least if you listen to the politicians…
    But I have to say, America has its arguments for point 1/1a: the big skies of Montana, all 5 (yes, 5!) national parks of Utah, Yellowstone Park… that’s all a terrific screensaver as well (which I recently discovered :)).
    However I’m pretty sure your point 2 is right on: not only do Scandinavian countries always rank at the top of the happiness index, so does Canada! Hmmm, I think I’ll go sit in a walk-in freezer for a few hours…

  8. Oops, meant to say if we tripled their teachers salaries we’d drive ourselves into bankruptcy. Which isn’t to say that education shouldn’t be put first in the US. It should! But just some facts about Finnland. It is indeed a beautiful country.

  9. Interestingly, Finland has a very high suicide and alcoholism rate. Possibly an unfortunate side effect of the six months of darkness and extreme temps. Also Helsinki while nice was not that clean when my friend and I were there. That being said, I still think we can learn a lot from the Fins. Their teachers make a very high salary there as education is very important to them. If we tripled it, And tons and tons of people speak English. We had no problem getting around at all.

    • Interesting, thanks for sharing. I can’t imagine lasting very long in a harsh climate, anything below 60 F makes me run for cover.

      I guess there truly is no such thing as a perfect society? Bermuda seems nice though…

  10. Maybe it’s all the time that people spend in those Finnish saunas? 😉 They get more relaxed and more able to cope with life’s stresses that way.

  11. finnnnn

    well… if that is what you think about Finland, so, I should be very proud of my country. There is always at least two sides of one thing, I’m happy you are looking the sunny side of all this. “Happy society” … well.
    You should not only look at the glossy photo, you should live it all, first.
    Welcome to the reality…

  12. Reblogged this on Matthew Winnett and commented:
    A US bloggers praise of ‘utopian’ Finland for my Finnish friends to immerse themselves in.

  13. britarded

    This was brilliant. But in all seriousness, I agree that we should look at these successful countries to get some tips. I’m from Australia and would dearly love to see our politicians a) come up with some actual policies, and b) come up with policies that are designed to look 30 years ahead, rather than the next election!

    Finland! Monty Python knew all about it years ago!

  14. read your article, this very good info from your blog personal

  15. Impybat

    Finland sounds like so many levels of amazing and beautiful. I especially like that teachers are held in high regard. Maybe I’ll go over there when I become certified 😉

    • Be sure to get a master’s degree, then! You need it to teach in Finnish schools. That’s one reason why Finnish teachers are so highly esteemed… though unfortunately not as esteemed as we used to be. Parents are starting to see teachers as service personnel rather than highly educated professionals, which is a bummer.

      • Impybat

        That *is* a bummer. I was going to apply for a master’s in school library media for the spring semester. I just finished a Post-Baccalaureate program for elementary education, and I have one test left in November (math, ugh).

      • I majored in PR to avoid Math – the only math class I had to take was something called “Finite Mathematics”. We mostly looked at shapes and worked on counting.

      • Impybat

        Shapes! I can do those!

  16. “I say we go to Finland and offer every teacher there 3x their yearly salary to come back and teach in the U.S.”

    Hell, I say we offer our own teachers here 3x their yearly salary, so we actually get the best and the brightest teaching instead of offering them starvation wages until they get fed up and go into industry.

    • A valid point. One thing I’ve heard about Finland is that teachers are held in very high esteem there — on par with the respect afforded doctors and lawyers etc. That would be great if we did the same here and paid great teachers the big bucks.


  18. I say, bravo for wanting to learn from others success.

    I was just there a week ago for 10 days in their beautiful summer and can confirm they are super clean! (No rubbish under the melted snow). It is a stunning place, altho one of the more expensive countries out there.

    My personal opinion, Finland is such a success because of the attitude of its people, not because of how they live. They are thoughtful, love nature (70% of the country is forest), and try to live in harmony with the world – rather than pave over it all and put up a shopping mall and some fast ‘food’ chains. They are also known for being very practically minded and not sticklers for unattainable ideals. Crime is low, education and atheism is high. I actually kept thinking how similar to Japan it felt. Photo’s, vids, words on my travel blog… soon. 🙂

    • Firsthand confirmation that there is no rubbish under the snow! How was the food + drink? That seems that may be one of their few weaknesses.Please let us know when your Finland photos are posted, would love to see them. Cheers!

      • Oh, no, food is really good over here! We don’t like fast food, as a rule, and we don’t use anything pre-prepared in our cooking. Everything is made from scratch, from quality ingredients. Of course, it’s rather expensive but I’d rather eat expensive good stuff than cheap bad stuff any day!
        Wine culture is really growing on Finns right now. We can’t grow our own grapes because of the climate, but every Tommi, Timo and Harri knows his Claret and his Beaujolais. Unless they’re more into beer.

      • lol Tommi, Timo and Harri, well played. I’m all for good ingredients, but these obscure fish dishes make me a bit nervous. You guys have so much culture! I’ve heard about the wife carrying tournament and air guitar competition, I have got to visit this place.

      • Nah, the fish dishes aren’t obscure. There’s salmon and pike perch, and that’s pretty much it. But I would advise against mämmi. Google it before you try it!

  19. I swear the quality of life is better in the Scandinavian countries. My sister spent 3 months in Denmark and the situation is similar there. Also any plans to write a post about France? 😀 (You might as well do every country that starts with F. France, Fiji… and that’s all I can think of right now!)

  20. Building fjords! Ha! That’s the secret!

  21. I think also, because their language is basically unspeakable to anyone who has fewer than three tongues, that Finns don;t talk much, which leads to a drop in gossip and a rise in minding their own business, which is a key to happiness in any culture and one sorely lacking from American lives. And those who do have three tongues are too busy making their partners very very happy to bother gossiping.

    • We might have the zinger of the day, well played! I’ve heard that Finnish is like the hardest language in the world to speak. An interesting point about minding your own business as a component of a happy society. At least here in Florida, it seems that we all mind our business, but everyone seems to hate one another and we’re all miserable. Perhaps in Finland minding one’s own business is more about being respectful as opposed to spiteful?

  22. That’s it. I’m moving to Finland. I mean, come on…reindeer? Clean? Happy? Sounds just about perfect…

    • Keep in mind we’re just speculating here, mostly based on internet photos. For all I know Finland could be an elaborate ruse… you get there and it looks like Kansas (no offense Kansas). But if the photos are true, what a paradise!

  23. Greetings from Finland!
    As a Finn who has also lived in the US I have to comment on your quite flattering post. One thing I think you missed though, is the idea of a wellfare state. Under that idea we have come up with things such as maternity leave (10 paid months in Finland) and the free education system (incl. universities). Wellfare state means very high taxation, so on average a normal taxpayer pays 29% tax. On other hand we are one of the countries with least economical inequality among citizens. These are just few thoughts that came to mind, thanks for the post!

    • Excellent point about the Welfare state, and I suppose one we’ll have to take a hard look at as the economy continues to get worse. I for one would be fine with paying more taxes in return for 10 months of paternity leave. I’d have so many children!

  24. 4. The Finnish language is closely related to Estonian, distantly related to Hungarian, and other than that related to … well, nothing else.

    4a. Action point: Drop US English and start speaking Esperanto, Volapuk, or Klingon.


    I’ve met a few Finnish people and always liked them. They are generally easygoing and pleasant to be with. I’d love to visit their country (in summer!) but am a bit worried by the fact that the only three words of Finnish that I know are “Yksi”, “Kaksi”, and “Kolme” (meaning respectively, “One”, “Two”, and “Three”).

  25. I am FInnish myself and loved your article. It says a lot about my nationality and from reading it, I’m going to do more online research myself. Very interesting article. Thank you.

  26. couldn’t agree more! I have lived in Finland and its the closest I have come to seeing a utopian society…mina rakastan Suomi!

    • Have you got any more Finnish for us? How do you say, “Hello, which way to the reindeer?”

      • thats all the finnish i know…its a pity that in spite of all the great innovations, they couldn’t come up with an easier language 🙂

      • lol well said. Bad marketing to have such a hard language.

      • To answer your question: “Hei, missä täällä on poroja?”
        You should probably go somewhere north of Rovaniemi to see some reindeer. But I don’t think reindeer are the key to our success. I’m told Finnair doesn’t even serve reindeer on their flights anymore because American tourists wouldn’t eat Rudolph.

        If I had to speculate, I’d say equality in all things is the key. We really like equality over here.

        Or perhaps the key to our success is ice-cream? We rank high in ice-cream consumption, even during the winter. You can’t be unhappy when you’re eating ice-cream!

      • Equality and ice cream – I believe we’ve found the key to Finland’s success. Ice cream in winter? That is shocking! Thank you for this key phrase: “Hei, missä täällä on poroja?” I’ve never seen so many umlats what a great language!

  27. ‘Boatloads of reindeers’ is definitely a sure sign of success ^_^

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