kolmapäev, märts 20, 2013

winners/losers

One aspect of the Yana Toom affair that I brought out in my talk in Stockholm was a generational dimension, and it's one that's been on my mind in recent weeks. I was thinking about my friends (roughly my age) who travel around the world, and then I thought about two very famous Estonians, Marko Matvere and Jaan Tätte, who also travel around the world. Except when our friends travel around the world, it's just traveling around the world. But when Matvere and Tätte travel around the world, it's a Big Fucking Deal. Oh, look, Tätte sent home a postcard from Hawaii. Let's put it in a museum! Why are they so important? Sure, they write songs. But my friends also write songs. Sure, they appear on TV and in film. But ... so do some of my friends. And yet, whatever Matvere and Tätte do seems to be more imbued with meaning, more relevant. They are, ühesõnaga, culturally significant.

The only real difference between the Tätte and Matveres of Estonia and people my age, is that they are a little older. They are of the so-called "Winner's Generation." (They are both pushing 50). This is pretty hilarious construct for Americans, because in America, the generation born in the 1960s was pretty much seen as getting screwed at every stage of their life [See Reality Bites]. But in Estonia, people born in the 1960s are number one. Think of the first Laar government from 1992. Much has been made of their youth at the time. Laar was 32. Foreign minister Jüri Luik was 27. Defense minister Indrek Kannik was 28 (just checked these by the way, though I recall Laar boasting at a conference about the young members of his first government). Two decades on, not much has changed. The big boys are still running the show. There are younger ministers, some even my age, but they are usually somebody's protege. Who makes the big decisions about Estonia's future? The Winners.

But who is a Winner? I usually think of Savisaar as the first Winner, not because he wins so many elections, but because he thinks he's so important. He may count on some pensioners' votes, but the painstaking/philosophical/academic approaches of say Paul-Eerik Rummo or Jaan Kaplinski are absent. People wonder what Savisaar stands for. That's easy. Savisaar stands for whatever Savisaar happens to think at the time, naturally. End of story. It was this combative nature that earned him the nickname, "Piggy." And what you see down the line after him is a long list of Piggies. They are significant just because ... they are significant.

And, to draw Yana Toom in here a little, all of the issues that molested their psyches during the Brezhnev stagnation continue to plague Estonian politics. Russification is one of those issues. It's not unlike Vietnam in the United States. Remember the 2004 election and the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth"? Somehow, what happened in Southeast Asia at the tail-end of the 1960s became more important than what was happening in Afghanistan and Iraq in the middle of the 00s. And for younger, less diverse generations of Estonians, these questions about language and history are not as important as being able to find a good job. But for the Winners they were, and will continue to be, among the most significant issues we face. A discussion about minority issues in Estonia today does not occur in the context of 2013 but, too often, in the context of 1980. But, as Kaplinski alluded to in his essay (see discussion in previous post) Estonian-Russian interpersonal relations before the war, before the Winners came onto the scene, and in the tsarist era, were actually pretty okay. Not that it matters much what he says. It's got to be frustrating for the Kaplinskis of Estonia. He's now an elder in society, and yet all this wise old man can do is write essays and hope that somebody reads them.

The thing about Yana Toom is that she is a Winner, at least technically. She's the same age as Juhan Pärts, Jüri Luik, a year younger than Matvere, two years younger than Tätte. Except Yana Toom is not a winner. She's a loser. I would not like to see the conditions under which she becomes the foreign minister of the Republic of Estonia. But Estonian Russians of her age have to deal with that. While their EstoEsto peers climbed quickly to hold the top positions in the land, meet with presidents and kings and queens, and generally can count on having things named after them when they are dead, the Yana Tooms of Estonia cannot point to a similar amount of success. These are people who were completely socialized in the Soviet system, who became adults before it fell apart, who looked forward to one future and yet were handed a very different one. That's bound to generate some bitterness.

64 kommentaari:

Marko ütles ...

Toom is a fantasist. She has put all her political cards on one bet only - that the 'greatest geopolitical catastrophy of 20th century' will be reversed. For that to happen you'd need another WW2 in Europe. Thats just not gonna happen. And as decades pass, chip on her shoulder keeps growing and hardening. Until she retires from public life and becomes just another 'babushka' from Lasnamäe.

Pretty tragic on her personal level, if you look at it like that, and I do feel sorry for these people but at the same time it is self inflicted escapism and there's not much we can do to help them.

Temesta ütles ...

Well, she sits in the parliament and she heads some kind of commission. She earns a decent wage. I would not say she´s a loser. Her ideas and popular support for these ideas is what got her into parliament (and some good connections of course :)).
The Center Party exploits the feeling of resentment among losers in society and they are good at that.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Excellent post.

To out a personal touch to it ... whenever I go to Estonia, I might find myself one moment sitting in a small kitchen with a wooden stove, sharing tea and bisquits nodding to the stories of hardship and few hours later drinking champgne with somebody at their Pirita mansion and listening to their stories of world travel and company takeovers etc. All of us being either relatives or long ago close friends.

Only in Estonia!


In the USA it woudl be unthinkable.

I hav no idea where an oddball like myself woudl fit into that picture. So I keep out of it. :-)

I am both winner and a loser. Hahahah.

brett ütles ...

"Only in Estonia!
In the USA it woudl be unthinkable."

You must be getting your view of America from either movies and tv or from the polarized news media, which both present a form of class envy leading participating in class warfare. I guess "Reality Bites" when viewed from such perspective.

To add another personal touch. I have friends back home in the USA who believe they are victims and struggle. I also have friends in the USA who fail to lose and seek victory at many costs and happen to travel the World. They may fall into different classes and thus competing constituencies (yet not always) yet they do exist and they often have similar roots, regardless of what certain media, politicians, or special interests seek to promote.

Relationships are not always determined by some perceived determinant of success. Even in the USA we can erase the polarization that is wanted and magnified for gain and simplicity of thought.


Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I do get my views of America from TV. I watch Bill O'Reilly lie every day. I want truth to be served to me with no spin.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I meant Like, not Lie, of course. That was a Freudian slip.

brett ütles ...

If you want truth you need to turn off the tv, go outside and observe.

When you come back inside and want to hear someone else tell you what you saw, I suggest watching O'Reilly, Maddow, Morgan, AND Rose. I suggest you browse the Drudge Report, Media Matters, Real Clear Politics, AND Huffington Post.....What we will learn is that these outlets play on our fears and supposed biases, just like the modern politician. In the USA, this is easily doable because 30% of the population fail to graduate from 12th grade. The electorate as a whole is no longer "well educated". We have failed to use critical and logical thought to form our own opinions. We have allowed the modern day politicians to create a mindset that pits one group thought against another group thought. It has become personal. It has become about labeling winners and losers, not about personal obligations, individual liberty and responsibility. It's about winners and losers, success and failure, rich and poor, powerful and weak, oppressor and oppressed, have and have nots. Because of this "them" verse "us" mentality, the USA is no longer a Country that tackles major issues with an eye on the future. It is a Country with an electorate, which is unwilling to study history and learn, go outside and observe, and openly and logically discuss the best course forward. We are a Country no longer willing to sacrifice for the common good. The man in the White House believes that the only sacrifice should come from the top 1-2% of earners. In other words, 99-98% of earners should be exempt from any added sacrifice. Heck 50% of the population does not pay Income Tax, how does this create an electorate that demands fair tax policy or responsible fiscal policy?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

For the BS to fly it needs wings. That is why there is a left wing and a right wing. And we can see that it flies! It really does.

For the elites that ride on that BS far above the huddled masses, this is their means to keep flying and not to become one of them.

I wish one day to fly with them. I really do. For that reason I am studing BS like a bible (all the aforementioned "news" channels). Until I do though, I am ... ahem ... a democrat ... in the american context. I am a tiny speck on the left wing.

But give me time to reach a certain tax bracket, and I too join the middle where you need to be. I will then fly the BS and keep encouraging the the left wing and the right wing to flap harder and harder. To keep me levitating high over the sh...t creek known as "average america" or "real america" ....

:-)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

So Let me waive a warm "hi" to you on the right wing from the left wing. Both of us are used to believe that we are doing something useful fighting each other. You and I should know that all we do is to keep someone's cushy life possible by flapping harder at each other. Lapping up all the BS given to us. Do you like the taste? :-)

I don't. But I grin and carry on. I know what is going on. It kinda helps to keep on flapping until I get to ride and have others flap for me.

Temesta ütles ...

In the libertarian´s ideal society, no one pays income tax. 50% seems to be a good start.

Me ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Me ütles ...

Finally you are writing something meaningful instead of how cool it is that this magazine publisher is sleeping with you, having your kids and making your career happen...thank god. Maybe in a couple of years you will finally repair all the trouble you caused.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Giustino ... in your World travels, are you leaving behind a trail of broken hearts? :-)

Remember -

"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned. Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

("The Mourning Bride" by William Congreve, 1697)

Martasmimi ütles ...

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Giustino ... in your World travels, are you leaving behind a trail of broken hearts? :-)

Nah, no big deal just all of his family both young & old .

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

That was in reference to Me's outburst. Maybe you should apologize and we all bear witness ... :-)

Martasmimi ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I wanna see if he stoops down to comment on it ... :-)

Giustino ütles ...

Duh duh duh duh-duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh duh duh duh-duh-duh.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Nice. Muahahahahhhh .... LOL

brett ütles ...

When we all have little we are neither winners nor losers...we just have less. This goes right back to the argument of whether wealth is finite or not. Is power finite or not? If you win does that really mean someone else loses?

In the USA we have socialized education, where 30% of the students don't graduate from 12th grade? We have a SS (insurance) that is scheduled to pay my generation (Justin's generation) 70% of what the current recipients receive. This outlook was made worst by Obama's temporary cut in the FICA taxes. In the run up to the 2012 vote he cut the individual contribution to SS by 33%. He undercut the funding of SOCIAL SECURITY, yet comes from the party who believes in it's absolute worth.

We have Medicaid for the poor and Medicare for the elderly and SCHIP for the children. We have socialized healthcare for those not able or willing to provide or prioritize for their care. We have Obamacare, which does not address cost in US healthcare it addresses who pays and who and what gets insured. Find one estimate that says insurance will be cheaper in 2014 when it is fully implemented.

I make and use these examples because, in the USA all those relying on SS and Medicare/Medicaid and Public Education are subject to a Democratic Socialism that Justin is promoting for Estonia. The losers are being taking for fools in the USA and are being ignored by the author of this blog and some of the proud "feathers" on the left.

The USA may be beyond repair. When 70% of the population receives more in benefits from the government than it contributes to the government, the electorate fails to hold a vested interest beyond "what can this winner provide for me?". It no longer becomes about the health of a nation and what is best for the future generations, it becomes about abusing the social and economic divide that leads to a class warfare and "winner/loser" mentality.

Marko ütles ...

Winners/losers in Estonian context translates in to ones who have/have not. In some sort of sick way Estonia has become a country where the haves are worshipped. If you read our literature you notice a big shift in values. We used to love our underdogs, sympathise with have nots. Now, we spit to their faces. How did we get to this point?

Temesta ütles ...

Maybe it's revenge for all these years in Soviet Union, when the strong were oppressed? But were they really oppressed? A lot of the people who became winners in the nineties were already in a very good position when the Soviet Union started to collapse, take Ansip for example. As a member of the communist elite it was much easier to take advantage of the opportunities that privatization offered than as a simple worker. But yes, there are always exceptions.

brett ütles ...

Could we get specific regarding Estonia? In Tallinn, I see free public transportation. In Estonia, I see single payer healthcare. Government run daycare and grade schools, starting at 1.5 years. State run and funded universities. Great maternity benefits.

What I am missing? Could I hear some specifics?

I have read on this blog and comments that the USA is a center right country. But Universal Public Education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, SNAP, and Section 8 Housing are all Socialized Programs that provide for the "Losers".

Does Estonia really want to become another USA?

Marko ütles ...

Well, the Soviet elite definitely had an upper hand. But they are dispersed all across political spectrum. It's becoming more and more dog eat dog world. I think it might have to do with the fact that people were not allowed to exercise their political will for many decades. it's mainly because of the supressed grassroots. Many vote with their feet instead. So, how to reverse that? Maybe time is a healer in this case too, but it looks like it's gonna be one hell of a wait.

Marko ütles ...

Brett, Estonia does not want to be like US, or anyone for that matter. Estonia wants to be Estonia. It is what it is. Inequality in our society is a problem and we are seeking for solutions to this specific issue. Things can be learnt from other countries, but as this is our specific problem, so the answer to that would also be specific to our society.

There are 100,000 empty homes in Estonia - why do we have homeless? Questions of that nature need to get answers as soon as possible.

brett ütles ...

Should Estonia create their own section 8 program?

Should the Estonian government buy the empty homes and give them to the homeless?

Should the Estonian government take the empty homes and give them to the homeless?

What are the solutions?

Temesta ütles ...

"But they are dispersed all across political spectrum."

That's the point. The system was open for all who were smart enough and didn' care about sucking up. If you were intelligent and cynical it was possible to have a nice career.
But that makes me suspicious about people like Ansip and Kallas. First they are communists, then from their pole position in the Estonian Soviet elite they benefit from privatization, and then, oh what a coincidence, they start to adhere to the ideology that best protects their new-found wealth.

Marko ütles ...

Well, it's up to the electorate, isn't it. 150 years ago when Estonia, in economic terms, was more like the US, private money took care of these matters. Mill owners and textile industrialists used their own money to build schools, hospitals, retirement homes, cheap housing for workers etc. Can you imagine for example Skype making 10 million capital investment for a homeless shelter in central Tallinn? It's not gonna happen, I'm afraid. So we have an expectation in Estonia, that either the state or the local government will pick up the tap. But the state ain't interested either. So I think we should put more pressure to our polititians to actually tackle these issues.

Political culture in this country has been heavily Americanized. I've heard top politicians saying on telly that 'oh, we could house them but it wouldn't matter as these people (the homeless) have got mental health issues'. And that's it. Nobody has never proposed that maybe we should address their medical condition as well. Do you know what I mean?

By the way, the nearly 100,000 empty homes is official figure. God knows how many are empty unofficially. And how many homeless people have we got? 10,000 maybe? Surely we could at least play around with those numbers, couldn't we?

Marko ütles ...

You are right, Temetsa. There are many factors influencing current process. Take the 'foreign'Estonian communities across the globe. If you look at Ilves, well he's alright, but theres also people like now late Harry Männil, advisor to many early prime ministers and who's character is very controversial. Or look at American Estonian community - many of whom are racist, homophobic, traditionally Republican voting, questionable characters and they do have huge influence on Estonian politics to this day.

So it's not primarily about Ansip, or Kallas, or Savisaar, it is also about very powerful Estonian communities in the West who advise these people, who support them and in some ways use them to push their own agenda by proxy.

Marko ütles ...

If the American or Canadian Estonians would like to see Mr Ansip leave the office, he'd be gone before I could snap my fingers. That's the level of influence we are talking about.

Temesta ütles ...

Really, could you explain this a bit more? I don't know anything about the Estonian diaspora (apart from that they exist of course :)) or their influence on Estonian politics.

Marko ütles ...

It's just common knowledge. The "foreign"Estonians are very passionate about the country but they are also very disconnected from the general population. They are very opinionated and irritating. In a sense like myself :), if I think about it. But I do know that ministers consult their organizations unofficially, nowadays less about economy and more about foreign policy, defence and social issues. If American Estonians will say that homeless people are perfectly fine and that "In America, this is how things have always been like", the Estonian Estonians will listen and take notes.

Fortunately there are still people in Estonia who can use their own brains and common sense, rather than just blindly following the Estos.

Marko ütles ...

Just google Harry Männil. He's just a small example of whats going on behind the scenes.

brett ütles ...

But what about section 8 housing in the US? What about all the homeless shelters? Are the the Estonian American's not observing for themselves? It is not that the homeless are just fine in the US it is that they have mental health issues (which Marko did just touch upon).

Estonian Americans realize that food stamps (SNAP) in the US is not helping the situation...1/7 Americans get assistance to buy food. Does Estonia really want this?

Estonian Americans realize that you could give Section 8 housing to poor, yet these areas become high crime and low education communities, which suck the will or motivation out of future generations. Does Estonia really want this?

Mental Health in the US was once treated much differently. We once institutionalized those that couldn't care for themselves or posed a threat. The ACLU (Americans for Civil Liberties Union...a champion of the Left's Agenda) fought the constitutionality of this type of treatment. One of my college dorms at William and Mary was once a mental health institution. One of the golf courses I played at in New York State (Patriot Hills) was once a mental health institution. The ACLU fought for the right of the mentally challenged to live in their own world. One that can not be voluntarily assisted.

Who knows how much of these experiences Estonian Americans are impressing on the current leadership/representatives in Estonia? But it's a little more complex than, let's turn our back on the homeless or hungry.

brett ütles ...

But what about section 8 housing in the US? What about all the homeless shelters? Are the the Estonian American's not observing for themselves? It is not that the homeless are just fine in the US it is that they have mental health issues (which Marko did just touch upon).

Estonian Americans realize that food stamps (SNAP) in the US is not helping the situation...1/7 Americans get assistance to buy food. Does Estonia really want this?

Estonian Americans realize that you could give Section 8 housing to poor, yet these areas become high crime and low education communities, which suck the will or motivation out of future generations. Does Estonia really want this?

Mental Health in the US was once treated much differently. We once institutionalized those that couldn't care for themselves or posed a threat. The ACLU (Americans for Civil Liberties Union...a champion of the Left's Agenda) fought the constitutionality of this type of treatment. One of my college dorms at William and Mary was once a mental health institution. One of the golf courses I played at in New York State (Patriot Hills) was once a mental health institution. The ACLU fought for the right of the mentally challenged to live in their own world. One that can not be voluntarily assisted.

Who knows how much of these experiences Estonian Americans are impressing on the current leadership/representatives in Estonia? But it's a little more complex than, let's turn our back on the homeless or hungry.

Marko ütles ...

According to Eesti Toidupank there are 100,000 people in Estonia who require daily assistance food wise. Majority of them single parent families, where the provider is in full time employment. Is that what we want? I don't think so. So what are we gonna do about it?

If homeless people with special needs become a problem for a society, after we crammed them in to gethos, why not avoid that? Why couldn't we learn from you guys and instead of fencing them off, we could integrate them?

In order to deal with an issue, you need to acknowledge it first. But for many Americans, and also for Estonian elites there isn't an issue at all. In fact, as they claim, this is just a natural order of things. A fact of life. I personally would strongly disagree.

Temesta ütles ...

Those damned parasites! Just let them die, then I have to pay less taxes, and I can put more money aside for my next SUV.

Anyway, let's just do away with all government intervention (aside from the enforcement of property rights!)and soon, by the magic of the invisible hand, there will be no more homeless or hungry people.

brett ütles ...

>60% of the US Federal Budget goes to Entitlements. 1/7 are on Food Stamps that's over 45,000,000 individuals.

I do not think we are turning our backs on anyone willing to help themselves in th USA. The problem is that long term homelessness at least in the USA usually the result of mental health issues or substance abuse issues. Until you address the cause of the homelessness you will never find a solution.

For those who want social and economic justice for the homeless or more broadly the "losers", you need to address the issues with logical integrity not simply blame the SUV drivers....Once, you blame the rich for the homeless you stop participating in an honest discussion. Homelessness is far more complicated than placing blame on the rich.

brett ütles ...

Under Obama those qualifying, accepting, and relying on Food Stamps have gone up, by nearly 50%. Has this solved anything? Or has it actually encouraged a dependence on the Federal Government?

70% of Americans receive more in benefits from the Federal Government than they contribute to the Federal Government. It is this dependence that Obama and his Social Democrats champion and rely on to remain "winners". Where is the brighter future? Does Estonia want a Democracy that the fueled on a dependence or fueled on strong economic growth and a rising standard of living for the largest number of people.?

Temesta ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Nice flapping going on here, both left and right wings are flapping nicely, keeping the BS flying for the elites.

Love it. Keeps the status quo going. Nothing will change. Nice to see people busy. And passionately so.

I could recommend a good book for you guys ... Matt Taibbi's "Griftopia".

I am a cynic. I know. I hate mankind. I think.

Want to love, but cannot. Too hard.



Temesta ütles ...

Does that surprise you? Obama started to govern when The US was going through the biggest recession since the Great Depression. No wonder that the number of poor people increased. But wait, how could I forget that this recession was caused by socialist policies! Let just end all government intervention (aside from the enforcement of property rights) and we will establish a heaven on earth.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Brett seems to believe in trickle down wealth ... muahahahaa.

Well. Let me say this ... Once I become rich, nothing ... NOTHING will trickle from me to Brett's table. Or to anybody's table. Nothing.

I am a republican at heart. I am just not in a power position to spread my wings, so to say. Not yet.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I'd though brett out of his home, foreclose it and let him die outside my villa's gates. That is me. I am not that different from you, Brett.

We ARE kindred souls. Don't hate me because I like you. :-)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Cruelty is love. NRA saves lives.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Oppose genital mutilation and perform circumcisions.


That's America!

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Brett is an intellectual.

brett ütles ...

Duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh duh.....

brett ütles ...

Very well put, I am sure you are proud or drunk, damn vodka.

Did Obama and the Social Dems support the subprime mess that let the bubble that burst? Both the Dems and Bush championed home ownership for all, regardless of whether they could afford a down payment or absorb the impact of the adjusted rates of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage? They started to believe homeownership was a right that they could promote to the electorate. These mortgages were required by the Over Regulation of the US Federal Government. It was bad policy. It was an attempt to create artificial winners, rather than allowing the markets to regulate themselves. In fact, the recovery has been slower than needed because the market has not been free to decide the winners and losers. Politicians have been deciding the winners and losers.


But back to the fact that 1/7 out of Americans are on food stamps. Does anyone believe that this rate will decrease in the future? Did Obama run in 2012 on reversing the 50% increase in SNAP? No, this group has become potential votes. They just like the 70% who receive more from the Federal Government than they contribute, are votes who need to catered to...they are the "losers" who must be taken care of by "winners" at the direction or mandate of the government.

I just hope Estonia can learn from the mistakes of the 20th century, in western Europe, eastern Europe, and the USA....I am highlighting why the US has been and continues to head down the wrong path.

Temesta ütles ...

"
Did Obama and the Social Dems support the subprime mess that let the bubble that burst? Both the Dems and Bush championed home ownership for all, regardless of whether they could afford a down payment or absorb the impact of the adjusted rates of an Adjustable Rate Mortgage? They started to believe homeownership was a right that they could promote to the electorate. These mortgages were required by the Over Regulation of the US Federal Government. It was bad policy. It was an attempt to create artificial winners, rather than allowing the markets to regulate themselves. In fact, the recovery has been slower than needed because the market has not been free to decide the winners and losers. Politicians have been deciding the winners and losers."

You know, I was waiting for this to come. That's how predictable you and your kind are. ;)

brett ütles ...

Can you help explain what happened to the mortgage industry and the bad debt and devaluation of assets?

I have argued against multiple social democratic policies and how they are harming the US. Can you offer one counter to any of my claims? Can you argue why Estonia would want to repeat these mistakes?

Can you also explain whether or not wealth is finite?

Or are you simply content with your explaination that you are just a "feather on a wing"? Duh duh duh duh duh ?

Marko ütles ...

In prewar Estonia everybody had a right to their own home, regardless of class. Since the mid nineties it has become a fact of life in Sweden and Finland for everyone to have their own home. No need for losers/winners on existential level. The US is more like India, with it's complex cast systrm and I am sure there are historical justifications for it. But what has this to do with little Estonia, tucked away in the far corner of the North? Historically speaking, the Roman world never reached these shores. We developed independently with the rest of Northern Europe (excluding Britain) and life over here has other dimensions, not found in Central, Southern or Eastern Europe. Not to mention the Americas.

Most people view homelessness as something that is not quite right, some even guilt trip over it,although their not personally responsible. People say it's awful.

I wonder where Brett stands on right to bear arms and 'traditional family values'. :)

Marko ütles ...

It just really bothers me. Since the start of the "buying out farms" from landowners, started some 250 years ago, it is a right, a birthright, to own your own home in this land. "Põlistalu" was something that belonged to you and whoever you left it to for ever, and ever. And now the yanks are telling us it's up to the markets (read: multinationals) to decide if some of us are worthy or not?

You are having a laugh, aren't you?

brett ütles ...

Guns and values? 1st, I respect the fact that in Estonia guns are highly regulated. Crazy people and criminals should not have easy access to guns. But with no 2nd amendment in Estonia and 20th century forces that did more than just regulate the weapon. 2nd, in the US the discussion needs a little perspective. In 2009, there were 180,000 suicides and there were about 10,000 murders by firearm. In 2007, there were 1,200,000 abortions. In my opinion this demonstrates that the gun debate distracting the US from more pressing issues, such as mental health and the value of the family structure.

Social Democrats believe the government is capable of replacing or substituting the role of the family. They see the government as a caregiver and provider and equalizer. I believe the family structure strongest social construct and it is being deminished in the US.


But what should the government do about this? I am not sure there is much the government can do promote "family values". Responsibility can not be legislated.

About homelessness? Of course it is not a good thing. But homelessness is as much about mental illness as it is about bricks and mortar. Once the US stopped institutionalizing the menatily ill, homelessness became a much greater issue. Even with all the Social programs instituted in the US during the 20th century (SS, Medicare, Medicade, SNAP, Section 8, etc etc), homeless is still a major issue.

Temesta ütles ...

"Can you argue why Estonia would want to repeat these mistakes? "

Estonia already had a housing boom and bust that was even worse than the one in the US and it didn´t need social democratic policies for this to happen.

Temesta ütles ...

But... how could I forget. The money that financed the Estonian housing bubble came from... Social Democratic Sweden.

brett ütles ...

I understand Estonia had a housing bust. I have family who have far more condos in Tallinn than they are worth. They got caught up in the frenzy, just as I almost did in 2006 back in the States. Until someone far wiser than me asked me if I thought any of the neighbors in the neighborhood I was buying into could afford the home I was about to buy. He also explained the downside to ARMs, unless of course I thought I could speculate in the short term. But that's beside the point.

The housing bubble in the US almost crippled the banking system as they were forced to write off bad debt and still maintain reserves on their balance sheets against their lending levels. In other words, credit dried up in the US because of our housing bubble. Apparently, these banks were too big to fail. Apparently, the winners in Washington thought we had to float the big bank "speculators" because they were too big to fail....I agree the US housing bubble was a little different from the Estonian housing bubble. Yet, one commentator said home ownership should be a "right" in Estonia, what I would call an extreme "social democratic" position. And, it was this very presumed "right" that created billions in bad mortgages/debt/assets in the US housing market and banking system.

Marko ütles ...

But it has always been a right in Estonia. In olden days when to young peasants decided to form a family and there weren't any empty houses for them to settle in, the community would pull together and build them one. Everyone chipped in, blacksmiths, vicars, servants, grocery salesmen etc. A bit like the Hamish community in the States still does. During the first republic, in a post industrialisation society, we did the same thing through privatization and taxation - state handed out the land and provided cheap credit to get peoples homes built. There's nothing wrong in continuing this old tradition. F#ck the housing market, people need shelter from the elements, in this climate, and that should be the focal point, not how much money someone can make in a process. It's more about community spirit.

Temesta ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Temesta ütles ...

Yes, it was Marko who caused the Estonian housing bubble.
I admit that government policies were one of the many factors that led to the housing bubble. I would name in addition: regulatory failure, the Chinese exchange rate policy (Martin Wolf wrote a whole book about that), the derivatives industry and other things. There were a lot of market participants in and outside the US that were not ´obliged´ to provide loans to sub-prime borrowers but still they were very eager to invest in this seemingly lucrative market. But I expected that you would pick out the thing that best suits your ideology.
And the reason why the Estonian banks didn´t fail, is because they were supported by their Swedish parent banks. If they would have been financially independent banks (like Parex in Latvia) they would have collapsed and required a bailout.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Brett, seriously, you won't waste time if you read "Griftopia" ...

brett ütles ...

The idea that a community should come together voluntarily and help out their neighbors in need is a great idea. In the HS we have Habitat for Humanity, we have families who help build each others homes, we have churches and other none profits that who provide Service Projects for the poor. All these are great examples of how a family or a community can come together and should be encouraged. Yet, just look at the government led and taxpayer funded government housing/projects/section 8 communities in the US. These neighborhood have no civic mindedness. These neighbors are not helping each other better their lives. They are being provided for by the taxpayer via the government/politician. In these cases, homeownership or (shelter from the elements) is not as much as a right as it is a giveaway.

Marko, likens the old school Estonian ways to the Amish communities in the US. More power to them. The Amish are self reliant communities who relish in the fact that they can take care of their own. They do not demand or wish for a government handout.

My Estonian family, has a summer home. It is more like a place to go and live collectively and work collectively for the benefit of the family unit. If the drunk cousin doesn't want to help scavenge for firewood, he gets no firewood. It's just that simple.

brett ütles ...

Temesta...Why not let the banks fail and allow the market to self correct. Of course it would have been a temporary shock to the market, but isn't that what was needed?

The major losers should have the been the homeowners who bought well beyond their means and the banks who gambled on the subprime loans. But what has the Federal Government done in response? They have bailed out the homeowners with failed mortgage relief schemes and the banks with the likes of TARP 1 and 2. It had far more to do with buying votes and fear of an unknown political fall out and an unwillingness to stand up to the Big Banks and homeowners who made bad economic decisions.

As far as the underwriters go? Let the banks who were relying on their work learn a lesson or seek reprisal.

I guess the lessons learned here, is that the market should be picking the winners and losers and not the politicians and with homeownership and lending comes major responsibilities.

Temesta ütles ...

It would be an interesting experiment. Central banks around the world would have to provide massive liquidity support to healthy banks and companies, even more than what we have seen until now, and then the capital injections... . Unless you want otherwise healthy parts of the economy also to go under.