pühapäev, juuli 21, 2013

chart land

Forbes contributor Mark Adomanis has written some interesting pieces about the Baltics recently, from a perspective that is familiar in its insularity and origin. While bemoaning the use of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as ideal economies by conservative analysts in the US, Adomanis has decided to look at other numbers to prove them wrong.

So continues American analysts' adventures in chart land, where one finds hard data to back his or her assertions about austerity and enterprise, and the other refuting those points by discussing mass emigration and declining population figures in the region, as Adomanis has done most recently. These actual, physical countries rarely penetrate 'chart land' because in 'chart land,' real countries don't exist; only charts.

I cannot speak to Latvia or Lithuania, as I have been to Latvia three times, Lithuania once, and, unlike my American countrymen, I don't feel justified in using them in contests of political ideologies by digging out a graph here or tossing up a chart there.

As for the Estonian population, I've said it before and will say it again -- nobody really knows what the population of Estonia should be. In 1934, there were about 1.13 million people in the country, roughly 19,000 more than in 1922. During the Second World War, the population decreased by a fifth, due to Soviet mass deportations, refugees fleeing West, and war-related deaths. The rebound of the 1950s and '60s that led to impressive and sustained population "growth" was based largely on migration from outside Estonia but within the USSR, and on the development of industries and regions that had been, until that time, nonexistent and sparsely populated.

For example, the village of Sillamäe in northeastern Estonia had a population of about 2,600 in 1940. In 1989, there were 20,500 people enumerated. Today, there are 15,800 people living there. Based on data alone, people over there in 'chart land' might be able to draw some interesting conclusions about people 'voting with their feet.'

But if you had actually been to Sillamäe and were familiar with the place, you might realize that Sillamäe was a 100-percent planned Soviet city. As it was planned, its population growth was not organic, either. Since the Soviet-supported economy collapsed decades ago, many people have left, either to Tallinn, or farther west, to London, or even Los Angeles. Why have they left? Some ask. Here's another question, Why should they have stayed? You are dealing with a city of people who emigrated from other places -- Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan. They left those places behind, too. The view of the Gulf of Finland from Sillamäe at sunset can be gorgeous, but it's not stunning enough to keep people bent on a better deal from moving on to better opportunities when they arise.

So now, in 2013, 22 years after 1991, 73 years after Sillamäe experienced its last organic growth, we are left to wonder -- what population can Sillamäe, the former planned Soviet city, naturally support?

As someone who has been to Sillamäe, and has been in Estonia on and off again for more than a decade, I can say that the quality of life in Sillamäe is undoubtedly better today that when it was at the end of Soviet rule. It's a prettier town, many parts of it cleaned up, hazardous environmental dumping waste sites capped and remediated. People working in Soviet factories like those in Sillamäe had low life expectancies, in part because of the rampant pollution both in the workplace and the city itself. Knowing that, seeing remnant traces of that skeletal Soviet life, if you were to walk into the slick, ultramodern offices of the rare metals producer Silmet today, you would certainly feel like clicking your heels together because life in Sillamäe has improved. And that's perhaps what gets people so hopeful about that Skype office in Tallinn, you keep hearing about. Because they are familiar, personally, with the starting point.

These are subtle nuances that are lost on the denizens of chart land. We are not talking about props in your theoretical contests, we are talking about real countries inhabited by people with complex histories that cannot be summed up in a line graph.

The New York Times, Forbes, and other media that continue to rely on Russia-based or focused analysts to cover Estonia are doing their readers a disservice. Regional branding aside, Estonia is part of the Nordic economy, and many of the policies enacted by the Estonian government are done with the implications of relations with the 'mother' economies of Sweden and Finland in mind. Euro adoption and austerity were both measures favored by Swedish banking interests, which dominate Estonia.

60 kommentaari:

Temesta ütles ...

"As someone who has been to Sillamäe, and has been in Estonia on and off again for more than a decade, I can say that the quality of life in Sillamäe is undoubtedly better today that when it was at the end of Soviet rule."

You also got that information from charts, you were not there at the end of Soviet rule! The first part of the sentence seems to imply that you witnessed the change yourself, if not for 'a decade'.

Giustino ütles ...

My friend, who works in Sillamae, described the city's change to me when I visited him there and visited that factory. I believed him, because the city had a bad reputation for unemployment and drug use. I have seen, with my own eyes, the enormous changes in Tallinn. To think of what the port looked like, or the area around the airport. In 2002, the pathetic little 'old' kaubamajas in Tallinn and Tartu were high end shopping. But Tallinn is growing, so is Tartu.

Giustino ütles ...

My main point is that context is important.

Marko ütles ...

I've been thinking about it a while and now I'm just gonna say it out. Publish a daily newspaper. The 'Minu' series is always meant to be a phase, isn't it. When papa Jansen started Postimees some 150 odd years ago, it was meant to be the voice of West in Estonia. Nowadays it relies too much on former subscribers of Edasi and has become the voice of the East, where Pullerits and his ilk are allowed to spread their hatred and backwardness. We do not have a Western daily in this country and that's a real problem.

Please take this next step forward, please. Should be worth while financially, if not anything else, if executed in a proper way.

Temesta ütles ...

Yes, context is important, but your story is also only a small part of the picture.
Estonia has improved a lot but there are strong pull factors at work. Maybe Estonia will be as rich as Sweden in twenty years, but why would someone wait twenty years, why not just move there and have it now? Why move to Tallinn if you could just as easy move to Stockholm or London? And then the crisis and the economic slowdown give you just that extra push that you needed. And we cannot forever take the end of Soviet rule as a point of comparison.
I don't think that Adomanis would claim that Estonia's economy has not improved, he just wants to show that not everything is going so well.

Giustino ütles ...

Oh, absolutely. I am definitely not on the same side as the "Estonia is a Wonderland" people. I know so many families in Viljandi where the children live abroad -- some in Sweden, some in Finland, others in the UK, others in the US. The number one reason they went is for "work" -- but there are other, silent factors at play (quality of education being one of them). That's worth about 100 other posts.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, you have draconian, completely un-Nordic social policies in force for people without jobs. So, many have emigrated in search for jobs during the past 10 yrs or so. It's hard to see this as an economic success story, but right wing Western commentators are touting Estonia and Latvia as the promised lands where yo don't mollycoddle the undeserving poor.

To my mind this is either dishonest or plain ignorant and unless we can export hundreds of thousands Finns of working age to abroad, we cannot even imitate these cruel and unfair policies. Not to speak of the awkward fact that it would a gigantic disaster to lose hundreds of thousands of working age adults...

Giustino ütles ...

But Stockholm Slender, politicians in the Nordic countries support these policies. The political leadership of Estonia has the backing of business interests in Stockholm and Helsinki. They like the integration of Estonia into the Nordic economy, but they are not advocating Nordic welfare policies in Estonia.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't have a Twitter account (Thank God) to answer Mark, but I think that the idea of some conservative analyst in Washington pointing at Estonia and saying, "Let's do this in America" is laughable. Estonia's free market "speedboat" model was built right next to two large, stable, successful economies -- Sweden and Finland. And along with the rapid development has come a lot of pain, as you can see with those population figures. All of this is contextual. How did Estonia get mixed up in this analysts' war to begin with? 1.3 million people on the Baltic Sea. That's the future of American policy? (Raises skeptical eyebrow)

Temesta ütles ...

That´s also quite ´schizophrenic´. On the one hand Estonia´s policymakers are worried about the birthrate that is below the replacement rate, but on the other hand no efforts are being made to ´preserve´ the existing population of working age. In the short term it makes sense: it is good for public finances (no unemployment/welfare benefits) and the workers have a higher standard of living. But what happens if the Estonian labour market becomes tight again and these workers are needed? Will there be enough of them who are willing to come back (I doubt it)? And then the discussions about immigration starts.

Temesta ütles ...

"But Stockholm Slender, politicians in the Nordic countries support these policies. The political leadership of Estonia has the backing of business interests in Stockholm and Helsinki."

Nordic businesses take advantage of the opportunities that Estonia offers, and Nordic politicians will be happy if their companies are doing well, but I doubt that Nordic politicians themselves support Estonia´s welfare policies.

Giustino ütles ...

I don't know, Stockholm. I saw a photo of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Andrus Ansip, and Siim Kallas at a health club in Tartu. It was taken after they had been in the sauna together (they all had that ruddy post-sauna glow), and they all looked like they were just the best of friends.

Marko ütles ...

In the end of the day, buck stops with the electorate. And based on what do they make their minds up? That's right, the press. Newspapers, among other media outlets are owned by Scandinavians. And it's only natural that in a foreign franchise you put profits over content. In all Estonians private tv channels, Estonians spoken content can roughly be divided into three categories - it's about Russia, it's produced by the Russians or its aimed at the Russians. Newspapers follow very similar pattern, mind you.

Why on earth do we put up with this? I think we are going through a major cultural shift in Estonia, courtesy of Scandinavian media giants. Cheers, not!

Temesta ütles ...

What I want to say is that there is a difference between actively supporting Estonia´s welfare policies and what they are doing now. They support economic integration but that doesn´t mean they should export their societal model, these are different things. Besides that, what influence would they have? Are Ansip and Laar going to change their mind if they are lectured by some Swedish politicians about the Welfare state? Their money is welcome but their ideas can stay in Sweden. :)

Putin and Schröder were/are also good friends, but I doubt they had the same ideas about social issues.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Well, I find it rather far fetched that Nordic politicians would be behind un-Nordic Baltic social policies. In fact, I'm quite sure that they aren't. Quite healthily it is the Baltic politicians and electorates that are responsible for local welfare structures. I find them ice cold and unfair and can't understand how easily it has been accepted that the "surplus" population should find their luck elsewhere (and to a large degree in the economies of the dreaded Nordic welfare states)...

Giustino ütles ...

From 2009:

Finance Minister Anders Borg has had secret talks with the major Swedish banks and warned of a near economic collapse in Latvia, Svenska Dagbladet has learned. A nightmare scenario for Swedbank and SEB.

Yesterday Anders Borg issued a stark warning to the Latvian Government that it must take its financial problems seriously.

The promised cuts must be implemented when the new Latvian budget is presented in late October, according to Finance Minister.

Marko ütles ...

Stockholm, may I ask you, how well do you know Estonian welfare system? Any figures? Structures the way benefits are handed out? Do you actually know how we do things around here?

Estonian councils are semi autonomous. That also means that state aid, mainly in form of income support, is distributed by the local authority through the financial means that council has.

Let's say you're a disabled young adult who grew up in children's home. You'd get all the support and help you would get for example in Sweden. The amount of money you would receive would vary from council to council, but then so would the living standard and the money you would actually need to survive on.

However, there is a problem among the attitudes of the working age and class people. Jobseekers Allowance in Estonia is just over 100 euros a month whereas in Britain it's 67 pounds a week. Living costs are triple of that in Estonia. So roughly it works out the same. But the attitude differs. In Britain most people genuinely believe that the whole of the third world would migrate to Britain if they had the chance solely to claim these benefits, whereas average Estonian believes that our own government is treating us like beggars. See the difference? Brits are grateful and consider money-for-nothing a privilege, Estonians however go abroad and shout from the rooftops - our government is abusing us.

I'm not saying benefits shouldn't be revised upwards, I'm saying let's have a breather. It's not all doom and gloom. In economic terms, we're an Anglo saxon economy and should compare ourselves with relevant economies, in that sense Scandinavian snobbery towards these issues is simply counter productive.

Temesta ütles ...

Anders Borg wanted to protect the Swedish financial industry from its exposure to Latvia. He was acting like a good minister of finance should. He didn't have a plan to destroy Latvia's welfare system, Latvia didn't have much to begin with. Latvia had to cut a large part of its budget, because it was cut of from the financial markets and international institutions wouldn't fill the gap. Within these constraints there are still choices that can be made.
Budget cuts can implemented in ways were you try to spare the poor. It was Latvia's choice for example to lower to tax-free minimum significantly and not to increase the income tax for people with high incomes (which would have required abandoning the sacred flat tax). Latvia was even criticized by the IMF (and they have a tough reputation, so that means something) for cutting too much and not taking enough measures to protect the poor.

Temesta ütles ...

Marko,

Costs of living triple in Britain? What you mention is the amount of money welfare recipients in Estonia and Britain receive on top of housing subsidies. The numbers you mention are meant for spending on food, clothing, footwear and other goods and services. Now, I doubt that these are so much more expensive in Britain than in Estonia. I even have data (sorry G.):

- Consumer prices in the UK are 102% of the EU average, in Estonia 79% (data for 2011).
- For food the difference is even smaller: 103% for the UK, 86% for Estonia (that's really crazy if you know how much lower are Estonian incomes).
- And for clothing Estonia is more expensive than the UK!

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/2-22062012-AP/EN/2-22062012-AP-EN.PDF

But the Estonia welfare system seems more effective than the one in Latvia or Lithuania. Indicators for poverty are much lower in Estonia than in these countries.

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/refreshTableAction.do?tab=table&plugin=0&pcode=t2020_53&language=en

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/tgm/refreshTableAction.do?tab=table&plugin=0&pcode=t2020_50&language=en

(check the percentages)

Silver Tambur ütles ...

Tallinn-based journalist Adrienne Warren has just analysed the OECD Better Life Index 2013, according to which Estonia actually had the poorest living standard among the three Baltic states: http://estonianworld.com/opinion/good-better-best-estonia-and-the-better-life-index-2013/

As Adrienne puts it, "In spite of Estonia’s great success in so many areas, and the opportunities available for entrepreneurial types, and all the great press it receives for being open, free and progressive country, there are also some other sides that need to be looked at. These statistics, though stark, are a good reminder of that."

Marko ütles ...

There are many things that are more expensive in Estonia than in Britain, or the way I like to put it - we lack cheaper alternatives. Or some items are ridiculously low priced - a bottle of decent wine is more expensive than a bottle of decent vodka, and that in a country with a major drink problem.

Also, Temetsa, I don't know what you think an average Brit earns, but it's not thousands and thousands. An average working class Brit gets just under 900 hundred pounds a month after tax, I get roughly the same here in Viljandi. In your stats, however, you leave out the biggest expenses of them all - the rent and transportation costs.

Sure life is hard in Estonia. But life is also hard elsewhere. Foremost it's the attitudes that need to change. Let's concentrate on positive things in life.

stockholm slender ütles ...

My wife is an Estonian with a wide circle of friends. Some of them are in appalling circumstances due to illness and unemployment - it seems to me that especially being jobless leads to grave difficulties in Estonia. And the system in general cannot begin to be compared with the Nordic model.

Giustino, I don't find you examples very persuasive: that sort of talk is the prevailing wisdom among the Western elites (unfortunately), but I don't think that the Baltic elites need much Nordic encouragement to implement their grim social-economic visions...

Marko ütles ...

Your local council will pay your rent and heating bills, while unemployed, subject to tough checks and balances. But not many people will actually ask for this assistance as there are stigmas around the whole issue, especially in smaller towns and villages. People feel as if they failed in life. Many think that it is easier to move to country where these things are sorted out, allegedly. But then if you look at the figures at the countries they arrive, Britain for example, only half percent of those end up claiming benefits. So what does it tell us about 99,5 % of émigrés? It shows that there's great deal of emotion involved, irrationality even, as numbers do not support what these people claim. It's an attitude issue.


Only place I see major deficiencies however, is the notorious Töötukassa and it's reserves. It's based on medieval values and the first politician to propose to scrap or privatise this monstrosity will deffo get my vote on next general election. We are definitely not getting our money's worth, thus the hell with it. Private insurers will do better job, I'm sure of that.

Giustino ütles ...

As Adrienne puts it, "In spite of Estonia’s great success in so many areas, and the opportunities available for entrepreneurial types, and all the great press it receives for being open, free and progressive country, there are also some other sides that need to be looked at. These statistics, though stark, are a good reminder of that."

I agree. Please don't roll me up with the "Estonia is a Wonderland" lobby because I critiqued Adomanis' piece. My point, again, is that context is important, and these theoretical contests in Washington and New York and London do not put Estonia in context.

My wife is an Estonian with a wide circle of friends. Some of them are in appalling circumstances due to illness and unemployment - it seems to me that especially being jobless leads to grave difficulties in Estonia. And the system in general cannot begin to be compared with the Nordic model.

I agree. I did not say that Estonia follows the Nordic model, I said that it is part of the Nordic economy. Its policies were enacted, in part, to attract Nordic investment, which they did. Ties with Sweden are especially close. A friend of mine works at the embassy in Stockholm -- they are working around the clock because cooperation exists on so many levels. It might be Estonia's busiest embassy.

Russian analysts, God bless 'em, can only cover Estonia from the 'it's a former Soviet country, like Russia' context.

Temesta ütles ...

"Also, Temetsa, I don't know what you think an average Brit earns, but it's not thousands and thousands. An average working class Brit gets just under 900 hundred pounds a month after tax, I get roughly the same here in Viljandi. In your stats, however, you leave out the biggest expenses of them all - the rent and transportation costs."

I left them out because we were speaking about welfare benefits. These you get on top of housing subsidies, it is for costs not directly related to housing. About transportation costs I found no info. But I guess the UK has some discounts for needy people?

http://www.oecd.org/els/soc/benefitsandwagescountryspecificinformation.htm

And you are not an average working class Estonian, are you? :)

Temesta ütles ...

"Only place I see major deficiencies however, is the notorious Töötukassa and it's reserves. It's based on medieval values and the first politician to propose to scrap or privatise this monstrosity will deffo get my vote on next general election. We are definitely not getting our money's worth, thus the hell with it. Private insurers will do better job, I'm sure of that."

I doubt that would be better. Private insurers want to pay out as little as possible, similar to private health insurance. With töötukassa you have to be lucky who´s helping you. Some will be very supportive, other ones have pleasure in making peoples lives more difficult. Maybe I just got a preferential treatment as a foreigner. :)

Marko ütles ...

How very dear you. I'm actually working as we speak. :). I'm actually more common than you might think, I think it's the 'gay' thing, that puts us into a grey zone when speaking about social background.

Anyhow, I just think that since it's mandatory to make insurance contributions towards unemployment the I should be entitled to some premium payouts too. But that's not the case at all. It's as if Mr Ligi is making us to buy government bonds to bail out Latvians and Greeks whereas we can never cash these bonds. It's a con, I think. It should all be on a voluntary basis.

Temesta ütles ...

You can make the same argument for health insurance. No, I prefer mandatory public health and unemployment insurance. In a private system, people with low education or people who have been unemployed earlier in their lives would find it very hard to buy insurance for a reasonable price. Private insurance is meant for profit making, not helping people.
Maybe you could have some extra voluntary contributions like in Sweden, so you would receive more money when unemployed, this is organised by the trade unions.

Marko ütles ...

When it comes to economy and money it's all about trust. I do not trust Mr Ligi and this government with my money, that's how simple it is. My parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles have been making payments to this bloody thing for decades and none have received anything out of it. You could say that they have succeeded in life not thanks to Töötukassa but in spite of it. I recently moved back we my partner and we had to sign on - not a penny. I was also brought up by a single mother, doing double shifts at the hospital just to put the food on the table for me and my sister, she also made payments all her life and has never received a cent. I know that there are single mothers out there even now for whom an extra fiver in their wallet makes a difference in her kids having pasta and ketchup or pasta and fish fingers for tea. So how dear Ligi take these reserves as his personal accomplishment and something that he can just use to patch holes in the budget or offer it up to the Greeks or whatever.

I would be with you on this one Temetsa if I could see that this is a good arrangement, but it isn't. Money is tight for many anyway, why make it worse?

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

I don´t know if it are specifically the reserves of the unemployment insurance fund that were used for the emergency loans to Greece, but see it as an investment. In this case not one that will end so well I think. :)
And to make use of the unemployment insurance, it makes sense to me that you first have to be unemployed. Did you and your family receive benefits when unemployed? Or do you mean that you wished they would have received income support on top of their income from work?
Unemployment insurance is something that only works when everybody is contributing, otherwise you get serious funding problems. It is also not really comparable to a normal insurance where you pay a higher fee according to risk. Unemployment benefits mostly flow from richer to poorer people. It is compulsory solidarity.

Marko ütles ...

Yes, I know. No none of my family has not been in that situation, so when I was, it took us by surprise. But on the other hand they kind of expected it. It's one of the most unpopular institution of the state. Most of my friends wouldn't even bother, yet they have to keep up with mandatory installments.

It's a shambles, Temetsa. These things should just break even, not have reserves of billions of euros just sitting there. They really could channel this money where it's needed, in this country. Yet they don't. What's wrong with privatisation? Their prime location offices alone, all in nicely renovated high streets or posh shopping centres, up and down the country, must be worth hundreds of millions.

Just ask your Estonian friends - has Töötukassa made a positive contribution towards their working lives and is the money well spent on it? I would really like to know what the cool kids in Tartu think of it, or how do they justify it to a foreigner. Let this be our little experiment. ;-)

Temesta ütles ...

The reserves of the unemployment fund are not locked away somewhere in a safe. The government invests them to get some kind of profit and have more money available in times of need.

Let's improve the working of this institution rather than privatising it. Anyway, you will still need some kind of state funded unemployment insurance for those people who cannot get insurance on the market. And then. it will also be you who pays for this, not the people who receive aid.

Can you give some concrete examples of how the töötukassa has wronged you and your family? The first thing that comes in my mind is that they have a very limited budget for training unemployed people so they would acquire more skills that can help them to find a job. In Belgium for example, if you are longterm unemployed and you want to become a plumber, they will give you a complete training that can easily take half a year and afterwards you can (read: must) start working as a plumber (there's a shortage of them so for these kinds of jobs you receive a training for free if you have been unemployed for a long time).

Marko ütles ...

It's not that we were wronged, per se, we just payed in all our lives yet received nothing in return and most Estonian families have got the same experience - money down the drain!

The rate at this country is going, forget about Nordic Estonia, in 20 years time you will have American Estonia. With all the cuts to the police force, people are calling for similar gun laws as over there. It's scary, but that's where we're gonna end up if this madness continues. Truth to be told I don't mind, so long we can keep our independence and our way of living, we just have to adapt. And as history shows - we're more than capable.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Marko,

To add to what you just said ... yep ... American Estonia ...

That'd be the Number One!

...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMqcLUqYqrs#at=217

Marko ütles ...

Brilliant video, I never knew that the Americans are capable of self criticism. I thought that only on this side of the Atlantic we take pleasure in 'whipping' ourselves down, lol.

The thing that bothers me the most, since moving back, is the use of Estonian language. I think I only encountered two people so far, who spoke to me in proper Estonian as you would with Western Europeans. Rest use an awful lot of street talk and their tone, mannerisms and body language are very Russian like. Even check out girls in supermarkets say 'euri' not 'eurot' as in osastav it should be, and they finish not by saying goodbye but a casual ' tšekki tahad siis vä'. Grim. To me this comes across as very rude behaviour. On prime time television words like 'neeger, debiilik, pederast' are being used casually etc. ERR is a big exception here, however. It's as if the whole culture is degrading. And kids pick up on things like that, so we're screwed for another generation. Or maybe it's just me, Brits set their standards pretty high, but I wouldn't compromise on these. I actually think that mentally I'm British, there's very little Estonianess left in me, as I conclude on day to day basis. I didn't come back to Estonia, I moved to a different country, which tongue I happen to natively speak. We'll see how it goes.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I think you and my brother would have a lot to talk about the bastardization of the Estonian culture and the social atmosphere.

He became disgruntled with America and moved back to Estonia after two decades of life here. When I asked how soon did he realize he had made a mistake he said quickly that it was in 3 months.

It took him 4 years to extracate himself and his family to Northern Italy where he resides happily and visits Estonia only when some documents need to be signed in front of a notary.

I've seen Estonian TV programs and I see what you are talking about. I did not want to base my opinion on that. So I take it from the people who know ... like yourself and my brother for example.

From G and his blog, I dont exepct to get reality. I am here for the roses and au de cologne. He makes me happy about Estonia. He is an exceptionally positive person! Probably because he does not have a single gene of Esto in him.

Very refreshing look at life.

Temesta ütles ...

This is an aspect of Estonia that I don´t experience because I just don´t understand Estonian slang. I am already happy if the check out girls says something, mostly they say nothing. Maybe I go to the wrong shops: Konsum and Maxima.
British people are very polite unless they are dealing with someone whom they perceive as ´lower´ than them. I have experienced this several times at my work when I had to deal with some British clients, if you can´t offer them the service they expect they can become incredible rude. And they think that this will make me offer them a better service.

Marko ütles ...

Brits expect professional behaviour in professional situations. As do most Estonians. We don't really care about much more, really.


The other weekend we spent in Lemme, well that was interesting. In about 50 metre radius there were some 12 families camping, in tents. You do not get foreigners or tourists in places like that. Anyhow, there was this one family - grandparents, their kids and grandchildren. They were beaming out loud music, they were singing, they were drunk. Around midnight a police car drove by. These guys shut off their music, stopped arguing, took notice. After the police car left, never mind, it all kicked off again. It's as if these guys knew what they did was wrong, but, hey, once the police has left let's continue! Kept us up till four o'clock in the morning.

Yet there was this Russian family camping next to us. Didn't hear a thing! In fact, next morning on the beach the older Russians spoke to each other in Russian, but to the kids it was always Estonian. I was like 'Awww'. They are trying!

I think that after the collapse of the SU, in Estonia, when speaking about social economic groups - local Russians have by far exceeded the expectations we set on them.

Temesta ütles ...

"Brits expect professional behaviour in professional situations."

I got the hint. :)
But I think it is funny that they expect to get a better service if they start to swear. This way they get nothing done from me, absolutely nothing.

Marko ütles ...

It's all about sealing a deal. If you behave like a dick, most Brits will tell you - stop being such a knob! Nothing wrong there. You'd find my nan extremely offensive, yet I love her the most.

. Some people just don't give a shit. To learn to live with it, is a different ball game altogether.

Temesta ütles ...

You assume that I behave like a dick when dealing with customers? :)

Temesta ütles ...

I must have left a wrong impression on this blog.

Marko ütles ...

Oh no. It's just you labelling whole nationality. :)


We have all got different expectations. And nothing wrong in that. I like you! You stand out, and u hope you keep doing so !


No need to take this personally.

Temesta ütles ...

Thank you :)

Of course, not all Brits are like that, sorry if I gave that impression, it just seems to me that they display more of this behavior than other nationalities.
I am thinking that maybe it has something to do with them (but not all of them) still having more this specific class mentality where they see you as a servant, and if you can´t fulfill their wishes instantly they will whip you.

Marko ütles ...

Not really. Brits are just very set in their ways and believe that there is a way of doing things. During early Victorian age, some 91% of them worked in servitude, a fact that they are very well aware of and they frown upon snobbery. It's just life is hard in Britain . British managers expect a lot from their workers and directors expect a lot from their managers and it's very easy to sack people . Wages are low, yet life is expensive. Taxes, and there's lots of them, are high and quality of services you receive varies a lot. Cities are overcrowded and simple things like getting to work can prove to be real challenges. Etc. So if a British person goes shopping, they expect the shop assistants to understand that and not give them attitude or waste their time. Be prompt, be polite and above all - just do your job! Not hard, is it? :)

But Brits and Estos also share a lot culturally. For example, the concept of common people, the common law or the house of commons, in Estonia we have maamees, maapäev and maavanem. Estonians also dislike snobbery and like directness. Being forward is a virtue, not a sin. Humor is similar, as well history - both countries have been conquered many times and have received huge waves of immigrants over the centuries. And so on.

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

Conquered many times? They must be one of the least conquered countries/nations in history. The Anglo-Saxons themselves invaded (and stayed of course) the Island at the end of the Roman era. They had some problems with Scandinavians and in the eleventh century there was the Norman conquest (William the Conqueror), afterwards it was quiet (save internal quarrels). They are rather one of the biggest conquerors in history, controlled half the globe at the height of their power.

Marko ütles ...

Well, there was the Roman conquest, then the Norman conquest, the the French nobles run a show for a while. British empire is a different story all together. Oh, did you know that the lions on coats of arms of England and Estonia both originate from the same place? From the occupying Danish kings. It's a bit weird that we kept these...

Yeah, maybe I exaggerated a bit on the conquering side, need to watch those glasses of wine again, lol, but they sure have received their fare share.

I also think that realistically we have a lot more to learn from the Brits than from the Norwegians for example. Estonia is a multi ethnic country with complicated history and problematic economic outlook - there's nothing of value, in terms of natural resources etc, in Estonia and there's very little in Britain too, yet they remain positive. According to our economists and politicians, life would seem as unlikely on that far away rocky and misty island, as it would on the moon. Yet they thrive!

Temesta ütles ...

That´s why Thatcher was such a source of inspiration for Mart Laar. :)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Temesta, I always thought that Brits rise an eyebrow and a pinky finger only when confronted with abhorrent behaviour.

So they curse too?

You don't say, uh?!

How peculiar!

Marko ütles ...

Americans are unnecessarily cruel towards Brits. My ex boss used to work there for couple of decades. LPR, just imagine people following you in your office block, taking a piss out of your accent and mannerisms. Laughing publicly about your background. How would that make you feel professionally, as a person? No, I don't like the Americans, they're way too big for their own boots. Peasant stock.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Marko,

Tsk tsk tsk ...

Don't like, don't like ...

Someone might say, I don't like gay people ...

Well, have you met them all?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I raise my pinky finger and both eyebrows on you now. :-)

Marko ütles ...

Fair point. I'm just gonna drop it. There's all sorts of people in every country or community and generalising only makes things worse.

Temesta ütles ...

Marko,

This news reminded me about your earlier remarks:

´Opposition politician Eiki Nestor, Social Democrat, offered a different scenario: "The whole issue is about Reform Party's promise to cut individual income tax before the 2015 general elections. Since there are no funds for such a tax cut, the party wants to get access to unemployment insurance funds."´

http://www.balticbusinessnews.com/article/2013/7/30/employers-trade-unions-suspicious-of-government-tax-plan

Marko ütles ...

Yep, it's a con. They promise a safety net against unemployment, we take their word for it and pay in, and then they offer us bogus tax cuts or flash the money at less fortunate countries to gain cheap popularity, yet it's the working man who's being messed about.


We need insurances against unemployment, we are willing to pay for it, and have done so, yet we do not receive any protection. So, if state fails to provide it, why not go private?

Marko ütles ...

Ligi is just so full of shit. I remember when he and his minions were publicly laughing at Southern European states and belittling them for being so care free with their lending, as if they were lesser people for it. It was disgusting. But further more, to then go over and offer the unemployment insurance funds to them at high interest rates at the time the most vulnerable in our society would have needed it the most, and in the end of the they these funds were meant to help them, well, that was just shocking.

Marko ütles ...

But, BBN, eh? Is it Latvian? Most stuff that ha a word Baltic in it tends to stem from over there. I flicked through it couple of times before, hmm, nothing too special. But the commentators, well, they seem to be a bit 'frustrated'. :) Not my cup of tea of a newspaper.

Talking about Latvia, what do you think of their upcoming Euro zone entry? There's some rumours around that they might become the next Cyprus. Maybe they should take their time, and sort things out first?

Temesta ütles ...

BBN is Estonian. I think most articles are translations from articles that you can find on the Äripäev website.

I think Latvian entry into to the eurozone will not immediately change anything from them. The Lat is already pegged to the euro for a long time, and pegging your currency to another one means giving up autonomy in monetary policy matters. The Cyprus analogy is made because there is some fear that Latvia will become a safe haven for Russian depositors just like Cyprus was. Latvia has laws that make it attractive for rich Russians to use Latvian banks to manage their often shady fortunes. That may be a moral problem but the biggest problem for Cyprus were investments in Greek government bonds and this devastated Cypriotic banks when private bondholders of Greek debt had to take a haircut (the EU insisted on this).
So the comparison with Cyprus is more referring to shady money than to economic problems. Luxemburg and Switzerland also have banking sectors that are many times bigger than their GDP, but that's no problem for them, they know how to invest this money. So if Latvia is wise it could become a post-communist kind of Switzerland. :) But the Latvian banking sector is still smaller than Latvian GDP.