The Wednesday John Burbank column regarding Finland brought back cherished memories for me. My very first trip to Europe was to a conference in Helsinki. The folks there were all very beautiful. Some comments about their way of life might be interesting to describe. Finns all look much younger than they are and appear very healthy despite their ability to imbibe, smoke cigars and consume vast amounts of cholesterol every morning. Their practice of rolling in the snow and then going into the sauna is very invigorating and must be a factor for their excellent circulation.
I learned one very important aspect of their success. They own their own domiciles — meaning virtually very few people rent their apartments or houses. What makes this possible is 90 year mortgage loan terms. The banks in the U.S. might do the math for you, but I suggest you do it yourself with any of the online calculators. The key to the underlying equation? Ninety years is 1,080 months. While the total interest paid is enormous with the 720 extra months, the monthly payments are remarkably low. This makes its 20 percent tax bite incredibly easy for the Finnish people to manage and create their utopian society.
One last thing I learned trying to look at a newspaper there. Their language, characterized by scant use of vowels is unique and ancient. Kudos to Finland!