And the winner is: Finland! According to Newsweek magazine, that is the best country on the face of the earth. Who knew? The United States is the 11th best place to live, just behind Denmark, which, of course, is close to the promised land of Finland.
A few years ago, I visited Helsinki, Finland’s small capital city. There were saunas everywhere, and that’s a good thing when you are that close to the Arctic Circle. In fact, unless you’re a polar bear, going outside in the winter can be breathtaking. Literally.
Nevertheless, the five million-plus Finns are relatively fine. Eighty percent of students make it to college, and life expectancy is close to 80 years old. There are few poor people floating around -- you’d be a block of ice in that circumstance.
Newsweek is a relatively liberal publication, and I was struck by the magazine’s choice because there is little “diversity” in Finland and the left loves diversity. Ninety-four percent of citizens are of Finnish extraction, and the rest are Swedes or Russians. That means blacks, Asians and other ethnic groups are in short supply. In fact, about the only time Finns get to see them is on videotape.
Never miss a local story.
How about religion? Well, 83 percent of Finns are Lutheran and 15 percent do not believe in God. That means if you are Catholic, Jewish or Muslim, you might be very lonely. There could never be a mosque controversy in Finland because there would be no one to go the mosque.
My time in Helsinki was pleasant but boring. I mean, how much herring can one eat? There aren’t too many attractions, but there are plenty of trees and 60,000 lakes. Of course, if you swim in the lakes, you will get hypothermia, which puts a crimp in water sports, as we all know.
Finns are generally liberal thinkers with the exception of global warming. Many ask: Why fight that? If the warming trend increases, perhaps we could get out of the house by May. It is hard to argue with that logic.
As an American, I always think my country is best, and truthfully, I never thought Finland was in the same league until Newsweek enlightened me. I kind of like having options in my life, and the USA offers plenty of those. If I want to freeze, I can sidle on up to Alaska. If I want it hot, Florida is a short plane ride away. We also have plenty of lakes here, and you can actually swim in most of them. We have two oceans, the Rocky Mountains, the desert southwest and San Francisco, which is really another planet.
But I am happy for the Finns because they don’t get much attention. And Finland is a fine place, although Newsweek is definitely overstating things. Unless I missed it, I don’t believe millions of people are sneaking across the Swedish border trying to take up residence in the paradise of Finland.
Or am I wrong?
Bill O’Reilly, Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90045.