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Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is in decline (scoop.me)
127 points by astigsen 14 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 146 comments



To help contextualize this so I understand the situation better, can someone compare and contrast what treatment for debilitating mental health issues such as schizophrenia looks like in Finland vs. the US?

The second issue is, In the last 10 years, the “Housing First” programme provided 4,600 homes in Finland. In 2017 there were still about 1,900 people living on the streets. In the US, there are something like half a million people living on the streets.


The US has about 60x the population of Finland, so on a per capita basis the situation (sans programme) seems comparable.


Correct, and generally speaking, economic of scale should apply to social sector programs. In theory, it should be 60x easier for the US to house everyone, simply because we have more resources to aggregate.

Even when you compare per capita GDP, Finland's doing it with $50k, while the US is at $62.5k.


I'm actually not convinced on the surface of it that economies of scale apply to government. It seems to me like the larger the population, the more layers of government required to effectively deploy capital.

If you assumed a similar per capita tax rate, but more government is required to deploy the taxes in a larger nation, the larger nation would presumably end up with less money deployed per capita.

Of course I am neither a social scientist, economist or political scientist.


The simpler the program, the less layers you need. If the todo list for a homeless person is:

- Assign open apartment

- Digitally fill out form B12

- Deposit money

Then there is very little work required.

Where social programs have the highest overhead is where they do things like “Assess whether it’s ‘required’ based on binders 3 through 7” and “Continually check in with all other governmental arms to validate that they are meeting criteria”.


> Correct, and generally speaking, economic of scale should apply to social sector programs. In theory, it should be 60x easier for the US to house everyone, simply because we have more resources to aggregate.

People always like to rush to talk about economies of scale, completely forgetting that diseconomies of scale are also a thing.

(And even that's all assuming that you think Finland's demographics are comparable to the US's and that causes of homelessness and poverty in Finland are representative of the causes of homelessness and poverty in the US.)


Is the US in fact spending less money on homelessness, though? My guess would be that it's spending a comparable amount on a per-person basis.


A great deal of spending in the US suffers the problem of direct versus some form of market disintermediation. So, instead of just building houses for people, we funnel it through myriad private or semi-private bureaucracies and suffer their corruption and graft.


That appears to be happening in Finland as well. The article says that state funding is funneled through "NGOs such as the Y-Foundation" who are responsible for actually getting the housing.


Yes, it’s not a binary situation. But Finland also directly took over several private/NGO shelters and converted them to apartment blocks. In the US, this would be considered verboten in most major cities because of the challenge it poses to everyone involved in real estate speculation and development.


The US citizen sees a fraction of their tax dollar ever actually reach the ground. The rest gets caught up in people's pockets on the way down. We would need to adjust for this but it's unclear how to create a heuristic.


Do you have evidence that there's more friction/graft in the US than, say, Finland?


There's the established Corruption Perceptions Index published annually by Transparency International:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

Finland is ranked #3 while US is #22.


The keyword here is "perception". I am not convinced that the perception is deserved.


I don't, because I don't know how to calculate it. Like I said, we need a heuristic but I don't know how to go about it. But it's an important qualifier when we're trying to isolate this problem to just the economics of solving homelessness.


They never had Reagan, so they still treat mental illness there.

More importantly, Finland allows for the involuntary commitment if the mentally ill. In the US, this is only allowed if the individual presents a danger to themselves or others.


That's almost what the Finnish system requires: https://helda.helsinki.fi/bitstream/handle/10138/231986/comp...

"The current Finnish Mental Health Act stipulates thefollowing criteria for compulsory admission:

.a person should be found to have a psychotic illness,and

.because of this psychosis, they are

(.in need of psychiatric care as their condition would otherwise worsen [this is the main different criterion], or

.a danger to their own health or welfare, or

.a danger to the health or welfare of others)

.no other mental health services are suitable or adequate

(Finland of course has proper free at the point of use healthcare for all residents, a far more important point for mental health than involuntary commitment.)


You can imagine how that’s an artifact of a more socialized health system. Perhaps unintentionally, it would function in many ways as a cost saving feature that would be very difficult to implement in the US system. Think about junkies. Can they be involuntarily committed because their condition would “otherwise worsen”? Imagine the legal implications in a system where hmo and insurers get to influence the decision about who is committed.


Or imagine a woman who has children out of wedlock, causing financial distress. Obviously, if she's not institutionalized she'll continue to have children out of wedlock, which will cause her condition to worsen.

And only a mentally ill person would have children out of wedlock, right?

And before you say that that's unrealistic... I'm pretty sure that that exact logic was used to institutionalize people in the US back in the 20s and 30s.


The main different condition makes all the difference...

That would describe more than two thirds of the homeless.


My understanding was that many of the institutions that housed and treated mentally ill people were closed in the 70s due to public outcry about mistreatment. The wikipedia article on deinstitutionalization in the US seems to corroborate this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deinstitutionalization_in_th....

It sounds like some institutions were closed after that movement got going, so I wouldn’t be surprised if institutions were closed under the Regan administration, but I think the decline in public mental institutions preceded his administration and was largely unrelated to it.


No, the closure of mental institutions occurred during the Reagan administration because he cut funding for treating mental illness from his budget.

In CA, when he was governor, Reagan ordered the closure of many facilities.


No, there was a society-wide push to close institutions. Reagan might make for a nice whipping boy, but putting it all on him is just silly.


No, this is false. The number of patients dropped but almost all facilities remained open and were improving care.

Reagan than decimated the mental health department in CA below sustainable levels, and followed that up by ending federal funding of mental health treatment only a few years after trying to make the federal government pay for it when he was governor. As most state budgets no longer covered mental health, the result was an enormous drop in government spending on mental health.

And yes, it's all directly traceable to Reagan.


It still amazes me that we closed down virtually all mental istitutions in the US, and then we’re surprised to see mentally ill people struggling on the streets?

According to research almost half of the homeless have a mental illness, with about 25% having a very serious one[1].

If you’ve ever been walking down SF you know exactly who that 25% is. They’re on the street and they need an institution not a needle exchange or free boarding.

1. https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/consequences/homeless-mental...


The problem was that a lot of these mental health institutions were filled with dubious psychoanalysts that often worsened the problems of patients. They had to be booted out. Doesn't mean that there is not place for modern forms of mental health care.


The government shouldn't be able to just walk around pointing fingers trying to put individuals in "therapy". Particularly the sort the is available at minimal budget government facilities.


Do you feel that is an accurate characterization of mental health care in non-US countries with different requirements for commitment, like Finland?


They never had Reagan, so they still treat mental illness there.

This Reagan meme needs to die. The ACLU was very involved in "deinstitutionalization" as well since holding people against their will was regarded as problematic.


Deinstitutionalization is a very separate issue from closing facilities. The ACLU worked to prevent people from being committed who didn't need to be. Reagan simply shutdown mental health facilities regardless of need.


There was a massive change from institutional care to ambulatory care at the start of the 90:s, coinciding with the severe recession. Basically a big resource cut. I don't think it was ever reversed. (Don't know much about the sector.)


Reagan was president in the early 1980s. The closure of most mental health facilities preceded the Bush recession.


I'm talking about Finland.


The Deinstitutionalization movement started in California, long before Reagan. The reason institutionalization won't return is because of the left not because of people like Reagan.


The US also has 60x as many people.

327/5,5*(4600+1900) = ~386.000

(at 1 person/home)


Why are you adding the 4600 and the 1900 together? Those 4600 have been homed.


Homed by a process that the United States also doesn't have and would need. It would be dishonest to compare the rates without including the cases that Finland has already solved through a similar (but not as far reaching) program.


> It would be dishonest to compare the rates

No, I think it's perfectly honest to compare the rates of homelessness in a country that has worked to improve the situation versus a country that continues to let people die in the streets. It seems far more dishonest to compare the rates before the work was done, considering that work was done to reduce the problem. The reason that the US now has a roughly 5x rate of homelessness (and, let's face it, growing) vs a roughly 1.3x rate of homelessness is because the United States has no interest in fixing the problem.


I still don't believe in fractional reserve banking.


They've been homed, but subsidies for the housing of previously homeless people are typically aggregated under homeless spending. (The US has a lot of programs like that as well.)


Why can't the issue be looked at a state level then?


source for 500,000 homeless people in America claim?


The US Government:

> According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Annual Homeless Assessment Report, as of 2018 there were around 553,000 homeless people in the United States on a given night, or 0.17% of the population.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_the_United_Sta...


The 2018 annual "point in time" count done by the federal housing administration:

https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5783/2018-ahar-part-1-...


Finland is the only country in the EU that has figured out that people need to fulfill the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy first before starting on the higher levels? Are you fucking kidding me? A college student could come up with this plan. Why isn't everyone doing it? Oh yes, I forgot about the part where it's necessary for society and government to be cruel to the homeless to demonstrate to everyone else that ... blah blah something or other stupid argument from cruel, heartless, unempathetic assholes goes here.


I recently, with work, did a tour around Eindhoven (the Netherlands) together with Homeless people. I learned that one never has to be homeless in that city, there are many locations to get food, shelter and help. The homeless people on the streets have such severe ADHD that sleeping halls stress them out, or they have other mental issues, can't deal with authority, have a severe lack of trust or fear for the healthcare system, etc. It is impossible for a healthy mind to stay homeless (unless by choice).


From what I heard from a homeless person is, that the problem with the sleeping halls are other homeless people.

It would stress anyone out, if your "cohabitants" fecate in the shower, start screaming in the middle of the night, pose a risk of physical abuse, stealing, etc...

So, if you consider preferring not to live in such conditions a choice, then yes, it is impossible. But in my book, it is sounds rather like a choice of a healthy mind and not one a civilized wealthy society should put one up with.


You got downvoted but someone from Denmark told me something similar about their country.


>>The country applies the “Housing First” concept.

California also applies "Housing First", and it doesn't work. According to some reports, it gas led to social housing coming to be rife with drug use and dominated by drug dealers, because previous restrictions on drug use on premises were lifted as part of the Housing First philosophy.


Where is the part on how Finland has been deporting Iraqi refugees.


In a different article, surely?


The headline is factually wrong. The truth is that Finland has reduced the population of homeless by 35% over ten years[1].

While I applaud easing the bureaucratic hurdles in giving people access to homes, in many cases not being offered a home is not the reason why people are homeless. It's simply not "as easy as that".

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/jun/03/its-a-miracle...


Logically, your argument is baffling on its face: homelessness is literally the condition of not having a home. Giving someone a home literally solves the problem.

All that said, "Housing First" is the most effective, lowest cost, evidence based program we have to substantially lower homelessness. It works, and it's vastly cheaper than both the status quo ( https://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/resources/lessons/... ) and just about everything else we've tried.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_First#Evidence_and_out...


It can solve it in a literal way that doesn't actually meaningfully change the societal problems of Homelessness. If, for example, we thought it vital that everyone own a car and drive everywhere, and that people walking to work was a problem to be solved, you could give me a car and I'd no longer be "carless". That doesn't mean I will use it, or stop walking to work, or otherwise change the reasons I didn't have a car before.

That's not to say that literally giving people houses isn't a good idea, and won't solve some chunk of the issues of homelessness. But, for instance, if I was sleeping in my broken down car on the street near my work, and you gave me a free house on the other side of town, I'm not "homeless" now, but it now introduces new problems of how I get to work across town.

Giving someone something they lack in life is a lot like giving someone a organ transplant. Hypothetically, we could "cure" a lot of liver diseases by giving everyone a "new" liver, but we have to get that liver from somewhere, and the recipient has to be able to integrate it into their life without it being rejected, and they have to not keep doing the things that led to them having the problem in the first place or else it all repeats in a few years.


The article mentions that 1900 people still live on the streets and 1 in 5 homeless people will not be able to keep their Housing First flat. It would appear that Housing First has not been able to solve their problem.


I assume OP was talking about the headline of the linked article, rather than the title of the HN article. The headline of the linked article makes a much stronger claim:

>Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need

Which is needlessly hyperbolic and tabloidy, and even belied by the very first sentence in the article.


> Logically, your argument is baffling on its face: homelessness is literally the condition of not having a home. Giving someone a home literally solves the problem.

That's over-simplistic reasoning. Yes, we have a word called "homeless" that we use to refer to people living on the streets. That does not imply giving them a home solves the problem, or that the lack of such offers is what keeps them in that condition. If the simple reasoning was correct, why couldn't Finland solve the problem by offering free housing with no strings attached?

That's not to say that such policies aren't helpful to those who really just lack access to housing. It doesn't end there though, that's my point.


While homelessness might be in decline and shelters have more capacity, you can still find people sleeping on the floors of public pay-per-use toilets in Finland. So no, homelessness is not ended and probably never will be.


We've replaced the baity headline with the less baity headline, in accordance with the HN guidelines.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


It should use EU, not Europe. The article only makes claimes about the only country that has a decline in the EU. There are quite a few European countries that are not in the EU.


Ok, we've narrowed the scope above.


There is temporary homeless. Some people may not be seeking home. People still drunk or under influence of drugs you may be denied access to temporary shelters and don't want to go into those who let them in because they are full of drunks and people out of their mind (hard to sleep).

One problem facing the social system is that people in need are not seeking all the support they need. This is the reason why assigned social worker who sees the whole picture is important.


I'd be interested in having some stats about why people live outside alone. I think that there are some that have decided to quit normal life for emotional reasons and that they do not want shelter or a way back (probably after too many disappointments or traumas).

But for the rest it's good that a country is doing a large effort. Most of them need a few to get back on their feet: shelter, hygiene and safety.


It is still not a good thing but is it possible or likely that many you witness are "capsule hoteling"? As in they have an actual home but are too smashed to make it home/others would be more pissed at them arriving drunk than the next day dissheveled and hung-over.

And yeah the only 100% end to homelessness in a society is involuntary institutionalization. Some people may decide they want to be homeless or can't organize themselves sufficiently to wind up at their home or even a hotel if money was no object. The latter is more justifiable but it is dicey for society to set thresholds. Out of sight out of mind is ripe for abuse even without bad intentions. Just bad assumptions and bureaucratic snafus can do plenty of harm.


In NL we already have almost none for a long time (esp compared to, say, 20-25 years ago) but eradicating is hard mostly because of mental illness (often made worse by substance abuse). People with state appointed houses and psychiatric help just ‘escape’ (they are free to walk off anyway) because they cannot cope. I know people who were homeless when I was a student and who are happily living in those houses with help now (some now have families) and others who are still roaming the streets because they cannot be (mentally) in a controlled situation.


What a ridiculous headline indeed. Yes, homelessness is under control and declining compared to 1990s, among other thanks to free harm reduction based housing for drug users (read: free housing for drug users and drunks in municipal facility where using drugs and drinking is not forbidden.)

But it's not gone. Homelessness is not really possible to solve definitely.


even if the state gave everyone a free home, a lot of people would still be homeless due to mental illness, not being used to managing "normal" life etc. etc.


Lol and polio and measles will never be eradicated either because we still have cases. oh wait there's a reason why they haven't been eradicated hmmmmm.


I don’t see the connection. What is the point you are trying to make here?


my point is that to assume that something that has existed (continues to exist) will never cease to exist is fallacious reasoning.


Maybe a homelessness vaccine?


Bad analogy. If the fins were actively rounding up homeless and forcing them into shelters, or disposing of them, then you'd have a case.


i don't need a proper analogy when op that i responded to commits is-ought fallacy. that's my point - to lay bare that fallacy.


I take issue with the practice of labeling everyone on the street as "homeless", because the truth is that there are many different causes:

* battered spouses fleeing domestic violence

* runaway teenagers

* veterans whose mental and physical injuries

* debilitating mental illness

* impossibly high housing costs due to NIMBYism and local regulations

* alcoholism, drug, gambling addiction

That's not an exhaustive list, of course. We have to start by changing the way we speak about this. We need labels that strike at the heart of each issue, that capture the thing that's really going on, not just the surface-level phenomenon.

I live in LA, and I don't own a car, and many people that live on the street don't either. Does that mean that it's valid to label us all as "carless"?

I believe that the words we use matter, because they shape our thinking, and therefore the policies that we ultimately enact. Calling everyone "homeless" leads to attempts to treat multiple diseases with the same cure, and I believe that is ultimately doomed to failure.


> I live in LA, and I don't own a car, and many people that live on the street don't either. Does that mean that it's valid to label us both as "carless"?

Yes, that's the exact definition of not possessing a car. The circumstances might be different and reasoning for not having one too, but if both were asked do you own a car the answer is the same.


Would the definition be based on possessing or owning? What if one does possess a place they choose not to use (run away teen)? What about being able to stay in a place but only for a short term?

I know a guy who recently sold his old house and bought a new one, but because of some confusion, ended up not having a home for two weeks. It would seem odd to call him homeless.


If you're not involved in adversarial contract authoring, I don't get the appeal of the "what about this edge case" game.

> Would the definition be based on possessing or owning?

Given that nobody calls people renting apartments homeless, I think this self-answers.

In any case, voluntarily being temporarily in a situation wherein one does not own property in not commonly confused with living on the street for reasons I believe to be fairly obvious. It has to do with that word "voluntarily".


>If you're not involved in adversarial contract authoring, I don't get the appeal of the "what about this edge case" game.

My mind often goes to the boundary cases because that is where the real differences occur at.

For social issues in general, I've seen enough cases of people stretching definitions and using selective definitions that are enough against the norm that the end statement made is purposefully misleading. You might say it is adversarial advertisement authoring.


It might be a useful concept in a limited, technical sense. In a political context, it is an anti-concept because it replaces a correct conceptual understanding with one that doesn't map to reality.

After all, the primary purpose of conceptualization is to give us humans a way to deal with vast complexity of the world. We can only hang onto 3-5 things (maybe seven if you're a genius) in a single mental frame, and we are utterly lost without that. People let their conceptual faculties get hacked all the time by ideologies and manipulative intellectuals! Don't let that happen to you! (I'm maxharris9 on twitter, and my DMs are open. If you want to know more about this just send me a message!)


If anything there should be a more broad term, something that includes people who are housing-unstable. I don't really consider the problem solved if a person worries every day that they might be homeless at the end of the next month!


The term you are looking for is "housing insecurity".


"Roofless" is also a useful term to distinguish people actually sleeping rough from people crashing on friends' couches or in sketchy hostels or maybe squats. It's commonly used in the UK, dunno about elsewhere.


ah yes. i had kinda a 'brain fart' when i wrote this comment. i knew this phrase existed but couldn't remember!


Isn't that like saying we should stop calling people "ill" because there are multiple kinds of illness? I think you're just offended by the term and as such want to stop using it to describe people, instead of seeing it as a descriptor of a problem that needs solving.


"We need labels that strike at the heart of each issue"

That's pretty much the opposite of the "housing first" approach.


While I'd say it's generally been successful, the experiments with housing first programs here in Canada have failed some specific categories of people pretty badly.

In Calgary and London, people with serious mental illness in particular would get an apartment, only to end up facing eviction before long because of conflicts with neighbours or property damage. Some were housed for less than a month before eviction.

Someone with active psychosis, someone with substantial market income but fleeing an abusive partner, and someone with a stable social and personal situation but who simply can't afford rent on their fixed pension, all require different interventions to keep them stably housed in the long run.

"Housing first" has a habit of being "housing only" support, which works for many people but not for everyone.


I understand your point about labeling individuals affected by a wide variety of circumstances. I think this is a case of applying a group term in order to make informed decisions in order to aid people in need of a place to live.


>Does that mean that it's valid to label us both as "carless"?

Sure....I don't own a car, I have zero issue with being labelled as carless. It's very much true. I lack a car, I am carless. My reason for lacking one may very well be different than yours, but the effects of not having cars are probably similar between us. Such as walking, biking or relying on public transit to travel, being limited on locations one can travel based on availability of transport or distance etc.

Edit to include:

>if anything there should be a more broad term, something that includes people who are housing-unstable. I don't really consider the problem solved if a person worries every day that they might be homeless at the end of the next month!

I really like this idea.


Right, but there's a huge distinction between having no car by choice, and having no car (particularly outside of metro areas), but really wanting one, because you can't afford it / have no licence / whatever.

That's his point. I've been hitchhiking before and slept outside loads. It's not meaningful to call that 'homelessness'. Is a nomad homeless?

Someone who simply falls behind on the rent and bounces around friends' sofas is in a very different situation to someone who has serious mental and/or physical health issues and starts to completely fall apart as a person.


I never actually said which kind of carless person I am....it's not by choice. A label is just a way to describe something. People put far too much importance on the meaning behind labels these days. Labels don't have to be all encompassing and exclusive of other labels. They're just a convenient way of grouping and describing things with commonalities.

Calling someone carless or homeless has nothing to do with the reasoning behind it, it's a label for a current state. I agree, though, more fine grained labels should be used for tackling the causes behind these states. But calling someone homeless or carless isn't really offensive in and of itself.


I think a big issue is that the condition of being homeless, in and of itself, leads to further issues. For a start, having zero time to spend on dealing with any of these other issues, but also things like difficulty being to get a bank account.

We should treat this symptom which has multiple causes, because it causes further problems, and is relatively easily treated.


You can have your own opinion and think it's failling, or you can see the results.


every time there's a hopeful article about a progressive policy on hn there's some kind of backwards libertarian hottake in the comments. it's simultaneously offensive and demoralizing. the finnish program (according to the article) has been running since 2008. do you really think your hottake (op to whom you responded) is a novel insight? that you in the 30s of writing that comment cut to the core flaw of the program? do you really think they haven't considered all edges cases by now? or do you think they're incompetent in there assessment? the reality is much simpler: Finland is more progressive and egalitarian than the US and so their measures/metrics for success are informed by a different value system.


I don't really get what's libertarian about a claim that the term "homelessness" conflates issues which are best handled separately. Can you elaborate?


You can't look at items in isolation.

Finland doesn't have an open immigration policy. In fact it's citizen oppose immigration because they wish to preserve what is Finish. Finland is not more progressive in this regard.

Now we can start to understand how Finland could end homelessness. With a free immigration policy this would be more difficult both culturally and in terms of costs.

How does Finland get it's wealth? Through clean energy progressive solar or windpower? No through oil. Adding to the global carbon output daily.

When we peel the layers we realize we are comparing apples to oranges.


>With a free immigration policy this would be more difficult both culturally and in terms of costs.

i don't understand what this has to do with anything? is this unique to the immigration patterns in Finland (that immigrants end up homeless?)

in america the homeless are primarily black and white people (not recent immigrants)

https://endhomelessness.org/resource/racial-disparities-home...

>How does Finland get it's wealth?

this is whataboutism. i never made the claim that finland was a progressive utopia. where do you think the US gets it's wealth? oil and coal

https://openmarkets.cmegroup.com/15157/how-much-does-oil-and...

so can we also get some of that homeless sheltering?


The homeless population in Finland is ethically and culturely similiar to the population which allows them to identify and provide support. The same conditions do not exist in the US.

This doesn't extend to others. Finland doesn't provide the same level of support to the poorest nations. The US does.

How progressive are we if we help ourselves / our families and people who are genetically like us but we don't provide the same support to other poorer nations.

When you look under the hood things are not as black and white. Finland is not as progressive they appear because of the headline.


>The same conditions do not exist in the US.

literally false according to the stats i posted that you didn't read (or discounted).

>How progressive are we if we help ourselves / our families and people who are genetically like us but we don't provide the same support to other poorer nations.

i don't understand? are you mad at finland for not being progressive enough? originally your point was the US couldn't be as progressive as finland is because of oil? and immigrants? i don't think you have a coherent point.


An open immigration and generous foreign aid policy makes the US more progressive in some areas compared to Finland.

No one is mad at Finland for not providing more external support. I hope my discussion points have caused you to open your mind around global progressive policy. It is never as simple as the headline seems.

"Literally false according to the stats i posted that you didn't read (or discounted"

Finland is made up of one ethnic group, the US many. That link had no relation to my point.


>Finland is made up of one ethnic group, the US many. That link had no relation to my point.

here is what you wrote

>The homeless population in Finland is ethically and culturely similiar to the population which allows them to identify and provide support.

if you look at the statistics that i posted you see the the homeless population is primarily black people and white people which is ethnically and culturally similar to the population of the united states (note that black people doesn't mean recent african immigrants but american black people).


I guess I missed where you suggested the alternative.


You'd be surprised how many "diseases" can be treated with the same cure. Mental health issues of all kinds, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimers, and diabetes can all be treated/prevented with exercise and a good diet. At a certain point you have to wonder if a disease is a disease or if it's just what happens when you throw a bunch of explosive wrenches into the complex human machine


This is objectively false. Schizoaffective disorders, bipolar disorder, and most other serious mental illnesses are not treated with diet and exercise, nor is bad diet or poor exercise the cause of serious mental illnesses.


I said CAN be treated. Whether or not mental illnesses are COMMONLY treated that way is another argument. It is a fact that all serious mental illnesses are greatly influenced by diet and exercise, including Schizoaffective disorders and bipolar disorder


And I'm telling you it is literally not a fact that serious mental disorders can be treated with don't and exercise.


For some perspective:

Finalnd's military budget: 300 million

US military budget: 700 BILLION

The US could dump a lot of money into these social services to address people who are homeless, drug addicts, and other people on the fringes of society.

We are however, constantly put in a place where other nations depend on us for their security. As such, they don't have to have a massive defensive budget when they can rely on us to take care of them.

If we had a military budget that was more inline with simply keeping our own country safe, we would have a ton more money to take care of the people who really need it.


But isn't the US hegemony all about dictating global markets, ect. ? So whilst the US might be ensuring other nation's security, it is also ensuring that the markets are in its desired condition. This modus operandi, I suppose, means that the US homeless will suffer more, as those desired conditions are desired by the people who are able to control the military decisions, and not the homeless, who would most likely want cheaper health care & housing.


Yeah, but only because we needed the oil. But now that we're a net exporter, no need to be abroad


Do you think the hegemony is only about oil?


You'd be surprised at how many of the homeless are veterans with PTSD.


I don't find that surprising at all! It's a tragedy.


That is not correct. The Finnish military budget is 3.2 billion Euros ($3.6B). On top of that, Finland has a universal male conscription, costs of which are not included. (I.e. the opportunity cost of being in the army)

Source: https://www.defmin.fi/files/4804/Puolustusministerion_hallin...


My bad, I was actually reading the chart wrong:

https://tradingeconomics.com/finland/military-expenditure

Military Expenditure in Finland increased to 3615 USD Million in 2018 from 3430 USD Million in 2017.

Which you're correct, it's actually 3.6 Billion. US military spending still dwarfs Finland's, but not nearly as paltry as I had originally stated.


Others have additionally already pointed out how Finland isn't in NATO either. The defence doesn't expect or imagine US intervention, but also doesn't expect a nuke attack. Defence matching the threat, full conscription and modern cost-conscious armament purchases to counter the long land border with Russia.


> "If we had a military budget that was more inline with simply keeping our own country safe, we would have a ton more money to take care of the people who really need it."

Resulting in a new wave of rearmament and arms races across the entire planet as everybody scrambles to build up their military in the resulting power vacuum. If you want to see another wave of all-out wars in your lifetime, well, that's how you get it.

The United States has been amply repaid for its military budget (despite it being put to stupid use by certain Presidents) in terms of global political and economic stability, which is good for business.


For some more perspective...

Finland's military GDP spending is around 4%, very close to America's military GDP spending, but the two countries have largely different GDPs of course. That's the fair way to compare things though.

Also a very large portion of the military budget goes to the salary's of our military employees as well as R&D. We wouldn't have the internet if it wasn't for ARPA.

And finally, Finland isn't a superpower.


The only perspective this gives is perspective into your personal worldview. Why wouldn't you use % of total spending or frame it relative to national gdp if you were trying to make a meaningful comparison between the two countries?


Oregon's budget for retired state employees: $100 Billion

I tried to find the same for California, but it seems they do a better job of hiding it.

My point is that we are spending a tremendous amount of money on former government employees, so they can have nice homes, good healthcare, and a quality education for their children. But in the process, we're neglecting a large portion of the population that those people were supposed to be serving.


What would you do instead?

It takes good, motivated staff to run an effective government department. Those same people have a lot of options, so the government has to compete for them somehow.

We’re unwilling to pay them high salaries (take a look at the federal pay scales: GS-12, which is usually a scientist with a grad degree, starts at $66k). Benefits seem a little more politically palatable, so the government competes on those instead: we won’t pay you a lot, but you can earn a (slightly) better retirement instead.

Without either, who’s going to work for the government? Do you really want a government full of people who can’t land any other job?


What would I do? Reduce the number of state employees. And I'd do it without firing anyone. See: Gary Johnson, New Mexico.

When an existing employee retires or otherwise ends their employment with the state, don't hire a replacement unless that job is critical to the operation of the government.


That's obviously not the correct number; perhaps that's the total liability for all future pensions?

It's not clear what the actual pensions number is, but the total budget for absolutely everything for the two years 2019-21 for Oregon appears to be $82bn from Schedule VI of https://www.oregon.gov/das/Financial/Documents/2019-21_gb.pd...


If I'm looking for money to help the poor I'm not going to start by raiding pensions. That would be self destructive.


Yes, how terrible that we are fulfilling our contractual obligations to people who have worked for decades in our government. It's a travesty indeed! Should we just exterminate them in camps now that they are of no use to us? Or what would you propose?


Assuming, of course, that if Finland had to provide for its own defense (rather than relying on us), they would still have money left over for social programs.


Accusing Finland of not providing for its own defense is an insult to the memory of the Winter War. It's one of the few European countries that still has universal conscription!


How are you providing for the defense of Finland? Maybe you're a conscript in the Finnish armed forces?


Why do you think Finland depends on the US - they aren't in NATO?


Well, that’s OP’s premise (which I do agree with). He says the U.S. spends 700 billion/year on defense, but needs less and that the rest is spent protecting other countries. There are 195 countries, so if that’s distributed evenly, we’re contributing about 3.5 billion/country/year, that they would each have to come up with if we stopped. Now, maybe it’s not evenly distributed like that - maybe Finland doesn’t rely on U.S. presence at all (but I think you, and they, would be surprised), but the point is that we’re indirectly subsidizing a lot of these social programs by providing military defense for a lot of these countries.


One interesting fact about Finland that I learned from "The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner" by Daniel Ellsberg is that in the event of a "general war" the US attack on the Soviet Union was expected to completely destroy Finland and kill at least 100 million in Western Europe.


1. USA cuts military budget

2. Russia invades Finland. USA does nothing.

3. Homelessness in Finland peaks


Why would USA defend Finland as Finland is not part of NATO? The same way they defended Ukraine as Russia occupied Crimea and invaded East Ukraine?


Finland has always prepared to defend a Russian attack alone, for obvious historical reasons. Russia being a superpower, or trying to be at least, means the selected defence doctrine is to make an attack too expensive to be worth it. Definitely isn't depending on US military intervention -- last time around US was siding with the Soviets, after all.


"Those affected by homelessness receive a small apartment and counselling – without any preconditions."

I doubt it will work in Finland in the long run, and even if it does, Finland and the U.S. have very different populations. Most Americans work to put a roof over their head, and it's unfair to them to "unconditionally" give some people housing. It's also a big disincentive to work. The current unemployment rate is 3.5%. There are homeless shelters to prevent people from freezing to death, but that's very different from giving someone their own apartment. Millions of people would love a "small apartment" in Manhattan or San Francisco but cannot afford to live there. Are you going to allocate the apartments to people who are not contributing to society?


Freaking hell, "Sorry, you'll have to sleep outside, I can't let you sleep in this warm house and bed, because it wouldn't be fair to others.".

You probably have a meritocratic view of the world (as many Americans do), that hard work will lead to success. If you believe that, you logically would have to believe the opposite: the people failing failed because they are lazy. But you are discounting luck or upbringing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTDGdKaMDhQ . Imagine someone becoming homeless after being dumped by their partner. Or not being able to afford doctor's bills and also losing their job after taking too many sick days (this is not relevant to Finland, since that doesn't happen there, but it is in the US).

And from the article, doesn't sound like the Finns will just let someone stay in such an apartment and be jobless and bum around:

> The result is impressive: 4 out of 5 homeless people will be able to keep their flat for a long time with “Housing First” and lead a more stable life.

So that means 1 in 5 fail to reach that stable life and lose their flat again. As the article also says, their policy is actually cheaper compared to what you think is "fair", they let the homeless have somewhere to sleep, so they can start worrying about the next thing in their lives, which is probably getting a job. Imagine how shitty it is trying to find a job if you're mostly worried about where to sleep, shower, or shit, daily.


You ignored what I wrote, "There are homeless shelters to prevent people from freezing to death, but that's very different from giving someone their own apartment."


Fine. And I think I (and 1 or 2 other replies to your comment) have also addressed that a homeless shelter is not sufficient to put someone on a stable path to return to being a "productive member of society" (all hail capitalism, for productivity is the goal of life).

Or what do you want me to address in regards to this sentence? That you're not that heartless, because hey, the homeless in your world won't freeze to death, they can go to the shelter. Despite the fact that you think actually helping them long term by offering them the apartment (which the article says is cheaper than taking care of them as they remain homeless) and a path to normal life, that's just too much, and unfair?


> It's also a big disincentive to work.

Being homeless is also a big disincentive to work.

Despite the occasional feel-good story you may see in the news about a homeless person (almost invariably a physically and mentally healthy young man) finding work and getting off the street, in reality it's almost impossible to go from rough-sleeping to holding down employment long enough to establish a home.

You smell, your clothes are dirty, everything is riddled with bedbugs, you're probably not properly nourished, you're exhausted, you're probably in physical pain, and most of your time is used up with things like walking to the next soup kitchen for your next meal.

The stability of being properly housed is, for most people, a necessary precursor for holding down work.


So would you say you're happy & satisfied to live in a society where people must work under threat of dying in the streets? Try to imagine a better world. People should work because they choose to, not at gunpoint.

I don't feel it's unfair that someone is given a house, even though I "worked for it" (among many other factors which culminated in my not being homeless). Would you mind unpacking why you feel that way?


"People should work because they choose to, not at gunpoint."

Ultimately taxes are collected at gunpoint too, and collecting more taxes to pay for free apartments for the homeless and other welfare spending means more coercion.


Here, let me help you: try to imagine a society in which you want to live, not a random bunch of ideas like "taxation is theft at gunpoint" without regard to where that would lead.


A more just society, where if you choose not to work, you don’t eat.


Some people have inherited wealth, and choose not to work. Why do the circumstances of their birth make them entitled to a more comfortable life than anyone else? Luck isn't justice.

Some people are physically incapable of working. Would it be just for them to die?

Advances in automation continue to magnify the productivity of our workers. Many jobs have already been consigned to history forever with simple machines. One day, we may hardly need anyone to work at all to satisfy our consumption.

Our society already generates a surplus of all the necessities of life; there is no innate physical reason why it must be structured as a zero-sum game.


It's not structured as a zero-sum game.

Unless you take money from some people and give it to people who don't feel like working. That would be zero-sum.


Your premise is incorrect: it originated in the US and is the single most effective, lowest cost method we have to address homelessness[1].

It is, in fact, cheaper than shelter [2].

"People not contributing to society"? Really? Perhaps if they had a home they could get a job? I invite you to go to an actual homeless shelter near you and talk to the people there. Ask them what it's like to try to find a job while living in a shelter.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_First#Evidence_and_out... [2] https://www.centerforhealthjournalism.org/resources/lessons/...


They're different because they have compassion and empathy? Yeah we could have that too if this toxic, hateful, cruel attitude you describe didn't exist.


Yes.




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