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Thursday's papers: Financing the welfare state, legal corruption and Stone Age farmers

Low employment levels threaten welfare services, a researcher challenges the integrity of Finland's legal system and Åland's Stone Age farmers.

Jari-Vähkyrä-ja-Laura-Ohenoja-onkivat Kierikin rannassa iijoella kivikautisissa varusteissa.
New findings suggest that hunter-gatherers in present-day Finland learned how to cultivate cereal already 5,000 years ago. Image: Sami Viljanmaa / Kierikkikeskus

Business daily Kauppalehti’s editorial takes a critical view of political debates leading up to next month’s parliamentary elections. KL says political parties can’t see the forest from the trees, as political discussions have become too granular while ignoring the bigger problem of dwindling state coffers.

KL asserts that with its relatively low employment rate of 72 percent, Finland can’t afford to maintain the same level of welfare services as Norway, Denmark and Sweden, which have higher GDP per capita. Sweden’s employment rate is around 78 percent.

The editorial warns against raising taxes to buffer public funds since Finland already suffers from brain drain as taxes influence where people work and live.

Crossing the line?

When the country’s small pool of tax experts counsel corporate clients on tax planning while potentially influencing tax laws, a conflict of interest is inherent, writes Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

HBL dissects Santtu Raitasuo's study, which homed in on the double role tax lawyers often occupy in Finland.

Raitasuo argued that when the same legal experts that advise corporations also serve as opinion leaders in the field, the scales may be tipped in favour of corporate clients’ interests in tax disputes.

Finland currently ranks third after Denmark and New Zealand in Transparency International's worldwide corruption index.

Finland's Stone Age farmers

New DNA evidence suggests that maritime hunter-gatherers on the Åland Islands cultivated barley 5,000 years ago, which is 1,500 years earlier than previous studies about cereal cultivation on mainland Finland have suggested, reports agricultural newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus.

Published in Scientific Reports, a peer-reviewed journal, a team of Finnish and Swedish archaeologists argue that cereal use was intended for ritual feasts, when cereal products could have been consumed with pork.

Scientists previously struggled to prove that Neolithic hunter-gatherer communities knew how to farm in the latter part of the Stone Age.

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