Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Please close your eyes for a moment and imagine a paradise…..


Doesn’t your image closely resemble a lush tropical island with palms and sandy beaches?

Didn’t you imagine being somewhere in the Polynesia, Hawaii, Thailand or the Caribbean? Hmmm……..

Now close your eyes and imagine a cold, cold country with lots and lots of forests, thinly interspersed with small villages and a handful of medium size cities. The people there are - statistically at least - well taken care of by their government, have access to education, health care, good quality housing, long vacations and even decent paying jobs. Is that what you’d call a paradise?

The length of the day there is -during summer - more than impressive - it’s unbelievable. Yet, in winter, even in the southern part of the country, the daylight begins around 9 am and ends before 4 pm.

You notice that people, no matter how well taken care of, do not exhibit anything even remotely reminding of a joje de vivre - they are serious, if not gloomy, listen to melancholy songs all day and night long and are prone to alcoholism of a rather joyless variety : in its crudest form straight vodka (good one, though), on a street corner or in a portal of a building, from a bottle hidden in a brown paper bag.

I have been there - it is a beautiful country, full of the wild, stark beauty, thousands of lakes among the deep, dark woods… and filled with honest, friendly, hospitable people. But is it a paradise?

And yet, according to a country ranking based on a combination of UN Human Development Index and the Environmental Sustainability Index created by Yale and Columbia Universities and the World Economic Forum, if you are searching for the best quality of life ( wouldn’t it be the definition of paradise - a place with the best quality of life?) you need to move to Finland, or - in a descending order - Iceland, Norway, Sweden or Austria.

All winter paradises, perhaps. But if you are fond of islands, palms, tropics, what do you do?
I think someone in Puerto Rico had an ingenious idea of remaking Puerto Rico based on Finland as a model (see former post: Stagflation??? Tsunami???).

How could it look like? Let’s see…

First, all the high quality of life paradises have abundant natural values - so does Puerto Rico, so here we don’t have to do much.

Next - they all have very low population density. Puerto Rico has one of the world’s highest.
So, what do we do?

I have an idea: lets make a "Paradise Union" between Finland and Puerto Rico and ship the majority of Puerto Rico’s population to Finland. Finland still would have a very low population density, but now so would Puerto Rico. (And would everybody be happy?)

Third: open a rum distillery in Finland and let relocated Puerto Ricans teach Finns how to have fun on the lighter side, without necessarily always combining it with transcendental meditation of one kind or another. Lets combine sappy sentimentality with the lightness of carefree living!

Fourth: since the named ranking lists Stockholm and not Helsinki
as the most livable city in the world, we’d probably need to make a separate Stockholm-San Juan Union … or make first Helsinki a bit more like Stockholm and then make a Helsinki-San Juan Union as a part of the larger Finland- Puerto Rico Union.

Hmm, I've got to attend to my final preparations for moving to Puerto Rico, but I hope that you got ideas - even better than mine - on how can we improve Puerto Rico based on Finland and/or how to improve San Juan based on Stockholm.

So please, be my guest and post your ideas here as comments. And remember - dream big!

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