Estonia has followed Scandinavia's trend of banning smoking in indoor public places.* Great.
There's so much more that can be done. Little things that make life better for a greater number of people. Things that hew to principles that help make the world a better place.
Ending alcohol sales at 8pm is not one of them, of course. It's narrow-minded, reactionary and not consistently applied. But the point is it was done. It was possible, in one fell swoop. There was grumbling, but people got used to it. Banning alcohol in Tallinn seems quixotic to an extreme, but for three or four days last year, sales were banned entirely. And (to way oversimplify) people stopped rioting.
The items on this recurrent list are just as possible. In the great division of things of the Serenity Prayer -- things we have the power to change and things we cannot -- these are things we should NOT be serene about. We should do them (or start doing them) and get it over with.
1. "Torpedo" the container terminal planned at Muuga. And boycott Chinese goods in general.
I couldn't believe there was no negative reaction to the news the day an agreement with China's fourth largest port was signed, at least not in the two major dailies. This port serves only two purposes: entry of more Chinese goods into Europe and sweeteners for Estonian port officials.
I realize Estonia's government consists largely of former reform communists, but how can anyone even remotely aware of Baltic history condone our coziness with the People's Republic? It causes me physical pain. It is as if we are sending Estonian troops into Lhasa to smash Buddhist temples, over and over again.
What you can do -- if you think that you are not going to be able to stop a port the size of the Kopli peninsula from being built -- is look at the labels when you go to the store and say no, if you can. This is one country that no one should be supporting due to its record on human rights and the environment, least of all bloggers or people who read blogs.
No one even remembers, but some of the Baltics had diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The day they were cut off is a unexplained blot of shame.
2. No tax on reinvested profits. Rather than establish a 10% tax, which won't endear us to the EU and will generate a lot of headaches for companies starting next year -- at a time when the economy is slowing -- Estonia should continue on its same course. Don't tax money that stays in. Tell France and Germany to stuff it. Instead, maybe establish a 10% social tax on dividends (not 33%), and establish better tax audits. And of course, go after those companies that haven't submitted an annual report in four years.
3. Just abolish the presidency already. Estonia now has a repatriated-expat president, de rigueur for the Baltics lately. Let him be the last one. It would be understandable if the president retained some constitutional power, even as the "midwife of democracy", but Ilves has even abdicated the president's role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He might as well step down now.
Estonia has enough rich people and a nice healthy gap between the haves and the have-nots, like most countries. We don't need one more symbolic fat cat with a country home and a palace in town, who does I-don't-know-what all day on taxpayer time. The only thing I am aware of is that he contributed recipes to culinary magazines and occasionally he pops up with a statement or speech on holidays and events in which he seems to be speaking for all Estonians.
Under the 1920 Constitution, Estonia didn't have a de jure head of state. Let's be unique that way again.
Unless we have a war hero who has led forces into battle against the Russians. No one else should have ten years paid for by us.
And I won't entertain arguments about how lobbying and intelligence activity are the equivalent of such heroism, though I'm sure they played an important role in hastening the demise of the USSR like so many demolition charges placed in a condemned building.
* Apart from the fact that non-smokers don't have to smell other people's trash fires while we are eating, even many inveterate smokers-drinkers are happy -- they say a break outside revitalizes a long encampment at a public house just as well as changing venues does on a pub crawl.