Even if you could find out how much money your neighbors made last year and have stashed in banks, would you? As you contemplate your answer, people all over Finland are doing exactly that . Each November, the government releases the records of all taxpayers, and the newspapers rush them into print, sometimes in fat supplements. The data also are available via cellphone service providers and over the Internet. Nor is there room for confusion . If several people share the same name, they're conveniently identified by address, job, and year of birth. The tax-evaders? They're listed too - especially if they choose to beat the system by living abroad. The only hitch: It's year-old information . The top income tax rate in Finland, a nation of 5 million people, is 60 percent. Said one newspaper editor: "This is your chance to see if you're keeping up with the Joneses."
Reporters Without Borders is one group that doesn't take freedom of the press for granted. For the fourth year, it has compiled a World Press Freedom Index that ranks 167 countries on the basis of how freely the news media are able to operate. Seven European countries share the highest mark: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland. The US fell more than 20 places to 44th as court pressures mounted for reporters to divulge their confidential sources. Then there are the "black holes," where privately owned media and freedom of expression are nonexistent. North Korea rates as the worst in this category. The countries that rank lowest in the Press Freedom Index: