norway sinks again

Last year, the NYT published an article by Bruce Bawer that fed into the perennial rightwing American suspicion that Europe never did recover from WWII, due to the terrible socialists. Bawer’s article made various claims that had been touted by some Ayn Randish Swede think tank (literally -- the think tank had commissioned translations of Ms. Rand's works), and supplemented it with his own witness, as a man who lives in the terrible slum of the Nordic country:

“In Oslo, library collections are woefully outdated, and public swimming pools are in desperate need of maintenance. News reports describe serious shortages of police officers and school supplies. When my mother-in-law went to an emergency room recently, the hospital was out of cough medicine. Drug addicts crowd downtown Oslo streets, as The Los Angeles Times recently reported, but applicants for methadone programs are put on a months-long waiting list.

After I moved here six years ago, I quickly noticed that Norwegians live more frugally than Americans do. They hang on to old appliances and furniture that we would throw out. And they drive around in wrecks. In 2003, when my partner and I took his teenage brother to New York -- his first trip outside of Europe -- he stared boggle-eyed at the cars in the Newark Airport parking lot, as mesmerized as Robin Williams in a New York grocery store in ''Moscow on the Hudson.''

One image in particular sticks in my mind. In a Norwegian language class, my teacher illustrated the meaning of the word matpakke -- ''packed lunch'' -- by reaching into her backpack and pulling out a hero sandwich wrapped in wax paper. It was her lunch. She held it up for all to see.”

The shivering masses over there could obviously use some good old fashioned American politics. Tax cuts for the wealthy. Privatization, and letting the magic of the marketplace turn desolate cities like Oslo into wealthy, happy cities like New Orleans.

But such things are a bit too much to hope for, in the face of the incredible communistic propaganda machine that carefully places chips in the heads of those readers in the Oslo public library and even in the few, the very few, who get to see the wonders of American capitalism. How else to explain the facts reported in today’s Guardian?

“Kjell Magne Bondevik's centre-right coalition government, which campaigned on promises of tax cuts, was beaten by a leftwing opposition bloc.
Mr Bondevik made his announcement after a count of more than 99% of the vote showed Jens Stoltenberg's Red-Green three-party alliance had gained 87 seats in the 169-seat assembly.
The opposition bloc won the vote on its promises to spend more of the oil-rich country's money on its already generous welfare system. Offshore oil platforms have made it the world's third-largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia.”

The pauvre Norwegians, addled no doubt by the national addiction to heroine, got the tax argument backasswards. Taxing the wealthy, as Grover Norquist has conclusively demonstrated, is morally on par with killing Jews in Auschwitz. Thus, one would think that the humanitarian strain in the Norwegian heart would have been touched by the government’s attempt to make up for this black mark in Norwegian history. But no!

“Much of the election debate focused on how to use the oil income, and Mr Bondevik's campaign was hurt by claims that his tax cuts had only helped the rich.”

A black day indeed. We hope Mr. Bawer is brave enough to remain at his post and report on the further sinking of Norway into the sea of poverty. His blog hasn't emanated any signals of distress, but we have hopes that the Times will kindly lend him a forum to explain how, now, Norway is economically lower than Upper Volta.


Deleted said…
This is the same man, I believe, who wrote an article for Salon explaining how the homophobic practices of the fundies and wingnuts made it necessary for him to remain in the scandinavian hellhole.
Brian Miller said…
My brother, a hard core libertarian who yet somehow strongly supports the vacuum-in-chief, just got back from Stockholm and Helsinki. Admittedly, this was a tourist's impression, but he mournfully stated that the energy in evil socialist Sweden was such that he could easily move there.
Brian Miller said…
The other thing I can't figure out is when wasteful spending, profligacy if you will, was a conservative value. Most economists agree that the United States is heading for a crash (irresponsible people like me will be hurtin'for sure) Aren't restaurant-going, clubbing bohemians the "enemy"? People should be eating at their desks, working during lunch hour for "the company," not imbibing at restaurants or taking a siesta like the Spaniards do.:)
roger said…
Brian, I don't know if I can go along with a program that forbids imbibing at lunch. Surely this is the golden path to higher productivity! I can testify that imbibing at lunch has kept me from quitting many of the jobs that I eventually quit -- Q.E.D.
Brian Miller said…
Can I forward your post to our Human Resources Department? Of course, I am already violating policy by posting at work, so :)
Anonymous said…
Oh, those poor Norwegans, only the third wealthiest country in the world. If only they followed our example they might become, um, the fourth.