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Friday, December 02, 2011

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Horse

I would advise you to take some of the Nordic success stories with a pinch of salt. You wouldn't go to Westminster and expect to get a balanced, objective view of English or British society, so you should be more critical of what decision-makers say about their own countries.

For example, you mention that most flats in Oslo are run by co-operatives, presumably referring to OBOS. This sounds very egalitarian until you're a new buyer trying to buy an OBOS property only to be told that someone with higher "seniority" has elbowed you out of the running. (OBOS have actually been running a television advert where a boy gets OBOS membership at his confirmation. I don't think this is as amusing as they think it is if your principal consideration is a properly functioning market.) You should note that in Oslo's property market, demand outstrips supply, and yet the council is happy to hand over land for free to a local football club via a non-profit entity for profitable exploitation - something approximating to fraud or corruption - while providing no such favours to student organisations, amongst whose members the demand for housing is acute. Many people are either priced out of the market or forced to pay property bubble prices.

You also mention Statoil as a success - not surprising given the amount of oil they've had to work with - but don't mention the corrupting influence such partly state-owned businesses, accounting for the bulk of the Norwegian economy, have on political decision-making. In the face of a decision that involves saying no to, for example, Arctic drilling or fish farming (another unsustainable practice that seeks to make easy money on the back of someone else's poverty and a dodgy final product), ministers are more likely to choose the one that keeps the money coming and doesn't involve awkward questions. The Norwegian public sector dominates the economy; it can be argued that this is not necessarily beneficial now, and won't be when there is less oil money to spend on bureaucracy in future.

Many people in Norway often ignore the big picture, and while there's plenty of money, many people don't bother to ask serious questions (like things such as corruption or sustainability). Fortunately, there are plenty of people who can see past the collective sense of self-satisfaction. You should be listening to those people because no-one is going to magic up trillions of Euros of free money to play with in the event of Scottish independence.

Dodie

Thank you. Just woke up to these comments. They mean a lot.Here, of crsuoe, there are no other news. All news media have dropped everything else for this. It felt like this huge relief yesterday, when they showed five minutes of Tour de France.(RAMBLING ALERT: Further descriptions from "on the ground" below. Somehow it helps telling it to someone who isn't Norwegian, and isn't in the middle of 24 hour updates. There's no obligation to read on, obviously.)I feel really sorry for the defense attorney. It's so obvious that he doesn't want to be there, and that he's dreading having to do his job. I think the rest of the country understands - there's been emphasis on the fact that this was an attack on our political system, on our open society, and how important it is that we stay open and democratic. That he gets a trial and an attorney. My facebook is full results from a poll: "should we bring back the death penalty in order to punish ABB?" 80-90% no. 10% yes, the rest on "maybe". I'm so proud of my nation during all of this.Watching repeats of the memorial service from this morning. Prime minister has trouble controlling his voice, tells openly about some of those he knew at Utf8ya. It's heartbreaking. He quotes one of the survivors: "If this one man can spread so much hate, think how much love we can all show together."

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