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Sat Jan 30, 2016, 08:56 PM

After Living in Norway, America Feels Backward. Here’s Why.

<Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting true things about America’s disastrous wars and so I left Afghanistan for another remote mountainous country far away. It was the polar opposite of Afghanistan: a peaceful, prosperous land where nearly everybody seemed to enjoy a good life, on the job and in the family.

It’s true that they didn’t work much, not by American standards anyway. In the US, full-time salaried workers supposedly laboring 40 hours a week actually average 49, with almost 20 percent clocking more than 60. These people, on the other hand, worked only about 37 hours a week, when they weren’t away on long paid vacations. At the end of the work day, about four in the afternoon (perhaps three in the summer), they had time to enjoy a hike in the forest or a swim with the kids or a beer with friends — which helps explain why, unlike so many Americans, they are pleased with their jobs.>

<So here’s the big difference: in Norway, capitalism serves the people. The government, elected by the people, sees to that. All eight of the parties that won parliamentary seats in the last national election, including the conservative Høyre party now leading the government, are committed to maintaining the welfare state. In the US, however, neoliberal politics put the foxes in charge of the henhouse, and capitalists have used the wealth generated by their enterprises (as well as financial and political manipulations) to capture the state and pluck the chickens. They’ve done a masterful job of chewing up organized labor. Today, only 11 percent of American workers belong to a union. In Norway, that number is 52 percent; in Denmark, 67 percent; in Sweden, 70 percent.

In the US, oligarchs maximize their wealth and keep it, using the “democratically elected” government to shape policies and laws favorable to the interests of their foxy class. They bamboozle the people by insisting, as Hillary Clinton did at that debate, that all of us have the “freedom” to create a business in the “free” marketplace, which implies that being hard up is our own fault.>

http://billmoyers.com/story/after-living-in-norway-america-feels-backward/

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Reply After Living in Norway, America Feels Backward. Here’s Why. (Original post)
OxQQme Jan 2016 OP
riverbendviewgal Jan 2016 #1
hifiguy Jan 2016 #8
elias49 Jan 2016 #9
Yavin4 Jan 2016 #2
hunter Jan 2016 #10
LittleBlue Jan 2016 #13
hunter Jan 2016 #22
nadinbrzezinski Jan 2016 #25
Yavin4 Jan 2016 #33
hunter Jan 2016 #35
hfojvt Jan 2016 #26
nadinbrzezinski Jan 2016 #27
hfojvt Jan 2016 #28
nadinbrzezinski Jan 2016 #29
Rex Jan 2016 #3
hifiguy Jan 2016 #4
Travis_0004 Jan 2016 #6
hifiguy Jan 2016 #7
NickB79 Jan 2016 #32
hunter Jan 2016 #5
Nye Bevan Jan 2016 #11
LittleBlue Jan 2016 #12
moondust Jan 2016 #14
pampango Jan 2016 #15
malaise Jan 2016 #16
The2ndWheel Jan 2016 #17
ret5hd Jan 2016 #19
The2ndWheel Jan 2016 #23
ronnie624 Jan 2016 #21
The2ndWheel Jan 2016 #24
ronnie624 Jan 2016 #34
WhaTHellsgoingonhere Jan 2016 #18
AngryAmish Jan 2016 #20
LeftishBrit Jan 2016 #30
annabanana Jan 2016 #31

Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:06 PM

1. My Goodness!

This a great article. I am surprised there are no replies.
I grew up in the USA and can relate with the author. I am fortunate to be in the 3 percent who has traveled and experienced and lived in different countries.

Living in Canada is much different than living in the USA. I am happy in Canada. Norway sounds wonderful. I will have to put it on my bucket list.

I sure want the Democratics to win. Bernie would be my choice if I was voting.

My Prime Minister Trudeau is so wonderful after the horrid Harper.

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:35 PM

8. Given the choice of living anywhere in the English-speaking world

 

I would choose Canada or New Zealand. Canadian weather does not scare us Minnesotans.

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:36 PM

9. Well don't expect any replies from the Clinton supporters,

 

they don't like bad news. Hurts their feelings.
I mean, we're talking Hillary! The great and powerful.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:11 PM

2. Norway has a sovereign wealth fund from oil

There's another side to this story. Norway can afford their lifestsyle because of their sovereign wealth from oil. So, yes, they live better than most people in the world, but that's on the back of fossil fuel.


http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/28/norways-giant-oil-fund-sees-biggest-loss-in-4-years.html

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 10:10 PM

10. U.S.A. doesn't have oil and other similar resources?

Hmmm. Maybe it's just that "We The People" are letting the giant corporations rip us off for both our resources AND our labor.

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Response to hunter (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 10:45 PM

13. We don't rely on oil, Norway is heavily dependent on it

 

USA:





Norway:




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Response to LittleBlue (Reply #13)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:13 PM

22. Well, then, shouldn't we have a higher standard of living than Norway???

I stand by what I said. Giant corporations are ripping us off, stealing both our national resources and our labor for the benefit of a few grossly overfed oligarchs and their sycophants.

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Response to LittleBlue (Reply #13)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:42 PM

25. Which should lead to a better standard of liviung

 

with a stronger safety net.

It does not because we pay lip service to democracy, we really don't believe in it, among many other things.

Read a budget, any budget, for any sized government, it will be an exercise in why we are where we are. For the record, I do, two of them from cover to cover every year, the federal budget I admit i skim it, which is far more than 99.9 percent of the population does.

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Response to hunter (Reply #10)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 04:25 PM

33. We do have oil, but until recently we didn't allow it to be exported.

And, you're right, even if we did, the profits would go to the companies, not the people.

But the larger point is, Norway has the quality of life that they have by polluting the planet.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #33)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 04:57 PM

35. And all this time I thought it was because they weren't afraid of socialism...

... and well regulated market economies.

Another factor is abundant hydroelectricity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_sector_in_Norway

But seriously, any nation that can't provide safe comfortable housing, healthy food, appropriate medical care, a good education, and some measure of happiness to every citizen is broken.

I don't believe a nation needs a high energy industrial economy to accomplish those things, but maybe it helps. I suspect Norway would be as nice without the oil and gas, they just wouldn't have so many cars, or fly away so often to warm places for vacation.

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Response to Yavin4 (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:43 PM

26. they would seem to have some inequality as well

The CIA factbook (the only place I know that seems to provide this international data) says that the top 10% in Norway accounted for 21% of the consumer spending whereas the bottom 10% only accounted for 3.9%.

The sad truth about America though is that if we had 30 hour work weeks, a whole bunch of Americans would use their extra time to work 2nd jobs.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #26)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:50 PM

27. The way the economy works right now, absolutely

 

the only way that wold work for Americans would imply huge changes in the economy, starting with minimum wages federal set at 30, with an annual CPI increase to those wages done automatically across the nation to the same level. Realize 1968 was the highest point where the minimum wage was able to buy stuff, depending on who who you read... there are several schools, this ranges from 18 to 25 current dollars.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #27)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 01:16 PM

28. I sorta read with the official CPI

which says the minimum wage of 1968 was $1.6 and that is equal to $10.90 today. Minimum wage is already $9 in California, $9.15 in Connecticut and $9.47 in Washington.

Of course, no amount of money in 1968 would have allowed people to buy even a VCR tape, much less a DVD. The poverty rate was still 10%, better than many other years, but no better than 1998. Bottom 20% only had 4.4% of the national income, compared to 3.4% in 2005. It was better, but it was not like everybody was rich in 1968.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #28)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 01:19 PM

29. Trust me, poverty is a complex issue

 

that includes issues of race (structural racism) as well as concentrated pockets of poverty. But the first step would be to give people a living wage, 30 bucks and hour base, would be a good start.

But they are fighting 15, which is maddening.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:15 PM

3. Well America is a paid for plutocracy, only the dullest dullard would not have noticed by now.

 

Of course those born in the 90s and on have no idea since this is the only America they would know.

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Response to Rex (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:18 PM

4. Indeed.

 

I grew up in the 1960s in a working class family.

We always had a 2-3 year old car and went to the lake most summers. My parents owned a decent house and could save some money. My mom did work, which was a bit unusual.

Try that these days as an ordinary working person.

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Response to hifiguy (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:29 PM

6. You probably had a 2-3 year old car because cars were crap back then

 

The though of a car lasting 100k miles was unheard of.

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Response to Travis_0004 (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:33 PM

7. Bingo.

 

Dad trusted no car with more than 50K on the clock, and he was a mechanic by trade.

Most cars were dead as doornails by 100K back then.

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Response to Travis_0004 (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 04:03 PM

32. The thought of driving 15,000-20,000 miles a year was also unheard of

People simply didn't drive back then like they do today. Very few people had 40-mile commutes, the grocery store was often within walking distance (or at the most a few miles away), shopping malls were non-existent, and the idea of soccer moms shuttling kids to a half-dozen different sports and after-school activities hadn't been thought up yet.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 09:20 PM

5. Doesn't feel backwards, *IS* backwards.


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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 10:26 PM

11. Norway, a capitalist country that is very big on free trade,

proves that capitalism and free trade is not the problem.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 10:40 PM

12. A gallon of milk in Norway averages $6.88

 

Houses in Scandinavia are typically much smaller than ours. On average you will have $8,000 less disposable income per household. And they have a ton of oil. When that runs out, they'll have a significantly lower standard of living.

You pay dearly for those nice things.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sat Jan 30, 2016, 11:27 PM

14. Yep.

Lived in Europe for almost 2 years in the mid 70s and traveled quite a bit. Wished I could have stayed permanently. Never got into the American greed and wealth concentration thing, possibly due to Scandinavian bloodlines.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 07:58 AM

15. "What is it, though, that makes the Scandinavians so different? ... a deep commitment to equality

and democracy. That’s two concepts combined in a single goal because, as far as they are concerned, you can’t have one without the other.

Thanks largely to the solidarity and savvy of organized labor and the political parties it backed, the long struggle produced a system that makes capitalism more or less cooperative, and then redistributes equitably the wealth it helps to produce. Struggles like this took place around the world in the twentieth century, but the Scandinavians alone managed to combine the best ideas of both camps, while chucking out the worst.

Which brings us to the heart of Scandinavian democracy: the equality of women and men. In the 1970s, Norwegian feminists marched into politics and picked up the pace of democratic change. Norway needed a larger labor force, and women were the answer. Housewives moved into paid work on an equal footing with men, nearly doubling the tax base. That has, in fact, meant more to Norwegian prosperity than the coincidental discovery of North Atlantic oil reserves. The Ministry of Finance recently calculated that those additional working mothers add to Norway’s net national wealth a value equivalent to the country’s “total petroleum wealth” — currently held in the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, worth more than $873 billion. By 1981, women were sitting in parliament, in the prime minister’s chair, and in her cabinet.

This little summary just scratches the surface of Scandinavia, so I urge curious readers to Google away. But be forewarned. You’ll find much criticism of all the Nordic Model countries. The structural matters I’ve described — of governance and family — are not the sort of things visible to tourists or visiting journalists, so their comments are often obtuse. Take the American tourist/blogger who complained that he hadn’t been shown the “slums” of Oslo. (There are none.) Or the British journalist who wrote that Norwegian petrol is too expensive. (Though not for Norwegians, who are, in any case, leading the world in switching to electric cars.)

It’s not perfect, of course. It has always been a carefully considered work in progress. Governance by consensus takes time and effort. You might think of it as slow democracy. But it’s light years ahead of us."

Thanks for posting this, OxQQme.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 08:19 AM

16. Excellent Read

Rec

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 10:06 AM

17. A country the size of Montana, with a smaller population than 22 states

Different variables involved. Different histories. Just like it's not always fair to compare two different people, it's not always fair to compare two different countries.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #17)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 10:41 AM

19. Because, as everyone knows...

fairness, equality and true democracy are not scalable.

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Response to ret5hd (Reply #19)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:16 PM

23. It can get tougher as the scale increases in size

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #17)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:02 PM

21. You're implying Norway's smaller population

somehow provides more security for their society than a larger population, but that is at odds with the concept of shared risk, which is what social organization is based on. A bigger population should, based on the shared risk model, increase the security of each individual, by increasing the collective pool of resources and energy.

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Response to ronnie624 (Reply #21)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 12:24 PM

24. Like China or India

Or most of the countries within shouting distance of the US in terms of population. A bigger population can also decrease the value or need of each individual, because there's always the next person waiting.

It's a complex equation. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, worse, etc. Nor does smaller. Norway exists in the context it exists in, and it's difficult to say this or that country should just be like them. Various factors, different factors, play into each and every case.

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Response to The2ndWheel (Reply #24)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 04:26 PM

34. Norway and the US are rich Western countries

with more resources per capita than China and India. There is no rational excuse for the US not providing basic goods and services like healthcare and retirement for every member of our society,

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 10:23 AM

18. I met a pair of Norwegian women on holiday in Chicago

 

they were mezmorised by Chicago and comparing it favorably to Norway. They said the social safety net prevents people from being driven. But they also noted that they'd never seen so many homeless people as they've seen in Chicago. I said, that's the trade off we prefer: high highs and low lows over moderation, happiness, and taking care of our own. I told them the excess here is revolting. They totally got it and starter thinking better about socialism. Then I turned the subject to foreclosures. Rampant here, what about Norway? Unheard of. Maybe one or two total. So I told them it's big business here! Assets are created and bets are placed on foreclosures. Bankers and brokers win! That turned them off, too.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 10:52 AM

20. Sitting upon a giant lake of oil helps.

 

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 01:40 PM

30. I love Norway

If I wasn't so allergic to cold winters, I might have seriously thought of trying to move there.

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Response to OxQQme (Original post)

Sun Jan 31, 2016, 03:38 PM

31. kick . . .n/t

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