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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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OxQQme Jan 2016 OP
riverbendviewgal Jan 2016 #1
hifiguy Jan 2016 #8
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