Of Norway, petrodollars, free education, etc.

One of my old high school friends, an ardent liberal, posted the following on his Facebook page:

Norway smart - America stupid

Doesn’t that just make so much sense? Give free education and your nation will be wonderful.  Of course, both “Mr. Silhouette” and the friend who posted it suffer from no small amount of ignorance in making that assertion.  For one thing, I’m virtually certain that they don’t know that Norway can offer this free education, as well as a variety of other social benefits, in significant part because it’s floating away on an incredibly profitable sea of petrodollars.  Were Obama to allow the Keystone pipeline, we might be able to fund a few more educational opportunities in this country too.

The other thing that the cartoonist ignores is that Norway is a petite country (4,722,701 people compared to America’s 316,668,567).  More than that, Norway has a staggeringly homogenous population.  According to the CIA World Fact Book, the population breakdown for Norway is “Norwegian 94.4% (includes Sami, about 60,000), other European 3.6%, other 2% (2007 estimate).”  The numbers are a bit different for America:  “white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% (July 2007 estimate).”  Even that’s misleading, because it’s just skin color (whites and blacks), and broad racial classification (Asian, Amerindian, Alaska native, etc.).  This breakdown utterly fails to take into account America’s cultural melting pot, with our genetic and cultural mix representing people from every corner of the earth.

The population differences between the two countries mean that, in America, it’s very difficult to convince everyone to do the same thing at the same time.  In Norway, on the other hand, people are practically born in lock-step.  (And don’t even get me started on Leftist educational trends in America that involve everything but education, or on the fact that we force non-academically inclined students into academic classes when they should be learning a trade.)

Finally, what neither Mr. Silhouette or my friend know is that Norway is having sufficient problems with its socialism — and that’s despite the fact that petrodollars are paying for the costly luxury that is socialism — that it is starting to turn right politically, away from socialism:

This country was transformed by the discovery of huge oil deposits off its shores in 1969. Although Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil, was quickly established to lead the development of the new oil discoveries, the industry has been open to private investment and participation on a scale seldom found outside the United States. That has led to an extremely efficient and profitable energy sector, which provides 36 percent of the national government’s revenue. The Government Pension Fund, into which much of the oil profits are channeled, had $445 billion in assets in 2010 and represented nearly 2 percent of the equity in European stock markets. The value of the pension fund’s assets approximately equals the value of all the real estate in Manhattan.

“Oil has turned Norway from a sleepy, largely rural economy into an economic powerhouse,” says Norwegian businessman Olaf Halvorssen. “So much money comes in to the government that Norway has largely escaped the trimming of the welfare state that many other European countries are going through.”

But more and more people recognize that the oil wealth won’t last forever, and a real debate is just starting in this country of 4.9 million people over what direction its economy should go. Norway will be holding elections for Parliament on September 9, just two weeks before Germany votes. If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

This trend is occurring despite the fact that, so far, Norway’s economy has not only been stable, but it’s been growing at twice America’s 1.5% growth rate:

This country was transformed by the discovery of huge oil deposits off its shores in 1969. Although Norway’s state-owned oil company, Statoil, was quickly established to lead the development of the new oil discoveries, the industry has been open to private investment and participation on a scale seldom found outside the United States. That has led to an extremely efficient and profitable energy sector, which provides 36 percent of the national government’s revenue. The Government Pension Fund, into which much of the oil profits are channeled, had $445 billion in assets in 2010 and represented nearly 2 percent of the equity in European stock markets. The value of the pension fund’s assets approximately equals the value of all the real estate in Manhattan.

“Oil has turned Norway from a sleepy, largely rural economy into an economic powerhouse,” says Norwegian businessman Olaf Halvorssen. “So much money comes in to the government that Norway has largely escaped the trimming of the welfare state that many other European countries are going through.”

But more and more people recognize that the oil wealth won’t last forever, and a real debate is just starting in this country of 4.9 million people over what direction its economy should go. Norway will be holding elections for Parliament on September 9, just two weeks before Germany votes. If polls taken over the last year are accurate, the eight-year-old Labor-party government of Jens Stoltenberg is headed for a landslide defeat.

Please read more of John Fund’s article to learn about the sea change taking place in Norway.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  if my Leftist friends put up a snarky political poster on their Facebook page, it’s invariably factual deficient or logically flawed.

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Comments

  1. Gringo says

    I have gotten to the stage of rolling my eyes when I encounter Euro-crits.
    Why do I respond in this manner? Because at one time I attempted “dialogue” with Euro-crits.
    Bruce Bawer has had some rather pithy criticisms of Norway.

  2. jj says

    Points:
    (A) Norway is a toy.  4.7 million?  There are more people in Manhattan between 59th and 79th streets than there are in their entire alleged country.  More diversity, too.
    (B) So, not to be a prick or anything, recount five major contributions to the world (any field: medicine, astronomy, physics, haggis, ski jumping – anything, I’m reasonable) these brilliantly educated Norwegians have made in the last century.  Name three.
    (C) Can any of these splendidly educated fellows arrive at a reasonable estimate of the cost of preserving their freedom in the 68 years since 1945?  In other words, what would the “national defense” line in their national budget look like, just supposing, by some crazy chance, there was one.
    (D) Any of this splendid free education include anything about basic manners?  Has anybody in Norway ever managed a “oh, by the way, thanks for picking that up for us these last 68 years” to America?  Even once?
    (E) I’m not particularly a tree-hugger, (which is of course baloney – or even bologna.  I was raised on a farm, which makes me by nature interested in conservation), but I’m not in favor of pointless slaughter, either.  The world seems to have moved beyond the need for whale oil in its lamps, and I’d be perfectly okay with Paul Whatever-his-name-is and his people mounting a 5-inch on Sea Shepherd for their encounters with Japanese whalers.  All the world has (mostly, you have never been able to trust the goddam Russians on any subject at any time) renounced whaling, with the exceptions of Japan – and, ta-da: Norway.  F*** you, Norway, and your goddam whaling fleet, and the bullshit you spin to justify its existence, and your crappy atitude in general.
    Very little interest in Scandinavia.  Very little tolerance for listening to nonsense from them.  They incline me to be impolite.
     
     
     

  3. erisguy says

    I must say i agree completely with silhouette man.
    We should fund education for all American who want it. That’s education, not what we have now.
    The first step would be abolishing all non-education items wrongly attached to colleges and universities: studies departments, closed, all employees permanently terminated and barred for life from any education position; English, economics, history departments purged of deconstructionists, feminists, Marxists and all other idiotic ideologies, again with all such people barred for life from education, etc. etc. Terminate all intercollegiate athletics.
    The second step would be requiring mathematics through calculus for all university students. You’re not educated until you understand math. Then the same for the sciences: a year of real (not ‘jock’) geology (so students understand about oil), physics, chemistry, computer science, biology etc.
    I have little doubt that the US will improve under such a program. And have an elite worthy of name.

  4. erisguy says

    It’s amusing that Sweden is shadowed on silhouette man’s map.
     
    In 1914 when democracies opposed monarchies and put and end to the divine right of kings, Sweden choose to stay neutral. In 1939 when democracies opposed national socialism, Sweden chose to stay neutral. In 1945 when democracies opposed international socialism, Sweden pretended to be neutral but sided with Soviet Russia in its diplomacy. And now admirers of Sweden wish to lecture us on Swedish morality. Swedes are totalitarians and cowards.

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    JJ says, “So, not to be a prick or anything, recount five major contributions to the world (any field: medicine, astronomy, physics, haggis, ski jumping – anything, I’m reasonable) these brilliantly educated Norwegians have made in the last century.  Name three.”
     
    Heh! Let me stick the knife in even further and twist…
     
    As compared to…Israel, for example. 

  6. Gringo says

    jj
    (B) So, not to be a prick or anything, recount five major contributions to the world (any field: medicine, astronomy, physics, haggis, ski jumping – anything, I’m reasonable) these brilliantly educated Norwegians have made in the last century.  Name three.
    1)Lutefisk
    2) Norwegian Bachelor Farmer humor as shown in Prairie Home Companion
    3)  Lutefisk

  7. JKB says

    Danny Lemieux,
     
    Unfair comparing them to Israel.  They don’t have a significant Jewish populations so really can’t compete.  
     
    I always like this quote from the movie, ‘Ice Station Zebra’
    Patrick Magoohan (British spy) is speaking to Rock Hudson (American submarine commander) about a Russian satellite.
    David Jones: The Russians put our camera made by *our* German scientists and your film made by *your* German scientists into their satellite made by *their* German scientists.
    You really need to put “Jewish” between “German” and “scientists” to make that statement accurate.  German part brought meticulousness and precision, but the Jewish part brought the innovation and cutting edge.

  8. JKB says

    They speak of providing an education but they really mean schooling.  Education cannot be given.  It is a pursuit as individual as the person.  Schooling can provide some clue to the student on how to order their thoughts, induce within them disciplined ways to weigh and consider, even as a remnant provide a thin layer of knowledge.  But the student cannot be given an education.  In fact, the very methods used to school the student damage them for pursuing their education.  
     
    What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books. 
    Thomas Carlyle 
     
    Read not to contradict and confute; 
    nor to believe and take for granted; 
    nor to find talk and discourse; 
    but to weigh and consider.
    - Bacon

  9. Libby says

    Left unmentioned by “Silhouette Man” is Norway’s spending on educating its immigrant population (part of the welfare state that Fund mentions). Sadly, it is yielding little results, probably in part because unlike your facebook friend, these immigrants do not believe in the cultural superiority. From a Finansavisen series published earlier this year (translation found at Gates of Vienna http://tinyurl.com/lr3398y):
    “In a series of articles in the last month entitled “the cost of immigration”, Finansavisen revealed that the various integration schemes costs tens of billions and that the results are rather startling….
    On Wednesday the newspaper revealed that the government has spent NoK 2 million on each newly arrived non-Western immigrant to get them to into the workforce or to take up studies. But despite these efforts fewer immigrants end up working or studying, according to figures released by the Bureau of Statistics in Norway (SSB).”
    How long can they sustain these education costs?

  10. Charles Martel says

    Leftists are the biggest practitioners of magical thinking on the planet:
     
    “The fetus becomes a person when the mother says so. If she calls it a baby, it lives. If not, it can legally be  disassembled and removed.”
     
    “Faith is for fools. I have no doubt that our government is doing all it can to reduce poverty and eliminate racism.”
     
    “The Wizard says that this here paper, called a diploma, means I’m educated.”
     

  11. Gringo says

    “You spend more on your prisons than on your own students”
     
    This is a highly debatable point. I have neither the time nor expertise to  extensively debate it. Nonetheless, I found it interesting to find a Web article that discussed 10 STATES THAT SPEND MORE ON PRISONS THAN EDUCATION.
     
    I then found out how these states voted in the 2012 Presidential elections. Of the 10 states that “spend more on prisons than education,”  8 voted for Obama. Which suggests that if spending more on prisons than education is something that exists in the US, it is is a phenomena that is much more likely to occur in states that voted for Obama than in states that did not vote for Obama. So much for the meanie Republicans and the compassionate Democrats.
     
    California: Obama
    Vermont:Obama
    Pennsylvania:Obama
    Delaware:Obama
    Rhode Island:Obama
    New York:Obama
    Michigan:Obama
    Georgia: Romney
    Arizona:Romney
    Washington:Obama
    http://takingthefifth-acriminallawblog.com/2012/09/03/10-states-that-spend-more-on-prisons-than-education/

  12. Caped Crusader says

    Don’t you just love the attitude of freeloading cowards who have not lifted a finger to defend their country or freedom since 1945; and some longer than that. They would have spent the last few generations in a Soviet archipelago but for American blood, sweat, and tears.
     
    Brings to mind this joke once received:
     
    An American was interviewing a British officer and inquired as to why they often wore red coats making themselves better targets. “Sir, we do that so if we are hit and bleeding the men will not see it and panic and we can still lead the assault. And that my dear sir is why until this very day French officers wear brown pants!”.

  13. says

    What it would take to change this country would indeed look something like Eris described.
     
    However, so long as the Left exists, reform and change is IMPOSSIBLE. 
     
    That’s a hard fact that nobody, barring the art of war, can change.

  14. Wolf Howling says

    Yet another thing that ought to stick in the craw of those of us reading “silhouette man’s” commentary is that bit about defense spending.  Though we are going to see severe degradation to our military in the upcoming decades, thanks to Obama’s cuts and social engineering, the bottom line is that, for the last six decades, we have given the Europeans a pass on their own defense.  We have underwritten their experiment in socialism and multiculturalism, even as we have been the penultimate objects of their derision.  The only European nation with anything close to a functioning military of sufficient size to actually defend itself is the UK, and even that is just barely true.  We really could lower our defense spending exponentially if we took the defense of Europe off the table as one of our primary missions.  I’ve been advocating that as an option for years now.  Even Romney, in his plank, was advocating requiring NATO nations to up defense spending to a whopping 3% of their GDP, if I recall correctly.      

  15. secondcareerteacher says

    Several years ago we hosted a Norwegian exchange student for one year of high school. She just graduated from the University of Bergen, Norway. In spite of, theoretically, being debt-free, her free educational dollars, er, kroner haven’t prevented her from ending up like so many American post-grads: back home mooching off mom and dad while she figures out what she wants to do with her life.

  16. Garm says

    A couple of points:
     
    Norways oil income isn’t spent, but saved. The resulting sovereign wealth fund, colloquially known as the pension fund, owns almost 2 % of all publically listed stock on the planet. But the petrodollars don’t got to fund social policies. Thats what taxes are for. Note that Denmark, Sweden, Germany, etc all have free education with no oil.
     
    Some elections the conservatives win. Some Labour wins. When the conservatives win, it doesn’t mean that Norway has “turned away from socialism” any more than a Labour win means Norway has turned away from capitalism. The distance between the parties just isn’t that big.
    Also, sociaism is when the government owns all the companies. North Korea and Cuba are examples of how that works. Norway is quite capitalist. What you are talking about in your post is social policies. The name sounds similar, but having those is actually not the same as socialism.
     
    On the subject of military expenditure, it is true that Western Europe has drawn considerable benefit from it alliance with the US. However, it is also true that not everyone has lets their military budgets decline because of it. Norways military budget is bigger than South Africa or Indonesia. It is in fact, among the top 30 in the world.
     
    Also, remember that more Norwegian soldiers have bled and died for the US in Afganhanistan than US soldiers for Norway during the cold war.

    • says

      Thank you, Garm, for that information. I have to admit that, while I found Norway incredibly beautiful, I tend to be grumpy and negative about countries that trade in antisemitism. I know that has nothing to do with political parties, and oil savings, or even Norwegian soldiers in Afghanistan. It’s just that . . . well, I want to find bad things about that country.

      Having said that, facts are facts and I do appreciate being set straight about them.

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