Coded gray.

Thursday 7 September 2000

Football field

Pic of the day: This is as far as I go in sports news - I turn the radio off as soon as I hear someone who is impressed by people running after a ball and such.

News from Norway

Since over half of my readers seem to be from abroad (and not just any broad, but mainly from the southern states of the USA for some reason) I thought I'd comment on some of the stuff that occupies our news here in Norway.

We don't have a presidential election here. In fact, we're a monarchy, sort of, with king and queen and even a palace. Now in all honesty the king has very little political power, he's more like a symbol of the nation's unity. (And that's something we really need.) The king & queen also have two grownup children, a prince and a princess, both young and healthy and goodlooking. No big surprise then that the national news are very excited these days, as crown prince Haakon Magnus is preparing to move in with his girlfriend Mette-Marit.

Most people are happy as can be (except the many women who hoped for the prince for themselves, as he's considered handsome). Even the king seems to think it's a reasonably good thing. But the nation's christians are alarmed, and particularly in the Church of Norway, the big state-controlled church which is officially headed by the King. Bishops twitch at the idea that they henceforth will not be allowed to call people fornicators when they live together in quasi-marriages, since people will justly point out that the head of the church does that too. (I guess this just goes to show that you shouldn't have christian churches headed by anyone except Christ.)


In other national news, the minority Labor government has proposed a tax on stock dividends. The problem with this is that the companies already pay this tax before they pay out the dividend. Evidently this is too complicated to understand for the people who Labor consider their core voters. So now there may be paid tax twice, heavily distorting the way people organize their business here in Norway, and chasing investors out from our opulent little kingdom.

More likely the minority government hopes that the stupid proposal will be shot down by the parties that represent the less retarded populace. It seemst to be pure symbol politics. Tellingly, the Oslo Stock Exchange has completely ignored the tax proposal, which indicates that very few businessmen believe it will survive. Of course, it could just be the irrational exuberance that seems to possess OSE these days.


The Labor Party has been plummeting in gallups recently. Instead, voters flock to the Progress Party. Often portrayed as some vaguely racist right-wing group of weirdos, it is actually mainly inspired by the Republicans of the USA. (Yes, I think there is a difference between these two descriptions.) The party wants to cut taxes of every kind right now, and give back to the people the oil fund which stores some of our oil revenue for later pensions. There is also a strong belief that both taxes and public bureaucracy can be significantly reduced without loss of service to the public. Heh.

The other parties generally believe that if the oil fund is given back to the people, then the people will drink it up or otherwise spend it on short term luxury. Then when they grow old, they will have neither savings nor pensions. To a large extent I believe this is true. Not all of the people, but enough to make a partial tragedy.

We had something similar going on in the mid to late 1980es. Under the old socialist regime, interest rates had been decreed by the state, and banks had been given quotas on lending. With the introduction of market economy in finance, banks lent wildly, and people borrowed wildly. There was a shopping binge, and new business property was being built enough to cater to nearly 10 times our entire population. As the credit ran out, interest rates skyrocketed. People waited for the state to decree lower rates, as it had in the past. This did not happen, and people had to leave their homes or stay there in near poverty, darning their socks until the economy stabilized several years later.


In regional news here from Norway's south coast, a billionaire investor decided to stop all investment in the town of Lillesand after he was criticized for building an illegal structure on his private leisure area outside the town. The man had not notified the town government of his building plans, nor did he bother to apply for a permit after the structure was discovered. When the local government decided not to bend the rules for him privately, he promptly told the regional newspaper that he would stop his planned investment in Lillesand.

Incidentally, the guy's wealth comes from rather obscure companies in the "new economy", and economic journalists have not been able to ascertain whether or not these companies contain any substance. So it may not be quite a crisis.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago

Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

I welcome e-mail:
Back to my home page.