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An Iraqi who saved Norway from oil (2009) (archive.org)
347 points by sndean 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 129 comments

Thanks to everyone who mentioned this in previous comments. It's a fascinating bit of history.


Little throwaway bit:

"Nor was it straightforward to resign from his job. When al-Kasim broke the news to his boss in London, “he said: ‘Damn you, Farouk. We were counting on you. Now you are letting us down.’” The top director put pressure on him to stay, but al-Kasim explained that only Norway offered the care his son needed. In the end, his superiors relented. “My immediate boss said: ‘I can’t promise you that you will get a job, but I can say now that we will not stop you getting one.’”

And so no one interfered when Norway’s Ministry of Industry hired al-Kasim as a consultant. His job would be to analyse the North Sea exploration results – at a salary just above that of the prime minister."

That he had to rely on the graciousness of his employer to refrain from blackballing him is still a reality for a lot of professionals.

For those interested in what they invest in, that data is public: https://www.nbim.no/. They hold, for example, 0.86% of Amazon, 1,34% of AMD, 0,97% of Apple, 0,33% of Facebook, 0,95% of Microsoft, and 0,8% of Tesla.

So I guess every Norwegian owns about $200 worth of Microsoft.

>their youngest son “completely transformed” by the treatment he received in Norway

Even though he didn't get enough credit for the work he had done, his goal to provide better health care for his son is fulfilled; that should provide him the satisfaction above everything else.

> that should provide him the satisfaction above everything else

Being a good parent above all other considerations is not a universally held moral.

We can assume that it’s one that the subject shares though, considering how much risk he and his wife were willing to tolerate to get their son better treatment.

What him and his wife were willing to risk: moving to Norway, when one of them was Norwegian, from Iraq.

The article makes it very clear he had planned to give up his career, and they had to effectively smuggle themselves out of the country. The government was tracking him so they knew who to grab if they nationalized the oil.

For the curious: the fund's current value is at $1.05 Trillion dollars (USD).

With 5.3 million Norwegian, that equates to $198k per capita. Impressive.

Also: "Since 1998 the fund has generated an annual return of 5.5 percent".

Well done Norway, and well done Farouk al-Kasim.

What a pity that the Iraqi government didn't let him run a similar scheme for the Iraqi oil. Things would be much different today.

By coincidence, I recently watched the first episode of a TV show where Norway's oil resources contribute to a different kind of trouble.


Occupied is pretty good!

Check out Nobel if you want to watch another Norwegian political thriller with a focus on the interplay between energy resources and international relations- this time about a Norwegian guy who comes home from Afganistan only to become a pawn for international politics

It is russophobic.

The idea of Russia invading Norway to resume Norwegian oil production because the EU asked it is absurd.

Were it to happen in real life, Russia would be applauding Norway for rising the oil price and ramping up its own oil production as much as it can.

So you're saying that a fictional show is... fictional?

No, saying that it lacks verisimilitude. When fiction’s plot prevents you from suspending disbelief, it makes it hard to take it seriously as a comment on reality.

Magic is fine. People should act the way that people act.

Imagine a movie depicting Jews baking matzos using the blood of christian babies.

Would you reply with the same "So you're saying that a fictional show is... fictional"?

Russia is a state that has occupied at 7/8 European countries in the last century.

Judaism is a somewhat vaguely defined cultural/religious grouping.

In European history the last large scale attempt to blur the distinction between race and state ended with attempted genocide. It's somewhat distasteful to continue repeating that mistake.

Your attempt to justify russophobia is distasteful.

All this nonsense like 'we don't like Russian state but love Russian people" doesn't fool anyone.

I watched the TV series and it was actually remarkably sympathetic towards the Russians involved. The Russian government obviously wasn't very pleased with it, but I doubt the EU were either (it portrays neither state in a good light).

The way America treats Russia (in TV, movies and the media, where it's the bogeyman du jour), on the other hand, is vastly different and arguably quite russophobic.

Well, I must admit I stopped watching it after several episodes, perhaps I should get back to it.

No, that is not what I am saying.

My post was not an endorsement of everything in the show. I agree that the particulars of the scenario make no sense for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I would find some sort of generic EU occupying force much more convincing, but only if they made it clear that Russia was unable to increase oil production or something like that.

I only wanted to highlight the question of whether stopping oil production could lead to war. Sorry, I should have made that clear.

That's a good point, I'm sorry my comment was too agressive

It's realistic. Just ask the Baltic states (invaded, colonized), Finland, Austria, Poland, Czeckoslovakia, Georgia, Ukraine, Afganistan. I'm sure I'm leaving out a few. Or, just compare the German experience to occupation by US/UK/France on the one side and Soviet Union on the other.

The possibility of an invasion of someone isn’t unrealistic by a Russia, but an invasion of Norway specifically not particularly realistic by the Russia of our timeline. For one, Finland and NATO-member Norway would have much stronger backing by the western allies than they did in 1939. For another, nuclear states would have to give up MAD in favor of Mankind Absolutely Rejects Nuclear Explosives.

Not so absurd if a coalition of far right governments come to power in Europe. There are already Italy, Poland, Hungary. Add France/Germany/Spain/Netherlands to the mix and what we get is 100% unpredictable.

Thanks for the recommendation.

Actually that leads to an interesting idea. If they have a huge sovereign wealth fund, if Russia invades do they get to keep the money?

More interesting to me is that a hypothetical Russian invasion would have to go through Finland first, and those two have some history...

There's a border between Norway and Russia, and it's much larger than I expected.


Well, maybe the Russians would hypothetically go that way. Hopefully the world has learned it’s lesson about tangling with the Finns.

An invasion of Norway a NATO country would mean another world war!

The province of Alberta, Canada does something similar with it’s Heritage Trust Fund. 30% of royalties are put away.

Current balance is $120B which is actually a lot considering the province has only 3M people (~$40,000 per person balance).

However, it’s be rife with mismanagement.

You’re very wrong. The current bslance is about $15 billion Canadian. $190 billion was the non-renewable resource money generated. They only out 30% in, unlike Norway’s 100%, and they stopped adding money in 1987.

Alberts has an estimated population of 4.3 million, so they have about $3500 per person only.


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta (For population stats)

Ahh.. looked at the wrong numbers.

Regardless, if Alberta had done the same as Norway (100% of royalties), they still wouldn't have as much money in the fund.

Living in Australia it breaks your heart to see how much this country has squandered a similarly historic natural resources boom.

Instead of taxing it heavily and using it to build an enormous pool of money for the common good, we've simply handed it over to private interests.

Australia has also squandered opportunity in its retirement system: 2.6 trillion in high fee individual accounts (1% given away to the financial sector in fees every year!) instead of in a sovereign wealth fund like Norway's with a fraction of the admin costs.

Every country with an interest in a wealthy, fair society should be following in Norway's footsteps.

Fun fact: Norway is mostly socialist. The government owns the majority of the country's wealth.

Someone replied to you but he deleted it. I meant to continue the conversation with:

If this article (referencing a 2008 paper) https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/13/north-... is to be believed, the UK had the same thing, but the money went to tax cuts for the rich. So it does smell like corruption to me.

[He talked about some conservative governments being corrupt, to which I think:] Conservatism is a con anyway, selling austerity as a pain that the citizenry needs to suffer to get a "healthy economy", which means cutting budgets where somehow the solution is to outsource things (e.g. with the NHS), meaning the private companies owned by the elites rake in the money. And then they sell the "it's the immigrants who are overtaxing our resources" to get the public to vote for Brexit. (Where less EU regulations mean the elite will have more power to influence the government to allow worker exploitation)

While this is true, proportionally the oil dividend is much smaller for the UK (60M population) than Norway (4M population.)

Using common goods to finance tax cuts is a conservative party policy and it has been mentioned in their manifestos, although not in bald terms.

They could therefore argue for a mandate for the policy.

With tongue-in-cheek apologies to Thatcher, the problem with capitalism in the UK is that you eventually run out of public assets to sell off :)

Education and the health service (think buildings and land as assets for the latter) are the two remaining ones apart from something like the road system. I'm sure they will try these soon.

Didn't they already have a shot at education? That whole Academies mess. Although the master plan to make every school an "academy" [0] was shot down days after it was announced.

[0] This is a weird, UK government definition of the word. Don't think Plato.

In Norway it’s EU regulations that makes it easier for the conservatives (and the last 20-30 years the social democrats) to privatize the economy and exploit workers. EU is a neoliberal project with some benefits for the common man.

Norway is not in the EU.

Nonetheless, plenty of EU driven rules apply in Norway. So gp’s statement could be true.


Mostly around trade, so that Norwegian products can be sold in the EU and vice versa without secondary inspections. Only 21% of EU laws apply to Norway, and I don’t see any evidence that the EU could do anything like force Norway to privatize things.

How did you come to that conclusion? My complain with EU was it's driven too much by social(ist) policies at least compared with the US? At least the money that goes into small agriculture is upsetting.

The EU is quite neoliberal. Austerity was the policy there after the recession. It has also presided over a massive financialization of the European economy. The US is far out of the political mainstream with other wealthy countries. In comparison to where they were 20 years ago (as opposed to where the US is now), Europe has shifted markedly right economically.

The subsidies of agriculture are kind of ludicrous, I agree.

Yep. Try being a Norwegian living in Australia and seeing up close how they've done it all wrong. To explain it is like talking about the rainbow to someone born 100% blind; the corruption and ineptitude just stinks.

The same goes for their attitudes towards taxing pollution / promoting EVs, but that's a side story.

And apparently no effective oversight of their largest financial institutions: https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/breaking-news/chron...

The stories about Rosemary Rogers are bewildering.

Unfortunately it might be even more frustrating seeing the Nordic countries trying to dismantle any good idea and advantage they had. Hopefully Norway has enough inertia to not squander the fund.

I don’t know what your definition of socialism is which makes it difficult to respond to you. But in any historical manner, Norway is not a socialist society. We now have more freedom of choice in the market place than most countries and also compared to our own history. Norway was more socialist after the Second World War, where many industries was built up by the government. But since the 80s our government slowly divested from almost all these industries leading to much more affordable prices and greater competition. It’s a great country to start up companies and create wealth.

There are aspects of Norway that is socialist, but the country by historical standards and by the very definition is far far from being socialist.

It is difficult to categorize countries as socialist or free markets, since all countries has a bit of a mix. However, it is easy to see what it is decidedly not. Compared to socialist countries like USSR, East Germany, North Korea, Venezuela, we can all agree that Norway is not like those, it is indeed far closer to free markets than compared to socialism.

Most people use the word socialism incorrectly.

They look at social democracy which is just markets with redistribution and safety nets, and they say “socialism”.

Any welfare programs that help the poor - they say “socialism”.

They look at cities and countries engaging in State Capitalism and call it socialism.

Socialism is collective ownership of the Means of Production.

Examples of textbook socialism include:

Communes and Kibbutzes

Co-operative housing

Credit Unions

Employee owned corporations

Open source projects

And you can have democratic governance of larger structures, which MAY be called socialism:

The public stock market (capitalism and socialism can coexist).


the amount of people confusing fascism with actual socialism, not just the empty political rethoric used by the nazis in this thread makes me lose all hope in humanity.

facism has aspects based on syndicalism, a subset of the socialism true, but its far from the defining characteristics of a true social equalization. syndicalism (and then facism) is based on categories within a society.

the best definition, used in a trotsky speach, is that facism is "socialism for the upper and middle classes". if you apreaciate the sweet irony you can clearly see why facism can never truly be seen as socialism. if you miss the irony, you should just call yourself alt-rigth.

Where do you see the confusion? People are pointing out that opportunistic former "communists" created fascism by tweaking the methods and ideology for personal gain and power.

Actual socialism has never, and will never, be implemented. People are not idealistic enough (most people just want to avoid work) and it is always the wrong people who grab power.

Nazi Germany was of course an example of national-socialism, which was a branch of fascism, not socialism. The name is very difficult for people to understand (although loads of people willfully misunderstand it), but saying it was socialism is like saying the Democratic People's Republic of Koreais an example of why democracy or republicanism is terrible.

Fascism was socialism by itself.

The creator of Fascism was Mr Mussolini, himself a member of the communist party in Italy.

It was only that Mussolini wanted to create a socialist movement independent of the International Socialist , the Komintern, which was controlled(and financed) by Soviet Russia, following the interests of that country.

So he created a socialist movement with the interest of Italians first, nationalistic. Hitler then copied the movement in Germany.

To say that nazis were not socialistic(and socialized the means of production) is like saying that Trosky was not communist because he was assassinated by Stalin.

Of course they were the worst enemies between each other, but there were not big differences in the way they planned the economy.

In the civil war in Spain, in the left side there were independent anarchist and socialistic leaders and they were killed by Stalin, not Franco.

You start with a set of things and you map them to a smaller set of categories. The more you learn about things, the bigger your set of categories becomes, until eventually you find the sets are equal.

Far too much effort is wasted arguing along the way.

kebman 17 days ago [flagged]

If you look at the Nazi program, up to 50% is clearly Socialist in nature, while the rest is Nationalist and Nationalist-Socialist. Thus it's fair to say that there are more similarities between Socialism and Nazism, than differences. Critics use the fact that Hitler "cooperated" with the big companies, rather than fully nationalizing them, as a way to claim that he wasn't Socialist, however that is misleading. While Socialists would send the Kulaks to their deaths in the Gulags, Hitler kept his business leaders alive as long as they cooperated. Thus Russia threw away expertice, while Hitler kept it. This lead to great economical advances in Germany, though at a terrible human cost. Meanwhile the more traditional Socialist approach in Russia didn't really lead to much ecnomical progress at all, while having a comparably terrible human cost.

goto11 17 days ago [flagged]

The "great economical advances" of Nazi Germany were just Nazi propaganda.

smcl 17 days ago [flagged]

If you think Nazis had anything to do with Socialism, I suggest you read up on what the Nazis did to the Socialists in Germany ...

They send the competition to the camps, but at the same time for example made it really tough to evict people from flats for landlords. Nationalistic socialism was a socialism too. They even had the enormous debts and mismanagment (Mefo-Wechsel), that in addition with racism and a non-fertilizer agriculture made the "Expansion" in all directions necessary to avoid collapse.

That is what is taught in school, and I always thought it was right. But many Italian facists started as socialists and they certainly learned the methods:

- Individualism is squashed in both systems. The citizen solely exists for the state and is to be exploited as a worker or cannon fodder.

- Both systems had worker holiday cities for propaganda and constant reeducation.

- Both systems had many youth organizations for indoctrination.

- Both systems had nationalized radio.

- Both systems sent their opponents into Gulags/camps.

- In both systems, if you pretended to be a follower, you'd be taken care of (that arguably is the socialist aspect of national socialism).

National socialism did not actually nationalize companies, but they were certainly under control of the state.

The point is that while the ideologies were different, the outcome was not completely dissimilar (even antisemitism with purges was there under Stalin). National socialism had an overtly murderous ideology, while the marxist one pretended to do one thing and did quite another.

Those are effective means of population control. Propaganda and indoctrination for example where used by every country in WWII because they where efficient methods independent of ideology.

At most you can look at efficient surface similarities and say this ideology does not prohibit these actions.

Isn't that what people are doing here: Looking for significant overlaps? Consider the NSDAP KdF program and mentally replace the swastika with a hammer and sickle:


Obviously NS is not 100% equal to abstract pure socialism, I think we can assume that everyone here knows that.

Most people also use the word capitalism incorrectly. The capitalism-socialism dichotomy is largely an invention of Marxists. Many who oppose socialism do so because they prefer a society where individual justice is not overshadowed by "collective justice".

The idea is that people are expected to work for their benefits, save up money to form capital and then invest that capital to create a safety net for themselves. Most people on the conservative side are not opposed to helping people who can't help themselves or giving people who did their best but fell on hard times, a break, through bankruptcy.

If a country has a large amount of natural resources like Norway, it can be somewhat successful in dispensing with individual excellence. For example, Qatar has the highest per capita income in the world. However, this may not be sustainable since natural resource eventually run out. For example : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Nauru#Modern-day_Na...

Norway used its oil profits to create a sovereign wealth fund and invested it in stocks. What is the system called when dispensable income is used to form capital which is then invested in other ventures to create additional revenue streams ? I would call it capitalism.

If all countries where Norwegian money is invested decided to become socialist and seized their property, Norway will not be upheld as a socialist success, would it ?

> If a country has a large amount of natural resources like Norway, it can be somewhat successful in dispensing with individual excellence.

I'm not sure what is meant by this? I would assume that the more resources the government or the community has, the more they can support people's talents. You can invest more in education and arts.

> Norway used its oil profits to create a sovereign wealth fund and invested it in stocks. What is the system called when dispensable income is used to form capital which is then invested in other ventures to create additional revenue streams ? I would call it capitalism.

True, that's a good point, it's state level capitalism.

If instead the oil money went into tax cuts, what would one call that policy then? Antisocialism?

> I'm not sure what is meant by this? I would assume that the more resources the government or the community has, the more they can support people's talents. You can invest more in education and arts.

Just investing in arts and education is not enough to bring about people's talents : https://www.heritage.org/education/report/does-spending-more...

> True, that's a good point, it's state level capitalism.

> If instead the oil money went into tax cuts, what would one call that policy then? Antisocialism?

You have missed the point here : even by Marxist standards, Norway's success is due to capitalism. It is better to think about economies in terms of the amount of economic freedom each permits. Capitalism-Socialism dichotomy is largely just fiction.

The Heritage foundation wants a fully privatized school system:

> One promising way to improve resource allocation is to give parents the ability to use their children's share of public Education funding to choose the right school for their children. Children benefiting from school choice programs have higher test scores than their peers who do not benefit from school choice.

Or could it be that parents who would use vouchers are the same parents who are actively involved in their children’s education so those are the same kids who would do better anyway?

“It Turns Out Spending More Probably Does Improve Education”:


That said, my understand is that “it’s the teachers, stupid”. Systems that have better teachers, through a combination of means (better pay, better prestige, better training and continuity) have the best outcomes:


So yes, pouring money into the system isn’t a magic fix, especially if none of it goes to teacher salaries.

>Norway's success is due to capitalism

Erm, the wealth comes from finding a valuable resource. The oil isn't there due to following a particular ideology.

A capitalist system would give that resource to private wealthy individuals as reward for being wealthy (eg owning the land where the well-heads are). The sovereign wealth fund is more like common ownership, socialist-communist.

The socialist-capitalist dichotomy is based on ownership and the profit (financial or otherwise) of that ownership. Capitalism means narrow private ownership, the profit going to those owners; socialism democratises the ownership and benefit -- they are contradictory.

Not necessarily, for instance several US states like Texas and Alaska have sovereign wealth funds. Their assets include land (that they sometimes sell) and royalties that they collect on from oil and gas production. So yes, you have the wealthy oil tycoons, but you also have the state benefiting as well.

> If instead the oil money went into tax cuts, what would one call that policy then? Antisocialism?



Norway is not socialist in the "means of production" sense. The means of production, be it machinery or brains, are privately owned. The government owns assets that are exploited in this production - primarily, the oil fields - but not means of production.

You're being very incoherent.

> The means of production, be it machinery or brains, are privately owned.

They are not. The government literally owns the bulk of the wealth. Not only in the oil sector but in a wide variety of industries, both directly and through the fund.

You are correct in the sense that the government owns 67% of Equinor (formerly Statoil and Norsk Hydro): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinor And controls the oil fund.

"Wealth" the government owns is often just "wealth" or "resources" rather than "means of production".

>> Fun fact: Norway is mostly socialist. The government owns the majority of the country's wealth.

This is not the definition of socialism.

"The Nordic model refers to the economic and social policies common to the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Sweden). This includes a comprehensive welfare state and collective bargaining at the national level with a high percentage of the workforce unionised while being based on the economic foundations of free market capitalism."

It absolutely is the definition of socialism: socialism is common ownership of the means of production. Most of Norway's wealth is government-owned, thus it is mostly socialist.

I'm not sure why people get so vehement about denying this fact. Perhaps because it requires acknowledging that socialism actually works really well?

Most of Norway's wealth is definitely not owned by the government, where do you get this from? It's mostly owned by corporation's and the people. Statoil and some other large companies are partly owned by the government, but there are many wholly owned privat oil companies competing with them.


I think social democracy is probably closer.

There's free enterprise and the government owns some part of some companies.

I am not sure why wikipedia disagrees with you. Probably because Norway is not a socialist country. Government is not equal to the workers. If workers owned means of production, it would have been a socialist country. This is simply not true. Most of companies in Norway are not owned by workers.

I gues this will help you to understand:

"Ownership: In a capitalist economy, property and businesses are owned and controlled by individuals. In a socialist economy, the state owns and controls the major means of production. In some socialist economic models, worker cooperatives have primacy over production"

Finally, no socialism never has been working very well. There is not a single example of it working well in all recorded human history.

If Capitalism is ownership and control by individuals, and socialism is ownership and control by workers (but not via their collective will as expressed through democratically-determiend state action), then what is Norway?

I guess if you define "socialism" in a sufficiently narrow way you can ensure that no existent successful country will meet the chosen definition, a clever rhetorical trick.

As it was pointed out several times, it is a capitalistic system where ___most___ of the companies are owned by individuals and ____some____ are owned by state while possibly ____none____ owned by workers. Hope this clarifies. I would suggest you to learn from history because this stance on socialism is very contraproductive and you are the most vulnerable of repeating the mistakes of the past. I think socialism is extremely dangerous. I have first hand experience living in souch a country where most of the people are poor while the memebers of the state are accumulating extreme wealth. The difference is comapring it to most capitalistist countries, in an average capitalist country the p50 user has a good life and your wealth does not depend on your party membership or being in the social circle of party members. People can succeed by putting in effort. I think many of the people in the US like AOC think that they can just tax the rich and live off those people, using the exactly same arguments that Marx. History shows that this reasoning is false and very dangerous. I would strongly suggest you to study Ayn Rand. She explains why capitalism is the natural state of mankind, always has been and probably always will be.


I wouldn't call Norway socialist so much as credit them for having had excellent governance. They invested the taxes they collected very wisely for the long-term common good of their citizens. Any country with any system of governance would be capable of this, but it turns out most human beings when given sufficient political power tend towards corruption and waste. Alaska, in the US, has followed a similar model to Norway with the Alaska Permanent Fund. Alaska issues annual dividend checks to every resident which is, as far as I know, the closest thing to a working UBI model in the world.

So... sufficiently good governance pursuing the general welfare of citizens is indistinguishable from socialism? ;)

Because Socialism implies nationalizing private companies. Norway does not. In fact the last 50 years they've done nothing but privatization, while retaining stocks in certain key businesses - which is nothing like the traditional autocratic control known from Socialism.

Heavy taxation is also not Socialism. Otherwise the British taxation of their American colonies could be deemed to be the same, while they were clearly not. Instead (largely) American companies accept the heavy taxation of the oil industry in Norway for two reasons. First of all, it is on sovereign Norwegian territory. Second, they still go home with a cool profit at the end of the day.

Keeping the tax profits from that venture, and investing it in order to make it grow, is not Socialist either. In fact that could be seen as directly contrary to Socialist doctrines. In fact it can be viewed as a completely Capitalist doctrine! But one where the people benefits from those invesments, since the Sovereign Wealth Fund is designed to work for the benefit of its owners, who just happens to be the Norwegian people.

I'm Scottish and kind of feel the same way - Scotland has a similar population to Norway, but Scotland has little to show for decades of oil and gas extraction. I really wish we'd started a fund like Norway did :(

The fun fact is incorrect: Not correct. Norway's form or government is Social Democratic. A progressive form of modern democracy. Mind you; Our government is this season run by a coalition of a center right and a right wing party.

It is a complete myth that Norway is "mostly socialist". Norway is a market economy with a strong focus on regulation and welfare for its people. If it was Socialist, it would have nationalized all private property by now - which it haven't, and in fact it is in the process of privatizing even more previously state-owned products and services. Heavy taxation does not imply Socialism, although the Sovereign Wealth Fund can certainly be attributed to the Labour movement of Norway.

I believe “Democratic Socialist” would be the correct term for their market arrangement: free market with a strong government backdrop against poverty or illness.

Socialism does not mean government ownership of the means of production: Remember, anarchism (think Proudhon, Bakunin) is also part of the socialist movement...

Russia squanders it all the time

I had a Norwegian girlfriend for a time and I can tell you they just think differently to us (British) people. While in Britain, and by extension the US, people just want more, more, more and constantly thin they are being ripped off, in Norway they feel happy with what they already have and think in very modest terms. She was one of the few women I've dated who didn't go shopping for fun every week. Very refreshing for me as a frugal person aiming to retire early. I miss her actually.

I think an important point to make is that it isn't that people in the Nordic countries are happier with less as such. It is that they already have, or have access to, the things they need to be relatively happy. If you don't then of course it is a constant struggle to compensate. Unfortunately I think this is rapidly changing.

I would be curious what the advertising landscape is like in Norway vs (for instance) the US. Clearly many Americans have their essential needs covered, and yet there seems to be a constant advertising driven pull for more and more to achieve ‘real’ happiness.

> Clearly many Americans have their essential needs covered [...]

Not in the same way. You can even be quite wealthy and still have very negative consequences from getting fired, evicted or having the housing market crash. Not only as result of the direct or financial consequences, but also to your sense of freedom and self-image. I guess you could say that the Nordics at their best isn't so much about being happy, as in the pursuit of happiness, but about being trouble free.

I have recently learned about Janteloven, and it was a revelation when trying to understand the people in the Nordic countries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante

Ah yes. Forgot to mention this. When English people hear it they think it's bad, but it actually seems to make them happy.

>>Australia has also squandered opportunity in its retirement system: 2.6 trillion in high fee individual accounts (1% given away to the financial sector in fees every year!) instead of in a sovereign wealth fund like Norway's with a fraction of the admin costs.

There are advantages to having hundreds of thousands of individual accounts over one sovereign wealth fund. The latter is a case of putting all your eggs in one basket. Centralization poses enormous risks.

Reducing fees by having a smaller number of fund managers managing a larger amount of capital can also reduce the ROI, as a result of fund managers having to limit their objects of investment to very large companies/projects that can efficiently utilize large capital infusions.

Why is this getting downvoted? This is factual information. Large funds cannot invest the same way that smaller ones can.

Also, NOBODY pays 1% for investment management anymore. You can open a brokerage account in the US and pay .08%(yes, from private investment companies) and get a very diversified portfolio using standardized funds.

I really don't see the benefits of a centralized pension...other than being able to offload payments to future generations, ofcourse.

> Also, NOBODY pays 1% for investment management anymore.

LOL, look it up. This is the average annual fee for super funds in Australia

Seems to me it's the opposite. The holdings of the Norway fund are more diversified than any given Australian fund, simply because a larger pie can be sliced up into more slices.

You can view the Norway fund's holdings on their website: https://www.nbim.no/en/the-fund/holdings/holdings-as-at-31.1...

It seems pretty diversified to me!

A larger fund also has advantages for ROI (even putting aside the much lower fees) because you can be a more activist shareholder and invest in more sophisticated ways.

Of course a gigantic fund will be more diversified than any single small fund. But the aggregate diversity of all of the funds that all of the individual accounts invest in will be greater than that of any single fund.

>>A larger fund also has advantages for ROI (even putting aside the much lower fees) because you can be a more activist shareholder and invest in more sophisticated ways.

Small fund managers are free to invest in large funds to gain these advantages. They have the added advantage of being able to select from smaller cap investment options as well.

> Inflows of hard currency push up prices, squeezing the competitiveness of non-oil businesses and starving them of capital.

This is true for any kind of industry that a country has a competitive advantage in.

There's a vast difference in the effect on a country depending on whether its competitive advantage comes from resources or people though.

If it comes from resources then the incentive to develop the people is lost and they're either bought off or ignored. Look at what happens in Russia or Venezuela or Saudi Arabia.

So what's wrong with being bought off? People in Kuwait have it very well.

In the 17th century Bolivia was considered the richest country in the Americas because of the Potosi silver mine while the eastern seaboard of America was basically a poverty stricken nowhere.

Now Bolivia is the poorest country in the Americas and the US is the richest. This is basically why.

The answer is - it works fine until the resource price drops or you run out of it.

Kuwait may be fat and content now but it has a dark future ahead of it once they stop being able to live off foreign cash.

In the case of natural resource boons, where what is happening, in an economic sense, is the benefit of hundreds of millions to billions of years of natural capital appreciation extracted with no realised economic cost. This is a vast unbooked. cost, but still a real one. Separation taxes reimpose this in part.

Most other cases of competitive advantage lack this element, though network-based superiority resembles it in parts (comms, transport, trade, urbanisation, IT, banking, military & political power).

I think this true for London and Banking as well.

To me this is a story of immigration.

Europe is currently 'struggling' with immigration, the subtext being they don't bring skills, lower wages for the poorest, etc.

Here you have an immigrant that brings massive wealth to a country, (and he's essentially a healthcare tourist!)

I think, you are missing half of the context.

He is Iraqi, but his wife is Norwegian. They met in London, during his study. They have a child together, who need cares only available in Norway.

In most countries this kind of immigration is doable (high skills and related to the country by marriage). Is it called immigration?

Migrants moving to a country without having an initial link with that country is a more complex problem.

I thought immigration wasn't possible in most countries if you have dependants with considerable healthcare needs?


I don't really think that nuance really enters into the debate though.

So surely that can work both ways. If we paint all immigrants as skill-less criminals, than we can also lump this guy in with them, to show the other side.

My intent was to show this as immigration as a success, rather than immigration as job stealing, so often portrayed in the media.

The word you're looking for is expat.

The United States is in the privileged position of attracting the best and the brightest. Also, it, together with the rest of the anglosphere, attracts the people who speak English. Many of the people who come to countries like Norway, France and the Netherlands are less resourceful, mostly poor refugees. They didn't receive an education in any western language, so it doesn't matter which country they pick, so long as it's safe and there is money there.

> They didn't receive an education in any western language, so it doesn't matter which country they pick, so long as it's safe and there is money there.

I wouldn't say so. While of course it is hard to be informed as a refugee, the big European countries are naturally much more well known. Refugees to some extent go to Nordic countries because they have heard that it is a place were you can get an apartment, a decent wage and there are resources so you can get on with your life. At this point they probably believe more in the Nordic model than we do ourselves.

I'm British, and there's the same fears here, perhaps more so. So I'm not sure it's an english speaking thing.

And looking at how Trump is behaving over the Mexican border, the US has the same fears also.

But yes the US probably does do better at attracting the most talented, certainly in the tech industry.

> (and he's essentially a healthcare tourist!)

Not even a little bit. His wife is Norwegian, so presumably the son who needed healthcare also had Norwegian nationality. If anything he's an immigrant by marriage.

The fact that he stayed in Norway for decades also disqualifies him from being called a "tourist".

This guy had skills and good education though. Unskilled people most likely become criminals and/or never integrate into society unless the government makes a huge effort for their integration.

Most of the immigrants(at leat those comming over the Mediterranean sea) have been young male with no education. Unfortunately many European countries are not willing or are just not able to commit the effort required to make unskilled immigrants good european citizens.

I don't understand why the EU leaders didn't emphasis the skills requirement more and instead started stupid arguments about religion and culture.

>Unskilled people most likely become criminals and/or never integrate into society unless the government makes a huge effort for their integration.

This might be the immediate intuition, and also the perception that the huge media cknglomerates push, but this is NOT true!


I didn't really read the whole paper but it seems to say that unless they are put into social services they are highly likely to engage into small/petty crime which confirms my assumptions.

What are you expecting people with no skill to do? Most likely they form their own "communities" with little to no integration in the host society. Maybe they will integrate after 1-2 generations or maybe never(see how gypsies communities "integrated" in Europe).

Why would you want mass immigration of unskilled people? What good can it bring? My opinion is that you either make sure you have the money and logistics to make them good citizens or reject them at the border.

It’s hard to prove anyone’s credentials when they are fleeing a war. if there is a chance that one person out of a thousand can be at this level, it’s pretty much a no brainer to let everyone in.

borders are a really stupid way people isolate themselves out - it’s just a step above wild animals instinct.

>> It’s hard to prove anyone’s credentials when they are fleeing a war.

Not really. There could be simple tests to establish basic knowledge of their expertise. It doesn't need to be a hard test but it would stop the bulk of false applications. After all the scope is not to allow only the most skilled but to stop the peoole with low/no skills.

>> if there is a chance that one person out of a thousand can be at this level, it’s pretty much a no brainer to let everyone in.

I doubt that this guy would fail a 60 seconds interview with basic question about its expertise so there is no need to let everyone in.

Why so you want to let everyone in? Do you expect a big economic return from unskilled immigrants? Is it a moral thing to do? Who would be affected by them? How do you compensante the people affected? I think there are some unanswered questions that need to be addressed before to let everyone in.

As an immigrant I this is simplistic. I think there are some legitimate questions your host needs to ask off you without it being regarded as being anti immigration. Where are you going to live, do you speak the language, what skills do you have, do you believe that men and women are equal, do you believe bribing a cop is wrong, what is your attitude to paying tax... There are also questions that I think the world needs to focus on for example. Just why are so many of us jumping ship? Surely the whole of African continent cannot migrate to Europe. Something is wrong in some countries in Africa and some hard and unpleasant truths have to be acknowledged before we can start to fix anything.

There's a difference in education levels and ability to integrate - even at later generations. As you mentioned it, it was a healthcare tourist, not an immigrant per se.

There's no point in bringing people to do the low-level jobs without much room to grow (or worse, do what Canada does and be overly selective then just keep people at survival jobs)

Such an inspiring story. And so frustrating given the political push by Trump and Brexit to make it much harder for talented foreigners to immigrate.

>>Such resignation reflects bitter experience of the way that dependency on natural resources can poison a country’s economic and political system. Inflows of hard currency push up prices, squeezing the competitiveness of non-oil businesses and starving them of capital. As a result, productivity growth withers (a phenomenon known as “Dutch disease” after the negative effects of North Sea gas production on the Netherlands).

That's an incorrect summation of the "Dutch Disease". Productivity growth doesn't suffer. Productivity growth, or GDP growth, increases with higher oil output.

The Dutch Disease is a politically slanted term to describe how other industries languish when one expands. But a rise in oil production is not associated with declining productivity growth, and the Dutch Disease theory does not include that proposition. A rise in oil production/exports makes an economy more capital-rich, which raises productivity.

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