Saturday, October 20, 2018

Whether implemented by a mob or a single strongman, collectivism is a poverty generator, an attack on human dignity, and a destroyer of individual rights


On the same day that Venezuela’s “democratically” elected socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, whose once-wealthy nation now has citizens foraging for food, announced he was lopping five zeros off the country’s currency to create a “stable financial and monetary system,” Meghan McCain of “The View” was the target of internet-wide condemnation for having stated some obvious truths about collectivism.
Thus writes David Harsanyi in the Daily Signal in a piece entitled Sorry If You’re Offended, but Socialism Leads to Misery and Destitution.
During the same week we learned that the democratic socialist president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, is accused of massacring hundreds of protesters whose economic futures have been decimated by his economic policies, Soledad O’Brien and writers at outlets ranging from GQ, to BuzzFeed, to the Daily Beast were telling McCain to cool her jets.

In truth, McCain was being far too calm. After all, socialism is the leading man-made cause of death and misery in human existence. Whether implemented by a mob or a single strongman, collectivism is a poverty generator, an attack on human dignity, and a destroyer of individual rights.

It’s true that not all socialism ends in the tyranny of Leninism or Stalinism or Maoism or Castroism or Ba’athism or Chavezism or the Khmer Rouge—only most of it does. And no, New York primary winner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t intend to set up gulags in Alaska. Most so-called democratic socialists—the qualifier affixed to denote that they live in a democratic system and have no choice but to ask for votes—aren’t consciously or explicitly endorsing violence or tyranny.

But when they adopt the term “socialism” and the ideas associated with it, they deserve to be treated with the kind of contempt and derision that all those adopting authoritarian philosophies deserve.

But look: Norway!

Socialism is perhaps the only ideology that Americans are asked to judge solely based on its piddling “successes.” Don’t you dare mention Albania or Algeria or Angola or Burma or Congo or Cuba or Ethiopia or Laos or Somalia or Vietnam or Yemen or, well, any other of the dozens of other inconvenient places socialism has been tried. Not when there are a handful of Scandinavian countries operating generous welfare state programs propped up by underlying vibrant capitalism and natural resources.

Of course, socialism exists on a spectrum, and even if we accept that the Nordic social program experiments are the most benign iteration of collectivism, they are certainly not the only version. Pretending otherwise would be like saying, “The police state of Singapore is more successful than Denmark. Let’s give it a spin.”

It turns out, though, that the “Denmark is awesome!” talking point is only the second-most preposterous one used by socialists. It goes something like this: If you’re a fan of “roads, schools, libraries, and such,” although you may not even be aware of it, you are also a supporter of socialism.

This might come as a surprise to some, but every penny of the $21,206 spent in Ocasio-Cortez’s district each year on each student, rich or poor, is provided with the profits derived from capitalism.

There is no welfare system, no library that subsists on your good intentions. Having the state take over the entire health care system could rightly be called a socialistic endeavor, but pooling local tax dollars to put books in a building is called local government.

It should also be noted that today’s socialists get their yucks by pretending collectivist policies only lead to innocuous outcomes like local libraries. But for many years they were also praising the dictators of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the nation’s most successful socialist, isn’t merely impressed with the goings-on in Denmark. Not very long ago, he lauded Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela as an embodiment of the “American dream,” even more so than the United States.

Socialists like to blame every inequity, the actions of every greedy criminal, every downturn, and every social ill on the injustice of capitalism. But none of them admit that capitalism has been the most effective way to eliminate poverty in history.

Today, in former socialist states like India, there have been big reductions in poverty thanks to increased capitalism. In China, where communism sadly still deprives more than a billion people of their basic rights, hundreds of millions benefit from a system that is slowly shedding socialism. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the extreme poverty rate in the world has been cut in half. And it didn’t happen because Southeast Asians were raising the minimum wage.

In the United States, only 5 percent of people are even aware that poverty has fallen in the world, according to the Gapminder Foundation, which is almost certainly in part due to the left’s obsession with “inequality” and normalization of “socialism.”

Nearly half of American millennials would rather live in a socialist society than in a capitalist one, according to a YouGov poll. That said, only 71 percent of those asked were able to properly identify either. We can now see the manifestation of this ignorance in our elections and “The View” co-host Joy Behar.

But if all you really champion are some higher taxes and more generous social welfare, stop associating yourself with a philosophy that usually brings destitution and death. Call it something else. If not, McCain has every right to associate you with the ideology you embrace.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

DEBAT: Maos Lyst og Venezuelas mareridt


Efter at Maos Lyst blev rost i Villabyerne for kollektivets 50-års fødselsdag, fik lokalavisen følgende brev som udkom i en lidt kortere version den 25. september 2018 (årgang 113 nr 39) side 11 og fik topposition på avisens hjemmeside:

DEBAT: Maos Lyst og Venezuelas mareridt

    Inger Glerup beklager sig over at, man under hendes besøg til Maos Lyst i anledning af det "åbne hus" for at fejre kollektivets 50-års-dag ingen adgang havde til huset selv – idet hele festivitesen foregik i "et par små åbne telte [i haven], man kunne søge ly [fra regnvejret] under, hvis man var heldig og der var plads."  I stedet for at være skuffet over "at opholde sig i haven i regnvejr", skulle hun ikke være henrykt?  Over at have fået en (enorm) god lektie om socialismens/kommunismens løfter?  og om hvad man faktisk oplever når "drømmen" (sic) bliver virkelighed?

    Seneste eksempel er Venezuela, hvor, efter næsten 20 år af den Bolivariske Revolution, borgerne i hvad var engang Sydamerikas rigeste land nu kan nyde manglen på mad, medicin og toiletpapir, samt strømafbrydelser, hyperinflation, og generelt en økonomi i frit fald, mens millioner af folk søger at flygte til nabolandene.

    I dette sammenhæng har der været meget humor over at en Fox News journalist har sammenlignet Venezuela med Danmark.  Der har utvivlsomt været overdrivelse i den reportage, men kan det ikke virke lidt indskrænkende at den eneste lektie, som danskerne synes at have taget fra kontroverset er (igen) at de konservative amerikanere er ikke andet end nogle uvidende tumper som burde vide mere om verdenen?  (Samt selvfølgelig den stedsegrønne drøm om at USA burde efterligne Skandinavien og – endelig – få et socialistisk samfund.)

    Sig mig:  Har danskerne ikke egentlig også en lektie at lære?  Som måske er vigtigere…  At når "tosserne" er betænkelige om lande (eller rettere om revolutionernes ledere) der har valgt socialismen, har de ofte haft… god grund til det?  Er Chavez's Venezuela (efter bl.a. Lenins USSR, Ceausescus Rumænien, og… Maos Kina) ikke et godt bevis på det?  Har alle lande (eller rettere, alle revolutionernes ledere) ikke lovet samme fremtid i skandinavisk stil?

    Hvem kan forudse med sikkerhed, om en venstreorienteret regime vil følge Denmarks eksempel eller Venezuelas?  Er der nogen, der har svar på det?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Maos Lyst og Venezuelas mareridt


Interessen for Maos Lyst lever stadig
skriver Kathrine Albrechtsen og Mette Henriksen og Mikael Østergaard i lokalavisen Villabyerne.
Med markante personligheder på postkassen som Troels Kløvedal og Ebbe Kløvedal Reich blev Maos Lyst et kendt kollektiv i offentligheden, og er i dag et af Danmarks ældst eksisterende, som i år kan fejre sit 50 års jubilæum.

 … Interessen for Maos Lyst lever stadig. Derfor har kollektivets beboere i anledning af jubilæet valgt at invitere lokalområdet ind fredag den 17. august for at afmystificere huset ved at vise, hvordan et moderne kollektiv kan se ud i dag.

Alle blev dog ikke begejstret, deriblandt Inger Glerup:
Jeg blev rigtig glad for denne oplysning. Jeg går ofte forbi Maos Lyst, da jeg bor på Tuborgvej tæt derpå og har tit tænkt, det kunne være spændende at komme indenfor og besøge kollektivet. Så nu var chancen der, virkelig et godt initiativ.
Så jeg meldte mig til, som man skulle og vandrede forventningsfuld derhen kl. 15.30 med min paraply, da det desværre var blevet regnvejr. Stor var min skuffelse, da jeg så opdagede, at det åbne hus betød, at man kunne være ude i haven fra kl. 15- til kl. 23-, hvor der var et par små åbne telte, man kunne søge ly under, hvis man var heldig og der var plads. Huset kunne man ikke få at se, for ”så kunne de jo ikke bestille andet end at vise frem”, som en beboer forklarede.

Kære beboere i Maos Lyst, jeg syntes, det var en fremragende ide at invitere indenfor til åbent hus, men når invitere indenfor og åbent hus bestod i at opholde sig i haven i regnvejr, følte jeg mig helt ærligt lokket til af forkerte oplysninger.





På den 25. september 2018 kom en forkortet version af følgende brev i Villabyerne årgang 113 nr 39, side 11:
    Inger Glerup beklager sig over at, man under hendes besøg til Maos Lyst i anledning af det "åbne hus" for at fejre kollektivets 50-års-dag ingen adgang havde til huset selv – idet hele festivitesen foregik i "et par små åbne telte [i haven], man kunne søge ly [fra regnvejret] under, hvis man var heldig og der var plads."  I stedet for at være skuffet over "at opholde sig i haven i regnvejr", skulle hun ikke være henrykt?  Over at have fået en (enorm) god lektie om socialismens/kommunismens løfter?  og om hvad man faktisk oplever når "drømmen" (sic) bliver virkelighed?

    Seneste eksempel er Venezuela, hvor, efter næsten 20 år af den Bolivariske Revolution, borgerne i hvad var engang Sydamerikas rigeste land nu kan nyde manglen på mad, medicin og toiletpapir, samt strømafbrydelser, hyperinflation, og generelt en økonomi i frit fald, mens millioner af folk søger at flygte til nabolandene.

    I dette sammenhæng har der været meget humor over at en Fox News journalist har sammenlignet Venezuela med Danmark.  Der har utvivlsomt været overdrivelse i den reportage, men kan det ikke virke lidt indskrænkende at den eneste lektie, som danskerne synes at have taget fra kontroverset er (igen) at de konservative amerikanere er ikke andet end nogle uvidende tumper som burde vide mere om verdenen?  (Samt selvfølgelig den stedsegrønne drøm om at USA burde efterligne Skandinavien og – endelig – få et socialistisk samfund.)

    Sig mig:  Har danskerne ikke egentlig også en lektie at lære?  Som måske er vigtigere…  At når "tosserne" er betænkelige om lande (eller rettere om revolutionernes ledere) der har valgt socialismen, har de ofte haft… god grund til det?  Er Chavez's Venezuela (efter bl.a. Lenins USSR, Ceausescus Rumænien, og… Maos Kina) ikke et godt bevis på det?  Har alle lande (eller rettere, alle revolutionernes ledere) ikke lovet samme fremtid i skandinavisk stil?

    Hvem kan forudse med sikkerhed, om en venstreorienteret regime vil følge Denmarks eksempel eller Venezuelas?  Er der nogen, der har svar på det?




Thursday, September 20, 2018

Denmark may have free universities and a national health system, but what is its free education and health care actually worth?


[With] a reputation for being peaceful, egalitarian, progressive, liberal and educated, [besides] having excellent furniture and crime novels, too … Scandinavia countries just seem to do it better — an idea that supporters and critics label "Nordic exceptionalism."
The Independent's Ana Swanson explores the idea of the utopian fantasy that Denmark and its sister nations are made out to be:
But how much truth is there in the popular idea of Nordic exceptionalism? Michael Booth, a British journalist, examines this question in detail in a recent book, "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia." Booth, a U.K. native who has lived in Scandinavia for over a decade, plays the part of a cultural interpreter, examining, poking and prodding the reality of life in Nordic countries from every angle. Booth finds plenty to question in the rest of the world's assumptions about the Nordic miracle, but also lots that we can learn from them.

Why is it that the Nordic model has attracted so many fans, but relatively few visitors?

Denmark is a pretty good place to live but it is by no stretch of the imagination the utopia many in politics and the media in the U.S. claim it to be.

We all like to have a "happy place" — somewhere over the rainbow where we imagine life to be perfect — don’t we? For many, that place used to be the Mediterranean: we all dreamed of a stone house among the vines. After the economic crash, I think a lot of people started to look towards Scandinavia for what they believed to be a less rampantly capitalistic form of society.

The difference is, few actually actively seek to move to Scandinavia, for obvious reasons: the weather is appalling, the taxes are the highest in the world, the cost of living is similarly ridiculous, the languages are impenetrable, the food is (still) awful for the most part and, increasingly, these countries are making it very clear they would prefer foreigners to stay away.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions that you find in how the rest of the world understands the Nordic countries?

Again, I think we've all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. … Denmark … promotes itself as a "green pioneer" and finger wags at the world about CO2 emissions, and yet it regularly beats the U.S. and virtually every other country on earth in terms of its per capita ecological footprint. For all their wind turbines, the Danes still burn a lot of coal and drive a lot of cars, their country is home to the world’s largest shipping company (Mærsk), and the region’s largest air hub.
 
Sweden is supposedly "neutral" (it’s not, and has not been for decades), yet since the days when it sold iron ore to Hitler, its economy has always benefited from its arms industry, which is one of the world’s largest.

The Norwegians have fallen prey to precisely the same kind of problems as other oil-rich states: their economy depends far too much on one industry (oil), they’ve taken their foot off the gas in terms of their work ethic, and now all young Norwegians want to do is be "something in the media" or open a cupcake place.

Politicians in the U.S. like Bernie Sanders praise Denmark for its relative income equality, its free universities, parental leave, subsidized childcare, and national health system. That all sounds pretty good, right?

It is fantastic in theory, except that, in Denmark, the quality of the free education and health care is substandard: They are way down on the PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] educational rankings, have the lowest life expectancy in the region, and the highest rates of death from cancer. And there is broad consensus that the economic model of a public sector and welfare state on this scale is unsustainable. The Danes’ dirty secret is that its public sector has been propped up by — now dwindling — oil revenues. In Norway’s case, of course, it’s no secret.

You describe the Danes as having a strong sense of work-life balance – specifically, being much more focused on life than work. What are the positives and negatives of that attitude?

Positives: Danes spend more time with their families. Negatives: Danes spend more times with their families. Plus, they have run up huge private debt levels, and no one answers the phone on a Friday afternoon.

 … One thing that’s often glossed over among outsiders is the extraordinarily high tax level, which is high for the middle class as well as the wealthy. Do Danes think that they get their money’s worth in social services? Do you?

Denmark has the highest direct and indirect taxes in the world, and you don’t need to be a high earner to make it into the top tax bracket of 56% (to which you must add 25% value-added tax, the highest energy taxes in the world, car import duty of 180%, and so on). How the money is spent is kept deliberately opaque by the authorities. Danes do tend to feel that they get value for money, but we should not overlook the fact that the majority of Danes either work for, or receive benefits from, the welfare state.


Greater numbers of immigrants have been leading to rising xenophobia in some Nordic countries, as well as higher income inequality. Do you think these trends say anything about the strength of the Nordic model?

All of Europe is dealing with this issue, but of course smaller populations feel more threatened, and cynical right wing politicians (if you’ll forgive the tautology) take advantage of that fear. Also, there is no "Nordic model" when it comes to immigration and integration: there is the Swedish model (open door) and the Danish model (close the door and put up a "Go Away" sign), which the Norwegians and Finns are copying.

Denmark has won almost every happiness survey since 1973, but you describe them in the book as a “frosty, solemn bunch” who take a lot of anti-depressants. Do they really deserve to be consistently ranked as the world’s happiest country?

No, it’s a nonsense and, in fact, they have dropped from the top spot in recent surveys, mostly because they are not as rich as they once were. The sad take-away from that is, money does, in fact, make you happy. I don’t think they ever were the "happiest" people in the world, but you could argue they have been the most "satisfied." They are good at appreciating the small things in life and making the most of what they have — a legacy, I think, of experiencing the rough hand of geopolitics in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Monday, September 17, 2018

The silent oppression of the consensus: The one time my country could side with the U.S. was when America was on its knees, but when it refused to stay down Sweden quickly went back to smug relativism


On September 11, 2001, I was sitting on the floor of my sister’s living room [in Gothenburg, Sweden], babysitting her one-year-old daughter
recalls Annika Hernroth-Rothstein in National Review (tack så mycket till Instapundit).
I had just gotten back from a year in France. A few months earlier, I’d been standing in a crowded bar on Place de Clichy, celebrating my 20th birthday. I remember that night, although several bottles of bad white wine say I shouldn’t. I was surrounded by my peers, other upper-middle-class liberals who had fled to Paris to fulfill their fantasy. We had come to this historical city to live the life of songs and books and Technicolor movies. We were radicals. We were heroes. We were going to change the world.

The people with me in that bar were a random sample of the political atmosphere of Europe at the time. Militant feminists, pro-Palestinians, members of the autonomic environmentalist movement, and your run-of the-mill anti-government thugs. Having a friend who had been jailed for rioting was as necessary as a Malcolm X T-shirt and a back-pocket paperback of Catcher in the Rye. I gladly picked up that uniform, just as I picked up rocks and banners knowing that this was the ticket to ride.

Raised in a family of academics, this was a natural evolution on my part and a result of a serious political interest. I identified as an intellectual and as a political thinker with a critical mind. What I failed to acknowledge at the time was that my country was a controlled environment and that the spectrum on which political analysis took place was limited. Not unlike The Truman Show, where the choices you think you are making were already made for you long ago, and any dreams of a different fate are swiftly corrected.
 
I left my one-bedroom apartment in the chic slum of the 19th Arrondissement in June 2001. I was headed back to Gothenburg, Sweden, and the mass protest against the EU summit and George W. Bush. I planned to be back in time to see the first leaves fall on the Champs Elysées. Turns out, that didn’t happen.

Night fell and morning broke before I managed to get off that floor to answer my phone. On the other end I heard my boyfriend’s voice, chanting frantically:
Two more towers! Two more towers! Two more towers!
He and his friends were having a party, celebrating the attack on America. He called to invite me, and to this day I have never felt such intense shame.

During his speech on September 14, 2001, President Bush said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. Well, on that day I was introduced to who I had been and who I truly was. I saw my own place in the context of history, and how the ideas that I helped promote, the accusations I had met with silence, all had a part in shaping the world I now saw burning before me.

It wasn’t a game. I had played it, but it was never a game.

In the weeks that followed, I watched the American news with one eye, and its European counterpart with the other. It was like seeing the slow shifting of the tectonic plates, dividing the world through op-eds and analysis. On September 12, 2001, the headline of the largest Swedish newspaper read, “We Are All Americans.” A few weeks later, that beautiful creed had already been forgotten. The one time my country could side with the U.S. was when America was on its knees, but when it refused to stay down it quickly went back to the smug relativism of World War II, the icy efficiency of a country never having to fight for either ethics or its existence.
 
Soon enough, the narrative was clear. The end of the story had already been written: The U.S. was unjustly acting as the world police, once again. Bush was a moron and a puppet. America was killing innocent people for oil. It went on and on, and all I could think was that if I know that these things are not true, then what other lies have I accepted as truth throughout my life?

So I pulled at the thread of my ideology, and it all unraveled before me.

On September 20, I watched Bush’s address to Congress. I had heard him speak before, but on this night, I listened — and one sentence jumped out and grabbed me:
“Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”
So I asked myself if I was free. Not free in movement or by law, but free in thought and intellect. I was not, nor had I ever been. The politics I had held and protected so violently were a version of the norm, and for all my intellect and breeding I had done nothing more than tout the company line.

I left everything that year; it was like walking away from the scene of a crime. I remember thinking that it would have been easier leaving a cult — at least then there would be a welcoming, sane majority on the other side. Or if there had been a physical wall to climb and a dictator to topple, instead of the silent oppression of the consensus.

My country did not change that day, but I had to; the tectonic plates where shifting, and I decided to jump.

When I stood in that bar toasting myself, I thought I was a radical. Today, as a neocon in Sweden, I know I was wrong.

I was raised in a country where that neutrality — that indifference before right and wrong — is a badge of honor. I was taught that morality is weakness, faith is ignorance, and the concept of good and evil is cause for ridicule.

On September 11, 2001, I saw, for the first time, the difference between fear and freedom, and I vowed not to be neutral between them, ever again.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We’ve all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on the Nordic countries


Americans are not just a few policy changes away from becoming happy Norwegians or Finns
writes Jim Geraghty in National Review.
Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig links to, but does not mention by name, my morning newsletter item responding to her original column declaring, “It’s time to give Socialism a try.” In her response, she writes, “I hadn’t named the Nordic countries in my piece, but my opponents were quick to discard them from the conversation.” Perhaps a longer discussion about why America shouldn’t try to become like the Nordic countries — and would fail if it tried — is in order.

1) The Nordic system kills innovation, and the United States’ adopting it would have dire consequences for the world economy.

As Daron Acemoglu, an eminent economist at MIT, wrote in 2013:
In our model (which is just that, a model), U.S. citizens would actually be worse off if they switched to a cuddly capitalism. Why? Because this would reduce the world’s growth rate, given the U.S.’s oversized contribution to the world technology frontier. In contrast, when Sweden switches from cutthroat to cuddly capitalism (or vice versa), this does not have an impact on the long-run growth rate of the world economy, because the important work is being done by U.S. innovation.
2) Most of what American progressives envy about the Scandinavian countries existed before they expanded their welfare state, and America’s voices on the left are mixing up correlation with causation.

As Nima Sanandaji, a Swedish author of Kurdish origin who holds a Ph.D. from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, wrote in 2015:
Many of the desirable features of Scandinavian societies, such as low income inequality, low levels of poverty and high levels of economic growth predated the development of the welfare state. These and other indicators began to deteriorate after the expansion of the welfare state and the increase in taxes to fund it.
3) At its biggest, most far-reaching, and invasive form in the late 20th century, the Nordic model crushed startups and the growth of new companies. “As of 2000,” Johan Norberg writes, “just one of the 50 biggest Swedish companies had been founded after 1970.”

4) It’s easier to get people to buy into a collectivist idea when everyone has a lot in common. As Robert Kaiser, an associate editor of the Washington Post, wrote after a three-week trip to Finland in 2005:
Finland is as big as two Missouris, but with just 5.2 million residents, it’s ethnically and religiously homogeneous. A strong Lutheran work ethic, combined with a powerful sense of probity, dominates the society. Homogeneity has led to consensus: Every significant Finnish political party supports the welfare state and, broadly speaking, the high taxation that makes it possible. And Finns have extraordinary confidence in their political class and public officials. Corruption is extremely rare.
5) That collectivism is driven, in part, by taking away choices from people. In Finland there are no private schools or universities. As Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility, said in 2011: “In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same.”

6) Having all of your needs handled by the state does not cultivate a sense of responsibility, independence, motivation, or gratitude. Here’s Kaiser again:
I was bothered by a sense of entitlement among many Finns, especially younger people. Sirpa Jalkanen, a microbiologist and biotech entrepreneur affiliated with Turku University in that ancient Finnish port city, told me she was discouraged by “this new generation we have now who love entertainment, the easy life.” She said she wished the government would require every university student to pay a “significant but affordable” part of the cost of their education, “just so they’d appreciate it.”
7) Some might argue that the quasi-socialist system of Nordic countries eliminates one group of problems but introduces new ones. But in some cases, these countries have the same problems as the United States, only worse — the problems are simply not discussed as openly. As British journalist Michael Booth argues:
We’ve all been guilty of projecting some kind of utopian fantasy on them. The Nordic countries are, for example, depicted as paragons of political correctness, yet you still see racial stereotypes in the media here — the kind of thing which would be unthinkable in the U.S. Meanwhile, though it is true that these are the most gender-equal societies in the world, they also record the highest rates of violence towards women — only part of which can be explained by high levels of reporting of crime.
8) If the government is paying for everything, why is Denmark’s average household debt as a share of disposable income three times that of the United States? Meanwhile, the household-debt share in both Sweden and Norway is close to double that of the United States. The cost of living is particularly high in these countries, and the high taxation means take-home pay is much less than it is under our system.

9) Nordic-system evangelists would have you believe that citizens of freer-market countries are stressed while those living under generous social-welfare systems are happier and more relaxed. If American-style capitalism is depressing and dehumanizing, why are Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway not that far behind us, ranking in the top twelve countries for antidepressant use? Is it just the long winters? Why are their drug-related deaths booming? Isn’t it possible that a generous, far-reaching welfare state depletes people’s sense of drive, purpose, and self-respect, and enables them to explore chemical forms of happiness?

10) I saved the most important reason for last: If the government is to take on a bigger and more powerful role in redistributing wealth, citizens first must be willing to put their faith in the government. But in the United States, public trust is historically low — which goes well beyond President Trump’s implausible “I alone can fix it” boast or Obama’s broken “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” pledge.
If the government is to take on a bigger role, citizens first must be willing to put their faith in the government. But in the United States, public trust is historically low.
A lot of progressives seem to think that conservatives distrust the government because of some esoteric philosophical theory, or because we had some weird dream involving Ayn Rand. In reality, it’s because we’ve been told to trust the government before — and we’ve gotten burned, time and time again.
Government doesn’t louse up everything, but it sure louses up a lot of what it promises to deliver: from the Big Dig to Healthcare.gov; from letting veterans die waiting for health care to failing to prioritize the levees around New Orleans and funding other projects instead; from 9/11 to the failure to see the housing bubble that precipitated the Great Recession; from misconduct in the Secret Service to the IRS targeting conservative groups; from lavish conferences at the General Services Administration to the Solyndra grants; from the runaway costs of California’s high-speed-rail project to Operation Fast and Furious; from the OPM breach to giving Hezbollah a pass on trafficking cocaine.

The federal government has an abysmal record of abusing the public’s trust, finances, and its own authority. Now some people want it to take on a bigger role? If you want to enact a massive overhaul of America’s economy and government to redistribute wealth, you first have to demonstrate that you can accomplish something smaller, like ensuring every veteran gets adequate care. Until then, if you want to live like a Norwegian, buy a plane ticket.
Adds Ben Shapiro:
The Washington Post columnist [Elizabeth Bruenig] memorably wrote last week that she wished for an upsurge in support for socialism. I critiqued that column. Now she’s written a response to that critique, claiming that I (among others) interpreted her in bad faith for mentioning several countries that have tried socialism and failed, from Venezuela to the Soviet Union, and for pointing out that many of the supposedly socialist countries that socialists so often proclaim as their examples aren’t actually socialist (see, for example, Denmark and moSweden).

 … Finally, she decides on her favorite new socialist paradise: Norway.

 … First off, a huge portion of Norway’s wealth ownership is thanks to their nationalization of their oil industry; like the United Arab Emirates or Venezuela, this gives them an enormous amount of cash to play with (their social wealth fund, worth $1 trillion, was seeded with oil money). The oil industry represents approximately 22% of Norway’s GDP two-thirds of their exports. (It also pays for 36% of the national government’s revenue.) That’s not the extent of their government holdings — Norway also nationalized all German-owned stocks after World War II, which partially explains the state’s high level of ownership of the stock market. Stockholding in companies does not mean the state runs the companies — in fact, the board runs the companies separately, not for the benefit of the state specifically or for the benefit of the workers, as Marx would prefer; Norwegian law requires that all shareholders be treated equally, with no preference for state shareholders. In fact, companies in which the state owns majority stock have even gone into bankruptcy before. The state essentially operates along the lines of so-called “state capitalism.”

Furthermore, Norway is a relatively friendly business climate; Heritage Foundation ranks it 23rd in the world, with the United States ranking 18th.

More than that, it’s important to recognize that the total population of Norway is 5.6 million; the total population of the United States is 323 million. It’s also rather important to recognize the cultural homogeneity of Norway: just 15.6% of the population are immigrants or children of immigrants, and 32% of the population has a higher education degree. Why does that matter? Because if we’re to compare Norway and the United States, we should probably compare Norwegian Americans with Norwegians in Norway. Here’s National Review’s Nima Sanandaji:
It was mainly the impoverished people in the Nordic countries who sailed across the Atlantic to found new lives. And yet, as I write in my book, Danish Americans today have fully 55 percent higher living standard than Danes. Similarly, Swedish Americans have a 53 percent higher living standard than Swedes. The gap is even greater, 59 percent, between Finnish Americans and Finns. Even though Norwegian Americans lack the oil wealth of Norway, they have a 3 percent higher living standard than their cousins overseas.
So, how’s state capitalism working out? Norway has a significantly higher per capita GDP than that of the United States — about $70,600 per year, as opposed to $59,500 in the United States. But a large portion of that per capita GDP is due to oil wealth.

 … Norway is an incredibly expensive country to live: it’s the second-most expensive country to buy food in Europe, and the most expensive to buy alcohol and tobacco. A haircut can cost $50. Vehicles can cost nearly twice as much as in the United States, and food costs vastly more than in the United States. There’s a reason that in 2013, Norway elected a far more conservative government — and they re-elected that government in 2017.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

"Out With Jesus": During His 12 Years in Power, Hitler Tried to Ban the Tradition of Christmas


Jesus being a Jew, Adolf Hitler did not want his master race to continue celebrating his birthday, and consequently, the Führer spent his 12 years in the chancellery trying to transform the Christmas holiday into a Nazi-themed celebration devoted to the Aryan race and old Germanic traditions.  Thus writes Emrah Sütcü in the Danish monthly, Historie, putting the lie to the fact that Hitler and the Nazis had in any way a connection to the Christian religion.

Related: • Worshipping Little Else But the Aryan Race, Hitler Abhorred the Christian Faith and Wanted to Replace Christmas with the Pagans' Yuletide

 • 卐mas Caroling: The Extremes Hitler Wanted to Go To in Order to Replace Christianity with the "Religion" of National Socialism

How Hitler's Nazi propaganda machine tried to take Christ out of Christmas

Adolf Hitler in Religious Surroundings: Is There Really Evidence That the Führer Was a Christian? — an in-depth, dispassionate look at the evidence brought by a couple of commentators claiming that Christianity was an integral part of Nazism…




Hitler ville stjæle julen fra Jesus

Nazisterne hadede julen. Derfor forsøgte de med alle midler at forvandle den kristne højtid til en fejring af den ariske race.


Julen skulle fejre arierne

Jesus var jøde. Og en fejring af hans fødselsdag var ikke noget for det tyske herrefolk, mente Adolf Hitler.

I perioden fra 1933, hvor han kom til magten i Tyskland, til 2. verdenskrigs afslutning i 1945 kæmpede Hitlers topfolk indædt for at forvandle den populære kristne helligdag til en nazistisk højtid, som fejrede den ariske race og de oldgermanske traditioner.

Julefred er kun for tyskerne

Først og fremmeset havde nazisterne det svært med julens forsonende budskab om fred på Jorden. Den stemte dårligt overens med ambitionerne om at erobre resten af Europa.
I en artikel fra 1937 understreger Hannes Kremer, et ledende medlem af Hitlers propagandaministerium, at tyskerne bør afvise julen som "en højtid for en teoretisk fred for hele menneskeheden".

I stedet bør være en "højtid for reel hjemmelig og national fred" og altså kun handle om at sikre fred for tyskerne.
En fred, som tilsyneladende kun kunne sikres ved at udrydde nationens fjender i form af bl.a. jøder, kommunister og homoseksuelle.

"Ud med Jesus"

Næste skridt var at køre den jødiske Jesus ud på et sidespor. Til alt held for nazisterne havde tyskerne, længe inden de blev kristne, fejret vintersolhverv omkring juletid.
 …

Himmler omskrev julesalmer

Julesange og salmer, der nævnte Jesus, blev omskrevet, så de i stedet hyldede nationalsocialismen. Blandt sangskribenterne var ingen ringere end SS-chefen Heinrich Himmler.

 …

Hagekorset skulle op på juletræet

Juletræet havde nazisterne ikke noget problem med, for det har faktisk rødder i hedenske, germanske traditioner. Til gengæld var Hitler ikke glad for den stjerne, som blev placeret på toppen af træet.
I stedet for stjernen - som enten kunne symbolisere den jødiske Davidsstjerne eller kommunismens røde stjerne - skulle tyskerne sætte enten et hagekors, et germansk solhjul eller en oldnordisk rune øverst på juletræet, mente nazisterne.

Julepynt fra Nazityskland, som er blevet bevaret for eftertiden, inkluderer bl.a. kugler med slagord som fx "Sieg Heil" og symboler som bl.a. hagekors, jernkors og ørne.