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.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hvis ikke englænderne i krigens allersidste dage havde sat sig for, at Danmark skulle sikres en plads i den frie verden, havde vi risikeret en ny besættelse

Uffe Ellemann Jensen er 4. maj hovedtaler ved den årlige højtidlighed i Mindelunden i anledning af Danmarks befrielse. Berlingske bringer talen i sin fulde længde.

»Nu er det forår, og Danmark frit…«

Sådan skal vi synge sammen om lidt – her i Mindelunden, hvor vi mindes de faldne i den danske modstandsbevægelse. Det er over 70 år siden, men stadig er dét forår noget ganske særligt.

Det er det for de få, som oplevede det, og som endnu lever. Det er det for os, der lige var gamle nok til at fornemme det. Og det er det for det store flertal, der alene har hørt om det – men hvis liv har fået lov til at forme sig i forårets tegn: Friheden. Det livsbekræftende. Det gærende og brusende…

De følelser, der fylder os denne aften, er ærbødighed – og taknemmelighed.

De mennesker, som ligger begravet her i Mindelunden valgte at trodse det officielle Danmarks påbud om »passiv tilpasning« overfor besættelsesmagten. Sammen med vore krigssejlere og dem, der var i allieret tjeneste, kæmpede de den frihedskamp, der gav os det Danmark, vi har i dag. De bragte store ofre i den kamp. Nogen mistede livet, andre gennemgik fængsel og tortur. De fleste tålte et psykisk pres, som tærede på krop og sjæl.

De kom fra alle dele af det danske samfund. De var ikke mange. Og efter besættelsen valgte mange at søge tilbage i ubemærketheden. Andre har sikkert som jeg haft den oplevelse, at man først sent og tilfældigt opdagede, at en kær gammel ven i familien havde været aktiv i modstandsbevægelsen. Det talte de ikke om. De havde bare gjort det. I trods og på trods. Og tak for det.

For det kunne være gået helt anderledes, dengang.

Det er der nok ikke mange, der tænker på i dag. Det større perspektiv i det, der skete. Men hvis ikke englænderne i krigens allersidste dage havde sat sig for, at Danmark skulle sikres en plads i den frie verden – og derfor rykkede lynhurtigt frem i Slesvig-Holsten – havde vi risikeret en ny besættelse.

Men vi blev befriet af englænderne, og ikke af den røde hær. Bornholm oplevede en kort tid, hvordan det var lige ved at gå i resten af Danmark. Det varede kun et års tid. Men det kunne have varet meget længere, hvis det var hele landet, som havde lidt den skæbne.
Det var der andre i vores nabolag, der oplevede. De baltiske lande blev efter den tyske besættelse besat af Sovjetunionen, og de måtte vente endnu næsten et halvt århundrede på at få friheden.

Den skæbne kunne så let også være blevet vores hvis ikke modige danskere under besættelsen havde gjort en indsats, både i Danmark og ude i verden, som gav englænderne lyst til at redde os – fordi de havde vist, at vi trods alt var værd at redde…

Og hvis ikke vi havde venner og allierede, som gjorde det muligt for os at holde fast i vores frihed, da vi først havde fået den – og da ufriheden sænkede sig over det halve Europa. For lad os huske på dét: Alene kunne vi ikke have vundet friheden tilbage.

Hvis og hvis… Ja, der er mange hvis’er. Og dem skal vi trække frem på denne af alle aftener, og på dette sted af alle steder.

Jeg har ofte tænkt på, hvor meget anderledes mit liv kunne have formet sig, hvis der ikke havde været danskere, som dengang gjorde modstand mod ufriheden og ondskaben. Så var jeg selv og min generation måske være vokset op i ufrihed. Berøvet mulighederne for at rejse ud i verden. Berøvet mulighederne for at arbejde med det, der interesserede os. Berøvet mulighederne for at bearbejde de livsværdier og holdninger, vi hver især ønsker at forme vores liv efter.

Sådan gik det andre, der bor ikke ret langt fra os – og her er de nye generationer nu i fuld gang med at indhente det forsømte.

Det var en gave vi fik, dengang. En gave som er givet videre til de efterfølgende generationer. En gave vi skal skønne på.

Vi viser vores taknemmelighed ved stadig at samles her i Mindelunden – så mange år efter – og nogen af os sætter stadig lys i vinduerne.

Men vores tak skal også være, at vi er rede til at forsvare de værdier – og de muligheder – de gav os dengang.

Det er der mange danskere, som har gjort – og stadig gør – når de tager til fjerne lande for at beskytte freden og friheden i vores meget farlige verden.

Eksemplet fra dengang for over 70 år siden viser os, at det ikke er ligegyldigt at demonstrere viljen til at tage et medansvar. For det er forudsætningen for, at andre vil lade os være en del af det fællesskab, der beskytter vore frihedsværdier. Også i dag ydes der ofre – også store ofre – i denne indsats. Og de mange, som yder denne indsats, er vi alle en stor tak skyldig.

Men som nation må vi bestandig spørge os selv: Gør vi nok?

Gør vi nok – i forhold til de trusler, der eksisterer mod vores frihed og fred?

Gør vi nok – til at vore venner og allierede synes, vi er værd at beskytte. For venner og allierede har vi brug for. Vi kan ikke stå alene, så meget har historien lært os.

Jeg mener, at vi bør gøre mere. Vi har indrettet vores forsvar efter, at der ikke i en overskuelig fremtid opstår trusler i vort nærområde. Sådan skrev man i den redegørelse for Danmarks sikkerhedssituation, som lå til grund for det seneste forsvarsforlig. Og derfor er vores forsvar især indrettet på at løse opgaver langt væk hjemmefra.

Men der er – desværre – igen trusler i vores nærområde. Der er krig ikke ret langt væk, i Ukraine, hvor der næsten hver dag dræbes soldater i, hvad der skal ligne en borgerkrig, men som er noget langt større.

Andre lande rundt omkring os er i fuld gang med at styrke deres forsvar. Det gælder vore NATO-partnere, Norge, Tyskland, Polen og de baltiske lande. Og det gælder Sverige og Finland, som ikke er med i NATO, men som gør hvad de kan, for at samarbejde med NATO, og som maser på for at få så meget ud af fællesskabet i EU som muligt.

Danmark er det eneste land i Østersøregionen, som ikke er i fuld gang med at styrke forsvaret – og som gemmer sig bag undtagelser og forbehold, når det gælder deltagelse i et bredere europæisk samarbejde.

Det kan vi ikke være bekendt.

Og det skal siges netop i aften – og netop her. For det er at tage for let på den gave, vi fik den forårsaften for mange år siden. Vi skylder dem, der ligger her, og alle de andre, der på forskellig vis ofrede sig i modstandsbevægelse og frihedskamp, at gøre noget mere. At gøre vort bedste.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Danish girl who volunteered to fight against Isis terrorists in Syria and Iraq faces prison for violating a travel ban meant to hamstring supporters of Isis terrorists

A Danish woman who volunteered in Syria and Iraq to fight against Isis faces six months in prison for violating a travel ban 
reports the Independent's Lizzie Dearden.
Joanna Palani has been taken into custody while Copenhagen City Court hears her case, which has divided Denmark.

The 23-year-old insists she poses no security risk and had been fighting with Kurdish groups aligned with the US-led coalition, which includes Denmark.

But she has fallen foul of laws allowing the imposition of travel bans and seizing of passports for Danes planning to join foreign conflicts – on whatever side.

Palani’s lawyer, Erbil Kaya, told the Berlingske newspaper his client admitted violating a one-year travel ban imposed by Danish authorities.

 … Palani, whose father and grandfather were Peshmerga fighters, is of Iranian Kurdish ancestry and moved to Copenhagen as a toddler after being born in an UN refugee camp in Ramadi, Iraq, during the Gulf War.

She told Vice she left university in autumn 2014 to join the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, wanting to defeat Isis, President Bashar al-Assad and “fight for human rights for all people”.

Palani fought for the YPG for six months before moving to Iraq to fight for the Kurdish Peshmerga. Both groups have been supported by the US and allies in the battle against Isis, being given military and air support as the ground arm of the international coalition’s bombing campaign.

As well as fighting on the front line against Isis militants, she claimed to have been part of a battalion that freed women and children held as sex slaves by the so-called Islamic State near its stronghold of Mosul.

Palani was active on social media and news of her role spread in Denmark. When she was given a fortnight off by the Peshmerga to visit her family in 2015, the Danish authorities cracked down.

A police notice warned Palani her passport had was not valid and would be revoked if she left the country, an offence punishable with a jail sentence.

The former student has criticised the Danish authorities for pursuing her under laws targeting Isis militants and other extremists.

Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service (PET) said at least 115 Danes have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq in the past five years, with most believed to have joined Isis.

“How can I pose a threat to Denmark and other countries by being a soldier in an official army that Denmark trains and supports directly in the fight against the Islamic State?” she wrote on Facebook when she lost her passport, according to a translation by The Local.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Misleading Statistics: Would the EU Really Dominate the Olympics in Medals Won If It Were "United"?

There is a meme online, as there has been four (and more) years before (I first heard it years ago by the presenter of a French TV news program), claiming that — imagine! — if the European Union were truly united, they would dominate the amount of medals won at the Olympic Games.
This is for my US friends who think they are ahead in the 2016 Olympics. Only because Europe has no sense of unity!
It is nonsense, of course, utter nonsense.

It is also evidence of the misleading nature of statistics, not to mention common folks' tendency to trust simple catchphrases.

Sure, if you add up the medals from France, and Germany, and Denmark, and the UK (for how much longer?), you arrive at a greater total number of medals.

But listen: you can't have it both ways; either you compete as one entity or you compete as 28 (soon 27).

If the EU truly had a "sense of unity", you wouldn't have up to 28 different entities (nations) competing in each sports branch at the Olympics, you would only have one. The EU "representative" might turn out to be a Swede in one area (curling?), a Spaniard in another (bull-fighting?), a German or a Pole in a third (sausage-making?). Maybe, in one given year, a plurality, or a majority, of contenders might all come from one single country. (Presumably there would have been an EU competition, a mini-Olympics if you will, beforehand — although it is a safe bet that the pétanque contender would hail from France.)

Otherwise, you have to admit the "solution" isn't a simple as the would-be statisticians would make you believe.

Indeed, why stop there?

If a certain multitude of medals ought to be counted as one, why shouldn't the logical conclusion go in the other direction, and have unitary competitors "divided" into their respective constituencies?

Why shouldn't Canada ought to have one third to half as many candidates (or teams) as the EU for each sports branch, not 1 as now but 9 extra for the Canucks' 10 provinces (Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, etc…)?

Shouldn't the United States, meanwhile, have nearly double (!) the number of candidates (or teams) as the EU, an extra 49 for a total of 50 states, with contenders from Texas, Massachusetts, North Dakota, etc, etc, etc?

Similarly, in the Soviet era, the USSR had one candidate (or one team) per sports branch at the Olympics, not 15 for the number of its constituent (Soviet Socialist) republics.

On the other hand, the USSR itself had representation in the far more important area of the United Nations (as did/as do Canada and the United States — albeit not the EU), but so did Soviet member republics Ukraine and Belorussia — which was nothing but a sham, of course. (Again, Florida, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Prince Edward Island had/have, needless to say, no membership at the UN.)

How sure can you be so sure that the EU would dominate the Olympics if its' 28 contenders had to compete against the Canadians' 10 as well as against the Americans' 50?

Related: Tyrannies demand immense efforts of their populations to bring forth trifles, and there can be no trifle more trifling than an Olympic record, or even a victory without a record

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Documentary on the Great Cinematic Epic That Never Came to Be: Jodorowsky's Dune

Being released in France right now is Frank Pavich's celebrated documentary on the filming of Jodorowsky's Dune, the genesis of one of cinema's greatest epics that never was.

The Chilean writer, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing 15 years ago (besides my many interviews with his frequent co-worker Jean Giraud (Moebius)) drips with passion as he talks of all the artists he will bring together to make a film of Frank Herbert's science fiction bestseller.

director Alejandro Jodorowsky … proceeded to approach … Pink Floyd and Magma for some of the music; artists H. R. Giger, Chris Foss, and Jean Giraud for set and character design; Dan O'Bannon for special effects; and Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, Gloria Swanson, David Carradine, Mick Jagger, Amanda Lear, and others for the cast.
Various trailers exist for Jodorowsky's Dune, which did not come to pass, when the producers lost faith in the Paris-based film director, theater director, screenwriter, playwright, actor, author, poet, producer, composer, musician, and, last but not least, comic book writer, not to mention spiritual guru.

(Jodo's attitude probably did little to help, when the man came back with the screenplay for a 14-hour movie and when he was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to make industrial films to earn money, to make a living. I want to make films to lose money, films that oblige me to search employment in other creations.”)

Wikipedia, again:
The film notes that Jodorowsky's script, extensive storyboards, and concept art were sent to all major film studios, and argues that these were inspirational to later film productions, including the Alien, Star Wars, and Terminator series. In particular, the Jodorowsky-assembled team of O'Bannon, Foss, Giger and Giraud went on to collaborate on the 1979 film Alien.
"It was a great undertaking to do the script," Jodowrosky says in the film. Speaking of Herbert's novel, he says: "It's very, it's like Proust, I compare it to great literature."

Monday, February 01, 2016

Scandinavia’s quality of life didn’t SPRING FROM leftist policies; It SURVIVED them

When Bernie Sanders was asked during CNN’s Democratic presidential debate how a self-proclaimed socialist could hope to be elected to the White House, he gave the answer he usually gives
notes Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe:
Socialism has been wonderful for the countries of Scandinavia, and America should emulate their example.“We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people,” Sanders said.

Liberals have had a crush on Scandinavia for decades. “It is a country whose very name has become a synonym for a materialist paradise,” observed Time magazine in a 1976 story on Sweden. “Its citizens enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards. . . . Neither ill health, unemployment nor old age pose the terror of financial hardship. [Sweden’s] cradle-to-grave benefits are unmatched in any other free society outside Scandinavia.” In 2010, a National Public Radio story marveled at the way “Denmark Thrives Despite High Taxes.” The small Nordic nation, said NPR, “seems to violate the laws of the economic universe,” improbably balancing low poverty and unemployment rates with stratospheric taxes that were among the world’s highest.

Such paeans may inspire Clinton’s love and Sanders’ faith in America’s socialist future. As with most urban legends, however, the reality of Scandinavia’s welfare-state utopia doesn’t match the hype.

 … It was in the late 1960s and early 1970s that taxes soared, welfare payments expanded, and entrepreneurship was discouraged.

But what emerged wasn’t heaven on earth.

That 1976 story in Time, for example, went on to report that Sweden found itself struggling with crime, drug addiction, welfare dependency, and a plague of red tape. Successful Swedes — most famously, Ingmar Bergman — were fleeing the country to avoid its killing taxes. “Growing numbers are plagued by a persistent, gnawing question: Is their Utopia going sour?”

Sweden’s world-beating growth rate dried up. In 1975, it had been the fourth-wealthiest nation on earth (as measured by GDP per capita); by 1993, it had dropped to 14th. By then, Swedes had begun to regard their experiment with socialism as, in Sanandaji’s phrase, “a colossal failure.”

Denmark has come to a similar conclusion. Its lavish subsidies are being rolled back amid sharp concerns about welfare abuse and an eroding work ethic. In the last general election, Danes replaced a left-leaning government with one tilted to the right. Loving Denmark doesn’t mean loving big-government welfarism.

The real key to Scandinavia’s unique successes isn’t socialism, it’s culture. Social trust and cohesion, a broad egalitarian ethic, a strong emphasis on work and responsibility, commitment to the rule of law — these are healthy attributes of a Nordic culture that was ingrained over centuries. In the region’s small and homogeneous countries (overwhelmingly white, Protestant, and native-born), those norms took deep root. The good outcomes and high living standards they produced antedated the socialist nostrums of the 1970s. Scandinavia’s quality of life didn’t spring from leftist policies. It survived them.

 … No, Scandinavia doesn’t “violate the laws of the economic universe.” It confirms them. With free markets and healthy values, almost any society will thrive. Socialism only makes things worse.