Navigating like a Norwegian: How Norway Dispels the Private vs Public Sector Myth

Sep 2013
38,771
30,743
On a hill
#1
The balance between free markets and strong government

It’s no secret that the Scandinavian nations are doing something right. They consistently lead the world in measures of happiness and quality of life. Political guru Francis Fukuyama called the search for the good society “getting to Denmark”. Even The Economist magazine featured a goofy looking Viking on its cover with the headline “The Next Supermodel”.

How the Nordic countries achieve their success–and whether they can be copied by other nations–is another matter. Bernie looks upon them as a model. Hillary disagrees. Hell will freeze over before Ted and Donald cast their eyes in such a “socialist” direction.

…One key insight is to dispel the myth, pervasive in America and dangerously infective elsewhere, that the private sector does everything well and the public sector does everything poorly. Modern society requires an extensive infrastructure, which does not emerge bottom-up from unregulated markets. This has always been the case, in America as elsewhere, as my recent interview with Daron Acemoglu attests. One reason that the Nordic nations work well might be because they have not—yet—succumbed to the siren’s song of free market fundamentalism.

A strong state capable of building infrastructure is not enough. It must also be an inclusive state that works for the benefit of everyone, as opposed to an extractive state that works only for the benefit of an elite few, as my interview with Acemoglu also makes clear. Inclusiveness requires a balance of power among the various sectors of the society. Perhaps the Nordic nations work well for this reason also—strong states working collaboratively with a strong private sector, strong labor unions, and a strong, well-informed, and trusting electorate.

Navigating like a Norwegian: How Norway Dispels the Private vs Public Sector Myth - Evonomics
 
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Sep 2013
38,771
30,743
On a hill
#2
There is an interesting discussion around what models actually foster innovation. …These researchers show that if you look at both patents and researchers per capita – Nordic countries perform far better than the US. Joseph Stiglitz also offers alternative theories arguing that high levels of trust and strong safety nets in fact promote innovation because the risk of failing is perceived as much smaller. And as another Nobel laureate, Daniel Khaneman, has illustrated – people tend to pick no risk over possible gain.

The road to innovation and success is paved with failed attempts. So it boils down to two core questions: First – what kind of relationships foster new thinking? And second, do people take risk and think innovatively if they have a lot to gain personally – or if failure in trying comes with low risk?
We recognize the truth in the above when we support lower taxes for investment income over income earned through labor, but somehow think it doesn't apply when considering safety net programs.
 
Dec 2013
3,301
2,212
Switzerland
#3
Global trust within a society and among its actors is very important when you want to develop innovation...... And you build trust only when you can make in a given society its members to share common aims and to have things being able too to go from bottom up and not the contrary.... It is a difficult chemistry and societies which are opened to the outside world like smallet nations like the Scandinavian countries or other European countries are open to the rest of the world, because they have no other choices..... Things are becoming different with bigger countries, which consider that they might be able to against the tide and build their own specific bubble and if you look at the debates among the different people in competition for the US presidential election, it is quite clear when it comes to the economy that what the candidates are selling is an old paradigme and not what is at stake acutally.... For example people who say that they can bring back jobs lost because of delocation never mention that it will be impossible to produce in the US what was made before in manufacturing. Getting jobs back needs innovation, training in other fields etc.... And the ones who were left behind because of the globalization have no hope to be back in the shops they were working in before being fired....
 
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Jan 2014
15,814
5,986
south
#4
Global trust within a society and among its actors is very important when you want to develop innovation...... And you build trust only when you can make in a given society its members to share common aims and to have things being able too to go from bottom up and not the contrary.... It is a difficult chemistry and societies which are opened to the outside world like smallet nations like the Scandinavian countries or other European countries are open to the rest of the world, because they have no other choices..... Things are becoming different with bigger countries, which consider that they might be able to against the tide and build their own specific bubble and if you look at the debates among the different people in competition for the US presidential election, it is quite clear when it comes to the economy that what the candidates are selling is an old paradigme and not what is at stake acutally.... For example people who say that they can bring back jobs lost because of delocation never mention that it will be impossible to produce in the US what was made before in manufacturing. Getting jobs back needs innovation, training in other fields etc.... And the ones who were left behind because of the globalization have no hope to be back in the shops they were working in before being fired....
yes. times change as do circumstances. trying to go back, as many Americans wish to do, is a losing ideology. humans do not get used to changes well, as they are slow to adapt. but, we need to improve on that trait and embrace the world situation.
 
May 2012
64,396
12,206
By the wall
#5
It's a different culture, you can't compare happiness because that assumes all people have the same morals, ethics and values.
 

ARMCX1

Former Staff
Jun 2013
14,795
9,562
SoCal
#6
What Spookycolt means is no creeping scandinavian socialism as a result of honest power sharing because of his morals, ethics and values.
 
Likes: 1 person
Jan 2014
15,814
5,986
south
#7
What Spookycolt means is no creeping scandinavian socialism as a result of honest power sharing because of his morals, ethics and values.
morals, ethics and values are determined by each society - has nothing to do with governance (unless you live in a theocracy).
 
Sep 2013
38,771
30,743
On a hill
#8
It's a different culture, you can't compare happiness because that assumes all people have the same morals, ethics and values.
Cultural morals, ethics and values, are acquired unlike human requirements for physical and physiological survival.
 

ARMCX1

Former Staff
Jun 2013
14,795
9,562
SoCal
#9
It's a different culture, you can't compare happiness because that assumes all people have the same morals, ethics and values.
It's possible to measure relative happiness in two separate cultures. Take the right direction/wrong direction polls.

Those numbers don't assume that all wrong direction respondents believe the same.

Likewise for happiness. It isn't an impossible comparison.
 
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Jul 2011
3,215
4,570
UK/Australia
#10
When I was in the USA, I was really too young to be cognisant of all the factors involved, but I was told (in many, many ways,) by nearly every American I met, that yours was the best of all possible cultures and 'the greatest country the world has ever seen'. Even at 14, I had my reservations as to such claims, but I felt it ill-mannered - as a guest in your country - to question such assertions.

I am now much older, and whilst I still encounter the basis for those assertions, I am much more aware of the efficacy of peer pressure and social conditioning. There are (albeit much weaker) similar psychological elements in most societies. Per example, I am given to understand that when my grandfather was born (in the early fifties) there existed this dopey motto "Buy British - British is best!" Which was palpable nonsense in a country which still had rationing (of everything from foodstuffs to petrol and steel) from a disastrous war fought not ten year before. So nationalism, whether of the virulent, or watered-down variety has always countered progress and innovation.

Which brings me (eventually) to the point of this dissertation. Most Americans appear to have an inbuilt resistance to even examining how things are done elsewhere, as though that examination itself is a tacit admission that someone else is capable of doing something better than Americans. (My reading suggests that certain Brits in the days of Queen Victoria and 'the Raj' were similarly indisposed to adopting anything done by 'Johnny foreigner'. :D)

Spookycolt is correct in the assumption that societal success is measured differently according to the values of the society concerned, but I suspect happiness is a more universal value, and the quality of life is also somewhat more universally quantified.

The USA, whilst incontrovertibly a most successful military/industrial complex, is not pre-eminent in every societal metric (a prerequisite to being 'the greatest') as no society is, or has ever been. It is, like every other society, capable of being improved, but such improvement cannot begin whilst the majority of the population believes their society is 'the best'.

One of the many psychological hurdles to be overcome is the irrational fear of the demon 'socialism'. Most of us are well read enough to recognise the various forms and concepts of socialism, and to see that our essentially capitalist societies are riddled with various forms of socialism - without which we could not survive as a civilisation. The other is the complacency inherent in the social propaganda that everything American is, ipso facto, demonstrably better than anything non-American. A milder variation of this exists in other successful societies, and is equally fanciful (and counter-productive,) there. But these combine to obstruct progress that would otherwise occur naturally in a developed and educated society governed by the rule of law.

Public education and universal health care funded by taxation is not the same thing as the Gulags of Siberia, nor the killing fields of the Pol Pot regime. Government is only the problem (not the solution) in a plutocratic oligarchy - where only those who are, or who are backed by, multi-billionaires can aspire to be the Head of State. Where government by lobby prevails, and wherein the wealthy and powerful corporations have the ear of government, and are catered for legislatively in accordance with their influence. That is neither a democracy nor a republic in the real sense of the word.

Historical culture and national pride are powerful influences, but should not be allowed to blind one to reality, nor to hinder the welfare of the populace. Being 'the best' in one's imagination comes a poor second to being a happy and just society.

I apologise if this sounds like a criticism of American society - in some ways it is, but certain of these are criticisms that apply to many other successful societies (my own included). :)
 
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