Good Life - at what price?

"Good Life" is becoming important Sweden since an increasing trend is found between 1988 and 2006; 52% of people are answering that it was "Very Important" in 1988 whereas 61% did so in 2006.

For this we are ready to sacrifice: "A Clean Earth", 80% in 1988 to 54% in 2006; "The Security of Our Country", 69% in 1988 to 60% in 2006; "Health", 91% in 1988 to 85% in 2006; "Honesty", 89% in 1992 to 80% in 2006; "True Friendship", 78% in 1990 to 70% in 2006; "A World in Peace", 88% in 1988 to 79% in 2006.

There are even slightly falling trends for "Freedom" and "Justice". "Love", however, is lying constant at 75% answering that it is "Very Important".

Only 5-10% of Swedes think "Power", "Richness" and "Salvation" is "Very Important".

The data can be found in a table at Svenska Trender 1988 till 2006 by Sören Holmberg and Lennart Weibull. I transfered the data from every second year over on an Excel sheet and made a diagram for visualization of the trends. Unfortunately I could not transfer the diagram over to blogger. Seems to be the wrong file format.

See also Henrik Oscarsson. Here and here. Henrik Oscarsson has also written a book chapter on the subject which adds information.

I have been trying to come up with an analysis of these results other than the one I'm depicting with the title of the post. The development does not look good. The question is if governance by the Alliansen can revert it or if it is part of history. I'm not sure that I agree with Henrik Oscarsson that there are few changes in trends. I see quite a few and they are mostly bad. Especially the falling trends in the top four terminal Rokeach values, Health, Freedom, Honesty and a World in Peace.


The Brain frame of the Pope?

Charlotte Therese: "My thought is developed mainly through writing; so for me it was really a burden, a school of patience, not to be able to write for six weeks.”'"

According to Cahrlotte Therese the Pope has uttered the above. It seems they have him on a "brain frame" where he can only think when he writes. I guess it is because they want to get all his thoughts on paper?

Einstein's Religiosity?

I got an interesting email yesterday that can be linked with my discussion of an image of God that is equal to Nature. I just want to say that I understand very well that the catholic church does not appreciate my idea.

However, even if I'm not pretending that I can be compared with Spinoza and Einstein, it is interesting that some people gravitate to a religiosity with a God concept that can be compared with Nature. I decided on my view before I realized that the above gentlemen had similar views. Einstein actually said:

"It is of course a lie, what you read about my religiosity, a lie that is repeated systematically. I don't believe in a personal God which I never denied and discussed outright. If I have inside anything that can be described as religious, it is a boundless admiration for the structure of the world, as far as our science can elucidate it."

The notion, which seems to exist according to Richard Dawkin's book The God Delusion, that very intelligent people can have an idea about God is interesting. A lesser person like myself is not taken seriously when he arrive at an own image but when a serious intellect does so it becomes almost a proof of God's existence.

What the Pope apparently does not like is that I suggest that it is actually possible to replace the Christian image of God with mine without changing anything on top. It is like with Obama's health plan: "if you like what you have, you can keep it".


Germany's Election II

Opinion: Welcome to the New Germany - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "However, the interior architecture of the new Merkel-led alliance will be fundamentally different from 'black-yellow' coalitions -- the name is inspired by the parties' official colors -- of the past. In the governments of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, it was always clear who was calling the shots, because the Christian Democrats had four or five times as many seats as their liberal junior partner. That has now changed -- perhaps forever."

Many writers discuss the development in Germany due to the grand coalition between CDU and SPD which have led to the ascent of FDP, Die Linke and the Greens. CDU have lost people to FDP and SPD have lost people to Die Linke. The turn out was also low and many SPD supporters did not bother to vote.

Der Spiegel tries to make it look like Angela Merkel will not be in charge. She does "want to be the Chancellor of all Germans" so she has already spoken about a slow and gradual introduction of the new coalition partner FDP. For the EU it now means that both CDU and FDP are against an entry of Turkey into the Union, although another source speak about a pro-Turkey stance of Guido Westerwelle. SPD advocated such an enlargement for the last 11 years. This means that Berlin, Paris and Rome are against. The new coalition will also be more friendly to the French with better function of the EU as a result. I already mentioned that the FDP is more pro-Afghanistan. They also want to change the German army into a smaller private army from the current conscription variety.

What is interesting is that the anti-capitalist Left Party, Die Linke, is larger than the Green Party. They grew a little more than the Greens. Germany is in little of a fix when it comes to its energy needs because of its dependency of natural gas from Russia. The new coalition will make it possible for them to extend the operation of nuclear energy facilities for some 15 years longer which raised the stock of energy companies since profits will go up. Vattenfall AB of Sweden actually produced 23% of the electricity in Germany last year. They use a significant amount of coal.

FDP is likely to get three or four ministers. Traditionally these would be foreign, economy and justice. Merkel have pledged tax cuts but she will be reluctant in reforming the tax system, something the FDP has spoken about. Germany has one of the most complicated tax systems on Earth and FDP have discussed a new simplified three step variety. CDU wanted to cut taxes and like in Sweden the SPD was against this when they were compounding debt due to the crisis. The new coalition will be strongly pro-Lisbon Treaty, which might be cleared on Friday when Ireland votes, this will of course create frictions in the EU if the Tories win in the UK.

Angela Merkel has vowed to create the new coalition by November 9 when Germany celebrates their 20 year reunification on the day of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and many foreign guests arrive. It is good to remember that this reunification was not popular in London and Paris but was facilitated by the US.


Today's citation

The Economist features currently a debate on climate change and one contributor cited Sheikh Yamani of Saudi Arabia who was a minister in OPEC for 25 years is supposed to have said:

"The stone age did not end because of lack of stones. The oil age will not end because of lack of oil."

Germany's Election 2009

Exit Polls Show Strong Vote for Merkel's Alliance - WSJ.com: "In a campaign widely derided as the dullest in living memory, Ms. Merkel and her rivals have stressed their belief in Germany's postwar traditions of strictly regulated markets, strong social protections and a cautious foreign policy, papering over the mounting challenges facing Western Europe's most populous nation."

The exit polls give a win for the CDU/FDP coalition with 48% of the votes, where the election system makes 47% to be sufficient. So it seems like Germany turned out like I had hoped for almost a year now since they started to speculate about the ascent of the Free Democratic Party. It is particularly satisfying now when I have parked myself in the ALDE camp of Europe ideologically. There is apparently a liberal wind blowing on the Continent and hopefully it will continue to blow also in Sweden for another year.

What is not happening in Sweden is happening in Germany, i.e., the Left party is gaining on behalf of the SPD. Is it the Law of Jante and Allemansrätten that keep the Swedish Socialdemokrater up despite the record low ratings for Mona Sahlin? Die Linke in Germany is composed of among others the old communists in DDR. Its popularity stems in part from the defection of the former SPD Oskar Lafontaine, a charismatic orator. Significant numbers of former East Germans long for the good all days when all had a job even if no one put in a full day of work.

According to a reference that Carl Bildt gave in his blog the election result is important for the relative resistance against Russia in the Caspian area and for important energy related questions. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister, was very cooperative with the Russians. Bo Inge Andersson at SVT said that the Merkel coalition would benefit nuclear power. How this is going to play out against the Schröder and Fischer pipeline deals North Stream and Nabucco, respectively, will be interesting to see.

Steinmeier tried to get votes by suggesting that Germany should leave Afghanistan. This would mean that it now might be easier for Obama to keep German support. A German Alliansen should, at least in theory, be able to work better with the US. Also for Sweden this must be a boost for Reinfeldt. He shares the popularity with Merkel and can therefore now perhaps count on the importance of the personal vote for the election 2010.


Science Optimized?

The conclusion of my last post is that the society that optimizes science the most optimizes the prospects of humankind.

I am therefore a great fan of the USA. Christer Fuglesang is coming back to Sweden today and he said in a recent interview that "we" did not go to the moon, the Americans did. It is very important to remember. We did pay a little for his space travel though but could have participated more. Gunnar Hökmark's book Världen väntar inte discloses deficits in the will of EU to promote science and the potential risks of this mistake. Both India and China are now in space and have embraced science as important. China is already spending as much as EU on science and education. Mankind will soon double its effort in science.

One question is if there is a firm correlation between the greatest political power and the greatest science program. A good political system acts like a magnet for individuals engaged in science. Using the criteria that science is top priority, Europe ought to emulate the American system. Post Lisbon Treaty politics might be geared in this direction. Is it for example possible to excel in science without a top position in world power? Scientist personality in general is not geared towards power but the generation of funds and the important relationship to industry, which is power related, perhaps makes science dependent on power anyhow?

It would of course be interesting if other ways of political back-up of science would turn out to be better than that of the US. The American researcher writes his grants with lots of detail and has to justify most of what he does diligently whereas the European researcher can depend more on his record and writes shorter and more general grants. Are these the only two ways of funding research? China has a lot of extra cash these days. Will it be possible for them to lure researchers over to their society or will they have to create research villages with different political rules? Part of America's success in science is that people move there from all over the world.

Why would smart people from India and China move to Europe rather than to the US? People in their career get very good social benefits in the US so the welfare states does not have much more to offer in this department. My medical and dental coverage was better in Philadelphia than in Sweden when I worked at the Wistar Institute as a scientist. At that age in life I must admit, however, that I did not pay much attention to these matters. Then there is language barriers in Europe and not such a good overall program and density of scientists. There might just be salary left to use as a competitive edge. A firm use of English as second language in all EU states would be good for the future recruitment of foreign scientists. EU has also introduced a blue card immigration pathway to match the green card path in the US.

Good schools for the children of scientists can be a positive stimulus in crime free neighborhoods. Therefore the prestige of the teacher profession must be raised and Jan Björklund is working well on this here in Sweden and he recently chaired an informal meeting for EU ministers in Göteborg to discuss this matter. Its the science teacher in early years that can catch the attention of gifted students and keep them warm. There must also be a feeling in the air that a student becomes part of something greater. A quest for mankind of sorts. That is why EU, if it can replace the US, is so important for smaller countries.

America, defender of the free world. How important is this for furthering science? The political context. Freedom of thought? Team spirit versus individualism? I started up in a team spirit laboratory but I became a firm believer in the individualist approach in science. Team spirit translates to biotech company work. Is collectivism in science in Europe lowering the quality?
The post doc system in the US is probably very good. The PhD graduate leaves the group for another laboratory. For new influence and cross fertilization. In Europe people tended to hang on to their group longer with less freedom and independence as a result.

What can politicians do in science? What can they do in the arts? There has been a debate recently in the Swedish press of how the Universities should break free from the state. I believe this is very important. Especially so due to the internationalist character of science. Running the Swedish state is very different from participating in international science. Hökmark writes about growing networking of European universities in his book. There is also a debate about how to fund science. How much political steering is appropriate? That depends in my mind on how much basic science character and how much research&development character there is in the science performed. Less steering if basic science.

Why is science the most important? We need to organize ourselves on Earth. This means peace and prosperity. Then there is the question of who we ultimately are. Curing diseases. But perhaps the most important front is where we are in the universe and what we will find out there. The more we will learn the closer we will get. This year we celebrate the 200 year separation of Sweden and Finland. I would love to know how things would look 200 years from now. People got caught up in all kinds of silly things during this time but science just skyrocketed. One thing that could make things move even faster is if computers, when they reach a certain size, start to be creative like humans and produce Nobel Prize worth discoveries. Ray Kurzweil is a proponent for this hypothesis. I'm not so optimistic on this notion. We don't know yet why we get new ideas.


Can Consumerism be Replaced?

Stop capitalism defining human nature Jeremy Seabrook Comment is free guardian.co.uk: "It has now been generally acknowledged that the plunder of nature must cease; but without confronting the source of those predations, our chances of survival are becoming smaller by the day. Some radical questions arise, not the least of which is why it has become so difficult to distinguish between the nature of industrialism and the industrialising of our own nature?"

It seems that Seabrook has either given up completely or that he thinks we ought to reengineeer our personalities. He sneers at consumerism but as most people doing this he does not offer an alternative pastime for the masses. Making small changes to their life by shopping people use their freedom to enrich their lives. One buys a piece of clothing another a book a third a CD.

First of all I do not completely agree that we plunder nature. We rather use resources to create a more decent way of living for most people on Earth. It is my hope that when we have achieved this for most people certain of us are already working on the next stage of human endeavor. I don't see climate change and taking care of the environment as a goal per see. Rather this is an inconvenience that we encountered on the way and one that we will solve as we progress.

Science is one of the great endeavors of man. There are things we need to know about ourselves in medicine and we need to discover more about our surroundings in space. Eventually we will be on our way. It is in our destiny. We need to know better how to organize ourselves politically. However, all of us can't occupy themselves with science. Therefore, as technology takes over our chores we will have to improve the way we socialize with each other. We have already begun with the so call social media. We constantly develop our culture and art. People seek harmony in religion.

Seabrook and others are not pleased with the interest people have going to the market. Something they have been doing for thousands of years. Maybe a little something for their home or for a friend.

Privacy and Integrity?

Marc Rotenberg: What's Privacy in the Age of Facebook?: "Modern privacy is about what happens to information once it's held by others -- whether it's a government agency, a bank, a cell phone company, or a social network site. We give up personal information all the time, but that doesn't end the discussion over privacy. That's where it begins."

This is perhaps an interesting way of looking at the problem of privacy. OK, we have lost about all information about or lives that we have. Realistically we will not get it back. How can information be controlled once it is lost. The FRA-law and other "pursuits" puts us in this situation?

Rotenberg also says:

"I smile every time someone says "Privacy is dead" or "The Facebook generation does not care about privacy". If there is one thing people feel passionately about today, that literally unites everyone that goes online, it is the interest in privacy. And the battle is just beginning."

So, where is the information gathered about us? How is it processed? Are we dealing with clandestine "judiciary" systems? I think we lack transparency into this matter.

Obama and Nuclear Weapons?

President Obama must look to home agenda despite adoration overseas Bronwen Maddox, Chief Foreign Commentator - Times Online: "In opening the UN Security Council session yesterday he called for “the day when nuclear weapons have been banned”. He put this theme, toxically eccentric a few years ago, right at the top of his personal agenda."

Where does this zeal for removing nuclear weapons fit in currently? There are at least two ways of viewing this focus on removal. At the same time as Obama is negotiating with Russia the "new" trend of removing weapons at a time when Iran is trying to get weapons might make them think - what a foolish thing to start up now when everyone is leaving the business.

However, there is another way that Ahmadi-nejad might think. The fewer weapons the US and Russia have the more our weapons will count.

I still find this amazing. No one will occupy Iran and change its regime but they can't stop threatening Iran concerning the possibility that they construct a nuclear bomb. If China and Russia pitch in at the security council, maybe Iran would be content with a civilian nuclear project but Saddam Hussein flouted 17 UN resolutions. However, China let North Korea build one of these sties in the eye of the Great Satan. North Korea and Iran for China seems like Hamas and Hizbollah for Iran. So this would indeed by positive change if it happened.

Replacing Bush with Obama at the UN, having payed up what the US owns the organization and expressed good will, probably have had a beneficial effect on inhibiting Ahmadi-nejad's scheme of turning one small country after the other against Israel. The General Assembly was quite empty when Ahmadi-nejad spoke this time according to a photo I saw on a Canadian web site.


About Obama's US, locally?

According to the Real Clear Politics average for the direction of the country only 38% think the US is on the right track versus 54% that think the US is on the wrong track.

So when Obama goes internationally in the UN and speak of his four pillars: 1) vast nuclear arms reductions; 2) promotion of peace in the Middle East and elsewhere; 3) new efforts on climate change; and 4) common resolve on global economic problems, he seems a little too busy at home for actually be believable on the international podium.

He also could have gotten a standing ovation from the EU by taking the lead on climate change. At least not yet. Or is perhaps climate change efforts the wrong track?

Happiness, like money, comes to you

Lyckan kommer - Per T Ohlsson - Sydsvenskan - Nyheter dygnet runt: "Maria Wetterstrand tänkte nog inte på det när hon gjorde sitt lyckoutspel. Hon hade nog inte heller tagit del av Norbergs redogörelse för hur många av dagens lyckoforskare febrilt distanserar sig från fattigdomsidealen och från försöken att förvandla lycka till politik. Dessa forskare verkar dessutom vara överens med stora delar av den allmänna opinionen: i en BBC-undersökning svarar 65 procent av britterna att de skulle vara lyckligare om politikerna slutade prata om lycka."

I'm not sure that I understand why politicians would not use people's reactions on matters as guidance for their politics. There are any amount of polls these days that measure if people are content with an issue or not. The word happiness does not have to be featured under these circumstances.

In my humble opinion, what is perhaps more important to discuss is in what way politicians are assaying their people. How much integrity that is lost in the process.

Reinfeldt's EU President speech at the UN

EU Presidency statement by Fredrik Reinfeldt in the UN General Assembly – Swedish Presidency of the European Union: "Iran must regain the trust of the international community, comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and contribute to peace in the Middle East."

Obama's speech:

"But if the governments of Iran and North Korea choose to ignore international standards; if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people; if they are oblivious to the dangers of escalating nuclear arms races in both East Asia and the Middle East - then they must be held accountable."

Multipolarity is hailed and no world leadership is seen as for Obama's speech. However, EU is milder in the tone as can be seen by the comparison of the discussions on Iran.

The New York Times used the word "stern" about Obama's talk. EU might have come out as the more reasonable of the two in front of representatives for the countries of the world.


Obama's UN Speech

Obama UN Speech (TEXT, VIDEO): "Like all of you, my responsibility is to act in the interest of my nation and my people, and I will never apologize for defending those interests. But it is my deeply held belief that in the year 2009 - more than at any point in human history - the interests of nations and peoples are shared"

I have followed international politics for one and one half year now and it is also my feeling that we all have passed into a new era after the financial crisis.

Obama also says:

"The test of our leadership will not be the degree to which we feed the fears and old hatreds of our people. True leadership will not be measured by the ability to muzzle dissent, or to intimidate and harass political opponents at home. The people of the world want change. They will not long tolerate those who are on the wrong side of history."

and ends with:

"We have reached a pivotal moment. The United States stands ready to begin a new chapter of international cooperation - one that recognizes the rights and responsibilities of all nations. With confidence in our cause, and with commitment to our values, we call on all nations to join us to build the future that all our people deserve."

It seems to me like president Obama is talking about the Slaughter network in the last citation. What has come out of the UN meeting so far, however, is that there is no clear world leader unfortunately. We will see after this week which also harbors the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh. However, Obama got a long applause after his speech according to Carl Bildt and DN.se.


How elected are the press, the MPs?

Veckor av läckor - Heidi Avellan - Sydsvenskan - Nyheter dygnet runt: "Och med respekten för de folkvalda."

I have a certain understanding for that the government want to tell the press first, before the MPs, because as I have seen it so far the press are more knowledgeable on the issues and on top of this publish or send the analysis immediately in a for the people easily digestible form.

Furthermore, the MPs are rarely directly elected by the people and in a way people working in the press are also indirectly elected by the public for their service.

As I already said--change the rules to the presently used fashion.

Why do we work?

Med tron som vapen Ledare Aftonbladet: "Man behöver inte ha läst CS Lewis för att förstå att vi inte agerar på det här sättet. Vi är inte enbart vårt själviska egenintresse. Och i verkligheten ökar arbetslösheten i Sverige snabbare än i EU trots Borgs reformer. Och trots en något bättre exportutveckling."

KK (Katrine Kielos?) tries to argue that Anders Borg think that we work only because of egoistic concerns. Obviously Borg understands that people work for many reasons, many that are altruistic. However, if I have understood what Alliansen is trying to do, it is preventing people from getting stuck in the so called outsideship after a crisis, which have been a pattern for some time now. Borg did not say why that is in his talk on the meeting Nya Moderaterna held recently. Probably because it is unknown. Therefore it is going to be guesswork to get out of this situation. Belief but not faith.

The logic then is if you can make people richer, i.e., more free, in the insideship this might stimulate people to activate themselves to get a job and become more free. To liberate people. This is more honorable than just complacently accepting people on welfare in the outsideship even if it creates an increased gap between the have and the have nots which happens to be the object of the plan. There is apparently also data from research that speak in this direction.

The red-greens might have plans for people in the outsideship? To create a clandestine workmarket of semi-slaves that serve the establishment? I can witness to the existence of such strategies. Then I think that it is more moral to try engaging people in the outsideship so they can live free instead of in bondage.


Between Tutelage and Loss of Integrity?

Rödgröna föraktar folket som ’slarvar bort’ sin lön: "Skälet till att vänsterblocket kunnat vinna val är att de lyckats dölja dessa värderingar. De ser ner på människorna. De anser inte medborgarna kapabla att bestämma över sin egen lön. De Rödgröna vill agera förmyndare åt svenska folket."

I have myself argued that the Social Democracy in Sweden uses "förmynderi" or tutelage as a principle for governing. I believe what irritated me was that they could not allow theoretically talented students to move faster in school when they could let athletes do this. The good aspect of tutelage is of course that in the past the state could build up knowledge that could benefit the citizen. Take for example smoking that is bad for you, many would argue today, but the problems come when you extend this to for example fatness that increases the taxburden for people that are not fat.

However, what seems to have changed the last 40 years is that civic society, and thus the traditional right of center crowd, have organized itself in knowledgebased units that potentially also set up rules for more economical living. So called "system rules" are imposed on people that in this way limit their freedom voluntarily for the good of the group and of society. A group of people can for example agree on living according to the latest in optimal health promotion. Since this form of tutelage is voluntary it should be preferable to that levied by the state, since it comes with other potential benefits like access to hot information.

The question is when a "system" begin to argue that we cost society less and therefore we want a lower tax rate. This is an delicate issue since it collides with the concept of solidarity.

Another important issue is that of a potential downside of system membership--loss of integrity. We can see this in the total lack of interest from the Alliansen for a discussion of the integrity concept at large. Involuntary loss of integrity to the state is what is called "Big Brother" hood. It is then assumed that the state can use gathered information about you in a more evil way.

The important question becomes where is the state positioned in the fauna of systems out there in terms of personal security?


Clinging to civility

Clinging to civility - The Boston Globe: "FOR ME, the real Obama moment of this back-to-work season wan’t the speech before Congress or Wall Street. It was in the Virginia schoolhouse when a ninth-grader asked him a question that had nothing and everything to do with his presidency: “And if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?’’ The president was not about to choose Lindsay Lohan. Nor did he pick Abe Lincoln. His answer was Gandhi"

Ever since the election campaign I have tried to understand the character of the 44th president. I found him unusual. Ellen Goodman delivers a new clue. He definitely doesn't want to be the bully on the playground but rather the charming, calm and irresistible center-of-the-network kind of guy.

But Gandi was one of those leaders that people worshiped. The philosopher king. Not the manager type. The question is however, if it is possible to manage the US? Perhaps it is rather managing itself these days. Paul Krugman wrote in his blog just before he went on a vacation: maybe the US is ungovernable.

I was enthusiastic about Sarah Palin for president for the reason that perhaps the US presidency is changing character. She would be more of a queen for the masses than a manager of all the tough guys on the block who run their "systems". Does Obama want to be such a king?

In a way it is similar to the Swedish case of lack of respect by the evening press to the cermonial opening of the Riksdag, celebrating democracy. Joe Wilson, the man that shouted "liar" during Obama's address to Congress, had lost respect for his president.

But "change we can believe in" is a strong and very timely statement. We have reached a new era and the first to successfully adapt will be the new leader. Perhaps Obama will pull this off in the way Anne-Marie Slaughter depicted. I like the idea.

The "Good" War in Afghanistan is very expensive?

The three trillion dollar war Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes - Times Online: "The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that's $5 million million)."

The Iraq war turned out to very, very costly. I still believe that Saddam Hussein, a monster, had to be stopped. Ahmadi-nejad is not of the same caliber. So far he does not outright attack another country even if I understand that the Israelis are worried due to his distasteful speeches. Now lately he called the holocaust a myth, again. I believe Ahmadi-nejad is working patiently on swinging the public international opinion to his favor with these speeches, hoping that anti-semitism will continue to grow in for example Europe. He is working very hard on legitimizing the placement of Israel in Palestine.

Since I don't believe that the Afghanistan effort is worth its while anymore it makes me into a person that think the "good" war is the bad war and vice versa.

So why do I make this post? Well, as I said earlier the bad reputation that comes from being involved in a war is costing more indirectly that the cost in lives and money. That can be understood from on-the-street-talk in a periferal country like Sweden. There are Swedes that like Russia more than the US because of this. Therefore, it is a very expensive undertaking that goes on in Afghanistan right now. What Stiglitz and Bilmes point out is that the war cost much more than it is advertised at. I suggest that the effect on the reputation makes it even more expensive. So expensive that wars are not really possible anymore. Only policiary actions not causing civilian causalities would work.

Principal Civilization Change--as the change we need?

Derek Shearer: Obama's America: What Is Economic Growth For?: "There has been too much talk of 'bending the cost curve' and not enough talk about how a decent country should treat all of its citizens."

Shearer, who is a former US Ambassador and now a Professor of Diplomacy at the Occidental College brings up the report from Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi from the Commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress and hopes that Sarkozy will distribute it at the Pittsburg G20 meeting. It is along the same vein as the GPI measurement that I discussed the other day.

He also regrets that president Obama did not bring on a more reformist group of economists. He chose Larry Summers, Timothy Geitner and Christina Roemer instead of Joseph Stiglitz, James Galbraith, Paul Krugman, and Barry Bluestone.

I have asked earlier for a real development in the Western Civilization that would take us to the next level of existence and set an example to follow for the developing world that perhaps even could make a short cut in their own development in order to save resources on the planet. The above might be worth considering.


Why Obama's International Policy is Changing?

Anne-Marie Slaughter on International Networks — Big Think: "Anne-Marie Slaughter on International Networks"

Prof. Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Director for Policy Planning at the State Department. I brought her interview on BigThink.com up earlier but it is worth remembering now when Obama is implementing change in his foreign policy.

She uses something she learned at law school. Thirteen year old boys organize themselves in hierarchies, i.e., the bully in the playground, whereas thirteen year old girls organize themselves in networks. The most networked girl is the leader. The goal now for the US is to become the center in a world network. Therefore they appease most countries so far. She points out that the hierarchic approach with a military and hard power is going to be less important.

From the experience in Iraq and now in Afghanistan it is becoming evident that invasions don't work anymore. Therefore the boy approach is not useful. By inspiring fear. With this approach Slaughter is turning traditional "hawks" into dinosaurs. Workable relationships becomes the norm. Condoleezza Rice actually spoke of similar measures with her realism. We need to talk to China, to Russia, in order to solve common problems that we cannot solve ourselves.

I guess the problem here is that the hawks feel like this change is the equivalent of jumping over a cliff and hoping there is going to be water where they land. If there are more hawks among the Republicans, this would be an additional divisive factor on the US society.


US-Europe Relations?

U.S. Changes Course on Eastern European Nuclear-Missile Shield - WSJ.com: "The White House is scrapping a Bush-era plan for an Eastern European missile-defense shield, saying a redesigned defensive system would be cheaper, quicker and more effective against the threat from Iranian missiles."

However, Spiegel ONLINE International informs that the deal settled between Radek Sikorski and Condoleezza Rice concerning the missile shield had not yet been ratified by the Polish parliament. If I remember right, the Polish people did not want the shield whereas the government wanted it. According to the Eurobarometer the peoples of Europe in general want to stay out of American foreign policy to a high degree. It is perhaps notable that the day selected, September 17, by Obama for telling the Poles about the change of plans coincided with the attack on Poland by the Soviets in World War II, an event the Russians have still not apologized for.

I guess Germany is now the fourth largest economy on Earth and is trusted by the US to defend the eastern border of Europe. Recently, at a meeting frequented by Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin in remembrance of the initiation of World War II the Americans did not show up on a comparable diplomatic level also indicating a loss of interest.

Obama is today also revealing that he does not intend to see Dalai Lama who is visiting Washington DC probably because of important meetings with the Chinese this fall. Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton saw Dalai Lama at earlier times in their presidencies. He is then today appeasing both Russia and China and taking a clear stand off against the Bush foreign policy.

I'm not sure I understand a continued presence in Afghanistan that keep irritating the radical Muslims of the world at the same time as Obama is appeasing Russia and China. The logical thing to do would be to appease all major problem areas. Continuing with belligerence destroys the image of peace that Obama is attempting to create with his appeasements.

The People Representing the Reality?

I'm reading the article by Göran Hägglund on DN Debatt. I'm thinking about how the Alliansen is going to get their required votes to regain command in one year. KD is not an entryport for Red-Greens as Hägglund is pointing out. Nya Moderaterna can pick a few and have recently tried. So can Folkpartiet. Thus KD has to take back votes from M if Alliansen is to succeed.

Well, the people Hägglund talks about are probably voters in M because he talkes about the silent majority like Nixon. And if this crowd exists today it is in the largest party. So why is Hägglund trying to make Social Democrats enter M and FP rather than bringing back M defectants?

I think it might be because they don't want to discuss the issue of modern Swedish family structure. I could not help laughing when I read about Anna Anka on aftonbladet.se. It is of course a caricature of the KD core family. A paradigm that currently is quite alien in Sweden. The right wing parties are rather modeled on the Reinfeldt family. Two professional individuals that are "levnadskamrater". The family values that KD stands for are probably getting rarer by the year and clearly alienates the Red-Green block.

Is it possible then for KD to regain lost M votes? M has supposedly left a vacuum to the right of its position. Or so they say. I'm afraid that it is indeed a vacuum and cannot be filled again even if Roland Poirier Martinson says so. There are very few Swedish American Republicans in this cradle-to-the-grave country.


Jose Manuel Barroso

Jose Manuel Barroso was elected president of the European Commission for another five years today. Der Spiegel International writes that he started out like a Maoist that became a center right Social Democrat of Portugal. A party that is in the EPP group, which is the largest group in the EU parliament. The article does a lot to make you loose respect for Barroso and for the EU. I guess it is one of these nationalistic moves.

However, I'm not sure the negative comments from the group leaders against Barroso makes sense. I have not seen before during his earlier five years any critique so terse as the one above. One caricature was that he acted like a political chameleon. In my humble opinion that should be an asset when you have to manage the wills of 27 countries. Johan Ingerö talked the other day about the resulting roadkill at the middle of the road. I thought the roadkills where formed on the tracks? If you stay in the middle you survive. Staying in the middle must be considered a talent for people like Barroso.

The article says that "the triumvirate, Paris, London and Berlin has long been working on increasing its powers". I guess this is a kind of reaction against the recent enlargements. Perhaps it would be strange if this did not occur. Sarkozy even talked about creating an "economical government" for the Euro group. I'm not sure why Barroso would be "weaker" than he was during the first five years though. It would be interesting to know what the latest is on the philosophy of EU integration. A triumvirate is never good however. Two is company, three is a crowd.

So Far So Good!

Japan’s New Prime Minister Takes Office, Ending an Era - NYTimes.com: "Mr. Hatoyama has promised to reverse Japan’s long economic decline by boosting social benefits and aligning policies more closely with public needs, rather than those of big business. He has also spoken of redefining Japan’s relationship with the United States, its closest ally."

However, Hatoyama tapped a Liberal Democrat, Shizuka Kamei, a "vocal critic of pro-market reforms" for a position involving banking and finance. Hatoyama is also against globalization which just might have to do with the rise of China, an age old rival.

The Declaration of the Government?

There is a unison complaint in the editorials of the two tabloids Expressen.se and Aftonbladet.se today concerning the content of regeringsförklaringen. There was nothing new in the epos in question.

However, the government had earlier in the high press, on DN.se and SvD.se, declared various new happenings for the next year and for the future. This must be a much more superior form of release of information because it will be successively discussed in the press and in the blogs instead of all coming in the same release. But perhaps at least some of the information could have been aired in the tabloids?

It might however be that the complaints are rather on the "Högtidliga öppnandet av Riksdagen" eller "Riksmötets Öppnande" as it is called today. Personally I do not se any reason for retaining a monarchy but it seems popular, except in the tabloids. Prince Carl Philip was caught blinking in one of them. And it is the job of the prince to look enticed all through the ceremony.

I see...we are celebrating our democracy. Is this not a funny way to do that, these days? The respect is gone.


The World Does Not Wait?

I'm reading the Regeringsförklaring of Reinfeldt 2009 and the book Världen Väntar Inte by Gunnar Hökmark (free on his blog). Reinfeldt is using the expression "when the turnaround comes" which in Hökmark's opinion would be dangerous. Waiting is no good. However, Reinfeldt is also using the expression "work ourselves out of the crisis". Much better according to Hökmark.

I find one paragraph in particular in the Regeringsförklaring that joins the two texts:

"If welfare is part of our earthly workday, it is sometimes said that International Politics is its opposite. Despite this, the financial crisis has demonstrated that we belong together on Earth. Our actions have effects on others. Contemplating the Nation State no longer provides all the answers."

If I have understood Hökmark's book correctly, it is an attempt to place Sweden in the world of today. It is all about these capital flows.

The core of welfare, which Reinfeldt discusses thoroughly, depends of how the industry and research in Sweden fares internationally. Hökmark mentions that we now are in the second wave of globalization. We will have to do the things we did but preferably a little better in a world where two new civilizations, India and China, start to compete on basically our skill level. Earlier, in the first wave, we bought inexpensive gadgets and sold expensive tools and skills.

There should be no problems with this using the same thinking as the US when they started up Japan and Germany after World War II. Arguably this worked much better than the penalty scheme used after World War I against Germany and we have now had peace over a times pan that is long on the conflict scale in Europe. The more the merrier.

Hökmark provides an good discussion on the situation on research and development in the EU compared to the US, Japan and China. China already spends as much as EU as percent of GDP which is about half of that of the US and Japan. I remember reading an article in Le Monde by Romano Prodi, president of the EU Commission between 1999 to 2004, where he wrote that in Japan and the US they have 9 and 8 researchers per 1000 workers, respectively, whereas in the EU they only have 5. This article then is in sync with Hökmark's data. Hökmark think this depends on how universities are organized in Europe. Prodi called it a catastrophe. It is probably wise to try to follow China in these investments in the future so that we don't have to compete with Japan, the US and China unfavorably.

Reinfeldt points out that it is useful to think in terms of civilizations also when it comes to the environment and its protection. The EU only produces 14% of global exhausts. However, finding motivation for extinguishing all those coal fires in the middle of a financial crisis is probably going to be difficult.

With a larger total market than before it is going to be more difficult to be unique and therefore there is a lot of talk to stimulate entrepreneurism. An entrepreneur is apparently someone who starts a business with a creation. A new hairdresser in the neighborhood is not considered an entrepreneur. Following public education in the US there was at the second half of the 19th century a lot of entrepreneurs and the same was seen in the second half of the 20th century only now they where stemming from an army of PhDs. There is probably not going to be a third wave because the education is saturated at present. The number of entrepreneurs are then probably coming at the same rate so growth might be hard to come by.

The relative lack of growth in the Western civilization compared to India and China is of course frustrating to watch. Even more frustrating is that the so called GPI (genuine progress indicator) had not increased since the middle of the 1970s even if the GDP has. There is a lot of talk about the GDP measurement being useless as a progress indicator. My hope is that the Western civilization is going to try to introduce sustainability to improve matters and to lead into the next developmental stage of mankind. If China and India does not beat us on it?


A Post-Democratic Era?

Interview with Declan Ganley: Just Say No to the Lisbon Treaty. - WSJ.com: "Mr. Ganley says. 'You will hear it discussed quietly across the dinner tables in certain sections of Brussels and elsewhere that we're entering into this post-democratic era, that democracy is not the perfect mechanism or tool with which to deal with the challenges of global this-that-or-the-other"

Few things stir the debate in blogs in Sweden as the famous democratic deficit of the Lisbon Treaty. If Ireland votes yes in three weeks, are we entering a post-democratic era?

What is the difference of electing a president like the Americans directly from the people, or so it seems, or having the European Council, the heads of states of the 27 member countries, electing one for us? The heads of states are elected by the people directly and perhaps these people are better suited to pick a leader among them or other for optimal function. I have a problem with how this would count as a post-democratic event. If people turn out to dislike the president they will not vote again for the heads of states.

The American system, by the way is not particularly popular among Americans right now. Relatively few people show up to vote for the president and the Congress have an approval score of 29%. More people show up to vote for the heads of states in Europe. I would go so far as to say that under the Lisbon Treaty we will get a more democratically elected president than in America.

So what is Ganley talking about in the citation above: democracy is not the perfect mechanism or tool...


China--a non-nationalist perspective

Gunnar Hökmark » Arkiv » Kina är en del av den nya tidens utmaningar: "Men utmaningen är större än så. De ideér och den politik som präglar det kinesiska samhället, med sin syn på den enskilde, demokratin och det öppna samhället får inte underminera våra värden, däremot måste vi se till att demokratin med respekten för den enskilde kan omfattas av fler i världens diktaturer."

Johan Norberg also points out that it is dangerous to succumb to China's power. Thomas Friedman's article as well as Fareed Zakaria's Chinophilia probably translates to the care of a large potential market for their respective papers, The New York Times and Newsweek.

I guess it boils down to which school of thought you adhere to rather than to which seems to become largest and most powerful. It is a matter of daring to stay with your moral compass.

Hökmark suggests that it would be possible to change people's minds in dictatorships. I'm not so sure. We have the experience of the imploding Soviet Union. People changed for a while but now they are back in defiance of Western values. The way people are organized these days probably makes it impossible to create revolutionary nuclei.

Hökmark further discusses what would generate security for the people now in a world of changed power arrangements. I believe that it is good to try to remember to which contingency you belong. The EU and the US belongs together. More similarities than differences. The good thing with a Democratic president is that the trans-Atlantic relationship is clearly improving. The Chinese and Japanese cultures, both competing for the number two position economically, are very different and does not create the same potential for security. There should not be any problems in the foreseeable future securing our values working closely with the US.

Something I feel increasingly is that we should not spend so much time fighting fundamentalist Islam, when the challenge is elsewhere in Asia. Not only do we loose good faith among the countries in the world we also loose money. The first is probably more serious. People in the world are going to use moral environmental arguments against us because they don't give us credit for generating modern science and technology. We do not need to seem belligerent at the same time.

A small country like Sweden might feel lonely, especially with the old neutrality perspective. However, however our civilization is very strong and enduring and the EU and the US together will continue to lead and prosper.


The Birth of the World Religions

On Labour Day I thought I'd rest a little so I went to the local bookstore and found an interesting title. Världsreligionernas Födelse by Karen Armstrong from 2006.

I had realized a few years ago when I studied the advent of various civilizations that the important events in the birth of religions took place at approximately the same time. At the time I drew the conclusion that God probably acted at the same time to inspire people in various civilizations to various images of God and eternity. An atheist would of course just say that it is evident that civilizations matured and developed these thoughts and customs at about the same time.

The book seemed highly relevant for me to read since Armstrong performs this study to elaborate on this question. She compares the development of Judaism, Daoism in China, the Old Greeks, and India between 900-200 BCE. However, she does not discuss the matter God at all. She just seems to be interested in the behavioral aspects. All civilizations developed the concepts of the importance of compassion and love, in this order. She puts weight on India and China and thus plays down the aspect of God.

Another aspect she brings to the discussion is that the spirituality that was born through, what she calls, the Axial Age came out of extreme violent environments. We just remembered the initiation of a slaughter of 60m people but we live in an age were we focus a lot on technology. In fact the technology perhaps created the World Wars. "There is profit in confusion". Great disturbances were seen after the iron ages also. Armstrong mean that we should perhaps take the opportunity to develop our spirituality and morals as well.

I'm not convinced that it is appropriate to play down the role of Christianity and Judaism as the World Religions that formed our present situation on Earth, which I am proud of having achieved, even if environmental pessimists tend to harass me for this. Russia and China developed Communism and as I pointed out earlier the translation of the Bible was late in arrival in Russia and never made it to China. India also flirted with Communism. Well, since Armstrong left Catholicism, I might add that my conviction is that Protestantism was important.

Armstrong makes what seems to be an interesting point and that it was the Abrahamitic Religions which developed a monotheistic transcendent God concept where as India and especially China stayed in the material world. Could the fact that we here developed a spiritual realm have been important for the development of our civilization? It promotes the unknown and might have led to the development of science and technology and a liberated mind. My question is if it is time now to fuse science and spirituality as I have suggested earlier. Bring God into our material world when we move into the third millennium of the common era.

Turkey and the EU and US?

Obama Gets High Marks in Europe, but U.S. Foreign Policy Is Less Popular - WSJ.com: "Turkey seems increasingly distanced from both the EU and U.S., despite Mr. Obama's trip to the country in April. Only 3% of Turks say the U.S. should be their country's 'major international partner.'"

Turkey's relationship with Iran is good, however. And the seaways for Russia out of the Black Sea are more secure than ever. Turkey then has to be called the most rebellious NATO country? The Turkish military might still be in NATO but the Turkish public seems to have left it.

41% of Americans think that the joining of Turkey with EU would be "a good thing" but only 12% of French and 16% of Germans do. The Europeans think of the problems of integrating Muslims in Europe which is not a problem for the Americans who mainly think of security.

Well, of Obama personally is popular but the war in Afghanistan is not, this might mean that Europeans still hope the US will retreat from Afghanistan.

Hamid Karzai has just faked himself passed the 50% level and won the election to little ovations. There is no legitimacy for him as a leader for Afghans. Obama faced his nation tonight with his speech to the Congress but did not bring up the Afghanistan problem. What a scoop for everyone, and for ObamaCare, if he just decided to leave Afghanistan.


International Migration--A Debate

Economist Debates: International Migration: Statements: "In addition to border and visa controls that regulate migratory flows, considerable cultural, linguistic and other barriers limit international migration. For example, even in the European Union, where policymakers have desperately tried to remove barriers to mobility, less than 2% of the population is thought to live in another member state. This should be compared with some 3% of Americans move to a different US state every year."

There is an ongoing debate this week at The Economist where International Migration is discussed. Found this interesting comparison in the argument of the opposition, arguing that migration is a good thing, and currently have 70% of the votes.

Even if they have been talking about moving around in Europe they are far behind the mobility observed in the US. It is probably very important for people to move to areas where work is accessible at a given time. There is a great resistance in these work related moves even inside a country like Sweden. The government is currently trying to motivate people, and even legislate, to increase the mobility.

One comment argued for less migration for maintaining diversity. It is an interesting argument since it rhymes with environmental concerns for maintaining various species in nature. However, benefits from mixing people from different areas is probably currently superior to potential loss of diversity. The people of the earth are still quite diverse and on top of this it seems like people are more or less the same and that most of the differences stem from physical attributes like skin color and the like.

Other arguments against International Migration was that given countries should be allowed to maintain their uniqueness and inspire immigrant to assimilate. However, a guest writer argued that the moral attributes for such inspiration has dwindled, at least in the US, and that multiculturalism thus is maintaining itself.

Other arguments for the migration was that there is so much economical differences among countries that some degree of equalization was motivated. It was also pointed out that migrants in rich countries send home $300b per year. A considerable aid to poor countries. Thus migration is altruistic in nature, as well as beneficial economically for the recipient countries.

Interfering with parent's upbringing of children?

Obamas skoltal: Se upp med Facebook Utrikes SvD: "- Det är en sorglig dag när det politiska käbblet stoppar någon från att tala till elever och lärare om ansvar, sade Vita husets presstalesman Robert Gibbs."

Maybe I'm getting old fashioned but I believe that a president shall leave the upbringing of children to the parents. It is not "political bickering" that people complain over being assumed to not take care of their own children. It is an attempt of moving parental authority over on the state. I have myself experienced the same problem where parental authority is replaced by the "clan" chief.

I had an early complaint during the presidential campaign concerning the use of academics as presidents. I thought that there might be a risk that they try to solve problems rather than manage their teams. The "beer summit" is an other example of a president that gets bogged down in details. It is becoming a classical problem of lack of ability to delegate.

Children are probably more clever than what people think. They find their role models in a well functioning society the goal of which should be that of the president.


German Federal Election September 27

SPIEGEL Interview with SPD Chancellor Candidate Frank-Walter Steinmeier: A CDU-FDP Government Would Be 'A Threat to Stability in Germany' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "It's good for democracy that grand coalitions remain the exception. Long-standing grand coalitions naturally pose the risk that the fringe, the extremists, will gain strength. That's another reason why the repeat of a grand coalition should not be the goal of politics."

The interviewer said that the word out on Steinmeier was that he was a secret lover of grand-coalitions but he deferred. Merkel has been flanked by the two powerful finance minister Steinbrück and foreign minister Steinmeier as SDP have had a good deal of the power in the current grand-coalition. Steinmeier apparently hopes voters will rally to the SDP and prove the polls wrong because not only does he dislike the grand-coalition the black and red but also the red-red-green which would be SDP, Die Linke and the Greens. Steinmeier does not believe Oscar Lafontaine is fit for governing since he as an SPD leader left and formed the Left Party out of the old East German communist party.

Apparently on the lands level Germany is going to be governed by black and yellow groupings, i.e., CDU/FDP which would be the same as Allianser. Steinmeier means that on the federal level a coalition between CDU and FDP is not going to materialize and that it would destabilize Germany. He is probably only tactical when he plays down the grand-coalition. If not black and yellow black and red seems the only reasonable arrangement.

Otherwise Unity governments seems to be popular. Netanyahu fought for one in Israel recently. There is thus a replacement in stall for regular democracy but because no one can talk about TTDE no one wants to discuss that. A grand-coalition in Sweden is not unlikely though. What would have to happen is just that Kristdemokraterna and the Left party falls under 4% and thus breaks both blocks, as suggested by Lena Hennel the other day a SvD.se.

Steinmeier is worried that grand-coalitions lead to the ascent of fringe parties but this did not happen in the European Parliament even if some people wanted to spread these rumors. In Germany I guess he is worried over the recent success of Die Linke in regional elections. The left party phenomenon is interesting though as a moderator for the increased dependence of energy from Russia. A new form of harmony in between the two countries.

The election September 27 will tell whether Germany will follow Sweden with an Alliansen or if Sweden might follow a grand-coalition in a year.

With a good sense of humor

Lexington's notebook The Economist: "Maybe the message will be more effective when Obama himself delivers it. But for now, the president's attempt to foist alien values such as diligence on the nation's children has met with at least one abject failure."

The question if Obama is Super Man has been settled, he is not, in fact he seems to evolve into something like Super Sossen?


Block Differences?

Culture of Sweden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Swedes have an egalitarian outlook. The concept of Jante Law is, in many areas and fields, still strong today in Sweden, and any form of elitism is likely to meet strong criticism. This attitude goes in hand with the Swedish lagomhet, the appraisal of modesty and humbleness."

I don't know who wrote this but it is interesting if it is a foreign observer. Reinfeldt made an exception the other day when he talked about Sweden as a "föregångsland". Since his approval rating seems to have gone up the last year, this might not have been something the Swedes disagreed about? Or is it only an expression of the increase in nationalism that is currently seen in EU?

I have been trying to understand what the difference, if any, there is between the two blocks in Swedish politics. It seems like the key difference is what the Red-Greens call "klyftorna", i.e., the differences in wealth seen among Swedes. "Klyftorna" can of course be derived from equality and the Law of Jante. Thus it seems that what makes about half of Swedes sympathize with the Red-Greens is some kind of comfort stemming from your neighbor not having a fancier car, and God forbid, a better job.

The problem with elitism, on the other hand, results in problem with the enthusiasm for the EU. Another reason is that Sweden after World War II have been affiliated with the English-speaking countries and the United Kingdom is rather EU sceptic. A person like Annie Johansson (C) have said that Centerpartiet does not subscribe to the Law of Jante but at the same time she is very careful not discussing elitism. Perhaps still a dirty word in politics. I have argued for EU elitism because it represents a bulwark against the elites of major systems like China, Russia and the US for a small nation of 2% of the EU population and 4% of its GDP.

What also plays in the hands of the Red-Greens is, I believe, the love for nature of Swedes and the so called "Allemansrätt", i.e., where people can move relatively freely on other peoples land to enjoy the outdoors. It is all a part of the egalitarian outlook, the so called "jämlikhet". "Jämlikhet" will be a difficult word to beat now when the unemployment figures will be double digit at the time for the election.

Wikipedia also informs that there has been large attempts to liberalize Sweden which has been Anglo-American in nature. However, I expect Germany's influence to grow again now after this cataclysmic financial meltdown. The bonus bashing is a sign of this. Both SPD and Labour are placed more to the right than the Swedish Socialdemokrater and this is probably due to their recognition of the failure of socialism to a larger extent. On top of this the Swedish Socialdemokrater are now in a coalition with the Greens and worse with the Left Party. This opens for moral support from the German CDU/CSU for the Swedish Alliansen. Don't expect Reinfeldt to turn Merkel down on the North Stream pipeline.


People without legal papers in Sweden and in the EU

There been a discussion for some time about what to do with people that become ill while hiding in Sweden and in other countries in the EU. I first encountered this problem while I was doing voluntary work for Caritas with people requesting asylum a few years ago.

Some people say that these people don't pay taxes and should not be allowed to get help from society. This is a weak argument because people on welfare with papers have the same problem.

However, I don't think this is an economical issue. It is a matter of helping a fellow human being in need. It is being civilized versus barbarian. If it is indeed regarded as an economical issue, I think it is of higher priority than many other expenses. In general I'm against strategies where people die on the streets like animals.

Freedom à la Sahlin?

Så vinner vi valet Politik Debattämnen Debatt Aftonbladet: "Rättvis fördelning, välfärd åt alla och minskade klyftor skapar trygghet och möjligheter som gör att den individuella friheten kan växa. Därför är vår socialdemokratiska dröm om frihet också en dröm om jämlikhet."

Another point of view was declared by Göran Hägglund (KD) during his Sommar program on the radio. It is proably a well known thesis: "Don't fight the rich, fight poverty". That would create the security that Sahlin is requesting at the same time as money would rightfully be returned in the form of philantropy. It would give welfare to all or at least to those that are in need.

I sense in this kind of argumentation that Sahlin wants to take care of all people--"förmynderiet", or "tutelage". "Welfare to all". Luckily most people are OK on their own. I think it is important to make this distinction or otherwise it will be very difficult to discuss individual freedom.

"Just redistribution"? Well, people that give away their own money do this more rightfully than people who give away other people's money. They also invest skilfully in other companies via the stock market. Also, why would shrinking wealth distribution create security and possibilities. Where is the link? Sounds like Sahlin thinks that individual freedom is created by security in the form of welfare. This is interesting because many people apparently think that all people need this security all the time.

Yes, it is good to know that you don't fall below a certain level, from which it is difficult to resurface, but I don't understand why this would be the driving force since most people find security in their abilities and in their jobs. Real freedom is created by government by aiding entrepreneurships and business in general and by aiding science and education.

The last sentense in the citation above is just a rewriting of the Law of Jante. Freedom is when you don't have to worry about people succeeding all around you all the time.

The mystery is why half of Sweden buys into these kind of arguments? In any case they are detrimental to the quest of keeping up steam in the age of globalization. And that steam is what secures our welfare.


Foreign born in Sweden 2008

There are 1.3m foreign born individuals, about 12%, in Sweden 2008 according to scb.se. The twenty most populous nations of birth are:

1. Finland, 175,113
2. Iraq, 109,446
3. Yugoslavia, 72,285
4. Poland, 63,822
5. Iran, 57,633
6. Bosnia-Hercegovina, 55,960
7. Germany, 46,854
8. Denmark, 46,167
9. Norway, 44,310
10. Turkey, 39,230
11. Chile, 28,118
12. Thailand, 25,858
13. Somalia, 25, 159
14. Lebanon, 23,291
15. United Kingdom, 19,460
16. Syria, 18,786
17. China, 18,256
18. Romania, 17,352
19. USA, 15,901
20. India, 15,263

In the Melting Pot, USA 2000, there was 280m people and 11% were foreign born. 52% from Latin America, 26% from Asia, 16% from Europe and 6% from other areas of the world.

A Plural Society

Samhällsorientering nyckel till integration SvD: "Sverige är, och ska vara, ett land som präglas av mångfald. Det berikar och utvecklar alla som lever och verkar här. Men vi kan inte oförblommerat välkomna all mångfald som positiv, vi måste också vara tydliga med att all mångfald inte är bra."

Nyamko Sabuni writes an article that I agree with in essence. The above citation concerns multiculturalism. Sharia is not good, there should be equality before the law. When a muslim is not allowed to change faith, it is not good. Honor killings, not good.

How do you defend multiculturalism then? I read a book review in The Economist that argued for a sharpening of arguments for multiculturalism among liberals because this book, and the sentiments around, are becoming increasingly anti-foreign. We need immigration for our economy and those who come nowadays are apparently mostly Iraqis and Poles.

Sabuni says that plurality enriches and develops all involved. I have been an immigrant in the US and I know that it is very exciting and a tumbling experience to come to a new country. This initial enthusiasm from the immigrant is contagious and creates an interface which makes people question their status quo, something that is very important for getting new perspectives. Comparing the new with the old is a very important process that has been a driving force for change all through history. The entry of muslims into Europe is a major movement of people.

Iraq is a fascinating country with a proud history where the Sumerian culture was the first of our civilizations to develop in historic time with the advent of the cuneiform writing. It is fitting that the Iraqis now can learn about democracy in Sweden and lets hope they are mostly USA Iraqis and not Saddam Iraqis, although they most probably see themselves as Swedish Iraqis.

The Americans have of course with their Melting Pot thought more about pluralism than most. William James, the first American psychologist, have written that pluralism was "crucial to the formation of philosophical and social humanism to help build a better, more egalitarian society". It is obviously so that people in the Middle East and Europe will find themselves more equal as muslims comes to for example Sweden and succeeds.

Some would argue that change is not a good thing. However, in at least the US and Japan the notion of change has created new developments in politics during the last year. Change is perhaps not the key word right now in the EU but I think it should be. Further integration of the 27 member states at the same time as the enlargement is cancelled is a winning concept along the lines of the Melting Pot. Incorporating Turkey would be too much change in the foreseeable future.

During the conference of Nya Moderaterna and an article by Maud Olofsson, the party leader of Centerpartiet the question of value constancy came up. It is important to restate that alignment to common European values is of importance and that immigrants would have to adapt the most. It is probably easier for an immigrant to understand the importance of Swedish values if they are served in the European context. At the present 5-10% immigration of muslims there should not be any problems and it is difficult for me to understand people that do worry.


Japan fascinates!

Japan's ruling party could re-emerge after losses - Yahoo! News: "'Japan isn't like the United States or Britain,' Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said Wednesday. 'We don't have a framework to carry out this transition.'"

This is in all probability an important point. One of the arguments that Yukio Hatoyama, the new leader, had was that it was time to give power back to the politicians from the bureaucrats. Yes, the "bureaucrats", whatever that means. Here in Sweden Alliansen has had similar problems with the Social Democratic power circle as they have been below in the polls most of the time since the elections 2006. Democracy in molasses?

Is Reinfeldt, like Merkel, looking for a coalition with the Social Democrats?

Chancellor Merkel Refuses to Endorse the FDP - WSJ.com: "Mrs. Merkel refuses to attack the Social Democratic Party—with which she's locked in a so-called grand coalition—or to embrace the pro-business Free Democratic Party, traditionally the CDU's preferred partner. Her failure to clearly stand for a reform-minded government with the FDP may condemn Germany to four more years of compromises."

I can't help thinking that Reinfeldt, with his speech at the recent conference for the Nya Moderaterna, might be eying for a coalition with Socialdemokraterna that would assure that the former communists do not enter the government. That is if the Red-Greens will stay in the lead with increasing joblosses that makes the "job-line" look silly. The article above in WSJ is not the first reference I see that Merkel actually would prefer to stay in a coalition with SPD, the German Social Democrats.

It is indeed the same kind of idea that President Obama has with his insistence of the bipartisanship. Sarkozy does it another way. He hires leftish politicians into his government instead. Reinfeldt is like Merkel also the more popular politician. Steinmeier and Sahlin fare about the same. Could be that the real power is disseminated in society in a different fashion that spans the party line and that the parties want to have something going in the old vein for people to feel comfortable with.

It is clear, however, that this grand coalition rule does not fit the US where there seems to be any number of issues that currently split the country in two. Torture, or "enhanced interrogations" is one of these. The republican party has 65% Cheneysians which presumably does not shun the use of "enhanced persuasion" techniques. Among such are means of lowering the intelligence on people that you term your enemies, such as the statistically more intelligent Democrats. Violence feeds violence is conventional wisdom and I have begun to wonder if there are similar differences here in Sweden.


Sixty million dead!

They remember the initiation of World War II today. It was 70 years ago. Sixty million people died.

From various media I got the impression that it has become a European affair. People commented on the relatively modest presence of the US at the occasion. The US have also more or less decided against installing the gadgets in Poland and Czech Republic that were very controversial with Russia.

In a way that makes sense because the US is busy elsewhere. There is China and Japan and there is the Middle East. Europe is now a European affair of the same total GDP as the US and 495m people. Then there is Russia, of course, but Europe will deal with them day by day and in the case of Germany with a thirty year energy deal.

This is Obama's world not Cheney's. No wonder it is popular in Europe and Russia. So popular that the EU web site does not mention the US as important for peace in Europe. Also, 2/3 of the Russians believe they had taken down Germany by themselves during WWII. I hope that does not mean that the majority of Russians sees themselves as the proper rulers of Europe.

However, Europe is probably ready for this. They have the EU, or rather the member states...

Huffington Post speculates

Cheney In 2012? Some Key GOPers Aren't Kidding: "'But if the agenda turns to security, Obama is mired in a no-win mess in Afghanistan, and the Obama administration hasn't created a single job in four years after indebting the nation for generations, maybe Dick Cheney could run on a theme of 'Change'.'"

Reading up a little on the discussion of torture. I you start such a discussion with security concerns you very easily sneak in some torture for the security of the nation. However, which I prefer, you start with human decency for our civilization there are not many situations where torture would be warranted.

They are posing the question if Cheney would be back for the next presidential election at the Huffington Post. In some poll I saw Cheney had a 35% approval so he is more popular now than Bush was during the later time of his presidency, that, by the way, Cheney was part of. For those of you that read my post yesterday about what goes on here in Sweden, without terrorists, I think Obama's position of no torture is a very important one. Especially if it is extended to the non-terrorist realm as well. John McCain attacked Cheney the other day also on the torture issue. I would not be surprised that some of the car burnings we see here in Europe are due to the frustration of being manipulated from above with TTDE.

If Cheney have 35% approval in the US he does not have it abroad and it would probably be a bad decision to elect him president. Obama's paradigm is the better one for our present world situation. However, as you might remember a person like Newt Gingrich does not think in this way. John Bolton does not either but today in WSJ he did not say that Iran's nuclear installations should be bombed. He just stated that sanctions would not work and gave reasons for this. A large question mark on Iran in other words.