Thursday, October 27, 2005

Revolutionaries to control Socialist Left?

According to Labour Union controlled paper Dagsavisen, Audun Lysbakken and Ingrid Fiskaa are likely to be elected vice chair and secretary general of Socialist Left. Both candidates, who are in their late twenties, have a background from the even more leftie youth organisation of the party. Both Mr. Lysbakken and Ms. Fiskaa are experienced campaigners in every pretentious "anti-capitalist" organisation you might imagine, and their views are well-placed on the far left side within their party.

So government party Socialist Left might choose leaders who advocate:

  • To abandon poverty, compromises must be replaced by class war
  • Private property must be abolished
  • Capitalist property must be confiscated and handed over to society
  • In a socialist society, no one can benefit from another man's work
Not exactly your average social democrat, but at least they have specified that "our strategy to break capitalism is a peaceful revolusion". Good to hear.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Socialist government befriends dictators

The new government's program states that "Norwegian aid shall not be available to programs that demands liberalisation and privatisation. [...] There shall be no demands for privatisation to erase debt." According to Morgenbladet this is full support to evil oppressors in poor countries, where human rights or civil liberties are not high up on the agenda.

Thanks to Gili T for this one.

Mother Minister

Minister of health Sylvia Brustad was accused of being a bad mother last week, when she accepted a heavy ministry while caring for a 7 months old daughter. Old and old-fashioned doctor Fridtjof Andersen said children should stay with their mother until the age of three, and the fact that Ms. Brustad's husband cares for the child didn't matter to him. I never bothered to report this "glossy-paper" story to my dear readers, until Ms. Brustad hit back in the newspapers today.

To prove her skills as a mother, Ms. Brustad assures the readers she is home by 5pm every day. If only the other ministers could follow her lead...

Friday, October 21, 2005

- Oil? What's that?

The most left winged party in the new government is Socialist Left. They've never really grasped the concept of oil production and the impact on the Norwegian society, however they have plenty of opinions about the industry. When they need extra money to fund the excessive spending in their budgets, they reduce the state part of investments in the North Sea, while at the same time they may increase the expected long-term oil income and dividend from state-owned oil companies.

Minister of Environment Helen Bjornoy, a priest that has never worked in a profit-run company, spent less than a week in her new job before she decided to screw the industry that pays Norway's pensions. After a complaint from a group of 18 year old hippies she cancelled an existing exploration license that had a window only until Jan 15th. The biggest loser this time is not the explorer, Italian state-owned company ENI, but young Norwegians who will get a smaller pension.

Update: Government sponsor, labour union LO uses its owned newspaper Dagsavisen to warn Ms. Bjornoy not to stop the exploration. Oil production in the Barent Sea is one of the main controversies within the coalition, with Labour party in favour and Socialist Left in fierce opposition.

Minister of Trondelag

The new Minister of Culture Trond Giske is well-known within culture to benefit his own region. When he was in the committee of culture, and gnorhat was a lowly regional jazz lobbyist, he was labeled part of the "Tronder-Mafia" in the parliament, that tried to place every public Krone in that region.

As a minister you're supposed to fight for the country as a whole, but Giske's first move as a minister was placing the new Museum of Rock in Trondheim, capital of Trondelag.

Surprised? Not really.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

- Kindergarden teachers are the best leaders

The appointment of Heidi Grande Roys as "minister of renewal of public sector", has attracted criticism for leading business leaders. This blog doesn't find it very surprising at all, after all the socialist government only promise is not to renew public sector over the next 4 years. Under the chapter "Renewing and modernising public sector" they promise to remove freedom to choose, give labour unions more influence and cementing old structures. This is probably the reason why they changed the department's name from Department of modernisation, too....

The teachers' union is mad at the business leaders for laughing at Ms. Roys' appointment. Not very surprising, being leftwinged and supporting a fellow teacher. Labour union leader Mr. Folkestad claims that "People working with kids all day are the best leaders, and certainly know how to work in a rapidly changing environment". If that is the case, why hasn't the teacher's union came up with a new idea for decades?

Nationalist expansion?

Party veterans J.J.Jakobsen (Farmers) and S. Ornhoi (Socialist Left) demands stronger military presence in the Artic areas. Although it is unique that socialists want to strengthen anything that has to do with the army, it is more worrying that they want to "place cannons on Spitsbergen". The area is administered by Norway, but regulated by an international treaty. Farmers party tried to occupy Greenland in the 30's, and landed Norwegian sources on the autonomous Danish island. Hopefully they won't try to pursue ancient history through the army again.

Russia also has interests on Svalbard, and it's not excactly good timing to piss them off over three boats while Norway negotiates major oil interests in the Barent Sea area.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Halvorsen gets a sweet welcome

On her first full day in the job, Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen from the Socialist Left party was welcomed to the job by a young man with a cake. Realising he was unwrapping the cake in front of her, she started to run but was hit in the back of her head with the cake.

What a waste of good cake.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Government of don't-knows (to be updated)

New prime minister Jens Stoltenberg presented his new cabinet today, and what struck most people seem to be the lack of education and relevant background. Most of these people would only be attractive for a company because of their contacts within a political party, and lack any useful skills when running a part of a country. On the positive side there are fewer teachers than expected (only 2!), and the prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and minister of regional issues are well-educated and knowledgeable. They could have a tough guiding this gang though.

Would you invest in a company with this management board?

Oystein Djupedal (Socialist Left)
Minister of Education
Responsible for doing what the socialists mistrust parents to do: Raise children. No higher education, only 2-3 years worth of real work experience. He's got 20 years in politics, but still doesn't understand basic principles about market economy.

Helga Pedersen (Labour)
Minister of Fisheries
Knowledge of Russian could be useful, except ministers are not supposed to negotiate directly. Likely to defend her regional interests rather than national, but at least she's got some education.

Sylvia Brustad (Labour)
Minister of Health
Finished high school, never had a job outside of politics.

Karita Bekkemellem (Labour)
Minister of equality and consumers (mainly family issues)
No education after high school, a couple of years in a junior public job.

Odd Eriksen (Labour)
Minister of business
No education.

Terje Riis-Johansen(Farmers Party)
Minister of agriculture
No education, farmer.

Kristing Halvorsen (Socialist Left)
Minister of finance
As mentioned earlier, no relevant education or experience.

Bjarne Hakon Hansen (Labour)
Minister of labour and social issues
A teacher.

Liv Signe Lavarsete (Farmers Party)
Minister of transport and communication

And the most obvious one:
Heidi Grande Roys (Socialist Left)
Minister of "renewal " (of public sector)
Leadership experience from running a kindergarten, no relevant education or experience. But after all she's just placed there because it would look bad if the socialists shut down the previous Ministry of modernisation, so someone's got to sit there and pretend to be working. Perhaps a good place to recruit people from the labour unions into?

Another observation is that LO, Norway's largest labour union and sponsor of the new government, was given the chance to veto the ministers of business, labour and environment, as well as given guarantees on certain areas. Did anyone say independent government?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Sociologist to become minister of finance

Newspaper VG reports that Kristin Halvorsen, leader of Socialist Left party, is to become new minister of finance in Norway. Ultimately in charge of the state's economy, central bank and a NOK1,200bn fund, one might expect the new socialist government to choose someone well-qualified, as Labour Party and the centre-right coalitians have done in the past, but not so.

Kristin Halvorsen has never cared about finance, money or anything but raising taxes. She doesn't know the first thing about economics, or accept the general principle of supply and demand. Ms. Halvorsen thinks reducing oil investments (and thereby extraction) is a smart way to raise more money over the budget, and that inflation and interest rate is better controlled by a politician than a central bank.

Norwegian Socialism Exposed presents the CV of Kristin Halvorsen:

Name: Kristin Halvorsen
Age: 45
Address: Politically correct address, East Oslo

Sociology (1 year)
Criminology (1 year)

Work Experience
Two gap years to be hippie
Secretary in a law office for two years

Other relevant experience
Member of parliament since 1989

The secret socialist document

Several news stations have reported that the three socialist parties have agreed on a platform and the members of cabinet for the new government, taking over the positions firstcoming Monday. The program platform is expected today, although the parties reportedly told press that they have a "secret document" with the things they don't want to tell the public about.

One sarcastic observer stated to this blog that he already had seen this secret paper, and the document is as follows:
"Do you make money? Where can we come and get them?"

Monday, October 10, 2005

- More money on the dole than from working

Socialist Left has long advocated a sharp increase in social security to "reduce poverty". Labour Party newspaper Dagsavisen reports that the suggested new level of social security would give a single mom-of-two NOK300k/year, which is more than 40% of the working population is earning.

The socialists have never cared much about labour policies except protecting workers and increasing benefits. I'm not sure if they've ever looked into the correlations between high benefits and less supply in the labour market, but I'm quite sure they don't really care. If this proposal had gone through, you'd get NOK5k/month less from working in a shop than claiming benefits. Guess once what some people would do...

On the other hand, it's likely that Dagsavisen wrote this story after Labour Party tipped them off, to make it harder for the Socialists to argue their case in the ongoing negotiations.

Friday, October 07, 2005

WTO exploding in the new government's face?

Norway is in the G10 group (also called "we don't care if you're poor"-countries) in the ongoing agricultural negotiations in WTO. According to at least two newspapers, the group is about to make massive concessions to food-exporting countries. Sources have been speculating about a 50% cut on all tarrifs above 90%, something that would make imported food cheaper than Norwegian food. Obviously the effect on the Norwegian agriculture, which is small-scale and inefficient, would be massive.

Foreign minster Jan Petersen and Minister of Agriculture Lars Sponheim have summoned the party leaders of all parties to a special meeting in the parliament, apparantly to sum up the current situation on the WTO trade negotiations.

Although most of us wouldn't mind cheaper food and actual development in Africa, Norwegian farmers are terrified of this situation. The new socialist goverment probably is as well, since they take over government two days before Norway has to flag sides. Farmers Party, although normally quite pacifistic, will want to nuke the WTO headquarter, and the Socialist Left is likely to believe that more people in Africa would starve if they started food exports (after all, supply is constant and there is already lack of food, oh wait, they don't really know what supply is...).

If the WTO succeeds, Norwegians will have the benefit of buying cheaper beef instead of a 25 years old cow, while helping developing nations at the same time. At the same time, if all Norwegian farmers went bust tomorrow, we'd face a negible increase in unemployment, and would save the money spent on benefits by not paying any subsidies.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Socialists want to control businesses

Karl Erik Schott-Pedersen, who is likely to become head of the Labour Party's parliamentary group, stated yesterday that the new government will reinstate a law to control companies' mergers, acquisitions and layoffs. The announcement was made during a televised debate.

specifically, the new government wants to reinstate "ervervsloven", or loosely translated Acquisitions Act. The law states that companies buying property or another company have to report to this to the government, which can block any purchase of any Norwegian company.

The law was first in place from 1995 to 2001, at an estimated cost to businesses of NOK200m. Of the 2000 acquisition cases considered by the government, none were blocked.