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?


Blogger Jarle Petterson said...

One of the characteristics signifying Norway’s model of government, is the intentional lack of ministerial expertise in the respective departments of government – a treat shared by most countries ran in accordance with parliamentarian traditions.

One might argue that professional skills, such as proposed by the late Benito Mussolini (in reference to his plans for a corporative state), would benefit state efficiency by the numbers (I, for one, am inclined to think so), but the fact remains; that’s not in compliance with our democratic model. Which isn’t to be blamed on this government in particular.

Utter system criticism on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. I suspect that’s what you’re getting at, and believe me; I’m not in total disagreement. Let’s just not confuse man and ball.

The appointed government (and its level of competence) meets the requirements of our parliamentarian model, separating political leadership from that of the departmental officials’. In sum, let’s agree on the fact that our system isn’t completely flawless, but we are, nonetheless, talking system here – not parties operating within it.

Blogger Gnorhat said...

Jarle, I do see your points. However most previous governments have appointed someone with some sort of experience one way or the other. The common factor for some of the new ministers seems to be the lack thereof.

Blogger Jarle Petterson said...

Of course, you too are onto something here. It’s been said that our governments’ compositions are intended to reflect an average of the country’s total population – in order for them to act on its (said average) behalf, as its true executives.

If Mr. Stoltenberg took this into consideration, it would imply nothing less than a decrease in the sum total of the population’s formal competence, which may well be true. Still, I’m fairly confident of the cabinet’s approximate popular representation, I’m afraid – which in turn indicates that previous governments’ composition have been above par, thus – representing misrepresentations, if you get my drift.

If, for a moment, I’m to act as the devil’s advocate, I wonder which is really preferable: Democratic representation or proficiency?

Blogger Gnorhat said...

Well, if they are supposed to reflect the population as a whole, why do you have to sacrifice your family and work for a political party? Why is it so hard to stay in politics if you have a "real" job? Most of the new cabinet members grew up as active politicians, and stayed there.

Winston Churchill once said that "The best argument against democracy is a 5 minutes conversation with the average voter". Perhaps it's time to swap 'voter' with 'cabinet member'?

Blogger Jarle Petterson said...

I think I owe you an apology, as I’ve taken the role as the mentioned devil’s advocate all along, seeing as I’m devoid of any trust in politicians as such, whatever the party (, which is to say that we probably agree on the view of democracy’s inadequacy.

Having said that, I chose the current system as basis for my chain of thoughts. Apart from that, a government’s - any government’s – influence on our everyday lives is extremely limited (luckily, if you ask me). Which makes its composition all the more irrelevant. Offer ministerial posts to the homeless. Chances are we’d be none the wiser.

Anonymous Hans Henrik Lichtenberg said...

Man, I just love you way of putting things in perspective. If you are up to some joint research I am ready to do a European version of your "Government of don't-knows"

Best regards from Denmark

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And your research is no good at all. YOU are the real dont-knower""


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