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In the past couple of weeks, interjection to the president’s extremist comments about Haiti and African countries he can’t even name — remember “Nambia”? — as good as the stamp of capitulation he awarded future immigrants from Norway, we’ve seen a extraordinary volume of explanation about that advantageous country. Let me just say: those Norwegians he’s so fervent to entice over are my ancestral people and, interjection to years I’ve spent in that country, my friends. Donald Trump should know one thing: if he and his Republican backers really knew the law about life in Norway, they would be clamoring to build a second “big, fat, beautiful” wall, this time right along the Eastern seaboard.
One thing is incontestable: a mass of Norwegian immigrants (however extraordinary the thought) would poise a genuine hazard to Donald Trump’s America. They would bring to the shores their on-going values, modernized ideas, and shining indication of social approved governance — and this country would never be the same!
It’s tough even to start to suspect what a Norwegian-ization of the United States competence mean. But just for a moment, try to picture how bizarre the country would be. After all, formed on life in Norway, you would have to assume that the beloved land would remove many of its twenty-first-century landmarks. Gone would be its changed ghettos and slums, its boarded-up schools, hospitals, and libraries in the heartland, not to pronounce of its heirloom infrastructure: collapsing bridges, antique trains, clogged roads, and poisonous celebration water.
To grasp what’s at stake, consider how such immigrants would have reacted to the Republican taxation “reform” bill, praised by the boss as “the biggest achievement” of his first year in bureau (which, by his own account, is the biggest year in American history). That bill, filled with diverse handouts meant to guarantee the votes of particular Republican legislators, guarantees that the super abounding and their mega-corporations will get richer still in perpetuity. It is, in its own way, a stately strain to future heights of mercantile inequality (in a country already ranked the many unsymmetrical in the grown world), as it cleverly passes on to the children of the un-rich classes a inhabitant necessity arrogant by an additional $1.5 trillion.
It is, of course, the inlet of any taxation devise to redistribute the resources of a republic in some fashion, even nonetheless Republicans use the word “redistribution” only to asperse Democrats who spasmodic advise a little something to help the poor. But redistribute those Republicans did in a dictatorial way, surrendering nonetheless some-more of the inhabitant resources to the tiny group of people (many of whom also occur to be their donors) who already pocket almost all of it. As the Republicans were essay the taxation bill, the top 20% of households were already holding home 90% of the American pie. Now, they will get more.
That’s accurately the kind of “achievement” that no Norwegian council would ever approve. All 9 parties now in that country’s parliament, from left to right, would have assimilated in ripping up that Republican taxation check and replacing it with a much easier one directed at redistributing the nation’s resources honestly to every last one of its citizens.
As a start, they would have tossed in the rabble can the singular many simple plan of Trump and the Republicans: making the abounding richer. Norwegians have prolonged worked to do just the reverse, formed on a timeless self-assurance that inequality creates elites that corrupt and destroy democracy. That’s where politics come in: devising mixed systems to umpire a entrepreneur economy and guarantee democracy.
For example, two inhabitant confederations, of trade unions on the one palm and corporate enterprises on the other, annually negotiate income and operative conditions, while minimizing the disproportion between high-paying and lower-wage jobs, between CEOs and workers. As a result, Norway’s income equivalence is nearby the top of any general list. America’s, not so. On normal in 2014, for instance, American CEOs grabbed 354 times the income of their workers. For many corporate chiefs that figure hit good over 1,000 times the income of a median employee, while in Norway for every dollar the worker earned, the normal Norwegian CEO took home 58 bucks.
Equitable paychecks may delayed down the origination of Norwegian billionaires, but the country’s altogether customary of vital is among the world’s highest. The U.S. ranks much reduce on general evaluations, nonetheless with its measureless and still fast flourishing opening between the plutocrats and the rest of us, it’s tough to calculate a suggestive “standard.”
While those new Norwegian immigrants were at it, they would fast pierce to simplify the taxation system. That, of course, is accurately what Trump and the Republicans betrothed — you remember that “postcard” you were going to mail to the IRS — even as they done all nonetheless some-more complicated. In Norway, the supervision not only simplifies the taxation system, but total out, on a on-going scale, what every taxpayer owes and then sends out the bills.
Those dangerous Norwegians are rare adequate to be grateful. They gladly compensate up since taxes fund the country’s concept open gratification system, which guarantees that strikingly high customary of vital to a whole society. (That word “whole society,” by the way, is the definition of the word “social” in the word “social democracy.”) Keep in mind that all Norwegians have the right to concept open health care, concept open preparation by veteran schools or university and beyond, caring of the aged and disabled, paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, subsidized early childhood preparation (from age 1), affordable housing, state of the art open transport, and a raft of other services that take the worry out of daily life. The locate is — and we can already hear the blast footsteps of the Republican flock as it heads in panic for its top secret fort — if Norwegians can’t trust the government, they kick it out and elect another.
We Americans, on the other hand, have been taught not to trust any government, but rather to admire the shining super-rich people who own this one, and so to let them pocket the taxation income and consider nothing the reduction of them for their coherence on Republican handouts like that taxation bill. Consider the conditions this way: Norwegian governments spoil their citizens, while President Trump and the Republicans despoilus typical Americans. And that just goes to show how much they trust us to take caring of ourselves — so much so that they’re now formulation to condense Medicaid and Medicare, leaving us “free” to set onward into illness and death on the own. And if that isn’t the good old American suggestion of free enterprise, what is?
Striking “Oil” With Fair Wages for Women
To explain how Norway pays for all those social programs, almost every American commentator, even when theoretically sensitive to the Norwegians, points to the income from the country’s North Sea oil fields, detected and grown in the 1970s. On that, however, they are mistaken.
Norway’s gratification state programs are upheld not by oil revenues but by fatiguing the citizenry. (While some of those citizen taxpayers are paid for working, directly or indirectly, in the oil business, as of 2016 they done up only 7% of the Norwegian workforce.) So to know how Norway can means to compensate for the genuine contentment of its people in such an considerable way, you need to demeanour at those taxation rolls, which very scarcely doubled in the 1970s when women walked into the workplace (and politics) in a major way — and at income close to relating those of men. In 2016, the Ministry of Finance distributed that the labor of women combined to the net inhabitant resources a value homogeneous to the country’s “total petroleum wealth” combined by that North Sea oil and held in the world’s largest emperor resources fund, worth in 2017 some-more than one trillion dollars.
It’s flattering frightful to consider of hordes of immigrants from such a country alighting on the shores, deliberation the radical reality I’ve just described, the extraordinary thought that you could upgrade an economy in a indiscriminate way just by requiring satisfactory income for women. Not to discuss that with the taxes those women pay, you could entirely fund free concept child care, the miss of which drives American women from the workplace back home, where Republicans consider they belong. In the U.S., nothing of the good old child leaders would dream of enacting programs so… well, unpatriarchal. Or how about another thought I’ve listened from many Norwegians: that gender equivalence is the pivotal to the good life?
But about that North Sea oil money: it, too, represents a kind of meditative definitely visitor to this country. Oil is something we Americans trust we understand. Spill it in Alaska, brief it in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, cavalcade for it in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (thanks to the need to secure Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s opinion for that taxation “reform” bill), as good as up and down the coasts of the country (except for Florida, the home of Trump’s favorite golf club). We don’t mind what you do with it as prolonged as you keep down the costs of moving the outsized vehicles over the old-fashioned highways.
Norway, on the other hand, owns 67% of the shares in Statoil, the Norwegian oil company that controls those North Sea wells, even as it leads the world’s changeover to electric vehicles. It’s a country with a conspicuous record of building and adopting new technologies while phasing out the old, so its workforce is always employed. By law, the supervision spends no some-more (and customarily less) than 4% of its yearly oil increase on stream expenses. The other 96% or more, it pours into that trillion-dollar emperor resources fund. That, in turn, has been set aside for the future, for the country’s children and their children, nonetheless some Norwegians, famous for their worldwide charitable and peacemaking activities, now introduce to give much of it divided to other lands that may need it distant more.
Here’s a doubt for future American administrations: Could they request for some of that Norwegian income to build an East Coast wall against Norwegian immigrants or maybe to help the kids compensate off that estimated $1.5 trillion in debt Trump and the Republicans just handed them in the new taxation bill? Could we take advantage of those radical Norwegians but even vouchsafing them into the country? I’ll gamble Trump could finagle that.
Selling F-52s to Norway
It’s likely that Norway came to Trump’s mind in that assembly with Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham (among others) as some halcyon source for future white Republicans only because, the day before, he had met with its estimable and very white primary minister, Erna Solberg. (Surprised observers of the assembly tweeted that Solberg speaks better English than the American boss — as many Norwegians do.) “Erna,” as Norwegians — for whom everybody is equal and on a first-name basement — call her, is the personality of the Conservative party. She heads a bloc supervision in which the top 3 positions are held by women. That in itself competence have caused Trump to keep his hands in his pockets, but apparently he wasn’t told. It’s likely he mistook “Conservative” for “Republican,” but as a matter of fact, all 9 of Norway’s domestic parties now in council are good to the left not just of the Republicans but of the Democrats and, yes, even that eccentric “democratic socialist” from Vermont.
At the moment, only one Norwegian cupboard member, Silvi Listhaug of the worried Progress Party, competence be deliberate amply neoliberal, uber-Christian, and meant to fit into Trump’s regime. Perhaps that’s since her early training enclosed a 2005 internship in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
In Norwegian terms, Erna mostly tilts dangerously to the right under the vigour of U.S. and British neoliberal mercantile theorists. It has to be tough for the personality of a tiny country — 5 million people, half the race of Haiti — to conflict vigour to heed to the strict instance of a republic that styles itself the many well-developed on Earth. Erna herself is a polite, wary politician who, on returning from her revisit to the White House, positive reporters in Oslo that President Trump was “a normal man” with “a clarity of humor.” Apparently she didn’t discuss Trump’s self-proclaimed domestic acumen, egghead brilliance, or overwhelming “America First” unfamiliar policy. Norwegians reading their morning papers could, however, fill in the blanks.
At a corner press discussion with Erna, Trump proudly announced that, last November, the U.S. had delivered the first F-52 and F-35 warrior jets to Norway, partial of a $10 billion sequence of American military equipment. Norwegians are, in fact, stubbornly antithetic to fight and consider of their demure merger of way too many over-priced, overdue, bug-plagued F-35s as a surcharge on NATO membership. But F-52s?
That entirely illusory plane, as it turns out, exists only in the video diversion Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. (Do you suspect Trump spends his executive time personification commander-in-chief?) Norwegians are having a good laugh, while their commentators are observant “thanks, but no thanks” to Trump’s immigration invitation. If they really meant it, then maybe we can relax and forget about that wall along the Eastern seaboard.
On the other hand, judging by their press, an awful lot of Norwegians are even some-more confounded and hurt than we are by Trump’s extremist slurs about “shithole countries.” What’s more, just days after returning to Norway, Erna Solberg rolled out her new government, a bloc of 3 parties, all led by women, and a gender-equal cupboard to run ministries focused not only on invulnerability or finance, but also on meridian and the environment, eldercare and open health, investigate and aloft education, family and equality. Erna announced that the height of this new supervision would be “greener” and committed to nutritious the gratification state. And this, in Norway, is a center-right government.
You see what we meant about Norwegian ideas being totally at contingency with Trump’s America. Still, Trump competence play that to his advantage. If he and his Republican supporters in Congress confirm to build that East Coast wall after all, they competence be means to get the Norwegians to compensate for it — not to keep them out, but to keep us in.
Ann Jones is a journalist, photographer (Getty Images), and the author of eight books of nonfiction, many recently, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars—The Untold Story. She writes frequently for the Nation and TomDispatch.com.