Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Something's rotten in Norway ...

So I'm behind in my reading, and I just caught up with this "perspective" in the NY Times designed to poke big holes in the idea that Norwegians must be happy because they are a wealthy country with lots of social welfare programs. Au contraire, you stupid envious pinko leftie Americans: Norwegians are miserable! The caption of the accompanying photo sums up what the writer feels is the leading indicator of Norwegian impoverishment: "In nominally rich Norway, most people bring their lunch to work." He goes on to cite this chilling example:
One image in particular sticks in my mind. In a Norwegian language class, my teacher illustrated the meaning of the word matpakke - "packed lunch" - by reaching into her backpack and pulling out a hero sandwich wrapped in wax paper. It was her lunch. She held it up for all to see.

Oh my god ... she had to eat a homemade hero sandwich for lunch. I'm gasping for air just thinking about it!. But wait, there's more: their library collections are outdated, their swimming pools all need repair and they just don't have enough policemen! Furthermore, Norwegians, you will be distressed to learn, "live more frugally than Americans do. They hang on to old appliances and furniture that we would throw out. And they drive around in wrecks." Oh the poor dears ... perhaps we should start a foundation to help all the poor deprived Norwegians move to Mali or Burkina Faso?

Sure, stuff is more expensive in Norway, which no doubt contributes to the Norwegians frugality, but I wonder if it ever occurred to the writer that living frugally and not creating needless waste is considered a virtue in Norway? That maybe people who could trade up to big shiny new cars prefer not to because they find their happiness elsewhere? That maybe living in a place where police represent a growth industry isn't really all that desirable? That his entire point of view is completely distorted because he's a rich guy from a fucked-up, ultra-consumerist hellhole of a country?

Whew. Time to go stick my home-packed lunch of a simple potato into the microwave ...

UPDATE: dang, I was hungry and I forgot another "favorite" part of the article mentioned above. The author whines that the "Scandinavian establishment," in order to buoy belief in the benefits of a social welfare system, "serves up a picture of the United States as a nation divided, inequitably, among robber barons and wage slaves, not to mention armies of the homeless and unemployed." Yeah? So? It's not like that's a lie or anything, in fact it's a very accurate characterization of the country I live in.

I know, I know, I'm talking about the New York Times ... why am I surprised?

4 comments:

B. W. Ventril said...

Don't forget their five weeks of vacation a year. Those poor bastards. Social democracy doesn't work. When will people learn?

dickumbrage said...

are you sure the NYT didn't just lift this out of the duke chronicle?

AK said...

Frugality, mind you, is just a gasp away from communism. We have worked long and hard in our great country to eradicate frugality. It hasn't been seen here since the Great Depression and you know where that led to - FDR and his New Deal. But after many decades of easy credit we need not fear frugality. Our buying power is tops. Can't those poor blighters see that liberty and freedom goes hand in hand with consumer joy? To think that an entire country would pack a lunch and thereby rob profits from righteous upstanding transnational corporations that have served milliions of freedom fries to ecstatically happy wage slaves everywhere, boggles the mind. In fact, the very act of packing a lunch could be considered a form of terrorism. Having just eaten my homemade sandwich I feel downright unAmerican.

Anonymous said...

You've got to feel bad for them. So what that they are guaranteed health care. It isn't worth living if you have to eat a sandwich from home (which is healthier than the fast food americans eat . . . which just means more miserable years of homemade lunch eating).