Lorin Peters - Norway is slightly longer than California. We sailed 1,500 miles each way, with 68 port calls. We saw maybe 1,000 islands, and endless mountains and fjords. But there are 51,000 more miles of coastline, and 238,000 more islands, we still have not seen.
Norway has discovered lots of oil and gas. The cost of living is about double what it is in the US. Norway is largely unionized. So wages are equally high. Their parliamentary system has eight different political parties. So everyone has a voice, and everyone is represented in power proportionally. They have lots of practice at negotiating and cooperating. There is a strong sense of community and solidarity. And they extend that to foreigners and immigrants. Refugee agencies have been overwhelmed at present with donations from the public. Even though their population is 63 times smaller than the US, they are welcoming far more refugees from the Middle East than is the US.
The government provides excellent services for almost everything. Maternal and paternal leave is several times what it is in the US. Childcare is well organized and free for all children from age one. May 17 is their independence day, but instead of celebrating with military parades, they parade their children in their respective ethnic dresses. Education is free through university. Hospitalization is free. Alcoholism is treated seriously – for their first DUI, they lose their license for one year; for their second, they lose it for life.
New roads and railroads and other infrastructure are booming. So unemployment is less than half of what it is when the US economy is doing well. Gandhi taught, “Judge a system by its treatment of its poorest citizen.” Their socialism seems to me to work far better than our capitalism. Taxes are high, maybe double what they are in the US. Jesus of Nazareth said, “The kingdom of heaven is here. But in order to enter, the rich must share their wealth with the poor.” Norway seems to me to be entering.