Saturday, June 11, 2011

Denmark, Prelude and the book "The World's Best Place: Norway and the Norwegians"

Tomorrow morning I'll be off to Glostrup a town close to Copenhagen.  The drive will be through Sweden.  Originally the plan was to travel to Trondheim unfortunately right now it's flooding in Norway, and the road between Oslo and Trondheim looks like a big Wet n' Wild ride.  Did the floods from Brisbane move to Norway?  Seems like it has.  It will be my first time in Denmark and Sweden.  This weekend is a long weekend, Monday's Pentecost hence the short getaway.

Yesterday I stumbled upon this book entitled "The World's Best Place: Norway and the Norwegians" and purchased it this morning, it's an ebook and well worth a read if you're interested in understanding why the UN thinks this country is the best place to live or if you want to live in Norway.  The author Solveig Torvik provides a public discussion which is well worth a watch and also talks about differences between Norway and the US.  Here's some things to think about.  The welfare system here is incredible but to me it's not worth what it is since I do not make use of it at all and do not plan to make use of any of the welfare anytime soon but if you have a family, the welfare system is a total boon.  Also there's a whole list of contradictions and hypocrisy, drilling oil as fast as possible (Norway even has obtained permission to drill in postwar Iraq!) while promoting to be green and peaceful, giving the impression that Norwegians treat everyone equal and yet publicising everyone's salary for everyone to see :)  Taxes range from 40% all the way up to 80%, other than income tax there's the hidden tax on food, sales tax, clothing tax, etc.  There is no individual accountability (which I have experienced first hand).  The average time Norwegians were absent from work not including vacations was 4.8 weeks in 2004.  That means on average they only work half a year including holidays.  By 2009 the number of workers calling in sick were even higher.  Norwegians are absent from work due to sickness every 14th workday (The welfare system has no incentive not to be sick :)).  As for the high salaries myth if you take into account actual purchasing power, KPMG ranks Scandinavians as the poorest in Western Europe when disposable income was adjusted for the cost of living and Norwegians ranked the second lowest in the Nordic countries.  That is certainly true, for me I'm not here for the salary but the experience.  I was far better off working in Australia.  Certainly there are good things too like Norwegians' concern for the common good, but you're just going to have to read the book if you want to know more!  I've read it once but will probably re-read it again.

There's also a page on facebook discussing if Norwegians are cold.

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