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Swedish Welfare

If Americans never understand what a social welfare system is, how it salves wounds of our gross economic inequality, why it is one of the most humane, advanced, amazing efforts we as humans can band together and work on, then this country will continue to go down the toilet.† Here is an exceptionally well-written, non-exceptional story, copied out of a tweetstorm by Alison Gerber — you’ll find that link to be dead, likely because Ms. Gerber’s thoughts attracted tons of attention, and in this toilet bowl internet era we live in, likely lots of death threats. Or worse: requests to do television interviews. Anyway:



If you attempt to explain why you should vote to help others while exempting morality and selflessness (which can quickly veer into the tautological) from your argument, you’d be left with an argument from selfishness:

Why are you “owed” a police force, why are you owed a fire department, why are you owed clean water or electricity, why are you owed laws that protect your ideas through patents or copyrights, why are you owed anything you enjoy through a civil society that makes your life demonstrably better than a libertarian wet dream like Zimbabwe?

I’ll tell you why. Because as a civil society we’ve decided what’s a part of the commons, that which we can not individually afford but whose existence we recognize, serves us all. I have news for you: my life is better and more secure if you and your kids aren’t bankrupted by medical bills. My life is better if everyone has safe streets and food. My life is better when the next generation is well-educated to continue the prosperity of this great nation. No one is owed, but it is a gift we give to each other as citizens and the price we pay to enjoy the blessings of our forefathers. And it is the height of hubris to presume to take that gift of a civic society and act as if it never existed before you showed up.


People With Guns Kill People

Congressional gun control legislation is falling apart:

I can’t stand that this is what America is; that we trade our children’s lives for the opportunity to purchase items specifically invented for killing. I can’t stand it. It’s pathetic and embarrassing and barbaric.

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Denmark Taxes

I’ve been thinking about this one for SEVEN MONTHS, and finally decided stopped being lazy enough to post it. Denmark Thrives Despite High Taxes:

Mr. PETERSEN: Yeah, there’s a kind of slack in the system.

KESTENBAUM: Denmark has an interesting kind of hybrid economy. It has this huge welfare state, but it has also fiercely embraced a lot of free market ideas. The unemployment benefits are generous, but it’s also very easy to fire people. That makes the economy nimble. Employers can get rid of workers when they dont need them and hire them back quickly when they do. Petersen says losing your job here is just not that big a deal.

Now, all countries face choices like this: How do you want to set up your economy? Those decisions shape how you live and your psychology. In Denmark, for instance, there aren’t severe class distinctions because the poor get helped, the rich get taxed, so everyone gets squashed into a big, fat middle class.

One economist told me: Look, we dont have any geniuses and we dont have the best pro athletes - they leave because of the high taxes - but overall we’re doing well.


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Farouk al-Kasim

Norway is a huge exporter of oil. Here’s an article about “The Iraqi who saved Norway from oil

Norway’s state oil company, StatoilHydro, is internationally recognised as a competitive commercial player and one of the most environmentally and socially conscious ones to boot. Since 1996, every krone the government has earned from oil has gone into a savings fund, which now totals some £240bn – more than a year’s gross domestic product and equivalent to about £50,000 for each of Norway’s 4.8 million citizens.


North Korea Report

BBC News - Newsnight - Life inside the North Korean bubble:

North Korean TV only broadcasts hagiographies of the two leaders and pictures celebrating the country’s army, model farms, model villages etc.
Our minders had probably never seen any other kinds of news item or documentary about their country or the rest of the world.
They were not allowed to, and they could not, because no-one has access to the internet in North Korea.


Lexis Nexis

LexisNexis, defined in its own words on Wikipedia:

LexisNexis claims to be the “world’s largest collection of public records, unpublished opinions, forms, legal, news, and business information”


Charlton Heston: Commencement Address

I’m not sure I agree with all the points in Charlton Heston’s speech to Harvard Law School’s class of ‘99 entitled “Winning the Cultural War,” but I do think he makes some good observations: