Dave Weigel thought I would like this sign from yesterday’s Tea Party protest in DC:
Here’s the Heritage Foundation on the Norwegian dystopia:
Norway’s economic freedom score is 70.2, making its economy the 28th freest in the 2009 Index. Its overall score increased by 1.6 points from last year, reflecting improvements in four of the 10 economic freedoms, particularly financial freedom. Norway is ranked 15th out of 43 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is well above the world and regional averages.
Norway has long benefited from its openness to global commerce. Achieving high levels of success in many of the 10 economic freedoms, the Norwegian economy enjoys vibrant entrepreneurial activity and high levels of prosperity. Starting a business takes only a few days, and the overall security of business operations is high. Monetary stability is well maintained. Foreign investment is welcome, although some policies tend to favor Norwegian and EU interests. Norway’s efficient, independent judiciary protects property rights effectively, and corruption is minimal.
And that’s what the right has to say! Norway’s number one in the UN Human Development Index and number three (behind Qatar and Luxembourg) in per capita GDP. Life expectancy at birth is over 80 years. Of course a big part of the story of Norwegian prosperity is the country’s oil wealth. At the same time, if you look at Saudi Arabia or Russia or Nigeria you’ll see that exporting fossil fuels does not always put you on a primrose path to the top of these lists. The Norwegian political system has done an impressive job of avoiding the resource curse and by all accounts is using the funds in a remarkably responsible manner—saving the bulk of the money for the time when the oil and gas are gone.
What’s more, Norway is a U.S. ally, NATO member, and model world citizen. They contribute generously to foreign aid projects and international stabilization missions, with troops serving in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Iraq. It’s a small country, to be sure, and hardly the most important one on the world stage. But it’s a very friendly and successful one. It’s sad that ignorance, xenophobia, and political opportunism would lead to these kind of disses.
It’s worth saying that obviously part of Norway’s success is that it became a “normal” part of the developed West first and only later fell into resource wealth. At the same time, I think Norway compares very favorably to, say, Alaska.