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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press If Working Is a Lifestyle Choice in Norway, Why Do So Many More People Choose This Lifestyle There Than In the United States

If Working Is a Lifestyle Choice in Norway, Why Do So Many More People Choose This Lifestyle There Than In the United States

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Thursday, 10 July 2014 15:00

Most readers expect better than silly cliches from the New York Times. That is why it was striking to see an article on Svalbard, a small town in northern Norway, tell readers:

"But it [Svalbard] shuns the leftist, leveling consensus that according to conservative critics has made working almost a lifestyle choice in the rest of Norway."

Hmmm, a leveling consensus that makes working a lifestyle choice? A quick visit over to the OECD's website tells us that 75.1 percent of the people in Norway between the ages of 16 to 65 opt for the working lifestyle. That's more than 7.0 percentage points above the 68.0 percent share of this age group that works in the United States.

It's understandable that some people will say silly things about the Scandinavian welfare state, just as some people make silly statements about almost everything. However we don't expect the NYT just to repeat whatever silly assertion that a reporter happened to overhear. That is not news.

 

Thanks to David Dyssegaard Kallick for calling this one to my attention.

Comments (10)Add Comment
Huh?
written by W.T. Eff, July 10, 2014 4:57
Norwegian culture values work highly as a means of contributing to their small country. Their work ethic is as good as in the US and some say even better, as the Norsk work with a smile.

It's not just not news, it's almost insulting that a reporter who has clearly not visited all of Norway makes such an ignorant statement.
Svalbard is not a small Norwegian city...
written by frank, July 10, 2014 5:46
It's a small group of islands far north of Norway and east of northern Greenland. It probably has more polar bears than humans, although thankfully they don't inhabit the region near Longyearbyen, the largest population center. Nobody ever leaves the town without a hi-powered rifle. I've been there and it has so little annual sunlight that trees can't grow there. Because it's always so cold there it the location of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Comparing labor in Svalbard to that in Norway is like comparing the Virgin Islands (much larger and more populous) to the US.
The Norway Way, Live to Work: The American Way, Work to Live
written by Last Mover, July 10, 2014 6:21
The government does fund a school and a hospital, as well as the governor’s administration, and also subsidizes Svalbard’s biggest employer, a loss-making state-owned coal company. But it shuns the leftist, leveling consensus that according to conservative critics has made working almost a lifestyle choice in the rest of Norway. Taxes are much lower than elsewhere in the country.


So the coal company was deemed by the NYT writer to be a person with more rights than other persons in the town, thus the usual tax subsidy justified as necessary for a "free market" entity to survive.

Of course the coal company did not make a lifestyle choice to work as a corporate person, as if it could have chosen to live a cush work-free life on welfare handouts doled out by Norway.

No sireee, the coal company as a person reacted to those low taxes, rolled up its sleeves and put its shoulder to the supply side wheel to make stuff so it didn't have to take stuff.

And those persons working for the coal company, they didn't make a lifestyle choice to work for subsidized wages paid by the subsidized corporate person did they. In fact they would be more than happy to work for lower unsubsidized wages wouldn't they.

There you have it America. Your labor counterparts just don't have the gutsy drive to work hard like they do in Norway, laying off from entry into the labor force with a 7% difference to slouch away in those hammocks.

Why can't you cowards in America man up and do what they do in "socialist" Norway, require that everyone who wants a job has one through demand side policies? Then you could brag like Norway does, that they live to work, not work to live.
Not Sure
written by Larry Signor, July 10, 2014 8:20
What this means, but here is an OECD link for Norway and a comparison to the US.

http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex...es/norway/
This is not your father's NYT
written by ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©, July 10, 2014 8:23
.
Ever since Pinch Sulzberger inherited it, it's gone downhill.

As the WaPo did after Donald Graham inherited it. It's no coincidence that both these papers were key parts of the disastrous rush to war with Iraq in 2003.

That's what happens when the critical role of the Fourth Estate is controlled by Richie Riches and their sycophants.
~
...
written by urban legend, July 11, 2014 2:21
Look at the prime working age (25-54) and the dismal performance of the U.S. economy is even more obvious. Back in 2000, the U.S. had one of the highest employment rates among advanced countries for the prime working age adults. Now it is by far -- by far -- the worst. Down five percentage points, representing about 13 million missing jobs, while the rate is actually higher now or no different for most of the countries.

"Full employment" is approaching? What a cruel, lying joke.
...
written by dick c, July 11, 2014 9:34
One thing we know--when the Times repeats (or makes up) a silly assertion it's because somebody at the Times would like more people to believe that silliness or they'd at least like to reinforce that silliness in those already afflicted.
...
written by Bart, July 11, 2014 12:09

Never been that far north in Norway but just spent 10 days in Oslo and Trondheim. The place is a paradise where money is spent on infrastructure rather than wars of choice. If only the U.S. could tend to the environment as Norway has done. We never encountered a cranky hotel worker or barista, as there they get a decent minimum wage.
...
written by MikeN, July 11, 2014 11:37
"The government does fund a school and a hospital, as well as the governor’s administration, and also subsidizes Svalbard’s biggest employer, a loss-making state-owned coal company. But it shuns the leftist, leveling consensus that according to conservative critics has made working almost a lifestyle choice in the rest of Norway. Taxes are much lower than elsewhere in the country."

In other words, it is heavily subsidised by tax-payers in Norway proper in order that these "rugged individualists" can pay lower taxes. How many of these right-wing self-deluded corporate welfare bums do we need to see? Ranchers, farmers, loggers and fishermen ... yes, they work hard in unpleasant conditions, but it doesn't alter the fact that the style they live in is paid for by somebody else
Cognitive Dissonance in Newspaper Writing and Editing
written by sherparick, July 13, 2014 8:21
It is amazing that writer and editor after writing that first sentence, were still so stuck in their narrative and meme propagating that they had to add that second sentence to suggest the moral depravity left compared to Svalbard, where everyone works (although most work in either Government provided jobs or as indentured servants (the Ukrainian coal miners at the Russian mine). It tells you something about what must be the topic of conversations at the Hamptons parties these gents attend)

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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