OK, this is only somewhat related to travel, but worth a discussion. Did anyone out there in Ricknik-land read the special report in last week's issue of The Economist? It was sub-headed as "Why the world should look at the Nordic countries". Fascinating reading, and it challenges many of the conventional ideas you may harbour about this region of Europe. Hint, if you're thinking highly taxed, highly regulated economy with a huge government... think again. In the past year and a half, I've visited the Nordic region 4 times. Compared to the woes of Southern Europe, there's a definite "Northern Renaissance" feeling going on right now. It's interesting to read in The Economist about some of the economic, cultural and political changes that underlay the region's current resurgance. So, if you see a copy of The Economist with a Viking on the cover.... read it and start a conversation about the contents.
Thanks, Tom-we are subscribers so I'll go have a look, if I can tear it away from my husband. It will be interesting to see if it changes my view of Norway, which is that it is pretty much paradise (but not weather-wise). My friends there say they pay around 50% in taxes, but given all that is included, they are happy to do so, and seem to have far more disposable income that we do. And I've never heard the words "big government" from them, at least not in relation to their own. P.S. It does help to have all that oil money.
"P.S. It does help to have all that oil money." The report draws a distinction with Norway, because they're the only Nordic country that can draw on an oil sovereign wealth fund to help fund the government. But the key link with the others in the region is the common thread of good governance. Norway's wise use of it's oil wealth sharply constrasts with almost every other member of OPEC, who have mostly used their oil industry as a cash cow and as a tool of political patronage.
Well said! I especially like the expression "good governance."
Norway is like Alaska economically. Large oil revenues and a relatively small population are a good combination, especially if you don't blow the money.
I haven't seen the article but glad to see that region getting some attention. It is virtually ignored here and by most American tourists, which is too bad because there is so much to offer. And one of the biggest misconceptions about the region is how expensive it is for tourists. While it is pricer than places like Portugal or Greece, it is no more so than Paris, London, Berlin or Rome.
Seeing that special feature on Scandinavia (the Viking on the cover) in such an optimistic and positive light reminds me of the Economist issue back in Aug/Sept depicting the opposite extreme: the "ticking time bomb" in Europe...France. I have not been to Denmark or Norway and only once to Sweden ages ago in '71. It was impressive and expensive relative to the buying power of the dollar. to say the least, up north after a train ride dep from Malmö exceeding 22 hours.