Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Social democratic delusions

Sheri Berman's "The Primacy of Politics" is fervently debated right now. The recent debate at Crooked Timber proves it deals with a hot potato issue - the Social Democratic Ideology and its impact on Europe during the last decade.

There's also another twitch to the whole debate, a notion which goes against all traditional Polanyi or Hayek ideas (that social democracy equals national socialism) about how socially progressive politics lead us onto the road to serfdom. Some libertarian/Austrian economists show strong emotional ties or irrational disdain for countries like Sweden. Not because they like the ideological/financial combinate of ideas. Not because Sweden has been a economic success story for the past thirty years. And not because they feel Sweden has strong potentials for the future. No, the reason is simply that they like Sweden. For no apparent reason, other than blonde women picturesque towns and nature scenes and so forth... Like if they had their own little play-house at a safe distance.
By taking this stand, Tyler Cowen has brought down a fierce debate on this issue on his own blog, where he explains why he loves Sweden.

I've covered issues about US Libertarians inflicted with Sweden-nausea before, when I explained why hating Sweden is good for you, and why the Swedish model has come to an end (something the libertarians don't seem too concerned with when they point out that tax evasion is the one reason why the Swedish model is still up and running).

As a social experiment I guess Sweden is quite fascinating, just like North Korea might be fascinating from a safe distance. But a person who enjoys watching other people being treated as guinea pigs is not the kind of character I would like to praise. Libertarian or not.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


The mid-terms coming up

Before you place your bets on the candidates in the upcoming mid-terms you should read these two articles by Cambell (on predicting the outcome) and Schuman (on the moral vote).

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


"The Ark"-enemy

If you think joking about planes flying into the White House, maybe you should not perform at the opening of an embassy in Washington D.C. Ola Salo, the singer in Swedish rock group "The Ark" shows that we shouldn't take the politics of rock groups seriously. His stunt at the opening of the new Swedish embassy by the Potomac river gave anything but a good start for the Swedes. The Swedish ambassador Gunnar Lund should on the other hand take this matter very seriously. It is a shame when the diplomatic corps is using the glamor from rock stars and famous performers to light up their profession, be it with Bono, Streisand or Ola Salo. The least they could do is to show some respect for the country or the event they are to represent and leave their incoherent philosophy mumblings to the backstage party.


Paranoia Politics in the US

Following the Echelon project, and stories about the NSA monitoring international calls, you might expect that the US to technology achievements in the area of how to infringe personal integrity eventually would come to a halt. But the latest software development rather makes me feel that the US is stuck in a downward spiral of paranoia. Big Brother really is listening in. In brief: The Department of Homeland Security has financed a software program that detects political opinions about the US in foreign newspapers and other international publications on the net.

In this latest form, I don't necessarily find it the US measurements to be as appalling as, say to have secret agents eavesdropping on citizens' private phone calls. However, it shows a distinct form of paranoia in the way the measurements are carried out. It is one thing to have people with paranoia locked up in spy programs where such personalities may be highly valued. But when this mental state becomes synonymous with government policies and sponsored programs towards ordinary citizens it is time for someone to set a stop. When will Americans start to realize that the words of Thomas Jefferson are as true today as when he said them?

"A society that will trade a little Liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither."

Thomas Jefferson

Monday, October 23, 2006


A house full of Swedes...

The new Sweden House, beside the Potomac - right next to Watergate - will form the new Swedish window to the US. Lots of money has gone into this project. Prestige is, needless to say, what it is all about. Everybody loves to show off in D.C. And Swedes are no different. But one has to wonder if a country of 9 million really needs this for anything else than to make the Swedish diplomats feel even more self-aggrandized.

Friday, October 20, 2006


French kissing in ... France?

For many years it has been believed that French politics is an anomaly. Unlike the rest of the world, sexual scandals don't thrive here - unless it is for the reason that French citizens are mad because they're not invited to the orgies already going on.

Well, it seems as if what goes on between the sheets is in fact becoming more of a political liability in France as well. This newly released book seems to zoom in on the topic. I better get a copy before it's sold out!


The "anti-fascist" agenda

Following my previous post I found more newsgroups where the debate on TV4 was a hot topic. The spokesperson from Sweden's Communist Youth (a fringe group of obscure ideological background) also mentioned the debate on his blog. But he gets a lot of flak from other extreme leftwing fractions in Sweden, like the Revolutionary Communist Youth League, who strongly argue against the use of violence in the latest issue of their paper.

Two things to be said about this. Violence is a consistent part of these extremists' strategy. And any ideological distinction between left/right is per se misguiding.
Instead, I always use the liberty matrix where radikal marxist-leninist leftists/fascists automatically are defined in the lower south-east corner (strong government control of both the personal and the economical freedom) : Indeed they have more things that unite them than things that don't.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Hypocrisy Explained

In my previous post I throw all few punches at the leftist Political Science professor (aren't they all?...) from Gothenburg University - Ulf Bjereld. In a bizarre twist of allegations turned awry against the accuser, Bjereld lashes out against a government that is found doing exactly what his beloved Social Democrats have done before. Yes, there is a word for that, dear professor Bjereld.
And I believe it's spelled hypocrisy.


Backing against the extremists

The recent TV4 debate where I argued against the Communist-Revolutionary party's use of violence as political means to their ideological ends has been recognized in the media. Kent Hansson in Kvällsposten gives me support in yesterday's edition. At the same time, the gap within the leftist community is very clarifying - between the socialists who defends the use of violence and the ones who argue against it.

(Note: The debate over political violence on TV4 was on whether the attack by left wing extremists against a meeting of Swedish Democrats - a socially progressive, etno-centrist party - could be justified or not. It soon turned into a general debate on the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly. As the debate clearly showed, Stalinist left-wingers really don't care very much for these liberties...)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Habeas Corpus - R.I.P.

The Military Commissions Act was signed by President Bush yesterday. Another sad day for liberty... Following the Patriot Act this is the worst thing that could happen to the US right now. However, it is easy to see how it came about. Anyone in Congress who refused to back either of the bills would instantly be branded as a non-patriot. And so, following the slippery slope, here we are. At a time where the US will use its force against individuals without giving them the right to protection under the writ of habeas corpus.
If I was still doing constitutional research I would throw myself over the 5th amendment and pushi for an argument that automatically makes the MCA impossible due to the constitutional constraints. But in this case it is hard to say there will ever be a constitutional limit just because government authorities are given full control of how to implement these far-reaching attacks against individuals (suspected terrorists or what-have-you).

I wouldn't normally link to a lenghty statement like this one, but Feingold's statement on the Senate floor is to the point. So sad that his words didn't make the majority change its mind. I guess the Bush backers lack every form of understanding of concepts like due process and equality under the law.


Don'ts in Political Sweden

After yet another cabinet member's resignation this Monday Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet publish a survey on what Swedes think about different "indescretions".

The figures are quite interesting! According to Swedes, it is OK to be a cabinet member if you've been arrested for speeding (73 %), caught having extramarital affairs (61%), tried drugs (51%)! On the other side of the table, very few Swedes think you're fit to be a politician if you've been convicted of sexual harassment, not payed your tv license (30%) or found guilty of tax crimes (6.5%).

Also - about Stegö-Chilo

I've been very critical of former minister Stegö-Chilo's crisis management. Especially since she's a former journalist. She did so many things wrong during the stormy week when scandals seemed to pop up everywhere. Now it seems, according to this article, that the only thing she did wrong was to follow PM Reinfeldt's lead and allow herself to be silenced by him.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


One family - One country

One family has ruled Sweden's economy since the dawn of the industrial era. This might also explain why Sweden has been such an odd case, financially speaking - almost like a banana republic in many ways.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


It's the hypocrisy, stupid!

The Swedish pack-hunt scandal over the cabinet members who haven't paid their TV license fee is still moving. (Yes, they tax tv sets in Sweden - and this in the OECD country with the highest taxes already!)
(Here is a quick intro for the foreign visitors who are not up-to-date with the story.)

Now, a Swedish professor in Political Science - Ulf Bjereld (a former member of the Swedish "Communist Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary Party" and nowadays a "reformed" member of the Swedish Labor Party) has vehemently attacked the cabinet members over their supposed hypocrisy. In national newspapers and in his recent blog posts ("It's the hypocrisy that angors", in Swedish) he practises mudslinging on the highest level by trying to depict them as political villains, petty-thieves only interested in getting away with tax evasion and lowering taxes for their own benefit at the same time.
But the shit has certainly hit the fan, and ... blown it back in his face. We can think what we want about the license fee and taxes. Bjereld apparently favors high taxation. I don't. We certainly come from very different ideological backgrounds. And that's just fine too. We can debate eachother all we want. But it is sad, downright stupid, when a professor in Pol Sci is getting up on the high piedestal of morals and throws out judgements on a political party he personally opposes. That is simply to play silly politics with science.
And - about the shit blowing back in his face. Since Bjereld is a faithful, organised Christian (funny thing, so am I!) he should know about the passage in John 8:7 - let the one without guilt throw the first stone. 'Cause now it also appears that the three Moderate right-wing cabinet members are in good company. Fifty (51!) MP's from the Labor party (Social democrats) have not paid their tv license fees! (Do they all live without a tv, I wonder? Is it reasonable to assume that you can be a politician in 2006 and not own a single tv-set?)

I must admit, I haven't read too many of Bjereld's books. But I can bet my sweet little behind that he agrees with most political scientists in the idea that civil disobedience has strong backing from a wide range of political theorists (in order - left to right) : Poulantzas, Dworkin, Rawls, Nozick. So why is it such a bad thing if non-socialist politicians get in on the disobedience action? Is it because they are just that - non-socialists?

From my vantage point, two Swedish bloggers have covered this issue in a much more analytical way than the Pol Sci-professor. Gudmundson points out that the reluctance to pay amongst members of the Moderate party in fact is a part of a civil disobedience approach to the whole issue of Public Service. His conclusion is also very straight-forward: The cabinet members should address this issue - and acknowledge that they find it immoral to pay, or simply resign. Johan Norberg has written down a nice argument for exactly why it is morally dubious to accept paying a license for a tv-set. I couldn't agree more.

So - for all foreigners who don't know why Public Service is just another word for government sponsored propaganda you might want to read a few articles. I've written about it here, here, here, here, here and here (and also here, and here).


She's out!

The working title of my dissertation is "Politics is a Blood Sport". And after watching what former Swedish trade minister Maria Borelius has had to go through the past days it must the most fitting title I could ever have come up with for a book about pack-hunt journalism.

And now, after 8 days, she can't take it anymore. Borelius resigned today (see this post for English translation) after more than a week of intense fire from the media over her personal conduct in business deals, hiring nannies without paying takes, etc etc.

What is even more interesting is that Borelius is a journalist. She knows how the media works. Still she didn't get it right from the start, and she kept making blunders. In my last book "The Public Tribunal" I explain why politicians have to play cooperate or defect with the journalist collective in certain phases of the news cycle during a pack-hunt media craze. And Borelius obviously played what game theorists call "sucker's option" every time! This is what eventually forced her to resign.
I've written about the inherent logic of media pack-hunts, ... I'll probably post more of my theories here soon.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Great insults by Tullock

I fondly remember my professor Gordon Tullock at GMU. He's one of those guys who really deserve to get the Nobel Prize in Economics. He has a brilliant mind and a thousand ideas that he is only too eager to try out on his Ph.D. Candidates. But the personal trait that stands out is his brilliance in insulting people. As the saying goes, Tullock never insults anybody he doesn't like. So I guess I should be really proud about all the insults he threw my way at the seminars. For example the time when I didn't hand in a paper and he quickly replied: "It was just as good. I would probably have flunked you anyways."

Another of Tullock's students has compiled a list with his favorite Tullock quotes! Some of them really stand out, like the following:

"The optimal class size is zero."

"The black fellas in Australia are a particularly oppressed group, it's my understanding that they spend most of their time drunk."

"Under Castro the Cuban economy has been particularly bad. There is no other country whose government's majority income comes from prostitution, at least none that I've heard of."

"Hume didn't make a lot of friends; he also spoke French with a Scotch accent."

"Under democracy I found myself walking up the beach in Normandy, and I wasn't very happy about it."


The NAIRU is lauded

Yes, Edmund Phelps got this years Nobel Prize in Economics. For a macroeconomist, he is a pretty reasonable guy. And his research is probably the one part of macro that can be enjoyed by Milton Friedman's microeconomic followers. All-in-all - a very good choice, I guess. Although the Swedes still don't get it. The first, and only, question to the committee during the press conference, was when we will see a female laureate in Economics. Aaaaaah... it's great when science really doesn't worry people who weigh in on this subject. Political correctness is apparently the only political issue of the day in Sweden. Every day.

Well, Anne Krueger is certainly a hot candidate for the prize. Then again - she wouldn't be considered a female by the feminists anyways.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Game theory in Chess

What is the benefit from establishing a coalition against outsiders? Silly question, perhaps. Any discriminatory device will gain of all those users who are in the coalition at the cost of those outside. And if the coalitition can stay stable, then the more reason to form it. That's what the Russians did during the cold war, according to a new paper on game theory and chess. It seems as though the recent controversy over the cheating allegations at the World Chess Championship in Kalmykia is nothing compared to the old days.

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