For the past decade, the Nordic cluster of countries have been seen by some as a model region, topping human development and quality of life indices year after year. But behind the allure and prestige lies a bitter truth: the region is anything but a utopia.
An author penned a recent op-ed in The Guardian takes the Nordics to task. In doing so, he also linked to my blog (referencing the word “Jantelov”.) According to him, Denmark has the highest private debt in the world, a bunch of boring TV and the fourth largest ecological footprint (the bikes must not be helping!), Swedes suffer from an ability to emote and encroaching xenophobia and some of the highest youth unemployment in Europe, while Finland, has the third highest gun ownership rates in the world and the highest suicide rate in the Nordic countries. And he doesn’t even mention Iceland. But what does he have to say about Norway?
…There remains a disturbing Islamophobic sub-subculture in Norway. Ask the Danes, and they will tell you that the Norwegians are the most insular and xenophobic of all the Scandinavians, and it is true that since they came into a bit of money in the 1970s the Norwegians have become increasingly Scrooge-like, hoarding their gold, fearful of outsiders.”
Yeah, not so pleasant. But hey, if we only focus on the negatives, I think every country in the world would get a failing grade, especially the United States. A dose of realism never hurts, but I still love me some Norway!