This series examines Cheney’s largely hidden and little-understood role in crafting policies for the War on Terror, the economy and the environment.
Laboratory experiments should be used to try out proposed policy changes on a small scale before causing upheaval in the large national economy – like wind tunnels are used in car and plane design.
Dies ist eine freie Fotodokumentation. Alle, die an Fotografie und documenta-Kunst Interesse haben, können hier kostenlos ihre documenta-Fotos präsentieren.
Clearly, the phenomenon of the MFWG remains a rich field of research, not only to understand the rapid narrowing of the gap in the 1980s and the slower narrowing in later years but also the persistence of the gap today.
So, why doesn’t the United States have a ministry of culture? For one thing, arts in the United States are largely privately funded, and the art world is less dependent on state support.
I’m not the only one using the fair Scandinavian nights to do some blogging: David Troels Garby of dansk-politik.dk spent the night preparing a list of parliamentary candidates in Denmark.
The still uncompleted list is here.
I should perhaps point out that there is an interesting difference between the Danish and the Swedish electoral systems with regard to personal votes: The Danish system gives parties the choice between three different ways of presenting candidates (basically a “pure” party list, a constituency-based list and an open list – over time the open list has become the dominant option) while the Swedish system is based on party lists with a limited possibility for voters to give preferences to individual candidates.
Vital information for potential female readers of this blog: The daughter of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark will be baptised on Sunday.
Media are of cause guessing wildly about the girl’s name, so here is for your information the top-10 of first names for girls born in Denmark during the first 6 months of 2006, courtesy of Danmarks Statistik:
If you compare Denmark and Sweden, it is worth noting that
only two three or four names appear on both the Danish and the Swedish top-10: Emma, Maja, Ida and Julie/Julia. (Thanks to “JS” for pointing out the missing Maja – pronounced “maya” - and making me note the forgotten Julie. Actually four out of ten is quite a convergence, destroying my original thesis).
PS: No less than 537 persons carried the name “Jacob Christensen” in Denmark in January 2007. Unfortunately, SCB doesn’t give the same information for Sweden, but I may be unique.
One interesting fact about the Swedish party system is that the largest of the centre-right parties, the Conservative – or Moderate – Party – is also the most right-wing of the mainstream parties.
On the one hand, this has given the Conservatives good opportunities to profile themselves ideologically, but on the other hand it has limited the party’s chances of attracting marginal Social Democratic voters. In many ways Swedish electoral campaigns have been more about shifting voters between the centre-right parties than attracting new voters from the left.
In policy terms, the 1998-2002 electoral term where the Conservatives – supported by the Liberals and the Christian Democrats – held the majority in the Stockholm City and County Councils, can serve as case in point of what was to be expected by a Conservative government.
The term saw frenzied attempts to sell off council housing, privatise schools and health care services and even outsource core administrative tasks. The councils also engaged in a rather immature sort of demonstration against the national tax equalisation system by deliberately under-budgetting costs.
And finally, the Conservatives were not only a distinctly right-wing party, they were (and were perceived as) an upper-class party, endlessly yakking about tax-cuts for high-income earners in a country where class still is of prime importance politically, and they had great difficulties breaking out of their strongholds in Stockholm and Skåne.
So, how do you turn yourself from a nasty, upper-class Stockholm affair into a nice, classless, national party?
Champagne Work for Everyone and Better Hospitals
The answer is: With a little help from your
competitors friends in the centre-right camp and the Social Democrats.
Then copy Bill Clinton and Tony Blair and – voilà, electoral success is yours.
Since 1994, the centre parties – the Centre Party, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats – have slowly but steadily been drifting rightwards by emphasising small business interests, educational policy and traditional social values, respectively, leaving the road open for the Conservatives to soak up marginal voters.
In 2002, the Conservatives managed to blow it completely by putting their hopes in a candidate with all the charisma of a chartered accountant, but after electing Fredrik Reinfeldt as party chairman and designated prime minister in a centre-right government they started to get their act together.
First step: Identify the Social Democrats’ weak spots, then turn them into political issues. This was not too difficult – unemployment was considered a major problem despite Sweden being in the middle of a boom, and the 2002 election had also shown that unrest was brewing among Social Democratic voters around the country because of the quality of health and other social services.
Second step: Re-invent yourself as the party of social inclusion. Having lots of people on unemployment, sickness or early retirement benefits is not a sign of social inclusiveness, it is the sign of a failed labour market and a failed welfare state. Creating opportunities for those outside of the boom should be a priority.
Final step: Make the candidate look human. He should not appear to be an arrogant brat or a over-sized electronic calculator. An ordinary guy in a dual-breadwinner family living in a semi-detached suburban house looks so much better. Indeed, make the candidate your message. After all, people don’t like the Social Democratic guy.
Oh, and give your partners some crumbles, like promising to abolish property taxes. Even Social Democrats earn their own homes and would like to get rid of a tax nobody understands. Never mind that economists would be banging their heads against the wall in frustration and sheer disbelief – after all, Swedish media had regularly published stories about a Little Guy forced to sell his home for 60 years because of property tax increases and there are more house-owners than economists in the electorate.
Are You Ready to Party Like It’s 1998?
If former Social Democratic voters had expected job programmes and lots of money thrown into social services, they were disappointed.
Yes, the new government made some bold initiatives but they were more of the sort, you would have expected from the Conservatives of the 1980s and 1990s: The most visible parts of the government’s policies were the reforms of the unemployment benefit and of labour market programmes – stricter rules for qualifying, lower benefits, a shorter benefit period and a substantial increase in the insurance fees while lots of employment measure were axed more or less directly. Low-income earners in the public sector left the insurance in droves, much to the surprise of the minister responsible for labour market policy.
Yes, there were tax cuts but the initial relief for low-income earners were difficult to see and rules for damage payments for traffic accidents were changed which meant that insuring your Volvo would get more expensive. A h€%! of a lot more, in fact, and the insurance fee for all practical purposes acts like a poll-tax on car owners.
Yes, a plan for abolishing the property tax was presented but the big winners would be high income-families with expensive houses in the Stockholm region. People in the countryside would actually pay more in property-related taxes if the proposed changes were implemented.
The problem here wasn’t so much whether these policies were legitimate or made economic sense – in my opinion cutting unemployment benefits in the middle of an economic boom makes sense, abolishing property taxes is economically insane – but that the policy initiatives took everybody by surprise: This was Old Conservatism.
Where had the “New Conservatives” gone?
The “Capital of Scandinavia”-thing (earlier post here) has reached Danish media.
At the risk of appearing repetitive: Rankings – which you should always be suspicious of – put Copenhagen ahead of Stockholm.
Trying to brand yourself as the “Capital of (whatever)” can also be an indication that you are playing a catching-up game. So the real question is: What are the Stockholmers fearing?
I think this is the 117th time we’ve been presented with the news that the Danish and German governments are about to sign an agreement about a Fehmer Belt-connection. Or the 118th.
Young Americans are more likely than the general public to favor a government-run universal health care insurance system, an open-door policy on immigration and the legalization of gay marriage,
In other respects, though, the battle over the size and role of the state seems to have gone fairly conclusively to the social democrats.
Utredningen ska föreslå hur ämneskunskaperna hos blivande lärare kan fördjupas. Utredningen ska också överväga en återgång till fler lärarexamina i stället för dagens enda.
Among it’s many bad effects is to encourage people to rank another person not by reading and considering (a sample of) her work but by counting how many Grade A journals she has contributed to.
David Colander notes that productivity rankings of economists based on journal articles use proxies (journal articles) that “are only a small portion of economists’ total output
Time was, preparing a novel meant months in libaries; websites now offer instant insights. How profound they are is another matter.
Excessive leverage is the common theme of many financial crises in the past. Are we really so much cleverer than the financiers of the past?