Archive for October 11th, 2007
(Warning: This is a slightly irreverent post) The Prime Minister of Canada … right … the thing is – I know someone who knows the leader of the Canadian Liberal Party, who of cause has contacts with the Canadian PM who in his turn … oh my god…But I haven’t got a clue with respect to the US-Canadian trade relations.
If you are into comparative public policy, the latest edition of the Nordic Statistical Yearbook is an absolute must – the printed publication is available for free as a pdf-document with Swedish and English text. (You’ll have to splash out something like 350 SEK + postage for the edition with the CD-ROM). The bad news is that there is some lag in the publication of figures.
Some quick notes: The Swedes are a curious people – on the one hand they are much healthier than the Danes, and when it comes to cancer treatment, the Danish performance is outright pathetic. (Table 32, page 86)
But on the other hand, Sweden has a long-standing tradition for high levels of illness-related absence from work – in 2005 1,8 per cent of the Danish workforce were on sick-leave at any given time, the Swedish figure was 3,6 per cent. (Table 48, page 109).
These data are on the national level, but Swedish statisticians and policy makers have for a long time noted some interesting variations on the regional level which have begged the question about what the real forces behind these relatively high figures are – it is likely that the social insurance systems (sickness versus unemployment benefits, rehabilitation measures) interact in a problematic way and that administrative systems also play a role.
And this, of cause, brings us to the recent discussion about the introduction of national guidelines for sickness benefits in Sweden.
Die Zeit gives us a profile of Joachim “Jogi” Löw, the manager of the German international soccer team. To most people – me included – Löw is probably best know as the guy who took over after Jürgen Klinsmann following the 2006 World Cup but the Zeit profile, besides pointing to Löw’s forgotten talents, also tells a story about some subtle changes in German society.
Now, if the German clubs could just bring out a group of creative players, things would get really exciting.
Carin van der Cruijsen and Sylvester Eijffinger from Tilburg University have reviewed the literature.
Once you start thinking of Google’s potential reach, it’s easy to become paranoid.
Back in 1993 John Major announced the “Back-to-Basics” strategy in order to regain control of the political agenda. And then – to quote Don Rumsfeld – stuff happened which proved that British Conservative politicians did indeed focus on man’s basic needs.
(Money and sex, in case you wonder)
One tragic part of the back-to-basics mess was the accidental death of MP Stephen Milligan in early 1994 during what I think is technically called “extreme fetishistic auto-erotic sex”. Following this, a number of Conservative MPs came out of respective closets in less lethal ways.
Anyway, I was scrolling innocently through my very serious politics reading list in Google Reader and hit upon this post at the otherwise very serious Matthew Yglesias about “the latest weird conservative sex scandal”.
Unlike Yglesias, I wouldn’t call the strange and awful circumstances surrounding Rev. Gary M. Aldridge’s death a scandal – embarrassing for a conservative congregation, yes, and tragic for his wife and children – but there is something very odd about people who preach needlessly (in my opinion, but I’m a very left-wing liberal on social issues) strict rules for behaviour to the public while breaching everyone of them in private.
Which of cause brings us to the truly bizarre case of US senator Larry Craig.
In general, I’m not that big a fan of Christopher Hitchens but in a recent Slate article, he did offer a plausible explanation for this kind of behaviour, quoting Tom Driberg a gay British politician:
The thrills were twofold. First came the exhilaration of danger: the permanent risk of being caught and exposed. Second was the sense of superiority that a double life could give.
Now, there is no doubt that centrists and leftists are up to all kinds of shenanigans in and outside their bedrooms but the absence of public moralizing makes them relatively less scandal-prone and, at least in my eyes, less unsympathetic. Perhaps the reason is that I am not confronted with an implicit demonstration of social superiority.
How about political scandals involving sex in Denmark and Sweden? There has actually been some during recent years in Denmark, but unlike the Milligan, Clinton and Aldridge stories we are talking about behaviour which would be criminal in most countries (underage sex, breach of privacy, sexual harassment – the Liberals seem especially prone to these kinds of problems) and they have been treated as criminal, not political cases. And if I have understood things correctly, Copenhagen’s Mayor for Technical and Environmental Affairs has a thorough knowledge of the city’s parks.
Drinking, on the other hand, is a political liability.