One observation about the decision not to hold a referendum about the Lisbon EU Treaty: Danish media have had a lot of coverage about the “strategic” effects of the decision both before and after it was formally announced (would Danish voters be more or less likely to vote yes or no in coming referendums about the Edinburgh opt-outs? Will Anders Fogh Rasmussen get a post in the EU?) but the only attempt at something remotely like a substantive judicial analysis I have been able to find, is Hjalte Rasmussen’s essay in Berlingske Tidende, even if that also is mostly about how the treaty has been put together in order to avoid a (Danish) referendum.
So what we have with regard to the legal substance is a responsum by the Justice Ministry in a very formal legal language and not that much else.
Why did Brad deLong have to be dragged into this? Because he asked for it!
One of the innovations in Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s reshuffled government was the creation of a Welfare Ministry as well as a Health and Prevention Ministry (In terms of Orwellianness, my “favourite” still is the now defunct Swedish Samhällsbyggnadsministeriet – The Ministry for Society Building. The title tells you one or the other thing about how Swedish Social Democrats view the relationship between state and society) but the new ministry has hit a slight virtual hitch.
The thing is that a Danish artist has been preparing a virtual government including a number of surreal portfolios such as the Creativity Ministry, the Speed Ministry – and the Welfare Ministry. (No Ministry of Sound, though)
And so he registrered the domain www.velfærdsministeriet.dk.
The bureaucrats are not happy and have sent angry legal letters to the artist demanding that he hand back the domain to the Danish state. The artist on the other hand argues that the domain is part of his artistic project and was registered before the real-life ministry was set up. It is now up to the Board of Domain Name Complaints to make a decision in the case.
From a user perspective I think the Danish government ought to rethink its entire internet presence – including the use of domains.
The thing is that the Danish government is a complete mess internet-wise: There is no central portal – like, say, www.regeringen.dk – to the government ministries, each ministry has a separate way of structuring its homepage – which means a) that the government has no identity as such, b) that there are 24 different ways of looking for information and c) that a new website, including design, search-routes and what not has to be set up every time the prime minister decides to change the portfolios.
There is a much better way of doing this and you need look no further than to www.regeringen.se.
Anyway – if there was a central www.regeringen.dk domain active, the Welfare Ministry would simply be www.velfærd.regeringen.dk. (or alternatively www.velfaerd.regeringen.dk)
My colleague Svante Ersson is an avid information user – books, radio, tv, the intertubes: If it is there, he knows how to find it. Svante recommended Norman Geras’ blog (called the normblog) to me and Geras in his turn recommended a blog called The Thoughtful Dresser.
And as a consequence of that I now know that Italian women are the world’s best dressers.
Not that I’m that surprised, but it is obvious that my ironing skills definitively need improving if I would want to charm an Italian brunette.
I just received my balance from the Swedish Inland Revenue Service.
I think that The Man owes me 1 (one) SEK when all has been added and subtracted. (Or do I owe The Man 1 SEK? The plusses and minusses in these kinds of sheets are often difficult to figure out).
The Danish Economic Council published is semi-annual report last week and the economic experts were not happy about the fiscal policy being led by the government and the Danish People’s Party. To make a long story short, the economists argue that the fiscal policy is expansive at the top of an economic boom and that the government needs to take initiative to improve the supply of labour while controlling wage increases. The council even published a strong warning to the government in an op-ed piece in Berlingske Tidende on Monday.
Earlier, the Director of the National Bank voiced strong criticism of the government’s fiscal policies.
The OECD is not happy either:
Monetary conditions are no longer stimulating aggregate demand, but fiscal policy is set to do so in 2008 with rising public consumption and tax cuts that are not financed in the short run. This stimulus and additional municipal and regional overspending should be avoided or offset by savings elsewhere. Measures to boost labour supply should be pursued in ways that help long-run fiscal sustainability. (OECD Economic Outlook, December 2007)
This of cause comes as the Danish People’s Party, supported by the Social Democrats and the Socialist Party, has made strong demands for substantial pay-rises for selected groups of public sector employees and threatened to derail the government’s quality reform initiative.
How much power do the economic experts hold when it comes to influencing the public opinion? The prime minister brushed off the Economic Council’s criticism by declaring that economists should rewrite their textbooks (part of this is a real academic and practical discussion about what the level of what is called the structural unemployment actually is in Denmark) but I really can’t remember that “the economic expertise” has criticized the Danish government’s economic policies in unison and in such strong terms.