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GlobLog - October 2007
A direct link to each entry is obtained by using the button below the entry.

Monday, 29/10/2007:


I just read last week´s edition of The Economist (it always makes sense to read it later if you didn´t find the time when it was new) and found two interesting stories about how bans and controls don´t work:

- One story was about how California is being invaded by foreign marijuana producers - Mexican criminal gangs start outdor plantations and east Asians gangs start indoor factories. Why? Becasue tighter border security after 9/11 has made it more risky to cross the borders, so the sellers move into town.

- The other story was about bans on abortion, which leads to dangerous procedures that kill 67,000 women every year. Latin America has the most restrictive abortion laws and it also has the highest abortion rate, 31 per 1,000 women age 15-44. Africa and Asia also has a lot of restrictions and there the rate is 29. Western Europe, with the most liberal laws, had the lowest rate - just 12 per 1,000 women. 

And in fact, as abortion laws have generally become more liberal 1995-2005, the global abortion rate fell from 35 to 29.

Saturday, 27/10/2007:


After I wrote about how secular and moderate muslim immigrants seem, I have been asked something like this:

"If 14 percent of the voters wanted a Christian fundamentalist state, what would be our reaction? ´Oh, so it´s not worse than that. And only 2 percent of the priests want holy war´..."

Well, it would be horrible, and for example I find it horrible that Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson thought that the killing of innocent Americans is God´s rightful response to gay rights and secularisation. But it´s also important to point out that they do not represent the majority of Christians, just like the fundamentalists do not represent the majority of muslims.


In DN Kultur today, Ulrika Kärnborg praises Naomi Klein’s new book. It´s not surprising that she thinks that Klein has a strong case if she accepts her version of facts uncritically. But, no Ulrika:

…Before you blame the Iraq war on Milton Friedman, wouldn’t it be honest to mention that he was in fact opposed to the Iraq war?

...Feel free to call Milton Friedman a liberal, a market-liberal, classical liberal, “neo-liberal” or free-marketeer, or in the American context, even a small government conservative, but he was never a “neo-conservative”. Do you even know the difference? (In one sentence it’s easy to get the impression that you think that neo-conservatism and “neo-liberalism” are synonymous, and that tells us something about your qualifications as a reviewer of a work about such policies.)

…Friedman didn’t work as a “personal adviser” to Pinochet, and he didn’t “fraternise with dictators”, but yes, he did meet Pinochet once. And Friedman told him that his protectionist, inflationist model didn’t work, and that he had to liberalise if he wanted to end the depression. Just like environmentalists today tell the Chinese government what to do, because their environmental policies fall. Does that make those environmentalists supporters of dictatorship?

(One of the reasons Friedman did this was that he was convinced that economic freedom and growth would increase the likelihood of a shift to democracy. Please, remember that Friedman is one of few economists who have said that freedom is more important than wealth. Now, compare this to an economist like Keynes who in his introduction to the 1936 German translation of his general theory, wrote that his ideas “can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state”. Are you going to call Keynes a nazi now?)

…Why don’t you mention that Chile is today the wealthiest country and one of the most stable democracies in Latin America? Would it be difficult for you to make the case that economic liberalisation destroys countries in that case?

…The Chilean economists who got their education in Chicago got it in the 1950s and 1960s, not as a way of training Chilean policy-makers after Pinochet’s coup, which is the impression your review gives.

But that’s ok. It’s easy to get your facts wrong, especially if you read silly books. More bizarre is the fact that you praise Naomi Klein for writing that liberalisation and torture are similar, because they both want try to “erase the past to create something new”. You think Klein’s way of seeing similarities between things that are “seemingly different” is “especially interesting”.

Well, here are other seemingly different things: You distort the facts to present a case in favour of more government intervention. So did Goebbles. If I write a 558-page book arguing for this “especially interesting” connection, will you praise me in DN Kultur?

UPDATE 14.22: I forgot to link to my own mini-review of Klein.

Thursday, 25/10/2007:


HAX har hittat det vetenskapliga beviset: socialdemokratiska väljare är västvärldens sämsta förlorare.


This morning I woke up in Oslo and read Aftenposten. They had a very interesting article by Martin E Sandbu from Liberalt Laboratorium, who had followed up a survey of the attitudes of muslims in Norway with a survey of what Norwegians thought that muslims in Norway thought and wanted. The result strengthens my conviction that many prejudices are...prejudices, and that our negativity bias (we tend to notice the risks, threats and bad examples) is very influential in the debate about muslims in Europe.

Norwegians thought:

...that 62% of muslims participate in religious ceremonies at least once a week - but only 18% do.

...that two thirds of muslims think that Norwegian society is immoral - but only 15% do.

...that 43% of muslims want sharia law - but only 14% do.

...that 39% of muslim leaders want militant Jihad - but muslims thought that no more than 2% wanted it.

...that only 38% of muslims wanted to integrate into the Norwegian society and that only 37% thought that immigrants should do more to accomplish this - but in fact, 93% and 94% of the muslims said that they wanted this.

Here is the survey. Perhaps someone should do the same study in Sweden, and everywhere else, before we reach conclusions based on what we think others think.

Wednesday, 24/10/2007:


Den 6 november 18.00-19.30 lanseras min nya rapport för Globaliseringsrådet med en debatt med Johan Ehrenberg på ABF Stockholm. Alla är välkomna, men antalet platser är begränsade, så anmäl dig i tid om du är intresserad. Inbjudan finns här (pdf).


When Rapport´s editor Freddie Ekman sums up his career he concludes that you never remember good news, because they "never become big". The audience wants to hear the bad news and the negative angles.

A story that just ran in several American papers provides a good illustration. As violence falls in Iraq the article portrays the losers - the gravediggers:

"A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that´s cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds."

(Thanks Lars)


"852 miljoner kronor"

- De skattefinansierade bidragen till moderaterna under mandatperioden, efter att partiet bidragit till att höja det. Enligt Martin Borgs i


"When she was first married, Ayouni recalled, her baby became ill one night. Her husband, a democracy advocate, was in jail, so she went out into the street at 2 a.m., holding the sick child and trying to find a ride to the hospital."

- Washington Post on one result of the Saudi ban on women drivers, showing the problem of making women completely dependent on their husbands and then imprisoning the husbands.

Sunday, 21/10/2007:


"An election is coming. Save Poland. Hide your Granny´s ID."

- SMS message spread by young urban Poles to stop the reactionary Law and Justice party (30% according to exit polls) and to help the liberal Civic Platform (44%)


"...and poverty endures" was Aktuellt´s summary of what has happened in Brazil in the last years.

And here is the statistical summary, from The Economist:


"...moderaternas nya arbetstagarvänliga linje."

- Rapports Elisabeth Höglund talar om moderaternas uppfattning att facket ska få tvinga icke-anslutna arbetstagare att underkasta sig deras avtal.

Thursday, 18/10/2007:


På en vecka har Sofia Nerbrand fått inte bara ett, utan två stipendier (pdf) för att ha grundat det liberala samhällsmagasinet Neo - Kurt Perssons journalistpris och Gösta Bohmanpriset. Det ska bli spännande att se om det får hälften så mycket utrymme i dagspressen som brukar ges när en vänsterredaktör får hälften så många pris.

Förresten, vem var Kurt Persson, egentligen?

Wednesday, 17/10/2007:

15:48 - DAGENS BILD: 

Vid Stora Mossens t-bana hittade jag denna affisch från det tidigare kommunistiska ungdomsförbundet. Först tänkte jag skriva att det var det roligaste i dag, men det var innan jag lyssnade på Kents nya album. Men ändå.

09:56 - A BARGAIN: 

The Ericsson share dropped 23.8 percent yesterday after a severe profit warning, and therefore Ericsson lost $15 billion in market capitalisation.

It´s beginning to look like a small price to pay for some authoritarian government´s soverign wealth fund, for example the Chinese one, with $200 billion burning in its pocket...


In Oslo, I learned that you can make more money if you deliver newspapers than if you write in them. But it´s not egalitarianism, it´s supply and demand in a place where people have forgotten that physical exercise can be just as rewarding as intellectual.

Monday, 15/10/2007:


"Och ett parti som sänker priset på att få sängen bäddad samtidigt som man höjer priset på pilsner ska kanske inte räkna med ungdomars odelade stöd."

- PJ Anders Linder förklarar varför moderaterna är mindre än miljöpartiet bland förstagångsväljarna.

Saturday, 13/10/2007:


Yesterday my paper Happiness: Blunders from a new science (pdf) won Centre for the New Europe´s Web Award as the most downloaded paper last year. My friend Fredrik Segerfeldt was kind enough to deliver my acceptance speech at the Capitalist Ball in Brussels since I am in Oslo.

Here is my paper (pdf) about happiness in Swedish, and here I talk about it in Swedish. But it´s not the last thing I´ve said on the subject. A book is forthcoming.


A new report from Britain´s Tories claims that:

"Beyond a certain point – a point which the UK reached some time ago – ever-increasing material gain can become not a gift, but a burden. As people, it makes us less happy"

Where is that point? What level of wealth would the conservatives like to go back to? While they think about it, here is a graph of happiness and wealth around the world (from Angus Deaton (pdf), page 45).


Här (pdf) är de första slutsatserna från regeringens globaliseringsråd, i viss utsträckning baserade på en rapport jag har skrivit för dem om världens utveckling de senaste decennierna, som kommer att publiceras inom kort.

Friday, 12/10/2007:

19:08 - CORRECTION: 

Gosh, sometimes I am really stupid. Al Gore does not admit exaggerating risks in the quote below - he says that he wants to emphasise the risks, which is something entirely different. I am sorry about that, and can only blame the fact that I read it and blogged about it while a nine-month old tried to eat my laptop and delete my text...

Of course, my mistake does not change the fact that Al Gore does exaggerate, for example when he talks about a sea-level rise of six metres as if that was the consensus, and ignores the fact that IPCC talks about 0.18-0.59 metres in 100 years.

Apparently a British High Court agrees.

(Thanks David)


I am in Oslo now, and here, the Norwegian Nobel Committee just announced that Al Gore will get Nobel´s peace prize for his popular film on global warming. Here is Gore himself, speaking about the exaggerations in his film (that are in direct opposition to the estimates of the IPCC, that shares the prize with Gore):

"I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it [global warming] is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are"

In other words, they were not mistakes, but conscious exaggerations, the ends justify the means, and it´s ok to lie if it´s for a good cause. The Norwegian Nobel Committe has just thrown its weight behind that world view.

Wednesday, 10/10/2007:

13:27 - THE FUNNIEST BOOK OF 2007: 

Naomi Klein´s No Logo was a well-written defence of brands and capitalism that explained that investments in logos made companies vulnerable to consumers and activists, and therefore had to behave better. Of course Klein thought it was an attack on capitalism, but she is a good writer, no one has accused her of being a good thinker. The only thing that came close to an argument was her claim that capitalist countries like South Korea and Taiwan are just as poor today as they were 50 years ago (they are about 20 times richer).

Now Klein is back with another book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. I have just had the time to read bits of it, but she explains that free market-liberals need crises, because that gives them an opportunity to enforce their despicable ideas. Of course, the facts points in the opposite direction - the size and power of governments tend to grow in times of crisis and war (just look at the US after 9/11 or how governments act in the face of global warming).

But Klein doesn´t seem to be too interested in the facts, instead she makes up metaphores. Since the word "shock" appear in "shock therapy", to deregulate approaches giving victims electrical shocks, since free marketeers support impoular policies and torture also supports impopular policies, they are basically the same thing, and since the word "tank" appears in "think tank", free-market think tanks are in favour of war and murder (what about leftist think tanks?).

I am not making this up, it´s that silly. If you need to relax from hard work and heavy reading and just need a few laughs, you will not be disappointed.

(Here is more about it from Tyler Cowen, Steve Horowitz, Jan Arild Snoen and Free Exchange.)

10:32 - DAGENS HAIKU: 


Che Guevara

Cool kille

Ignorance is bliss

- Haiku Moderne

Tuesday, 9/10/2007:


So today far-leftists all over the world celebrated the life and deeds of Che Guevara, 40 years after his death.

Here´s another idea: Why don´t someone find out the exact dates Cuban social democrats and other advocates of democracy were executed by Che, and then we can celebrate them instead?


Apart from being cursed by God today, I have debated CO2 and trade in P1-morgon and in Dagens Industri (subscribers only) I have written about the 50th anniversary of one of one of my favourite books, Ayn Rand´s Atlas Shrugged.


Around midnight tonight Turkish Islamists hacked this website and replaced yours truly with words of hatred and condemnation in bad English:

"While All Islam World regard with reverence to your prophet and address him as Hz. ISA A.S ( Christ ) ( putting a holy prefix in front of his name ), You keep abusing, Islam’s almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech. No doubt, Hz. Isa ( Christ ) would dislike and hate your nation.

Be God’s Curse On You !

We Will be Your Curse on Cyber World !"

Ok, calm down a bit. I am an atheist, and Jesus is not "my prophet", and even if he was, I would still defend the right to mock him. That is freedom and civilisation. These enemies of free speech must think that they have a very fragile prophet if they think he is afraid of cartoons and needs their help to stop them.

And they must have lousy websites if they need my help to get some traffic. But isn´t it better if they improve their websites instead of sabotaging others´? Perhaps they should read the Holy Qur´an sometime:

"To you your way, to me mine" (109:6)

UPDATE 14:13: By the way, this site (which denounces the hackers) was the one the Islamists wanted you to see instead of this.

Monday, 8/10/2007:


Jag trodde att Sven-Eric Liedmans definition av nyliberalismen i hans "Från Platon till..."-lärobok aldrig någonsin skulle kunna överträffas i intellektuell ohederlighet (nyliberalism handlar tydligen om föräldrars frihet att välja om deras barn ska bli slagna i skolan). Men medan jag var i Dublin hände det faktiskt.

Mats mailar mig detta obetalbara uttalande av statstelevisions ledarskribent Bo Inge Andersson från Kulturnyheterna 4 oktober, 5.08 in i programmet:

"Ja alltså det handlar ju då nyliberalismen, Friedman kort - det handlar om att staten och ja, även facket ska inte få blanda sig i hur näringslivet, hur kapitalet sköter sig. Det finns ju exempel på det i Chile och Ryssland. I ena fallet kaos, i andra fallet terror."

(Förresten, när definierade public service senast socialism som massmord och diktatur?)


"Men någonting måste vi väl vara oeniga om?"

Jo, man tycker ju det. Det uttalandet från Mona Sahlin i kvällens debatt med Fredrik Reinfeldt är symboliskt. Det är två sympatiska politiker som inte tar till onödig retorik för att försöka få marginella meningsskillnader att se ut som stora principskillnader. Det känns som en lättnad så här post-Persson. Problemet är bara att det då inte finns så mycket kvar att debattera. Två sociala administratörer (inte sociala ingenjörer, för de konstruerar något nytt) debatterar vems administration som är mest social.

Friday, 5/10/2007:


For a couple of days I have been in Dublin, invited by the prestigious Literary and Historical Society at University College of Dublin to debate capitalism vs socialism with three socialist guest speakers. After two and a half hours of lively and intense discussion about history, ethics, economics and Venezuela, the audience voted and it turned out that they preferred capitalism.

But something that made me even happier was that the society, a 152 year old institution with 30,000 members, decided to give me their James Joyce Award, named after their most famous member, and given to those who "have excelled in a particular field" (in my case global economics, and are "held in high esteem by Irish students". Among former recipients are the novelist Bill Bryson and England´s former soccer captain Gary Lineker.

I learned that the society was important for James Joyce´s development. Joyce ran for the position of auditor of the society but lost the vote. Good for him. He had to turn to literature instead...

Monday, 1/10/2007:


And by the way, here is John McCain´s joke about it, if you´ve missed it:

"Ronald Reagan used to say we spend money like a drunken sailor. I never knew a sailor, drunk or sober, with the imagination of the Congress. And by the way, I received an e-mail recently from a guy who said, ´I — as a former drunken sailor, I resent being compared to members of Congress.´”


I just learned that the Alaskan $398 million "bridge to nowhere" - the best symbol of how the Republican Congress spent like drunken sailors - will not be built. Ironically it´s because the state of Alaska has already spent most of the money on other projects, and now the bridge is $329 million short of full funding.


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