|GlobLog - March 2006
A direct link to each entry is obtained by using the button below the entry.|
15:50 - TOO LITTLE SLEEP? RELAX!:
I have always been suspicious about the claim that we are all sleep-deprived in the modern world, and should sleep at least 8 hours per night (for safety, for health). Partly because I think we miss too much if we sleep that much.
So I am happy to read in the Financial Times today that this common concern might be a myth, based on misunderstandings of old surveys. Apparently, 7 to 7.5 hours sleep per night is associated with the lowest levels of mortality. With more sleep than that, mortality rises:
“’The belief that we need at least eight hours sleep a night is actually making insomnia worse, by making people worry unnecessarily that they are getting less sleep than that,’ Prof Kripke says. He believes too much sleep may be a more serious health issue than too little…
‘It is simply not true to say that we are more sleep deprived today,’ he insists. ‘In fact many of us probably sleep better because bedrooms are much better designed now than their draughty, noisy counterparts 100 years ago.’”
22:33 - MARX FÖR INVANDRARE:
"Han vaknar och går ned till poolen. Han simmar 1 000 meter. Sedan ringer han i en klocka och en hemhjälp kommer och serverar frukost. Han får juice, te, nybakat bröd, ost och marmelad – allt på en silverbricka.
Efter frukosten klär han på sig. Han väljer bland kostymer, skjortor och slipsar. Alla kläder är mycket exklusiva. Sedan kör han till stan i sin lyxbil. Han arbetar på kontoret hela förmiddagen.
Efter lunch flyger han till London. Han ska sälja ett hus i England. Han vill tjäna pengar – mera pengar."
- Hur "Svenska för invandrare"-kursen förklarar för nyanlända till Sverige hur en typisk företagares vardag ser ut, citerat i Timbrorapporten "Välkommen till Sverige!"
16:57 - AMERICANS ARE BECOMING MORE SOCIALLY LIBERAL:
European intellectuals talk all the time about how Americans are becoming Christian fundamentalists and social conservatives. But a new Pew poll shows that almost half of all Americans want to allow gays to adopt, and only 34% would like to outlaw abortion. And the views are becoming more liberal:
Oppose legal gay marriage:
Oppose gay adoption:
Oppose gays serving openly in the military:
Don´t confuse George W Bush with Americans generally. He might be in the hands of the Christian Right, they are not.
12:05 - IMPRESSIONS OF ROME:
It´s such a beautiful city with great food. But it´s a bit strange to get there in the middle of an election campaign where you see posters with hammer and sickles everywhere, and a leading fascist candidate called Mussolini. In this context, Berlusconi is suddenly the normal guy. Suddenly I missed the boring Swedish consensus...
And here is a sign of globalisation: In the blocks where I spent my time, I saw much more posters that tried to convince me to vote for Lourdes Flores, the centre-right candidate in Peru´s presidential election, than posters for Berlusconi.
23:10 - NO CAPITALISM PLEASE, WE´RE FRENCH:
"An opinion poll, published by Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday, showed that 50 per cent of French people did not have faith in the market economy - compared with 20 per cent in communist China."
- Financial Times
22:22 - A WELFARE STATE WITHOUT PATERNALISM:
"For all time to come, governments are going to take in vast sums of money and redistribute it. And then the question for libertarians becomes: if one accepts that it´s going to happen, is there a way to do this which leaves people´s lives in their own hands?
And that´s the source of the title of the book ["In Our Hands"]. So there will still be government redistributing a lot of money. The big difference is it´s no longer bureaucrats who are going to be doling it out in dribs and drabs under certain conditions if you have demonstrated certain kinds of need. It is going to be giving people sufficient resources to run their own lives."
- As usual Charles Murray has a new, fascinating and controversial idea - this time that the government should distribute cash rather than services it wants us to have.
11:58 - HANDELSHINDER SOM DÖDAR:
"Varför betala mer för att göra de fattiga fattigare och de rika rikare när vi genom att betala mindre kan ge de fattiga en chans?"
- Läkaren Mattias Larsson, tidigare verksam i Vietnam, om EU:s skotullar som riskerar att öka undernäringen och barnadödligheten. I SvD.
11:45 - THE CARTOON DEBATE:
When Mattias Svensson and I accused the EU of appeasing fundamentalism, Johan Gärde responded, saying that the Swedish foreign minister was brave when she stopped a website with cartoons (which forced her resignation). Here is our reply, saying that good relations with dictatorships shouldn´t be the goal of our foreign policy.
18:45 - THE ORANGE REVOLUTION HAS TRIUMPHED:
Ukraine´s old vote-rigging authoritarian leader Viktor Yanukovych got the most votes in the Ukrainian election. And this means that Ukraine is now a real democracy where opposition candidates are no longer poisoned and silenced, but allowed to participate in free and fair elections. So the Orange revolution has actually triumphed.
11:04 - IN SAFE HANDS:
You get a bit anxious when the ship changes captain while on the route. But now it´s time to breath a sigh of relief, and perhaps even to celebrate. Bill Emmott has stepped down as the editor of the world´s best magazine, The Economist. But now we know that his successor will be John Micklethwait - a great journalist in the classical liberal tradition. The only problem is that this might give him less time to publish excellent books like A Future Perfect and The Right Nation and The Company with Adrian Wooldridge. (Thanks Michael)
00:42 - HEAL THYSELF:
Now I am going to Rome for a couple of days. And speaking of Italy it´s encouraging to see that its government is fighting protectionism at the present EU summit. Their proposal for an anti-protectionism declaration should have been accepted by the others, and then they should have used that to criticise the big EU country that just forced other countries to accept protection against cheap shoes from Vietnam and China - Italy.
21:13 - SAYING SOMETHING NICE ABOUT SOCIAL DEMOCRATS:
I have been challenged by RS (who´s got a nice banner here) to say something nice about my political opponents. Since I am not affiliated with a party, as many others she challenges, I don´t really think in terms of allies and opponents like that, but I assume that she means the social democrats in my case.
To me it´s easy to say free trade. Historically the Swedish social democrats have been champions of free trade, and they deregulated agriculture and abolished textile tariffs before the EU forced us to reintroduce them. And they still fight for an open economy, for example when they oppose the new EU tariffs on clothes and shoes from China and Vietnam, and condemn the new "economic patriotism of Fance, Spain and Poland. It´s only when we discuss trade in new sectors (like services) that they abandon their internationalist traditions.
On trade I would chose Swedish social democrats ahead of most political parties around the world.
20:39 - PERSSONS FRÅGA:
"Hur kan du som köpt en villa för 6 miljoner veta hur vanligt folk har det?"
- Göran Persson till Bo Lundgren i valrörelsen 2002, citerad i Affärsvärlden 12-2006 (Tack Fredrik)
09:33 - THE TRUE DIVISION IN FOREIGN POLICY:
"The debate on world trade has thrown all sides into an orgy of political cross-dressing. Protectionist sentiment is rife on the left; on the right, there are calls for ´economic patriotism´; meanwhile some voices left and right, are making the case for free trade not just on grounds of commerce but of justice.
The true division in foreign policy today is between: those who want the shop ´open´, or those who want it ´closed´; those who believe that the long-term interests of a country lie in it being out there, engaged, interactive and those who think the short-term pain of such a policy and its decisions, too great. This division has strong echoes in debates not just over foreign policy and trade but also over immigration.
Progressives may implement policy differently from conservatives, but the fault lines are the same."
- Tony Blair in a speech at the Foreign Pollcy Center, London. (Thanks Stefan)
20:33 - CORRECTION:
Turns out that the Yemenite paper was wrong. Freivalds didn´t write such a letter. But their mistake shows the impression the media in the Arab world got of her action, an impression that must be strengthened now that she has confessed that she was responsible for shutting down the website.
15:21 - WHERE JOBS COME FROM:
"Indeed, when you ask French university students who is the Bill Gates of France, they look at you blankly. It´s not simply that they can´t name one. The bigger problem is that they can´t imagine why it matters, or why that has anything to do with why they can´t find a good job."
- Steve Pearlstein, Washington Post (Thanks Peter)
15:07 - VÄRD ETT BESÖK:
Politisk.no är en ny norsk gruppblogg som samlar några av Norges bästa liberala skribenter.
13:03 - DON´T FORGET BELARUS!:
The media´s and our government´s interest in Belarus seems to be waning after the election. But it is needed now more than ever. The only thing holding the dictatorship back is the fact that the whole world is watching. Right now the police is arresting hundreds of brave dissidents and protesters. Young students face sentences ranging from eight years in prison and the death penalty just for speaking out against Lukashenko. The famous Belarusian essaist and editor Andrei Dynko and several representatives of the opposition is missing.
Don´t let him get away with it.
10:55 - SUPPORT THE PEOPLE OF BELARUS!:
Lukashenko has stolen another election. Around the world, people will demonstrate at Belarusian Embassies, to show their support for the people of Belarus in their struggle against Europe´s last dictator. I´ll be speaking at the manifestation in Stockholm today at 15.30. Here are the details:
Demonstration mot det vitryska valfusket
Den 21 Mars presenteras valresultatet från det vitryska presidentvalet och man kan redan nu veta utfallet av det. Lukaschenko kommer att vinna med enorma marginaler men inte för att han har stöd utan pga valfusk och terror mot oppositionen.
I samband med att valresultaten presenteras kommer det runt om i världen hållas demonstrationer mot Lukachenkos valfusk och mot det förtryck människor där tvingas leva under. I Sverige hålls demonstrationen utanför den vitryska ambassaden den 21 mars klockan 15.30.
Plats: Vitryska ambassaden
Herserudsv. 5, 181 34 LIDINGÖ
Datum: 21 mars
Talare: Johan Norberg, Christian Holm
Kom till vitryska ambassaden och visa Vitryssland ditt stöd!
08:31 - AT LAST:
And now Freivalds just left the government...
23:23 - EXTRA: FREIVALDS´ FREUDIAN SLIP IN YEMEN OBSERVER:
Sweden´s foreign minister Laila Freivalds has been caught lying. She pretended that she didn´t know that her closest colleague called a website host and told them to close a site with a Mohammed cartoon. Now Freivalds has admitted that she was responsible, but claims that they did not tell them to close the site, but just informed them about the risks.
Freivalds seems to tell people what suits her for the moment. And according to Yemen Observer, the latest excuse is also a lie:
"Abu Baker Al-Qirbi, the Minister of Foreign and Expatriate Affairs, received on Tuesday a letter from the Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds, related to the insulting cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), Saba news reported.
The Swedish minister expressed her disapproval and sadness at the republication of the cartoons on a right-wing extremist group´s website, adding that the Swedish government had closed the site."
(Via Ossian, thanks Erik)
16:39 - DOES BEAUTY MATTER?:
Two friends of mine do research on whether personal looks and related traits matter in politics. You can help them by participating in a scientific study which aims at clarifying this: just go to www.beautystudy.se. Please write NORBERG when asked about where you heard about the study, which is a follow-up study of a previous one last fall.
There is a chance to win €100 for participants, whose identity is kept confidential.
14:08 - APPEASEMENT:
"nationalisation of private property, destruction of the rule of law, violation of human rights and liquidation of democracy".
- The Russian policies the West gives legitimacy to when attending the G8 summit in St Petersburg in July, according to Putin´s former adviser Andrei Illarionov in FT.
13:21 - NEO NR 2:
Det andra numret av det liberala magasinet Neo är ute nu. Två av de mest intressanta artiklarna finns online.
Det första numret handlade om politiska, ekonomiska och tekniska förändringar och hade omslagstexten "DET SER LJUST UT", vilket föranledde en rad dysterkvistar att klaga över att det var för optimistiskt. Den som inte tror att Neo lyssnar på kritik får tänka om efter detta nummer:
08:31 - CSR SOM BUSINESS:
Missa inte Mats Qvibergs pigga uppgörelse med CSR-doktrinerna i SvD.
23:12 - WE ARE LAUGHING AT LUKASHENKO:
"People will laugh at those figures. In Poland, people began laughing at communist authorities and this is when Solidarity won. We are getting there."
- The Belarusian opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich as Europe´s last dictator gives himself about 90 percent of the votes.
13:04 - THE EMIGRANTS:
The radio program Jobben right now reports that hundreds of young, well-educated immigrants from Somalia and Iran leaves Sweden for the UK, to find a job or start a business.
12:20 - MEANWHILE IN MINSK:
Europe´s last dictator is trying to steal another election.
Read more about the struggle for freedom in Belarus:
Belarus Elections 2006
12:04 - RELIGIOUS SENSITIVITY FOR THEE, NOT FOR ME:
"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."
- Isaac Hayes, "Chef", leaves South Park in protest.
"In 10 years and over 150 episodes of ´South Park,´ Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion [Scientology] featured on the show."
- Matt Stone responds.
(Meanwhile, Comedy Central gives in and does not repeat the supposedly offensive Scientology episode.)
13:16 - RIOTING FOR STATUS QUO:
“The young people have a negative vision of the future. May 1968 was an offensive movement, with a positive vision of the future, but today’s protests are all against things. They are defensive, based on fear of insecurity and change.”
- Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the French student protests 1968, thinks today´s protesters are defensive and conservative. In FT.
16:51 - TESTING:
The horrible results of a British drug trial raise a lot of questions. Is this the right way to test drugs, what are the risks and is it really right to pay healthy young students to take those risks?
I have participated in a lot of tests, and I think that this is absolutely necessary to give mankind the drugs that saves millions of lives. Otherwise we would give it to patients straight away, some of whom are in worse shape, and might react more. I don´t know the statistics, but this is probably the first time something like this has happened anywhere, and in Sweden alone about 30 000 people participate in tests every year. It´s probably still more dangerous to drive a taxi.
Having been a volunteer myself, I don´t think that the problem is that the participants are paid to take risks. Quite the opposite. The problem is the limit on payments to participants. We weren´t given very much since we were not supposed to take risks for money. But of course we did, we just weren´t paid what it was really worth.
10:06 - THE FIRST VICTIMS:
The most damaging consequence of the new EU line Mattias and I write about is that now when Yemen, Jordan, Malaysia and other nations close down independent newspapers and arrest journalists who publish Mohammed cartoons and criticise religion, the EU can´t protest, instead it gives them them the sanction and legitimacy to do it.
The first victims of the EU´s political correctness are brave Muslim publishers.
07:42 - THE EU VS VOLTAIRE:
In Svenska Dagbladet today, Mattias Svensson and I criticise the EU for abandoning the continent´s enlightenment tradition, from Voltaire to Monty Python. Astonishingly, the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has travelled the Middle East and expressed sympathy for a law against attacks on religion. And the EU is right now preparing a common proposal with Muslim dictatorships on how to ruin the UN human rights´ charter with a rule outlawing criticism of religion and prophets.
Today, Muslim fundamentalists try to stop novels by Rushdie, plays by Voltaire and cartoons of Mohammed with threats. Tomorrow, this might be the official duty of the European police.
09:00 - VOTE FOR A CONSTITUTION:
French and Dutch voters have rejected the EU Constitution, even if all politicians haven´t noticed. But the EU needs a constitution. Perhaps this very short one? You can vote for or against it online, even if you are not European.
23:11 - THE BENEFIT OF UNREALISTIC BEAUTY STANDARDS:
A new study in Journal of Consumer Research shows that the only thing worse for a woman´s self-esteem than watching extremely thin models, is watching "normal", moderately heavy models, which just make the spectator focus on how heavy she feels.
And exposure to moderately thin models actually had a positive impact on self-esteem...
10:13 - SWEDISH ATTITUDES II:
"As Arch Bishop, she would first of all meet [prime minister] Göran Persson and talk about the government´s responsibility for the wellbeing of the people."
- Candidate Anna Karin Hammar on the first duty of the Church: To demand that someone else solves all the problems.
10:10 - SWEDISH ATTITUDES:
1 in 4 Swedes would not like to see a Jew as Swedish prime minister.
23:03 - NÄR NUDER ÄR FD KOMMER HAN SÄGA DETSAMMA:
"Vi behöver sänkta skatter på arbete, till exempel sänkta arbetsgivaravgifter, egenavgifter, särskild löneskatt, sociala avgifter. Det skulle minska problemen för särskilt småföretagen. Även förmögenhetsskatten bör tas bort"
Fd finansministern Kjell-Olof Feldt (s) förklarar vad som krävs för att Sverige ska få fler jobb, N24.
10:42 - HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATE PEOPLE:
By stopping a Chinese corporation from buying the energy company Unocal, the US gave the Chinese the impression that trade in resources is a zero-sum game.
By stopping a Dubai-owned company from servicing American ports, the US sends the signal that it considers every Arab a potential terrorist, and that it doesn´t help a country to be an American ally.
The increasingly xenophobic attitude to business in the US is consistently undermining the country´s national security ambitions.
10:10 - SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC (1941-2006):
"The story of Slobodan Milosevic is the story of a communist appartschnik in old socialist Yugoslavia who saw that the system was collapsing and decided to ride the tiger of nationalism in order to get to and preserve power.
He wasn’t really much of a nationalist. I dealt with him extensively during a number of years. He had his prejudices, but probably somewhat less than the regional average.
He was an opportunist and a tactician. He was a man of power and ambition. He was never much of a man of principles, and history shows that he was an extremely poor strategists. He was extremely keen in winning the small battles – but he failed to see that he was losing the wars."
- Carl Bildt on Milosevic, who wanted to rule Serbia at any cost - even the destruction of Serbia itself.
10:05 - KARLSSON IN ENGLISH:
Just back in Stockholm, I learn that Kristian Karlsson´s book is already under translation. It will be available in English early in 2007.
01:19 - SOMETHING TO READ WHILE I AM GONE:
I just sent the publisher a draft of a new book, this time about Swedish domestic politics. To celebrate this I am now going north for some skiing the rest of the week. Until I am back, this blog will be much less active than I will be.
While I am gone, Kristian Karlsson will present his new book, Avlatsindustrin, an in-depth critical study of “social responsibility” in corporations and investments, from empirical and ethical perspectives. This is the best and most thorough book that I have read on the subject, but it is also easily accessible and actually quite fun. I really recommend you to read it.
Now it will only be published in Swedish, but someone really ought to translate it to English.
00:23 - DRAWINGS:
In the new edition of the Swedish magazine Fokus there is an interview with me. And I like their idea of publishing drawings of the persons they interview, made by Jane Bark. They have a nice one of me in the art nouveau restaurant Operabaren. So I promise not to boycott them or burn down their office.
00:03 - EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED:
2003-2004 I got one year older, but I only approached death by half a year. Male life expectancy increased by 0.44 years in Sweden that year. Now I am only waiting for it to increase by more than one year every year...
12:23 - WARNING NZ ABOUT US:
Muriel Newman is one of the founders of ACT, New Zealand´s classical liberal party, and she has now started the NZ Centre for Political Debate. In their latest guest column (pdf) I explain why it is dangerous to imitate the Swedish model too much.
12:07 - WHY OPEN SOCIETIES WIN:
When it comes to satire, totalitarian states can never win against open societies. An Israeli group beats the Iranian Holocaust cartoons contest with its own anti-Semitic cartoons contest. (Thanks Kenneth)
08:38 - RICHARD FLORIDA´S UNDYNAMIC INDEX:
In Dagens Industri today I criticise Richard Florida who writes well about how the "creative class" holds the key to economic development. This week he is in Sweden, so we will hear a lot of talk about his index which puts Sweden as the no 1 creative country in the world.
But we win because of a lot of university education, patents and research. Florida does not look at how we use those ideas, and how much goes into commercialised patents, new businesses and new jobs - he just looks at the input, not the creative output. If he did, he would see that Sweden would make the top of the list of countries that waste their potential.
Whereas other EU-15 countries have increased the number of entrepreneurs by 9 percent since 1995, Sweden´s number has been reduced by 9 percent. And Sweden is the only country except Finland with jobless growth the last decades.
So don´t throw away Florida´s ideas. Creativity really holds they key. But throw away that superficial index.
10:37 - A GOOD BOYCOTT:
Funniest this weekend was the Public Service show, where the moderates´ Gunnar Hökmark issued a fatwa against the social democrats because of their caricature of Fredrik Reinfeldt. And he suggested a total boycott against imports as the response. Import of what? Of social democratic ideas to the moderates, of course...
11:24 - A MAN WHO KNOWS THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD:
In National Journal Jonathan Rauch writes about a true hero, a Shiite from Iraq´s south, who wants to be known by a pseudonym, H Ali Kamil:
"Odd though it may sound, somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic-language Web site, called LampofLiberty.org -- MisbahAlHurriyya.org in Arabic -- can change the world by publishing liberal classics.
Odder still, he may be right."
11:46 - PUDELN VI INTE FICK LÄSA:
Det var naturligtvis korkat av Jan Söderqvist att på en e-postlista kalla en DN-medarbetare tjockis. Men jag tycker nästan att det är än mer korkat att DN upplåter väldigt och indignerat utrymme åt det, samtidigt som de förnekar Söderqvist rätten till en replik för att förklara sig.
Oscar Swartz publicerar den refuserade repliken, där det framgår att Söderqvist bad om ursäkt för sin dumhet redan en månad innan DN skrev om det.
08:58 - LEARNING CURVE:
"Pluralism has worked well in economy over the last 20 years, now it´s time to try political pluralism too."
- Le Cong Dinh, a Vietnamese lawyer, in a BBC report on how a more open economy is now being followed by a more open debate. (Thanks Richard)
17:59 - THE RICH SUFFER UNDER BUSH:
The latest data shows that average family income in the US declined between 2001 and 2004. Some use figures like that to argue that the American model is only working for the rich. Therefore, it´s worth noting that the decline is a result of the richest getting poorer, whereas other groups have made gains.
Here is the change in average family real income in dollars 2001-2004, from David Mastio:
Bottom 20% of families
Meanwhile, non-white or Hispanic families increased average income by $1,600.
15:54 - PURSUING HAPPINESS:
In this year´s first edition of Ekonomisk Debatt, the premier Swedish academic journal on economics, I take a close look at happiness and wellbeing studies that have been used by economists like Richard Layard to argue that markets and growth don´t create happiness. I explain why these conclusions don´t follow even if they were right about the data, but I also show that they have misread the data.
In stores now.
02:33 - HETS OCH HAFS:
Två synpunkter om SSU-ombudsmannens numera nedlagda "hets-sajt" mot Reinfeldt:
1) Det är bra att folk offentligt får stå till svars för vad de skriver på bloggarna. För många använder känslan av anonymitet till att bete sig svinaktigt mot andra. Detta kanske kan få fler att tänka efter innan de angriper person i stället för sak.
2) Han kallar faktiskt inte Reinfeldt för pedofil, det är slarv eller medvetet vilseledande när tidningarna skriver det. Hans anklagelse syftar på hans påstående om att en person som har dömts för pedofili har deltagit i ett moderat provval.
02:05 - AGAINST THE NEW TOTALITARIANS:
"We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all ...
We reject «cultural relativism», which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of ´Islamophobia´, an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers."
- Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and 8 other intellectuals in a manifesto for enlightenment values against religious fundamentalism.