Challenges from Social-Democrat Denmark

Update on 11/20/12: I am still seriously in mourning (deuil, luto) because of the result of the election. A part of me believes we have simply lost America forever. I don’t know what to do about it. I am trying to avoid the temptation of a personal secession from Pres. Obama’s America. Yet, I realize that a deep defeat is a good time to re-examine one’s beliefs. Destiny offered me an opportunity to do so through friendly Danes who stumbled on this blog.

A short time ago I became involved in a disorderly discussion with a Danish blogger I decided to call “Frans.” He calls himself a “transhumanist.” I looked the term up on Wikipedia but I don’t know much more than before I did. I understand it has nothing or little to do with being transhuman like, say, a vampire. Let me just say that Frans is intelligent and possibly well-informed. ( See below about the “possibly.”) He has a sense of humor; his English is good. Here is his blog address: http://transhumanisten.com/

Even Scandinavians with Frans’ qualities have trouble avoiding bragging. They figure their countries are so small they can do no harm so, it’s OK to brag. (The worst are the Norwegians because they have lots of oil and they could live without working and yet they work.)

Anyway, recently, Frans starts bragging about free Danish higher education plus a stipend for all. So, of course, I ask him where is the micro-Silicon Valley Danish universities have spawned. I want to talk about the relationship between big government/ big taxes on the one hand, and collective creativity, on the other hand. Frans first gives a perfectly reasonable response with Skype but then, he goes on and on.

Now, I think that big government destroys the creative impulse in the minds of citizens and creates structural conditions where notional inventions are difficult to implement. That’s kind of a hypothesis based on close observation of France and on much less close observation of Spain and Germany. (Note my restraint: Nothing about Greece.) Incidentally, I have been writing an essay on the extreme poverty of French popular culture. (It’s in French.)

Denmark is a very pleasant country I know a little. I am sure that life there is sweet. And I will forever be grateful to the couple of Danish girls who gave me a good push and shove a long time ago when I was still hesitant. But, my interest is only in creativity broadly defined rather than in Denmark as such.

Frans also argues that the population homogeneity of Denmark is responsible for what he says is a high level of inventiveness there. He gives me too much reading. I ask him to give me one reading assignment, to give it his single best shot. I am waiting.

At another time, Frans cites the high degree of inventiveness in Israel ( which I don’t doubt) and he gives credit to the country’s “homogeneity.” Sounds absurd to me. I think that Israel is a country of immigrants, like Singapore. I know that 20% of its population is not even Jewish. Then Frans retorts that Israel is like a “family.” That’s too vague for me. Plus, lots of other social systems that are like families are not inventive. Take the Sicilian Mafia (“La nostra famiglia”): same old bullet to the back of the head at the barber’s, same bomb blowing up the same old black car on a Sunday outing in the countryside.

So, Frans and I have here a disorganized debate with potential. If it is the case that little Denmark is a creative, inventive society in spite of its high tax/ big government regime I, as a conservative, need to know about it. But I don’t have lifetime in front of me to find out.

Another branch of my discussion with Frans concerns the relationship between political stance and generosity. My understanding of American studies on the topic makes me believe that conservatives are systematically more generous than liberals. Frans says the reverse is true I don’t know where. Here again, I am interested but I don’t want to read pages after pages of irrelevant or possibly weak material. I urge anew: Frans and others, give it your one best shot.

Good time to repeat my normal standard of selection: If a study (a study, not a poem or an editorial) is not published in a double-blind refereed journal, it’s usually not worth my time. What’s so published is also often defective but if the findings sound interesting enough, I will give it a try.

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About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English. When I write in French, I often use my middle initial “J” to avoid confusion with another blogger with views very different from mine. I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!)
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131 Responses to Challenges from Social-Democrat Denmark

  1. Danish girls. :)

    I have two cents on the topic. One, tax rates in the US and Scandinavia are actually quite similar. In the US we have a low individual tax rate but a very high corporate tax rate. In Scandinavia the reverse is true: intolerable individual tax rates but very low corporate tax rates. Big government really isn’t the issue here. How tax dollars are spent is the issue. I’m on my phone so I’ll post some links later.

    The second thing I wanted to mention is the Scandinavian’s obsession with homogeneity. I think this obsession explains well the welfare state: “it’s ours not theirs.” The welfare state may indeed provide generous benefits to individuals…provided they come from a certain ethnic stock.

    • Brandon: YOu are right right now. Over the post WWII period, I think Danish total tax rates have been considerably higher than American tax rates. I have a recollection that the Danes reformed their bad habits in the past ten years. Our friend Frans will help us with this, I hope.

      I am sorry, I asked, No Danish girl has any recollection of you.

  2. @brandonchristensen

    Very good points you have, but you’re name sounds suspiciously Danish, – and one could get the impression you are biased :)

    What Americans need to understand is that the majority of Danes don’t find individual taxes intolerable. My son, for instance, will be 19 in a weeks time, and he receives $ 300 / a month for attending some classes, despite still living at home, where he gets everything for free. In another year or two, we can send him to University without paying a single dollar. So you are absolutely right: The issue is HOW tax dollars are spent.

    You are completely right also about “it’s ours, not theirs”, and I think that explains why Americans don’t have the same willingness to share. I was thinking also: Why is it the Catalonians, for instance, want independence ? – Because they are RICHER and feel like a family, i.e. they are different from people in Madrid. Same is true for the Basques, – (not sure if that’s the right spelling).

    I am delighted Jacques wrote this piece. I have som explanation to do though, – will get back to that later..

  3. THANK YOU Jacques, for writing this, – I am delighted, but I’d like to make two things clearer. To begin with, I am actually not a Social-Democrat, and have never voted for them. The problem is that in the U.S. you can be leftist, Social Democratic and Social-Liberal and still be a “Democrat”, due to the two-party system, yet “Democrats” as perceived from Denmark, seem to have more in common with our “Liberal” party, who, in a Social Democratic pespective, are actually Libertarians. It’s all rather confusing, but I define myself as a Social-Liberal, which is to say: Liberty and Egalitarianism, are both top-priorities, where Social Democrats tend to choose Egalitarianism as the more important. As a Social-Liberal, I don’t see Big Government as good-per-definition, – but I don’t see how it’s possible to combat inequality without “Big” Government.

    Second thing is how we perceive “invention”. What usually comes to mind, is something technical, – a smart car that can park itself, for instance, or, say, a new way to pour a glass of wine without spilling, but that is a very narrow definition, and when I talk about innovativeness, I mean: Anything that contributes to overall wellbeing”, like, for instance, constructing special bicylcle-lanes, and how we arrange ourselves in general. Defined in this way, Denmark is.. – sorry about the bragging – the World’s most innovative nation: http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/top-10-innovative-countries-denmark-leads-world-in-2010-sweden-us-follow/13487

    • Frans: My idea of inventiveness, creativity does not differ from yours, I think. I count the”post-it” and the habit of placing two rather one single toilet tissue rolls in public toilets as instances of creativity. But the Internet certainly belongs too.

      And, as I think I have mentioned, I am preparing an essay on the poverty, the sterility of contemporary French culture. I blame it on “statism,” of course.

      I do insist on focusing on things that can be counted. That may bias observation toward well- defined material objects. I don’t know how this can be helped.

      When I use the term “social-democrat,” I use a form of short-hand that is common, I think, in the English-speaking world. I don’t refer to the labels pertaining to any political party in Denmark or elsewhere which our readers wouldn’t know anyway (any more than I do). The term is short-hand for: Non-Communist, high-regulations, high-taxes society where government provides many social services. I mean the destination to which many Americans suspect President Obama wants to take us. In my mind, most Western European national societies are “social-democrat” in this manner.

      And I can already hear our friend Brandon, the quasi-Dane, strangling himself with rage because he does not like simplification or even simplicity. (He is also in a bad mood because he realizes that no Danish girl has any recollection of him.) Whether this short-hand is valid, whether it corresponds to any tangible reality or whether it’s a pure product of my defective brain atrophied by past alcohol abuse is a separate question.

      One can use a term that does not correspond to any social reality. The existence of the term is not a magic trick that brings any reality into existence. Yep, I know this.

      I don’t quite understand how one can be in favor of liberty and of equality at the same time in any society that practices taxation on a big scale. I am assuming the you mean by “equality” equality of outcome: If you have a bike, I should have a bike too (or a bike ride, makes no difference). We take equality of chances, equality in entering the race, for granted. I think it’s a basic value of all developed societies of European origin, of societies with a foot in the Enlightenment.

      The idea that equality of outcome requires that government seizes from Peter to give to Paul is central to libertarian thinking in the US. (Except for Brandon who has a more sophisticated view!) It places the use of force squarely at the heart of society’s functioning, in a sort of daily process. It’s far removed from what the use of government force would be if its only purpose were to contain aggression. The state-based pursuit of equality is thus a major source of immoral behavior. Because it can never end, it trivializes reliance on violence – state violence – at the expense of cooperation and of limited contracts.

      Lexicographic notes: “Seizing” implies force or the threat of force. I wrote “libertarian” not “Libertarian.” I suspect (strongly) that there are many more libertarians who are not Libertarian in the US than there are “Libertarians,” members of the party that goes by the same name.

      Too much hard work for early morning. I have to go to the gym to watch bad television and to maintain my body in such shape that I can continue to challenge liberals to arm-wrestling and make them cry. Talk to you later.

      • I am delighted you can go along with a broader definition of inventiveness, and I have no objections to your short-hand, which I think is accurate.

        It is in no way easy to balance the scales when Freedom and Equality are viewed as incompatable, but are they.., that’s the big question. In a fascist state, there is neither liberty nor equality. In a Communist state there is no liberty, and not all that much equality either. In a non-restrained Capitalist state, there is freedom for some and little equality. In a Social Democratic state, there is a fair amount of equality and a fair amount of freedom, but freedoms are at risk, – freedom of expression, for instance. In a Social-Liberal state, you find the highest degrees of both freedom and equality, in MY opinion, anyway. You might think of Sweden as a predominantly Social-Democratic nation, and Denmark as a more Social-Liberal society.

  4. Ulver says:

    The equality is straight forward. Equality to healthcare, child care, schools, university, minimum waiges, housing guaranties and everything nedet so all the inhabitants can contribute to the society on a high level of funktioning. And they do. Investment in people is always the best investment for a country. We have more women in the workforce and both sex are highly educated. A life long almost free education increase the mobility, which is good for the businesses. And last but not least multiple political party system so our different perceptions off freedom can be heard.
    I have a black bike and a red car. But I could sell them an by a boat! The common transport is so well developt that I can manage without them. Or maybe I will tend the open university at night, so I can increase my income. All is possible when you are free of worrying about the basic survival needs.

  5. Thanks Ulver, that was a strong testimony, but the good Professor actually seems to quite like many aspects of our society. He is just worried Big Government limits individual freedoms and innovation, – leaves us “sterile”, so to speak.., and we have to convince him and other American Conservatives that this is not the case. The burden of proof is on our shoulders.. – and we must admit also, that today we experience strong internal criticism of our high taxes and ditto wages. In Sweden, taxes are now considerably lower than in Denmark, and evil tongues suggest that is why the Swedish economy is in high gear compared to Denmark. We do seem to have some challenges.. in the name of the holy competitiveness, but we will of course prevail.. :)

    Ps. I know you have lived part of your life in France and Switzerland, so I believe it is of interest to you that delacroixjacques is a French immigrant and a staunch critic of French Society. – On the other hand, he loves rich, small government, highly innovative Switzerland..

    • Whoever did it: You are not welcome to refer to me as the “good professor.” It makes me sound harmless. It’ s an expression of disdain. And I assure you I have plenty of venom. Other than this, I am pleased to pay attention.

      • My apologies, but I told you we Danes come across as being rude at times. We have no manners, according to some, but it is usually a case of misunderstanding. That said, what’s wrong with being harmless ? – It all comes down to interpretation, and “good” Professor in my part of the world is not offensive at all, – rather the opposite. Could it be your French side..

  6. Ps. There’s on aspect of our society Professor Jacques likes in particular: Our pretty girls :)

    • I can’t really talk about Danish girls and me. First, I am a gentleman. Second, it was a long time ago and their grand-daughters might be shocked to learn what they the (grandmas’) did in the sand dunes near Fredrishavn. Yet, it would be more accurate to sat that they liked me and they proved it. See my memoirs: “I Used to Be French….”

  7. So, on the issue of equality, we agree that we are talking about equality of outcomes: You have a bike therefore I must also have a bike. We have in the US many of the same things that the reader mentions including, of course, a minimum wage. In fact, there is a federal minimum wage and there is also one in just about every state, in California, certainly.

    I believe that government-imposed minimum wages nearly always create unemployment and underemployment. So, you Danes say it’s not so. I am interested.

    Whether you are correct or I am there is a moral issue separate from the question of societal efficiency.

    Just trying to keep this discussion on some track .
    I have to because Frans often sounds as if he had a great supply of really, really good ganja. (This is envy, not criticism.)

    A question that may not interest anyone else: Consider Denmark’s contemporary cultural production broadly defined. If you multiplied it by as many times as the population of Denmark fits into the US population, if you did the above: Would the quantity of Danish cultural production more or less equal the American , or would it be larger, or smaller?

    This can only be a mental operation based on unverified assumptions, I understand. I am interested in the answer. I don’t know what it is (I know what it is for Germany, but, it’s another society.)

    Be careful l how you answer any of my questions. Your answers may determine whether I move to Texas or stay put in beautiful California!

  8. Afterthought: I would also be interested in overall Danish productivity. I know how to do the research but I am too lazy to do it. OECD is a good place to start.

  9. Got lost reading about the prospect of faster-than-light travel, without violation Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and just wrote a short introduction on my blog – http://transhumanisten.com/2012/11/28/faster-than-light-travel-may-await-us/

    I’m saying because I need you to be patient here, and I really have to consider your Gedankenexperiment carefully, as I would not want you to move to Texas ! – I have been to both Texas and California, and girls are pretty in both states, but it’s an easy choice: Stay put !

    Oh my.. Mother-in-law coming for lunch tomorrow, how will I sneak out and find time for this..

  10. So, mother-in-law was here.., and she informed me that the area of Copenhagen where she used to live is actually nicknamed SILICON VALLEY, an area where there are approximately 10,000 IT and telecoms companies, and another 5,000 businesses linked to life sciences, including medico production, development and research. In other words, we have Medicon Valley and a micro Silicon Valley.
    My conclusion is that Big Government does not impede creativity and innovation, and I believe I have provided sufficient evidence to that effect, in particular when innovation / creativity is understood in a broader sense. Case closed :)

    Now, I haven’t had time to think all that much about cultural production, but I can tell you that culture’s contribution to GDP is estimated at 3.1 %, compared to E.U. average of 2.6. – I also took note of figures for France: 3.4%…

    What I’ll tell you though, is that I am a real snob when it comes to the QUALITY of culture, – and I consider anyone who says “it all comes down to taste” a postmodernist.. halfwit. – Yet, I find it very hard to say anything wise about cultural production. I think I’ll leave that to you, and I am very interested in what you will publish about your native country.

    I did surf around a bit, and maybe you will find this statement about Danish culture amusing: ( I did !) : “A simple life is the essence of the culture of Denmark. Not much weight is given to possessions or high income, and bragging is considered to be quite rude”.

    Re: Productivity
    We here constantly, than Danish productivity has been lagging behind our competitors, but also that it has something to do with how it is measured. It seems as if things are changing for the better though:
    “According to the latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), overall 2010 productivity growth for Danish industry was at 3.3 per cent. This compares to the average productivity growth among the 34 OECD countries at 2.2 per cent and in the Eurozone at 1.8 per cent”. http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/ECE1582249/danish-productivity-growth-high/

    I have used up my imaginary supply of really, really good ganja for today, but there are still a couple of unsettled issues, that I may comment on some time later..

  11. Frans: I am glad you get along with your mother-in-law but she is not providing an answer with the kind of authority I seek.

    Productivity growth figures do not address my question at all.
    There is this guy in Cameroon who used to pick two coconuts per year. Last year, he needed a little cash and he stirred himself to pick four coconuts. The growth of his productivity between last year and the preceding years was an impressive 100%.

    You seem to be implying that Denmark has competitors that are nation-states. It’s not really so. Countries don’t compete in a zero-plus sum game like say, soccer teams. I have written extensively on this in my blog. Perhaps, the would-be Dane Brandon, a superior archivist, will give links.( That will be after he stops licking his wounds on the subject of the generosity of Danish girls.)

    I am only trying to get you or your readers to do research for me because my fingers hurt. I will be interested in answers whenever they come. Mine are serious questions about a debate that was forgotten ten years ago, I think. In the wake of the last US election, I am interested in the possibility that we, in the US, have the worst of all worlds and that both major parties are walking briskly to nowhere, bickering all the way there.

    You should accept my advice on English usage. No need for a pissing contest; my vita shouts loud and clear. No “good professor” please. It’s one of the worst things you can say about an old man. “Stinking hyena” would be preferable!

  12. I know a small town in a charming, hilly part of central France where the main industry is selling vacant old stone houses to Parisians (and the occasional Dane). The mayor, a man of vision, took a look at Silicon Valley during a vacation trip in California.(He also bought a souvenir sweatshirt at the Stanford bookstore) Back home, he gathered his city council to do something about re-starting the village economy. They decided high-tech was the way to go. Next, the mayor took the local soccer field, enclosed it in chain-link fence and had the municipal employes more or less clean up the cow pies from it. There was a young guy, a loafer, in the village who sometimes fixed computers and other electronics. They built him a cement block shack inside the fence-in area and made him promise to work there. Then, they hung up a sign at the gated entrance to the former soccer field. It said;: “Vallee du Silicone”.

  13. Ulver says:

    Equality in a society is the very engine of creativity.
    We can use Marslows pyramid, as an illustration of how creativity, morality, spontaneity, problem solving, lack off prejudice and acceptance off fact are the very qualities that define
    human behavior and possibilities when all needs are meet.

    Examples: creativity is Denmark source of income. We are rich because of our creativity. Our skills are often improvements and quality development. It can be design, architecture, medicine or culture.
    Morality is for us the fair equality. Everybody who works hard eight ours a day should earn an income that allows him to live a decent life, knowing that the lowest income often are the most worn out. We are the country that donates the most pr. Inhabitant to the third world. And pension funds that just have indirect investments in war materials is not acceptable.
    Spontaneity is such a good word….it creates pictures.. Yet spontaneity I business an society demand a culture that embrace it. The success in the area of product-development in Denmark owe it in a large degree to the culture at work. It is okay to fail and you systematically learn from your failures. That gives business drive. Also a culture of democracy where ideas not necessarily comes from top. People mostly feel secure in their job( thanks to the unions)and therefor dare more.
    Problem solving is the essence of all education, but depending on the other factors, the outcome will differ. Last year I read about two Danes who had invented a straw from which you can drink dirty water(it cleans it – of cause), and is meant for areas stroke with natural disasters. Denmark is quite enlightened in regard of their knowledge of the world. That includes poverty, clima change, and the limited resources. That’s why windmills, organic farming on a large scale, medicine and low energy housing is part of our innovations – It is often about improving conditions for people, nature and animals.
    I don’t think that lack off prejudice is an easy task to explain. Prejudices is part of human nature and few can pretend to be liberated from it. Yet we believe that the only way to minimize them is through knowledge. Here a free press(Mohammed drawing), cultural liberty(Danish screen with dogma among others), gives us a large freedom off expressions that actualize and start discussions, which generate more knowledge. Non commercial radio and tv channels helps shooting down the biggest lies, as well as we are one off the most traveling people. We are more likely to judge people for who they are then for what they do. Another thing is our crime management. We doesn’t se all criminals as bad people, which brings me as we’ll to acceptance off facts.
    Criminals are not just bad guys who are possess by evil. There are people whit a tuff start in life. That is common knowledge, so we do not punish them very hard. Another is faith. I don’t know if Denmark if the most atheist country, but it must be in the very top. Fact and beliefs do not blend in the Danish mind. Religious people are a curiosity, but when it influences people’s judgement or freedom(or to be spontaneous) we are stunned.
    That’s why we love to hate the states, and we are so tolerant that we go there anyway..

    The very possibilities to live the top of Marslows pyramid, should make people more happy. And guess what…. We are the happiest people. Not because we are the same, but because our system allows us all(grosso modo) to fulfill our creativity on an individual level. And more money is not the culture that allows it.
    For a country with as munch inhabitants as Toronto, it is fair well done – I think. If you shock up all the Americans and randomly pulled out 5-6 million of them in one country, I doesn’t think the outcome would be as prosperous.

    Equality in a society is the very engine of creativity.
    We can use Marslows pyramid, as an illustration of how creativity, morality, spontaneity, problem solving, lack off prejudice and acceptance off fact are the very qualities that define
    human behavior and possibilities when all needs are meet.

    Examples: creativity is Denmark source of income. We are rich because of our creativity. Our skills are often improvements and quality development. It can be design, architecture, medicine or culture.
    Morality is for us the fair equality. Everybody who works hard eight ours a day should earn an income that allows him to live a decent life, knowing that the lowest income often are the most worn out. We are the country that donates the most pr. Inhabitant to the third world. And pension funds that just have indirect investments in war materials is not acceptable.
    Spontaneity is such a good word….it creates pictures.. Yet spontaneity I business an society demand a culture that embrace it. The success in the area of product-development in Denmark owe it in a large degree to the culture at work. It is okay to fail and you systematically learn from your failures. That gives business drive. Also a culture of democracy where ideas not necessarily comes from top. People mostly feel secure in their job( thanks to the unions)and therefor dare more.
    Problem solving is the essence of all education, but depending on the other factors, the outcome will differ. Last year I read about two Danes who had invented a straw from which you can drink dirty water(it cleans it – of cause), and is meant for areas stroke with natural disasters. Denmark is quite enlightened in regard of their knowledge of the world. That includes poverty, clima change, and the limited resources. That’s why windmills, organic farming on a large scale, medicine and low energy housing is part of our innovations – It is often about improving conditions for people, nature and animals.
    I don’t think that lack off prejudice is an easy task to explain. Prejudices is part of human nature and few can pretend to be liberated from it. Yet we believe that the only way to minimize them is through knowledge. Here a free press(Mohammed drawing), cultural liberty(Danish screen with dogma among others), gives us a large freedom off expressions that actualize and start discussions, which generate more knowledge. Non commercial radio and tv channels helps shooting down the biggest lies, as well as we are one off the most traveling people. We are more likely to judge people for who they are then for what they do. Another thing is our crime management. We doesn’t se all criminals as bad people, which brings me as we’ll to acceptance off facts.
    Criminals are not just bad guys who are possess by evil. There are people whit a tuff start in life. That is common knowledge, so we do not punish them very hard. Another is faith. I don’t know if Denmark if the most atheist country, but it must be in the very top. Fact and beliefs do not blend in the Danish mind. Religious people are a curiosity, but when it influences people’s judgement or freedom(or to be spontaneous) we are stunned.
    That’s why we love to hate the states, and we are so tolerant that we go there anyway..

    The very possibilities to live the top of Marslows pyramid, should make people more happy. And guess what…. We are the happiest people. Not because we are the same, but because our system allows us all(grosso modo) to fulfill our creativity on an individual level. And more money is not the culture that allows it.
    For a country with as munch inhabitants as Toronto, it is fair well done – I think. If you shock up all the Americans and randomly pulled out 5-6 million of them in one country, I doesn’t think the outcome would be as prosperous.

    Equality in a society is the very engine of creativity.
    We can use Marslows pyramid, as an illustration of how creativity, morality, spontaneity, problem solving, lack off prejudice and acceptance off fact are the very qualities that define
    human behavior and possibilities when all needs are meet.

    Examples: creativity is Denmark source of income. We are rich because of our creativity. Our skills are often improvements and quality development. It can be design, architecture, medicine or culture.
    Morality is for us the fair equality. Everybody who works hard eight ours a day should earn an income that allows him to live a decent life, knowing that the lowest income often are the most worn out. We are the country that donates the most pr. Inhabitant to the third world. And pension funds that just have indirect investments in war materials is not acceptable.
    Spontaneity is such a good word….it creates pictures.. Yet spontaneity I business an society demand a culture that embrace it. The success in the area of product-development in Denmark owe it in a large degree to the culture at work. It is okay to fail and you systematically learn from your failures. That gives business drive. Also a culture of democracy where ideas not necessarily comes from top. People mostly feel secure in their job( thanks to the unions)and therefor dare more.
    Problem solving is the essence of all education, but depending on the other factors, the outcome will differ. Last year I read about two Danes who had invented a straw from which you can drink dirty water(it cleans it – of cause), and is meant for areas stroke with natural disasters. Denmark is quite enlightened in regard of their knowledge of the world. That includes poverty, clima change, and the limited resources. That’s why windmills, organic farming on a large scale, medicine and low energy housing is part of our innovations – It is often about improving conditions for people, nature and animals.
    I don’t think that lack off prejudice is an easy task to explain. Prejudices is part of human nature and few can pretend to be liberated from it. Yet we believe that the only way to minimize them is through knowledge. Here a free press(Mohammed drawing), cultural liberty(Danish screen with dogma among others), gives us a large freedom off expressions that actualize and start discussions, which generate more knowledge. Non commercial radio and tv channels helps shooting down the biggest lies, as well as we are one off the most traveling people. We are more likely to judge people for who they are then for what they do. Another thing is our crime management. We doesn’t se all criminals as bad people, which brings me as we’ll to acceptance off facts.
    Criminals are not just bad guys who are possess by evil. There are people whit a tuff start in life. That is common knowledge, so we do not punish them very hard. Another is faith. I don’t know if Denmark if the most atheist country, but it must be in the very top. Fact and beliefs do not blend in the Danish mind. Religious people are a curiosity, but when it influences people’s judgement or freedom(or to be spontaneous) we are stunned.
    That’s why we love to hate the states, and we are so tolerant that we go there anyway..

    The very possibilities to live the top of Marslows pyramid, should make people more happy. And guess what…. We are the happiest people. Not because we are the same, but because our system allows us all(grosso modo) to fulfill our creativity on an individual level. And more money is not the culture that allows it.
    For a country with as munch inhabitants as Toronto, it is fair well done – I think. If you shock up all the Americans and randomly pulled out 5-6 million of them in one country, I doesn’t think the outcome would be as prosperous.

    Equality in a society is the very engine of creativity.
    We can use Marslows pyramid, as an illustration of how creativity, morality, spontaneity, problem solving, lack off prejudice and acceptance off fact are the very qualities that define
    human behavior and possibilities when all needs are meet.

    Examples: creativity is Denmark source of income. We are rich because of our creativity. Our skills are often improvements and quality development. It can be design, architecture, medicine or culture.
    Morality is for us the fair equality. Everybody who works hard eight ours a day should earn an income that allows him to live a decent life, knowing that the lowest income often are the most worn out. We are the country that donates the most pr. Inhabitant to the third world. And pension funds that just have indirect investments in war materials is not acceptable.
    Spontaneity is such a good word….it creates pictures.. Yet spontaneity I business an society demand a culture that embrace it. The success in the area of product-development in Denmark owe it in a large degree to the culture at work. It is okay to fail and you systematically learn from your failures. That gives business drive. Also a culture of democracy where ideas not necessarily comes from top. People mostly feel secure in their job( thanks to the unions)and therefor dare more.
    Problem solving is the essence of all education, but depending on the other factors, the outcome will differ. Last year I read about two Danes who had invented a straw from which you can drink dirty water(it cleans it – of cause), and is meant for areas stroke with natural disasters. Denmark is quite enlightened in regard of their knowledge of the world. That includes poverty, clima change, and the limited resources. That’s why windmills, organic farming on a large scale, medicine and low energy housing is part of our innovations – It is often about improving conditions for people, nature and animals.
    I don’t think that lack off prejudice is an easy task to explain. Prejudices is part of human nature and few can pretend to be liberated from it. Yet we believe that the only way to minimize them is through knowledge. Here a free press(Mohammed drawing), cultural liberty(Danish screen with dogma among others), gives us a large freedom off expressions that actualize and start discussions, which generate more knowledge. Non commercial radio and tv channels helps shooting down the biggest lies, as well as we are one off the most traveling people. We are more likely to judge people for who they are then for what they do. Another thing is our crime management. We doesn’t se all criminals as bad people, which brings me as we’ll to acceptance off facts.
    Criminals are not just bad guys who are possess by evil. There are people whit a tuff start in life. That is common knowledge, so we do not punish them very hard. Another is faith. I don’t know if Denmark if the most atheist country, but it must be in the very top. Fact and beliefs do not blend in the Danish mind. Religious people are a curiosity, but when it influences people’s judgement or freedom(or to be spontaneous) we are stunned.
    That’s why we love to hate the states, and we are so tolerant that we go there anyway..

    The very possibilities to live the top of Marslows pyramid, should make people more happy. And guess what…. We are the happiest people. Not because we are the same, but because our system allows us all(grosso modo) to fulfill our creativity on an individual level. And more money is not the culture that allows it.
    For a country with as munch inhabitants as Toronto, it is fair well done – I think. If you shock up all the Americans and randomly pulled out 5-6 million of them in one country, I doesn’t think the outcome would be as prosperous.

    Equality in a society is the very engine of creativity.
    We can use Marslows pyramid, as an illustration of how creativity, morality, spontaneity, problem solving, lack off prejudice and acceptance off fact are the very qualities that define
    human behavior and possibilities when all needs are meet.

    Examples: creativity is Denmark source of income. We are rich because of our creativity. Our skills are often improvements and quality development. It can be design, architecture, medicine or culture.
    Morality is for us the fair equality. Everybody who works hard eight ours a day should earn an income that allows him to live a decent life, knowing that the lowest income often are the most worn out. We are the country that donates the most pr. Inhabitant to the third world. And pension funds that just have indirect investments in war materials is not acceptable.
    Spontaneity is such a good word….it creates pictures.. Yet spontaneity I business an society demand a culture that embrace it. The success in the area of product-development in Denmark owe it in a large degree to the culture at work. It is okay to fail and you systematically learn from your failures. That gives business drive. Also a culture of democracy where ideas not necessarily comes from top. People mostly feel secure in their job( thanks to the unions)and therefor dare more.
    Problem solving is the essence of all education, but depending on the other factors, the outcome will differ. Last year I read about two Danes who had invented a straw from which you can drink dirty water(it cleans it – of cause), and is meant for areas stroke with natural disasters. Denmark is quite enlightened in regard of their knowledge of the world. That includes poverty, clima change, and the limited resources. That’s why windmills, organic farming on a large scale, medicine and low energy housing is part of our innovations – It is often about improving conditions for people, nature and animals.
    I don’t think that lack off prejudice is an easy task to explain. Prejudices is part of human nature and few can pretend to be liberated from it. Yet we believe that the only way to minimize them is through knowledge. Here a free press(Mohammed drawing), cultural liberty(Danish screen with dogma among others), gives us a large freedom off expressions that actualize and start discussions, which generate more knowledge. Non commercial radio and tv channels helps shooting down the biggest lies, as well as we are one off the most traveling people. We are more likely to judge people for who they are then for what they do. Another thing is our crime management. We doesn’t se all criminals as bad people, which brings me as we’ll to acceptance off facts.
    Criminals are not just bad guys who are possess by evil. There are people whit a tuff start in life. That is common knowledge, so we do not punish them very hard. Another is faith. I don’t know if Denmark if the most atheist country, but it must be in the very top. Fact and beliefs do not blend in the Danish mind. Religious people are a curiosity, but when it influences people’s judgement or freedom(or to be spontaneous) we are stunned.
    That’s why we love to hate the states, and we are so tolerant that we go there anyway..

    The very possibilities to live the top of Marslows pyramid, should make people more happy. And guess what…. We are the happiest people. Not because we are the same, but because our system allows us all(grosso modo) to fulfill our creativity on an individual level. And more money is not the culture that allows it.
    For a country with as munch inhabitants as Toronto, it is fair well done – I think. If you shock up all the Americans and randomly pulled out 5-6 million of them in one country, I doesn’t think the outcome would be as prosperous.

    • Here is a cruel reply, Ulver:

      1 Your response is too long. I need reasons to read it. I need as quick judgment, a fast way to determine if it’s worth my time. Your second sentence gives me an answer. You seem to refer to the psychologist Maslow but you can’t spell his name. (It ‘s spelled the same in Danish and in English, I assume.) Maslow’s “pyramid” is one of the best remembered empty constructs of all times. It has no empirical grounding at all. It’s demonstrably contrary to reality.

      2 Your demonstration about the virtues of equality sounds like an expression of religious faith. You are entitled to your beliefs, of course. You are far from converting me, however.

      3 You mix everything with everything. Example: a social system that forgives mistakes and failed experiments is not necessarily egalitarian.

      4 You appear not to know, or to forget, that “democracy” is not an exclusively Danish phenomenon. I regret this because I don’t need to argue with anyone about the things that I agree about.

      • Ulver says:

        1. Your right. Its far to long. Actually repeated several time. All on me. Have to get use to this ipad with different languages and strange propositions. The pyramide May be a mistake bût the content is not.
        2. Surprised that the goodly society only believes in equality in the eyes of god and not on earth..?.
        3. Perciving yourself as an equal, and therefore having little respect of autority, is pemeating the society in a way that facts and ideas means more than who is who.
        4.There is democratic governance and democratic outlook. In northen Europe all are automaticly regitrated by 18 and no one can lose their right to vote. The percentage of vote was around 87% at the last election.

      • Ulver: I appreciate the effort but much of what you say sounds like religious preaching. There is no shortage of people in the US who want bigger, more intrusive government. In fact, they won the last election, as you probably know. I am familiar with their beliefs. In my town of Santa Cruz, they constitute probably 80% of the population.

        Much of what you affirm needs to be said more slowly. Much of what you seem to believe is self-evident is not for someone like me who lives in a different system. An example: You seem to affirm that no citizen of “Northern Europe” ( I think you mean Scandinavia and Finland) can lose his citizenship. I don’t know if it is exceptional or why it’s a good thing. How many developed countries do you know where citizens have lost their citizenship recently?

        Your statement also implies that if a gang of violent jihadists who were Danish citizens blew up a bomb containing nuclear debris in the middle of Tivoli Gardens, they would be guaranteed to keep their Danish citizenship. You need to explain why it’s a good thing that assassinating, say 5,000 people does not make you lose your citizenship. Do you mean that it’s wonderful that such terrorists, if tried and found guilty by Danish justice could never be thrown out of Denmark. And why does it matter at all?

        Selfishly, I am interested in Danish achievements that make for the good life, and in their costs. What matters, ultimately is opportunity costs:

        Frans wants to give me a bicycle because he has a bicycle and it would be unfair for me not to have one too. But Frans, for some reasons, does not want to go into his savings to buy me a bicycle; he wants to use the government to take money from you by force to buy me a bicycle. On the one hand, I would be glad to be given a bicycle. On the other hand, I am wondering what is being lost in Denmark by this whole process to get me a bicycle as good as Frans’ bicycle ( or almost as good). The idea that nothing is being lost is completely unacceptable. It’s obviously not true. The idea that there is a good trade-off involved is interesting, worth considering. That’s what I am trying to extract from Danes kind enough, like you, to visit this blog and to talk to me through it. I am completely sure there are other Americans that come on this blog that are as interested as I am in Danish explanations.

        Denmark is specially interesting because, unlike France for example, which I know well, it’s a society that seems to provide a good everyday life to the many. Moreover, it’s so small that if there were big Danish achievements – such as Skype – there is a good chance I would not know about them.

  14. Ulver says:

    What happened? Sorry…….

  15. Just want to let you know I am still here, but my wife was of the opinion that I had some duties, – like buying birthday-presents, so I am on my way to.. Silicon Valley.. – I’ll be back.

    • Frans: Do what you have to do. Much of the pleasure of Internet exchanges is that they are completely voluntary and dilettantish.

      In addition, the fact that I have assigned to you and to some other unknown Danes, the burden of helping me re-assess some of my political distastes dos not really create an obligation for you or for them. I am only trying to exploit you in a way that is beneficial for all of us.

  16. Bruce says:

    Very interesting discussion. I visited Amsterdam two years ago and had a wonderful time. Really cool place. That said, I think the Muslim influx (Somali refugees, etc.) could change things dramatically as they take full advantage of the generous welfare opportunities. At least that’s what I read online. That would be unfortunate.

  17. Jacques, – your are a GREAT storyteller, and I love your Anecdotes, not least because I’ve been coming to small French villages for 40+ years, last time this September, when I visited a good friend for a week, and my very first trip outside Denmark was in..1969 I think, when I worked with Les Chiffoniers D’Emmaus for a month or so. I’ve been in love with France ever since..

    The point(s) you are trying to get across are, however, wasted on me. I’m not saying it’s wrong what you are spelling out for us, in usual “cruel” manner, but you are really not being fair here. Believe me, I really enjoy your wit, but come on, I have done more than slamming some insubstantial “Vallee du Silicone” in your face, so forget about the pretentious name that you were first to use, and stop ignoring the FACTS that come with it. We both agree any claims should be supported with “facts” and figures, and I have presented the FACT a couple of times already, that our “Medicon Valley” accounts for 20 % of Danish and Swedish GDP – or was it GNP.. – (and I’ll admit I’ve forgotten the difference..). I then mentioned our micro Vallee du Silicone, and let me refresh your memory: 10,000 IT and telecoms companies, and another 5,000 businesses linked to life sciences. I would think those IT companies contribute to our GDP as well, – (sorry, I can be lazy too..), and I should perhaps mention the clean-tech sector also, which contributes another 3% to the GDP. All in all, whatever we decide to write on that sign, there is substantial evidence to support my claim, namely that Big Government has not impeded innovation, whether understood in a narrow or broader sense. You also keep ignoring the ONE reference I’ve given, which gives Denmark the lead as the most innovative country. I do NOT think, that reference is enough to prove my claim, but since we both have plenty of reading assignments, are a bit lazy, and don’t have forever, – that is my best shot. The conclusion, that Denmark “contributes the most to the general advancement of mankind’s wellbeing.” is justified in the following:

    – A strong entrepreneurial climate.
    – Low costs to starting a business.
    – Public perception of a good entrepreneurial environment.
    – A country’s ability to commercialize innovation.
    – IT and telecom infrastructure (ICT) that enables productive commercial endeavors.

    Well, – that should settle it.. – or the Silicon Valley controversy at least, but there are of course a couple of issues still.. – I’ll be back !

    • Frans: I barely know you but you are already overestimating me. My story about la Vallee du Silicone was exclusively in response to a comment where you seem to cite your mother-in-law as an authority. Period. Of course, I was not going to ignore the opportunity for satire. you served me on a silver platter.

      I have not discussed anything else because you are trying to serve too much at once for me (with my limitations) and because I sense some of it to be irrelevant. I do want to be educated but not any old way. (Do you understand this expression?)

      I honestly don’t know what is the reference you say you keep serving me and that I keep ignoring. Again, I am very limited. Here is how I operate ( and I recommend my method to most people). The whole world is eager to make me read stuff. It gets to be too much quickly so, I have to sort. Basic method. I will sometimes read what’s proposed if it’s easy to get to and if the proposer takes the trouble to explain to me briefly why I should read it. In addition, the reference or link has to be physically close to the explanation about why I should read the material.

      Being a retired teacher, I have excellent skills at spotting that which I can probably excuse myself from reading thoroughly. Here is an example: You tell me that 20 % of Danish GNP (or GDP, I don’t care) comes from “medicon”. How is this useful? Three reasons why it’s probably not useful: First, surely, I am not expected to carry in my head the corresponding figure for he US, for Zambia, for any other country. Absent a comparison, the figure X means nothing. It could be high, it cold be low, I have no idea. Secondly, we were discussing inventiveness societal creativity and we pretty much agreed on what’s included. I have no idea how well this fits “medicon” (and I suspect you don’t either, just suspect) Thirdly, – and please, forgive me for saying so – but your use of percentages seems naive . (And haven’t we been there before?) If the whole GDP of a tiny country is say one million dollars and five hundred thousand comes from the sale of two really good computer chips, wouldn’t we say that it’s a very high tech country because 50% of its GDP proceeds from products all of us would agree are “high tech”? Does it make a difference that there are only two chip designers living there and the rest of the population is composed of peasants who cultivate carrots with their hands and who mate with their sheep?

  18. I went over what you’ve said so far again, and one sentence caught my attention:

    “The idea that nothing is being lost – (by Big Government / forced redistribution of wealth) – is completely unacceptable.

    So I asked myself: What exactly is being lost ? – Innovativeness ? No – Creativity ? No – Prosperity ? No – Competitiveness ? No – Individual freedoms ? No – Cultural production ? No

    If we then ask instead, what is GAINED ? – Equal opportunities ? checked – Gender Equality ? checked – Low crime rates ? Checked – Mutual trust ? checked – Happiness ? checked, and the list is much longer, but I am of course not saying it is the merits of Big Government alone, and one factor I’ve pointed to is homogeneity. What I CAN say with certainty, is that Big Government is not a HINDRANCE for mentioned virtues, not in Scandinavia anyway. – I would meet you halfway though, as you’d be right in criticizing former Communist countries, for instance, but to us Danes, it seems as if many Americans can’t quite get over that period, which is still sending long, dark shadows..

    Actually, I was going to address those other questions, but that will have to be tomorrow sometime, as it is now my bedtime, and I’m feeling rather exhausted from being in the big city.

    • The idea that is completely unacceptable is that nothing is being lost when you take Ulve’ money by force to buy me a bicycle. Of course, at a minimum, what is lost is a great deal of freedom because compulsion, the use of force ,the threat of force are absolutely destructive of human freedom. And lease, don’t bother to tell me that the process is democratic. Democracy only minimizes the immorality involved in the process. It’s a lot better than nothing, I would say. Still, one definition of democracy is: eleven wolves and ten sheep deciding jointly what’s for dinner!

      I don’t deny any of the good things you list. We still have not entered the technical discussion I ma hoping for. Two reasons: 1 You are a frustrated preacher, of one of the evangelical sects desiring to stand at street corners downtown San Francisco to promise passers-by the delights of heaven if they will only repent. 2 I lack firmness of purpose.

  19. One last thing before bedtime: Denmark’s top spot in terms of “contributions to the general advancement of mankind’s wellbeing” is grounded not only in what I mentioned earlier, e.g.A strong entrepreneurial climate, but in no less than: “89 different variables in eight major groups: economy, entrepreneurship/opportunity, governance, education, health, safety/security, personal freedom and social capital”. – A comprehensive study, in other words, kinda hard to ignore..

    • Frans: I don’t know what the paragraphs above mean. You are again overestimating me. Please, try to give me a live link to the particular study you have in mind. I mean the one study in the above comment and please, not other. Thank you in advance. I have to go back to refining my memoirs: “I Used to Be French….”

      I like the Chiffoniers d”Emmaus. It’s good you had that experience.

      • Thank you, Ulve. That’s a very good start but only a start. I knew of most of the Danish firms you mention in conventional industries. Their existence proves that Denmark is a prosperous society. But there is no need of such proof. Everyone knew this already. My question was all about collective inventiveness, collective creativity.

        The first part of your response lists Danish firms I suppose in new industries that were acquired by bigger firms, possibly not Danish firms. That’s a start. But you are addressing me as if I had asserted that Danish society lack in inventiveness. I have made no such assertion; I have only asked the question. I realize it’s a difficult question from the standpoint of measurement. All it takes is on Apple and one Google to assert that American society is very creative. With a population fifty times smaller in Denmark, it’s easy to miss (not notice) instances of Danish inventiveness that are equal keeping scale constant. (Is this clear?) That’s why I ask Danes for help.

        Now, if someone asked me what I know about Danes that I did not know a month ago, I would say, “They love long lists.”

        My intellectual concern is this: As an American conservative, I tend to believe that the larger the government the worse many things become in a society in general. Denmark seems to constitute a counter-example. It’s worth exploring.

        I have to deal first with the possibility that small big-government societies -such as Denmark_ are successful itch-hikers on the vehicles of more inventive small-government societies, the US among others. I am not affirming that they are. I am looking.

        In the back of my mind is the worry that the US may have the worst of two worlds: fairly high taxes and poor government services. I am deeply aware of the fact that Americans pay about twice more for health care delivery than Europeans do while their life expectancy is inferior to that of western Europeans.

  20. Ulver says:

    I think there are lots off danish achievements that you may know, but as some are sold to bigger companys, you doent se them as danish.
    Navision(now Microsoft dynamics) was sold for 11bill d.kr.
    Intel sold to Giga for 10.bill d.kr
    SAP to Succesfactor for 19.bill. D.kr.
    KDM ( datasystems for municipalities) for 7.bill. D.kr, and a lot of others like Podio, Canvasdropr, App Harbour, endomondo a.s.o.
    Denmark is the second best, after Sweden, innovators in the European Union.
    This is as well dued to our capability to look forward, like water cleanig tecnologies, ecological farming and renuable energy, as well as social inovations like ‘Specialistpeople’ were autistic people have a full job testing new programs for errors and omissions.
    If you are a game freak you might know Hitman, Limbo, subway surfers, kane & lynch or the old Hugo the troll.
    World leading Danfoss( varming/cooling systems), Gundfoss( pumpsystems and pumps) .
    But our largest businesses are the worlds biggest container firm( Maersk),the worlds biggest windmill producers, two off the worlds biggest slaughterhouse and dairy enterprises(Danish Crown and Arla), the worlds fourth biggest cleanig compagnie and some off the largest hearing aïd compagnies.( Oticon, GN Resound)
    The more known brands like Lego, B&O, Tuborg and Carlsberg are way down the line. Braging about workplace inviroment, i just found out that Novo Nordisk(World leading in diabetes) has won a 4. place as the best science workplace in the World.
    All that to show that we dó make money in spite of the sharing.

  21. Dec. 1st.. tomorrow, and wife says I must put up lights outside, among other duties, so again, have patience… , for now I just want to add to the examples Ulver provided above. I am copying a comment someone wrote when I was discussing these matters elsewhere: – How long well you stick stubbornly to your Anecdotes, Jacques, e.g. “two chip designers”.. – You are extremely entertaining, and I absolutely love your sense of humour, bu..t it’s been some time since we cultivated carrots with our hands and mated with our sheep.. :)

    Whether or not “technoprogressiveness” is at all causally related to egalitarianism, here are a few Danish “technoprogressiveness” stats relating to programming languages etc.:

    —PHP, the most widely used server side web scripting language, was made by a Dane, Rasmus Lerdorf.

    —Turbo Pascal, one of the most successful Pascal variants ever, was made by a Dane, Anders Hejlsberg.

    —Delphi, also one of the most successful Pascal variants ever, was made by a Dane, Anders Hejlsberg.

    —The web application framework Ruby on Rails was made by David Heinemeier Hansson, a Dane.

    —the world’s leading web usability expert is a Dane, Jakob Nielsen.

    —C#, one of Microsoft’s three major programming languages, was the brainchild of a Dane, Anders Hejlsberg (yes, him again).

    —Anders Hejlsberg also played a crucial role in the development of Visual J++ and Windows Foundation Classes.

    —C++, the most important programming language, was written by Bjarne Stroustrup. And, yes, he is also a Dane.

    Java wasn’t written by a Dane, but then again who would want to write a programming language where you cannot tell whether an integer variable has the value zero by design or by mistake and which also lacks unsigned numerical data types

    • Hi, Frans: Interesting list. I hope you or Ulver or some of your buddies will become so irritated by this discussion that you will come up with an actual quantitative measurement. But this is all useful as it is. See my very recent comment (5mn ago) to Ulver.

      Ulver says something about beer. Why should he mention beer to me? What do you think?

      I am completely innocent of the crime of arguing on the basis of anecdotes. I constructed the anecdote you mention only to explain why one should use percentages carefully, not just you, not just Danes, not just within the context of the present discussion. I have been on the warpath for years against meaningless but serious -seeming quantities. You just got in my way while I was carrying a tomahawk.The scalping was just a reflex, not intentional! I was a little brutal but you should still say “Thank you,” or even promise me some of that excellent Danish pork roast on my next trip through Denmark. This request does not seem excessive to me because not so long ago, I used to be quite well-paid to do exactly the sort of things I did with you about percentages. (I did not allow myself then to say anything about sheep, of course.)

      And, by the way, I knew that Danes had mostly stopped cultivating carrots with their hands; I was aware that sheep-mating was now restricted to specialized Danish circles. I was making p an abstract example. I was not thinking of Danes. I am amazed by the vigor of your reaction. (Bingo?)

      Every so often. I say “No” to my wife of thirty-five years. It’s really good for her. It stimulates her hormones. The more arbitrary my refusal, the better it is for her.

      I have a short manual somewhere on this blog entitled: “Dude School.”

  22. Ulver says:

    Why Denmark is succesfull is not only a matter off Big gouverment, actually it is not that simple.
    Lots of economists come here to study our society from an economic point of wiew. It is often referd to ‘the bumbelbi economi’, as technily the bumbelbi shouldent be able to fly. One of their answers is our social capital.(high trust and low coruption). This make business a lot smother(less attorney, paperwork). An other answer is our history of cooperarative movements who started in 1882, as well as the strong unions. Working and standing together is the wery opposide off the ‘American way’. And our wealth was not made by a hike. What started our wealth was our agriculture build up as cooperatives. Second we were succesfull cultivating new markeds, as we sold products combined with know- how and trust. This ‘image’ thing opend doors f.eks. on the arabic maked fare before other countrys.
    Big gourverment is a result of trust and experience of social unity.
    And i know that the US is creative too, but it has to be proportional with the numbers of inhabitants to be comparable.

    • Ulver: I am admire your devotion but I never asked “why Denmark is successful.” You are talking to me as if I were another person with a different agenda.

      I feel used like a young woman on Sunday morning.

      • Ulver says:

        It was a comment to your :

        I have to deal first with the possibility that small big-government societies -such as Denmark_ are successful itch-hikers on the vehicles of more inventive small-government societies, the US among others. I am not affirming that they are. I am looking.

  23. Jacques, – I just may have to call in Professor Amburgey, be warned.. :)

    These comments I am about to make, may be a little incoherent, but otherwise I’d have to write at length.., so here goes:

    I am glad you say “SEEM to cite your mother-in-law as an authority” – same goes for “usage of percentages SEEMS naive”.

    No, – I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “not any old way”.

    You have asked me to come up with ONE reference, and when I repeatedly link to it, you dismiss it as irrelevant. As far as I am concerned, I have said enough about it, and if 89 different variables are not quantitative enough for you, I can’t help it. I’ll provide the link one last time, and keep in mind still, that I would advice people to read other surveys as well, as it is hard to come up with un-biased studies.. – The link I’ve provided earlier, was to an Smart-Planet article / summary. Anyone who wish to take a look at the complete brochure, can do so here : http://www.prosperity.com/#/ten_most_innovative_countries_in_the_world_114/

    I am not a Freudian, but I do believe there’s some truth in his concept of Psychological Projection, – the ascribing of one’s own undesirable feelings to someone else, – frustration, for example.. – You have expressed frustration with Obama, his re-election and his (ignorant) wellfare-craving followers, but could it be you are so frustrated yourself that you subconsciously project some of it onto me.. – It’s just a thought, just a thought, but I am certainly not frustrated myself, – well, not to an extent worth talking about.., – and why should I be frustrated ? – Do I not sound overly joyed with my own country ? – Just consider all that bragging, which must be making you sick by now ! – I am not frustrated with my wife either. She is quite reasonable, – in fact very patient with me, and she also happens to be most attractive still, – I say no more.., but I sure will have a sneek-peek at your Dude-school..

    Bingo ? – What Bingo ? – You got carried away there, that’s all, – but all is forgiven, and I promise you as much high-quality Danish beer as you can drink, should you come this way. We could even show you first-hand how things are going here, and the girls.. are as pretty as ever ! – (Can’t promise you any pork, as I am a Vegetarian / Vegan..)

    I honestly don’t see which further measurements I could give you. Quantitatively as well as qualitatively, I / we have provided enough information, period ! – I am in no way saying that out of irritation. I very much welcome your objections, and you are certainly proving to be quite a challenge yourself ! – not that it surprises me, – after all you are a CONSERVATIVE Professor :) Perhaps you could elaborate a little on what exactly you mean by “technical discussion”..

    Re: destructiveness of human freedom: What is REALLY destructive for human freedom, is IN-equality, and speaking of quantitative measurements, – here’s your proof, and if your radar says it is not worth your time, perhaps some of your readers will find it interesting. http://transhumanisten.com/2012/11/04/equality-matters/
    By the way, I never said there should be equality of outcome. What is more important, is equal OPPORTUNITIES.

    Hey, – I would have liked to comment further, but I’ll stop short here, lest you fall asleep.., and I sure do want you to finish your Memoirs. I will read it as soon as you get it published ! – and with the greatest of interest.

    Cheers !

    • Thanks a lot, Frans. The problem is technical.I tried to activate a link corresponding to that study and it was not a link. I will have to spell the reference out character by character to bring it up. It’s hard to do but I will do it.

      Now, you could be even kinder and tell me in one sentence why I would profit by reading that particular study. What does it show?

      I know you think you have already done this but you have not. Mostly, you assert too much for me to process. Please, try one sentence . (I promise it will be good for you too.)

      Prof. Amburgey will be of no use here because he probably agrees with me about form.

      Here is my idea of a good sentence. (I am completely sure it’s the same in Danish.) :

      “The cat is sleeping on the couch.”

      PS I am sorry for what I said about sheep and your relatives. Trust me, I am deeply ashamed!

      • I am not quite sure I’ve understood your physical challenges..

        Why you will profit from reading that study, in one sentence.. – Ok, – always keeping in mind that I find this study no less biased that other studies of this kind, – I’d say you will profit because:

        It proves Big Government and overall well-being are not per definition anti-dotes

        Hey, – no reason to be ashamed. What you said was FUN ! – Perhaps I should tell you that we Danes, – according to a study I am NOT going to link to – are the World’s LEAST Gelotophobic, – fear of ridicule / being laughed at. – The most gelotophobic are.. Muslims, – great surprise, eh..

  24. All pretty good stuff here.

    On the myth of national competitiveness, see:

    Protectionism; Free Trade…
    Shipping Jobs Overseas…
    France Does Not Export Wines…
    The De-Industrialization of the US…

    Joern (Frans) writes:

    In another year or two, we can send him to University without paying a single dollar. So you are absolutely right: The issue is HOW tax dollars are spent.

    You are completely right also about “it’s ours, not theirs”, and I think that explains why Americans don’t have the same willingness to share. I was thinking also: Why is it the Catalonians, for instance, want independence ? – Because they are RICHER and feel like a family, i.e. they are different from people in Madrid. Same is true for the Basques, – (not sure if that’s the right spelling).

    I have two quick points to make in regards to the Scandinavian’s argument.

    In another year or two, we can send him to University without paying a single dollar.

    One, he claims that he doesn’t have to pay a single dollar to send his son to a university, but this is only true in a superficial sense. Joern naively believes that when the government spends his money it doesn’t cost him a kroner!

    You are completely right also about “it’s ours, not theirs”, and I think that explains why Americans don’t have the same willingness to share.

    Two, this is an important defect in European logic today. Ultimately it has important ramifications for US foreign policy and the presence of its military on continental Europe. This argument has two components, one stupid and the other nefarious. First, the stupid: if Danes are so willing to share, why have they constructed a welfare state that only caters to Danes? Where is my free pony? “Stingy bastards,” I say!

    The second component is far more nefarious. Implicit in the moral superiority of welfare states is the assumption of a shared identity (in this case of being Danish). What happens, though, when individuals who have no “Danish blood” want to enter, work in, and live in Denmark? This question can be answered, I think, by any number of Jews or Muslims who have tried to make a living for themselves in the so-called tolerant societies of Scandinavia and Northern Europe.

    At its heart, the welfare state needs some sort of collective identity to flourish. In today’s world such policies are often justified in terms of ethnicity. In cosmopolitan republics, this is impossible (and explains why programs like Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are ruining the United States), but small states can sometimes get away with xenophobic policies that cater to the mob. The xenophobic policies of welfare states and their results (the Holocaust, for example) are the result of big government, and “HOW tax dollars are spent” plays an implicit role in this.

    One is left to wonder what the welfare states of Europe would look like without the presence of the US military in their backyards.

    To conclude: tax rates in the US and Europe are largely the same. Imagine what the US could do if there were no federal taxes again and fiscal policy was left to the 50 polities just below the federal level. Instead of having one center of power that tries to dole out goodies for 320 million people, there would be 50 centers of power doling out the goodies to a far smaller number of citizens. This is the genius of Madison’s system, and one the US would do well to get back to if it doesn’t want to end up like racist, xenophobic, culturally-impoverished Europe.

  25. This is a response to Frans. Brandon can take care of himself and I mostly agree with what he says except for equal taxation but that will have to wait for another day.

    Frans: We have been talking pas each other. I admire your patience though. It figures since you are a vegetarian!

    A small thing first: I too believe in equality of opportunity but I see no moral reason or practical reason to be a fanatic about it. That’s because only approximate equality of chances can ever be achieved. One can probably never do anything about the fact that handsome people also tend to be more intelligent than average; it’s also true that they are better treated by others and that they get better job offers than others irrespective of intelligence. So what can any social program do about devilishly handsome men like me, for example, who start ahead in every game except perhaps fishing? Alright, I know, we could have laws mandating extra pay for the ugly , an ugliness bonus, but who would apply?

    Now the more serious matter. I finally managed to open the single report you wished me to read. (The problem was not a physical handicap but gross incompetence on my part. Brandon will, testify that I am telling the truth.)
    It seems to me that the report by the Legatum Institute ranks national societies according to a number of socio-political areas. The report gives Denmark high marks overall. It gives higher marks to the US in two areas. I make nothing of this fact. See below.)

    I am not surprised at all. I thought I had stated repeatedly in these pages that I thought life was sweet Denmark. The fact that it can be sweet in spite of what I take to be Big Government there is of considerable interest, of course. But early in our discussion, I had zeroed in on a much smaller area of interest:

    I only wish to figure out if a society as government- heavy, as statist, as Denmark is also capable of a high degree of inventiveness.

    As it happens, you and I, Frans came to an early rough agreement about what constitutes inventiveness (or creativity). I am deeply aware of how likely it is that I would naturally miss achievements in inventiveness in a national society that is fifty times smaller than the US. I mean that, left to my own devices, I would not see them, in all likelihood. So, it seems to me that enlisting Danes who know English would compensate for my own unavoidable blindness.

    Again, I had no intention of comparing everything with everything.( If I had had such an intention, I would have begun by asserting that American wines are better, on the average, than Danish wines!)

    Now, that my limited purpose is re-established, I have to ask: Should I wade through the I don’t know how many pages of a report with main headings suggesting no relevance (zero) to my quest, on the off chance that somewhere, it says something about inventiveness in Denmark? (And no, the subheading about entrepreneurial climates does not do it.)

    Should I go through the methodology of an institute that existed only on the periphery of my consciousness until yesterday (could just be my lack of culture, I know) to find out whether its methodology would be appropriate to answer my question in the unlikely event that some part of the report actually addresses my topic of interest? And, if my impression is right that the said report does not address my topic squarely, why would you assign it to me as reading? It’s only the product of an institute which though lodged at MIT ( a good reference) was only founded six years ago and that belongs to a foundation in Dubai (All from Wikipedia.) This could be OK but it’s not compelling.

    Are you still with me, Frans? Don’t doze off. Answer my questions, please. And, I know it may sound a little crazy at first but: when you give someone a reading assignment, even if it’s in response to an unsolicited query from that person, you should go part of the way for him. I mean, at least, direct him to a specific chapter

    Everything I have said so far sounds to me more or less reasonable, valid for most thinking rational humans. Now, I want to venture on my own personalized, possibly less reasonable ground: I observed much European social science closely for many years. With a major and puzzling exception, puzzling in this discussion, I think it’ s grossly inferior. Europeans social scientists have two major productions: 1 Glorified journalism that sounds as it it were translated from bad German whatever language it’s in, even German; 2 Lists. So, I always suspect European consumers of social science of loving lists with a shameful passion.

    So, on a very personal level, when I see a list made in Europe, I want to go watch television instead of reading it. This may be completely unfair with respect to the Legatum Institute ‘s work. I am just confessing. (It feels good because I used to be a Catholic.)

    Incidentally, the “puzzling exception” to my harsh judgment about the European social sciences in general is that precisely in Scandinavia (and in Finland also), good social science is being produced.

    PS Here is a statement I found while perusing the report of reference:

    “This sub-index evaluates how factors such as volunteering, helping strangers, and donating to charitable organisations impact economic performance and life satisfaction.”

    I would like to read more about the studies that this interesting sentence seems to refer to. It’s s difficult to do. It’s not indexed. I wonder why that would be. (Read my mind.)

    My dear Frans: I know I have been trying your patience. Let me remind you of a big benefit of talking with others who live in a different intellectual and political context but whose words you understand: Invariably, it forces you to re-examine beliefs the correctness of which you have taken for granted for a long time. It surely does this for me, powerfully!

  26. Ulver says:

    CrossJack says: I only wish to figure out if a society as government- heavy, as statist, as Denmark is also capable of a high degree of inventiveness.

    If that realy is the only objective, you dont ned anybody to figure that out for you. A small country have Its brains as a main resource. The more educated and well functioning brains the better the outcome. For Denmark to produce wealth for all, they must constantly by inventive.
    The rest is just Beaucoup de bruit pour rien!

  27. Have to run to catch a train – going DownTown again, – will be BACK !

    • Frans, I understand that you may lose patience with me. First, I am obviously trying to exploit you. Second, I am usually right.

      The issue of inventiveness is not at all easy to settle as you suggest: A small society with a high educational status and a high level of social trust is well equipped to be a successful itch-hiker. Let me explain: Nothing is invented in Sudan except perhaps a new kind of haleva. And, from what I hear. the Sudanese are not very successful at deploying simple things such as telephones. By contrast, thousands of good things are invented in the US and almost all of them are implemented quickly. ( I know there are big puzzling exceptions.) It’s not difficult to imagine a society that invents nothing but where the invention of others are put to use fairly effectively

      I have engaged in long term observation of France. It’s a society of 60 million people and therefore highly visible.
      ( In addition, I know its language.) My provisional conclusion: It’s an almost completely sterile society. When it tries to develop something new on a large scale, it’s often pathetic. (Have you heard of the Minitel, the French Internet?) It has no popular culture to speak of. France is largely a parasite of American inventiveness with a good record of application of American ideas. There are sound reasons I am not able to develop here to blame statism for the current French sterility.( “Current”: Not long ago it was a huge motor of invention and an oversize creator of culture.)

      I perceive much of Europe as I see France. This, for different reasons, including the Eurovision song contest! ( I realize Germany is an exception of major importance) I thought Fate had given me an opportunity to check the general idea with a different case. It’s an important case because, precisely, Denmark is obviously a successful society. In addition, it’s lastingly relevant because unlike most other European societies, it’s not disappearing through demographic attrition.

      (Yes, dear readers, the Danish population is still increasing. Danes are reproducing although at a rate that’s nothing to write home about.)

      I am not picking low-hanging fruit!

      I hope this makes my purpose clearer. I hope you did not miss your train. (Wow, what an unconscious metaphoric .statement!)

  28. Ulver: You are right. You answered my preamble to the question of inventivenesse. What you say is interesting. I don’t necessarily believe it but I am not able to give it the attention it deserves, right now.

    If I did have time, I would begin like this: It’s easy to line up reasonable ideas coherently to explain most things. The problem is usually that there are too many plausible explanations that cannot all be correct at the same time. Therefore, I usually don’t devote much attention to explanations that are not grounded in sophisticated quantitative evidence.

    I would be grateful if you directed me to one such a study (not a book) I would be eager to read, say, thirty pages on the bumblebee Denmark that would include quantitative evidence.

    PS I have dealt with much more difficult issues quantitatively in that number of pages in scholarly journals. It’s a common feat.

  29. Frans-humanisten is back, but still busy.. – Here’s what I could manage..

    Because I am both intelligent and empathetic, besides being higly intuitive, – and, needless to say, looking great, – and in particular because I am ALSO always right, – not a word about bragging ! – I just KNOW Jacques is a GOOD, decent human being, besides being handsome, intelligent, etc, etc. – so keep that in mind when I say the following:

    I find it significant that you consider the question of equality “a small thing” / less important..
    I agree with you in that it is impossible to achieve all-out equality by means of Big Government, for the reasons you describe so well, and I thank you very much for saying so. Our objection to the saying, “America, land of the free / equal opportunites” has always been: “Yeh, right, freedom and opportunities for SOME ! – Now, what is Wellfare for, if not to compensate for the exact same reasons ! – That is one of the main reasons why I am not a Conservative, and definitely not a Libertarian, at least not when talking about Economy. You, on the other hand, have no problem leaving the under-priviledged to the soup-kitchens. I’ll give you this much: Conservatives at least have some heart, and some understanding of the necessity of “Big” Government on a small scale, – Libertarians hardly any
    At the end of the day, this is what it really comes down to: Being empathetic, having a heart.
    Scandinavians are not fanatics, they are REASONABLE.

    I don’t agree with you that only approximate equality of chances can ever be achieved, but that would be getting into Transhumanism..

    And now to “more important matters”..

    I said already, that I’d advice people to check with other studies, and that this one is most likely biased, like most, if not all. I could provide a long list of references to reports, surveys and studies where Denmark consistently scores high in a number of relevant areas, but since we wish to set a limit to our reading assignments, here’s a couple of further comments on this one: It was brought to my attention by Dr. Ilia Stambler, Dept. of Science, Technology and Society, Bar-Ilan University (Israel), who posted it to our Facebook Longegity Party Group, of which I am a member. Ever heard of the Longevity Party ? – Check it out, anyone interested. – That alone says little about the quality and objectivity of the study, but it was plenty to make me want to read it.
    Now, – Jacques is very fond of the Wall Street Journal, so I thought I’d check to see if there was anything in it about the study, and voila / bingo, there was an opinion piece from Oct. 29, and here’s the link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204840504578086264176773002.html – (Opinion according to the Legatum Institute, mind you.., and I thought I’d say so before Jacques points it out, triumphantly.. :)

    Anyway, – given the broader definition of inventiveness we have – roughly- agreed on, I should think ALL chapters are relevant, and it seems to me that you just miss seeing the wood for trees, or perhaps it’s the other way round, not sure.. – The whole premise of the damn’ study is that all 89 variables underpin innovation, defined as “contributions to the overall wellbeing”, and it is beyond me, why you seem to think that sentence is meaningless and non-sensical.

    To be continued.. – more patience..

    • Frans: First, let me say that I am glad you confessed openly that you too are a very handsome man, in addition to being brilliant. I was afraid I was arguing with a really ugly Dane who might have Photoshopped the portrait on his blog from a female-oriented pornographic site.

      I am still not getting through. It must be my fault. (And it’s interesting in itself.) Now is the time to shout!

      I DON’T WANT TO READ MORE OF ANYTHING ABOUT HOW DENMARK IS A GREAT COUNTRY BECAUSE I ALREADY THINK IT IS, IN MOST AREAS.

      I am happy that you are able to give out these references extolling Big Government on this conservative-libertarian blog. A little poison may protect my young readers from the big doses to come!

      A small thing first:

      It’s not enough for the a WSJ writer to mention the six-year old Legatum Institute in an off-handed manner for me to be deeply impressed. I did not say it was nothing. I said I was not sure whether I should make an effort that you now( your last round) present as amajor endeavor. (MAJOR). If the reference had been to the Brooklyn Institute or to the Hoover Institution, I would be more eager because both have a long track record by which to judge them.

      Here is the kind of word that makes me immediately suspicious: “underpin.” As soon as I read it, I see myself doing heavy lifting in the cellars of the Legatum Institute trying to figure out if the verb “underpin” means anything at all in the context in which you use it. ( I suspect it does not.) By the way, none of this is the Legatum’s institute’s fault; it’s your fault squarely.

      I wonder how you think I should react if someone asserted on this blog that we are both deeply in error and that it’s the Christian faith that__underpins _economic success, and if he gave me a big reading assignment to prove it. Would you advise me to do the assignment?

      I am just being normally cautious as anyone should be when confronted with a task of several hours his intuition tells him is likely to be unproductive.

      I am stubborn on one point, however: I do not want to discuss with anyone the “underpinnings” of a comfortable collective life. I think I have enough understanding of this topic already. Two big topics are missing from my political conceptualizations: The first is the one I began with:

      Is Big Government compatible with a high level of inventiveness?

      I won’t even tell you what the second topic is because I don’t want to stimulate your evident propensity to run after every stimulus, like a damned meat-eater, for God’s sake!

  30. Ulver says:

    You wrote:

    If I did have time, I would begin like this: It’s easy to line up reasonable ideas coherently to explain most things. The problem is usually that there are too many plausible explanations that cannot all be correct at the same time. Therefore, I usually don’t devote much attention to explanations that are not grounded in sophisticated quantitative evidence.

    I love France. I grew op there and my parent still lives there. The French still have a reminicence of ‘ Le Roi Soleil’. They even made a ‘bayonette screw’ for lights only in France. Same reasoning created minitel. They have always done things there own way, and they are stubborn…. As many European countrys they are a product of their history, and this makes a lot of trouble in the EU. European cultures are, unlike what Americas could wish, not equal or similar cultures. Their historys are far to different. There is no konsensus about values, habits or traditions. The Danes had Grundvig.
    Indias first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru( father of Indira Gandhi) was one asked the question:”What dó you think of European culture?”. He gave the ambigius answer:” That would be a good idea”.
    Evidence is partly in the culture. But as you want facts served on a silver plate, you might end the discussion in trust or doubt.

    • Ulver: It was not Nehru. I think it was Gandhi and it makes a difference. Nehru was an English Fabian socialist, right up your alley. Firmly, he marched India toward forty years of stagnation.

      Your explanation of the Minitel illustrates my point: The French statists devised that ridiculous, puny precursor to the Internet because they are ….French, not because of statism. Similarly, the 80 million Germans have almost no contemporary novel to speak of and no music at all because they are ….Germans. It’s not because of the sterilizing effect of Big Government there. Etc… And yet, not too long ago, both the French and the Germans were very innovative, very creative. What do you think happened?

      You could try to develop the idea that cultural fragmentation is a handicap, somehow. You can’t just affirm it. It’s not obvious to everyone. It’s not obvious to me. I don’t see why having a consensus would help innovativeness. (Consensus is mostly useful when it comes to organizing a really pretty military parade.) It seems to me that the reverse should usually be true. It seems to me that being shaken out of one’s old habits by the proximity of others with different habits is a big factor of creativity. It seems to me also that the combination -often accidental – of culturally disparate objects is a source of creativity : The Bulgarians invented yogurt because their refrigeration was too deplorable to keep fresh milk. The French added strawberry jam because they are a people culturally curious about combinations. Soon, the primitive Danes were enjoying strawberry yogurt. They like it so much that they left their sheep alone and re-invented Lutheranism, and they discovered landfills.

  31. @BrandonChristensen

    I thought you were on our side ? – Traitor :)

    First: Thanks for the reading assignments, but I just may have to apply Jacques’ own strict policies on what one should read..

    Thanks also for showing me how Big Brother is making a fool of me.. – I can’t tell you how greatful I am that you made me realize I pay dearly after all, – those bastards !
    No, seriously, we are all too aware of all this, it’s just that the majority of us think it is fair to give everyone a chance. We do complain constantly about high taxes, but, paradoxically, most of us are willing to pay even more, provided we get even better education, healthcare, etc. etc.

    Re: welfare state that only caters to Danes? – Here’s a reading assignment for you: http://secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=generous_atheists

    Re: At its heart, the welfare state needs some sort of collective identity to flourish

    I agree, I’ve been making exactly that point, and it is for that same reason I’ve said also, that say, Scandinavians are not just born morally superior. Homegeneity, whether people like it or not, is of great importance. To suggest that Big Government / the Wellfare State implies xenophobia, (and the Holocaust ???) – however, is a wild accusation. I’d like to discuss all that multiculture / immigration jazz, but we would never finish talking then, so think I’ll stick to the Innovation Controversy.

    Re: One is left to wonder what the welfare states of Europe would look like without the presence of the US military in their backyards.

    Yes, I completely agree with this very important point, and I totally understand it when Americans get fed up with spoiled, Leftist Europeans, – say, Swedes :) – It it something I often point out to Leftist Europeans, that they should never stop thanking dead – and still alive.. – American soldiers, who have – and still do – fight for Freedom and Democracy all over. Yes, I am often ashamed on behalf of many spoiled and arrogant European America-haters, and your question is more than relevant !

  32. Jacques, – your endeavor is quite clear to me I think, and I admire you for being very patient yourself, insisting on zooming in on something more tangible that could help you reassess your.. – don’t really know which word to use..

    Re: and almost all of them (good inventions) are implemented quickly

    Allow me to mention two of those puzzling exceptions you mentioned yourself:

    Power Grid lines, which are all UNDERground in Denmark. Do I have to say.. SANDY.. – And what about recycling ? – Incidentally, Denmark and the U.S. are this World’s biggest pigs, in terms of waste produced, but the majority of US trash – 54% – ends up in landfills, compared to only 4% in Denmark, where approximately half of all waste is recycled. – These two examples of surprising U.S. “backwardness” came straight from memory and without having to search for any unfavourable examples and I am certain I could point out many more exceptions to the general rule, where we are way ahead in terms of “implementation of innovative ideas contributing to the overall well-being”.

    Interesting list, by the way.. I just looked at. If prosperity and /or innovation could be measured by tons of waste per capita, the top 5 would be 1. United States 2. Australia 3. Denmark 4.Switzerland 5. Canada

    Re: European Song Contest: Boom-Bang-A-Bang-Ding-Ding-A-Dong-Diggi-Loo-Diggi-Ley…

    Jacques, – if this is what you call “exploitation”, then thanks for exploiting me, – it’s been a lot of fun and very rewarding !

    • Frans: As usual, you move too fast for me. Repeatedly you assume to be great virtues what are matters of indifference or near-indifference to me . I am glad the Danish grid is all underground but I couldn’t care less if the US grid were (across the Great Western Desert per chance). The Danish choice is a reasonable choice (if it is a choice).

      If you think knowing how to dig trenches and filling them is innovative,. good for you. Americans also know how to dig ditches. (Less and less though because there are hundred of thousands of Mexicans who want to do it for us. The skills loss is vertiginous!) I think it would be difficult to find any resident of the US who thinks that digging ditches and placing electric wires grids at the bottom and then filling them in is innovative. Whatever the case may be, again,I think it’s reasonable for Danes to spend their time burying their grid. By and large, Americans -including me- would rather have bigger cars and trucks than underground grids (that you can’t even enjoy since they are invisible underground.)

      Landfills: I know well the American gangs who complain about landfill scarcity to be mostly crooks and liars, as well as pussies. Some are literal crooks.(Did you the the HBO series, “The Sopramos”?) Most are simply a new breed of collectivist swindlers.

      I am glad to learn though that Danes have almost no landfills. Bless their hearts and I could have guessed it if you had not told me! Now, I realize that I would be more sensitive to the issue of landfills shortages if I had fewer than 1,000 square kilometers at my disposal, like Denmark, rather than the 10 MILLION the US possesses. I am not counting Greenland here because it’s “self-governing.” Besides, I think the Danes don’t have any plans to turn Greenland into a landfill. I wonder what would happen though if the legitimate, democratic government of Greenland asked the mother country to do just that for a steep rental fee. (I am a bastard; I enjoy fantasizing about it.)

      This being said, I like efficient recycling. That’s because I am a conservative, of course. We like to conserve. I like it even better when it’s not forced on me. I like it better yet when someone manages to make a living off recycling. I like it best when the poorest manage to make a living off recycling it. They did in this in my own town of Santa Cruz until the city council, 90% left-wing, forbade it under threat of arrest.

      I have a story on this published in Liberty Unbound (which is now an on-line libertarian periodical you might visit for its ENTERTAINMENT value. This is not a reading assignment!)

      You captured wonderfully the essence of European popular music. May I quote you?

      I have not begun exploiting you. I am still trying. I loathe the day when it becomes so time- consuming to persuade you that I will be forced to admit it’s easier to do my research myself.

  33. Pingback: Inventiveness: United States versus Denmark.. | Transhumanisten

  34. Thought it was about time I at least wrote a short introduction to this great discussion at my own blog: http://transhumanisten.com/2012/12/02/inventiveness-united-states-versus-denmark/

  35. Jacques, – did you just shout at me, or is it something I dreamt. Whichever is true, I must have said something right :)

    Let’s take the positive first: Anything you like to quote me for will be an honour ! – However, as much as I wish I could “invent” such babble, – (I might be a millionaire if I could), – I have to give credit to Canadian-born political commentator, and cultural critic Mark Steyn, a Conservative companion of yours I am certain you’d like, – if you don’t know him already. I’ve met Mark Steyn in Copenhagen, when he received the Danish Free Press Society’s Sappho Award, for his defense of Freedom of Expression. He is sharp and witty like you, and I occasionally read his articles, – one of them mentioning the European Song Contest, and that is where I have the babble from, which is actually the titles of three different winning songs !

    Re: Power grids etc.
    I am pretty sure a great number of people on the East Coast, who saw what happened to power grid lines during Sandy would not be amused with your remarks.. – The point of picking those two examples was that YES, that IS inventiveness, in the broader sense I thought we agreed on, roughly, but perhaps this is why we keep talking past each other. I take the definition: “anything that contributes to the overall wellbeing” very seriously. That is why I say Skype one minute, power grid lines the next. I agree with you in that such “inventions” are a matter of choice, – partly at least. Whether or not country-size plays a role.. – I’ll think about it.., but you could be right.

    I am busy following my son live over the internet, playing chess. My son is… – sorry, no more bragging.. :)

    • Frans: I like Mark Steyn so much I would offer him one of my virgin sisters if I had one. You have good taste but not very good judgment.

      Again: Burying power lines is not an invention. Everyone has known about it for a long time. Doing it or not is instead a classical collective choice. It’s a lot like the decision to buy a municipal snowplow: Montreal should definitely buy one, New Orleans shouldn’t; for Washington D.C.. ,the answer is not obvious and a toss of the coin might be the most reasonable decision process.

      It’s possible that a buried grid would have lessened the damage New York City recently suffered in the big storm. I am not sure (what about flooding?) I am educable. However, it remains a choice about spending money one way or another. Adopting exactly your way of setting up the problem (including the big storm) does not impose a solution on my mind.

      And, of course, I never forget that the money used for burying the grid was taken by force. (Remember thirteen wolves and twelve sheep deciding what’s for dinner?)

      The difficulties a man of your intelligence and culture (not to mention physical beauty) encounters trying to cite innovations (besides Skype) is beginning to form an answer to my original question.

      I used to tell my students (who paid a surprisingly high price to listen to me):

      When you ask people a question they always answer. You just have to be attentive and patient.

  36. Oh, – only saw your last comment at first. I see now, the shouting was not something I dreamt.. – Only a quick comment: What about Education, – does it sound suspicious if I say good education underpins inventiveness ? – Again: all 89 variables are relevant, directly or indirectly

    • Frans: My bias happens to coincide with yours on the relationship between education and innovativeness/ invention. Perhaps it’s because I made a good lazy living as a teacher for thirty years. Perhaps, it’s because I am a highly educated person myself (in spite of my crude jokes about sheep and of my ignorance of Danish onological achievements).

      The problem is, again, with the verb “underpins.”
      Pretty much, I want to see the purported cause and the purported effect to be tied together through sophisticated statistical techniques that dispose of alternative causal explanations. The whole endeavor has to be legitimized by double-blind refereeing in a respected journal.

      I am sadly aware of the idea that today’s common sense is tomorrow’s old wife’s tale. (Or, in Denmark, would you say, “old person’s tale,” or “mature citizen’s tale”?)

      Here is an illustration of this last assertion:

      “When a young girls allows her long hair to dry in a draft, she is likely to catch a cold.”

      I have informal but nevertheless sturdy evidence that adult middle-class women from widely separated cultures believe the statement to be true. Many think it’s obvious.

      Well, in fact, thee is no truth to it. Cold temperatures can kill people but they cannot give them “a cold” according to excellent experimental evidence.

  37. Frans, and you too, Ulver, and other Danish social-democrat fanatics for moderation who might be following this discussion:

    Currently, There are only two important Danes. One is Bjorn Lomborg; the other is the Little Mermaid (because she has lovely breasts).

    I hope you can use my blog and others as well as your own blogs to join those two. I am honestly trying to help you.

  38. Difficulties ? – What difficulties ? – Have I / we not provided endless examples of innovation, to the point of making you puke and shout.. – Problem is we perceive inventiveness in our own, differing ways. I am afraid we just don’t – not even roughly – agree on what should be counted as an invention. – I’ve just spent 5-10 min. looking up a couple of definitions, and what most people would probably think of first is a PRODUCT, – and commercials obviously have something to do with this, e.g. “New, Improved, bla-bla-bla”. From what I read, however, innovation also involves process, organization, implementation, choice and added value.
    Take “added value”, and what comes to mind ? – $$$, most likely, but some of us are so innovative, that we have come up with a a different definition of “added value”, or, rather, ways to measure it. GNH – Gross National Happiness, is a very good example. All this to say, that some of us simply refuse to play by old rules !

    I may try to read up on “innovation / inventiveness, and I’d love to post something on my blog on that, but not sure I’ll get around to it.

    Re: underpin – Don’t forget I am Danish, – (yes, I know you have reasons why you’ll never forget ) – which is to say I probably use words a little differently at times, so don’t get hung up on that word, and remember my idiosyncracies..

    Re: old wife’s tale. (Or, in Denmark, would you say, “old person’s tale,

    Dane’s are pretty Politically IN-correct, so most of us would stick with old wife’s tale. Swedes, however.. – see http://transhumanisten.com/2012/09/21/sweden-versus-denmark-a-primer/

    Re: Cold temperatures – Do cause colds, just not directly, and it is wise sometimes to listen to the advice of mature women..

  39. Re: Lomborg – I have no problem with him myself, unlike many fellow Danes, but I could think of others worth mentioning, – except I won’t..lest you start shouting again :)

  40. Frans:II have hit a wall. As I told you some time ago I think placing two rolls oft toilet paper in public toilets constitutes an innovation. That’s more a process than a product. Therefore, your accusation is vacuous.

    Here is the heart of my problem with what you say: Innovation has a Latin root that means” new.” It’s a concept closely related to invention (of a process, or of a product. I have tried to avoid the topic but innovation also belongs in the area of cultural production: Country music, for example, is innovative.)

    If you engage in a practice that is eminently reasonable but is in no way new, your are not (NOT) innovating.

    This confusion is why you are unable to address my point that many of the admirable practices you mention are simply issues of collective choice with no inherently superior value in one choice over the alternative.

    Doing the right thing is not itself innovative.

    In big French cities, the bakeries bake bread twice a day. It’s a wonderful contribution to the quality of life of millions. It’s also quite efficient (small investment, big payoff). It’s not in any way innovative.

    Good does not equal innovative. Just does not. Period.

    I don’t know how to make this point better.

    I am left with the impression that you and your Danish accomplice have been so neutered by statism that you have lost even the ability to think of the concept of innovation.

    N.S,.!

  41. Rest assured: I / we have not lost the ability to think of the concept of innovation. For my part, I am just trying to widen the scope. I may be taking it (a little) too far, and as I said, it is something I am looking into, but stubborn as I am, I think I’ll stick with “Anything that contributes to overall wellbeing”. – If we had lost the ability to think about the concept of innovation, we wouldn’t have had this discussion in the first place. Truth is, innovativeness and a better future for us all, is something that we are deeply concerned about !

    Re: Doing the right thing is not itself innovative

    Perhaps that statement really spells out our opposing… modes of thinking, – (in lack of better expression). In fact, I can’t think of anything that would be more innovative than doing the right thing. What THAT is, is another story, and I don’t mean to say I have the answers..

    Just a thought: What if you found a way, by use of “new, improved..” rhetorical techniques, or, say, some sudden psychological insights, to persuade me of whatever.., – would that qualify as an innovation ?

    • Frans: Getting you to think straight about innovation would require just too much innovativeness on my part.

      You are now arguing that innovation does not require that one does anything new except act right when one did not sue to act right. This is too far out for me.

      • Not quite. I recognize the literal meaning of course:

        Word Origin & History: innovate: 1548, from L. innovatus, pp. of innovare “to renew or change,”

        I do not recognize, however, that renewal or change applies only to products and material things, hence my question: Does a new, improved psychological approach qualify as an innovation ? – You can scoff at this as much as you want. I will keep insisting that “renewing our old ways”, physically, technically, morally, all qualifies as innovation, and it is not even a prerequisite, that renewal / change is intentional. In most cases innovation is intentional and the result of hard work, and It is best that way, but how many innovations see the light of day simply because of someone stumbling upon something..

        As I said, I may examine these matters more closely, and if I get around to it, I will write something on my blog, but I must keep in mind it is December, which means.. my wife will be kicking my ass even more than usual..

        What do you think, Jacques, shall we leave it as it is for now, – seems like we have exhausted the subject..

      • Sure, I think we can leave it at this. You have, in fact, answered my question in an implicit manner. I think I am going to write a blog essay about “Innovation in Social Democrat Denmark. ”
        The first sentence will mention digging ditches as innovation (although the Paris grid has been underground for a least a century).

        This was actually very interesting, enlightening but the result is a little sad form me. I was hoping to be proven wrong in some unexpected way. I received answers similar to the ones you provided when I raised the same issue in connection with statist France. (Incidentally, I could have provided better answers to my own queries about French inventiveness than my French interlocutors did.)

        You have been an honorable partner. I am glad I met you in this American invention that is the Internet rather, than say, at the bottom of a European Union trench for cable.

      • Jacques, – I am PROUD that a man of your caliber had the patience to hear me out. You are one tough son of a.. , and that is a COMPLIMENT !

        I hope you will write that article, but that first sentence you suggested could backfire, as your readers are smart enough to see beyond the trenches..

        Also, you might change title to: “(Social) Innovation in World’s most democratic nation”.

        I hope I’ll manage an article myself, – should be fun to compare…

      • Frans: I am flattered also but your remind me of my first wife . (This is about your drive-by comment on Denmark as “the most democratic nation.”)

        I would tell my wife,” I will do exactly what you want and I will do it with enthusiasm and with a smile on my face ” and she would keep right on arguing!

      • Couldn’t resist it :)

        Ps. The comment you just wrote on my blog is in the wrong place / post. I moved it / copied it, but unfortunately you ended up with a prettier face… – if you want to correct that, you should submit your comment again, in the right place, and I will delete mine. – Moving comments from post to post is a little tricky..

      • Sorry. I am sure you did the right thing. Any face is prettier than mine but mine will do, in a cinch and by a very dark night.

  42. David says:

    First things first….I’m sure Danish women are quite wonderful and attractive…as are the overwhelming majority of women I’ve ever met. Secondly, I agree that power lines ought to be buried. (I’ve often wondered why, in Santa Cruz, where trees proliferate, it isn’t a more common practice there.) Thirdly, I’ve been absent this blog far too long, and I find myself in the very odd situation of actually having a substantial amount of agreement with Brandon. Fourth, this has been a very entertaining read. I’ve enjoyed catching up on it. Fifth, I think our great Danes (I just couldn’t resist…) are confusing the definition of “equal opportunity” with “equal outcome.” Equal opportunity doesn’t require that every option ought to be available to everyone for the same cost. Equal outcome requires that every step be of equal cost to everyone it is available to. (Of course, that begs the question of how the group of beneficiaries is determined.) Which is one of the problems with the government directed charity. Before I get too far, let me list my oh-so-impressive list of credentials that permits me to speak about government directed charity. First and foremost, I am of the libertarian strain of the Republican party. I would quadruple the US Congress’ pay/benefits if they would just balance the budget and wage war and leave us alone as much as possible. Secondly, I’ve never been a person of means. Ever. No member of my immediate family is loaded with $$$. I lived in Section 8 housing most of my years as a minor (If that’s what it is still called.) I am a grudging recipient of Medi-Cal and Food Stamps even though I have a full time job, soon to be part-time due to a certain bullshit…er…Affordable Care Act. (Alas, my desire to make sure my family is fed and not-dying overrides my desire for ideological purity.) I have always supplemented my income by recycling redeemable items. (Even tried my hand at making an actual living by it once, until I discovered the penalty for doing it. Damn the City of Santa Cruz!) I happen to currently reside near enough to Stockton, CA, USA to have to show myself in person at the county HHS building from time to time. Stockton is a fairly unique city in many regards, the most prominent reasons being the abject poverty of many of the inhabitants of the city, the senseless violence and the largest city to go through bankruptcy. (If my memory serves me correctly.) I’ll finish my thoughts later, as they are getting cloudy this early in the morning.

  43. Hi David, – looking forward to your continued story ! – Just one quick comment: Call it WELLFARE, not charity, there is a HUGE difference. Wellfare is something the State (= you and I) hand out because the less fortunate are worth it and DESERVE it. – Just like they say in those L’Oreal commercials: Because I (YOU !) deserve it !

    • Frans: As you gallop away, you shoot arrows from the saddle like a brave Parthian warrior. Then, you confirm my prejudices. Your admonitions to David suggest that you don’t understand the basic difference between “my money” and “the other guy’s money.”

      Let’s get it straight: Conservatives like me (also virgin libertarians like Brandon) really, really believe that your money is your money. You can give it to the deserving poor, to the undeserving poor, even to the deserving rich, even to the undeserving rich if you want. No argument.

      We object when you take other people’s money by force to give it to those you judge deserving . There are areas of tax spending that are not much in dispute such as elementary schooling, and some sort of collective defense. For all other expenditures, the burden of proof is on the spender. In America, the spenders are not very persuasive. Right now, they advertise to recruit more people to be on food stamps (food coupons).

      You take it for granted that any reasonable person will agree that some unnamed poor “DESERVE” the fruit of other people’s efforts or inventiveness. My drunken, drug-addicted relative deserves no such thing. (But it may be in my interest to pay for his drug treatment.) I know a guy who earned his degree the same year I did. He has spent all the intervening years working like a slave. He never even learned out to surf, for God’s sake! He looks ten years older than I although he is five years younger. He owns ten times more than I do, at least. Do I have a claim on his fortune?

      God, I hope you say yes!

      • Jacques, – what was that name of your own horse again ? – Jolly Jumper, was it.. – You sure are riding fast too..

        This is what I understand about “my money” and “the other guy’s money.”:

        “the wealthiest 1% of Americans have more wealth than the entire bottom 90% of Americans.”

        C’EST UN SCANDALE !

        Actually, I don’t care how much money rich people have, and yes, smart, decent, hard-working people deserve what they have, – others not, – many greedy assh.. in the financial sector for instance, – what I DO care about is poorer, decent, hard-working Americans, who cannot make ends meet, despite trying their very best. These people deserve WELLFARE, not charity, and extreme inequality in the U.S. IS a scandal, period !

  44. Because I am worth it, – that shoud be..

  45. “taking other people’s money by force to give it to those you judge deserving”

    We call it Democracy :)

    • Exactly, and this is something Dr. J should think about when he supports wars abroad in the name of democracy. Need I remind anyone of the debate that basically settled the question?

      Robbing Peter to pay Paul is as immoral as it is impractical. For those still reading this: is it any wonder that Frans and his ilk advocate creating and maintaining “homogeneous” societies to go along with their immoral, half-baked schemes?

      Forget ingenuity, what about the implications that big government has for individualism? The welfare state, based on a concept of democracy that legalizes theft, logically leads to arguments for ethnically pure states. Imagine being a Jew in Denmark and raising concerns about the practicality of the welfare state!

      • Brandon, – I’m really sorry you’ve got the impression, that I / we “advocate creating and maintaining “homogeneous” societies”. You’ve got that completely wrong ! – All I’ve been saying is, that homogeneity plays a role for people’s attitude toward Wellfare, to what degree they trust each other and many other things. That is just stating the obvious, – and has nothing to do with immorality. I am pretty sure you too will first and foremost take care of yourself, then your family, then your.. let’s face it: “tribe”, then your nation. Does that make you immoral ? – Of course not, – it makes you a completely normal and sane human being.

        For your information: Being a Jew in Denmark poses no problems whatsoever, – not now, not before – read: during WWII – They do face lots of problems elsewhere in Europe though, – France, Sweden.. – city of Malmö in particular – (just across from Copenhagen).

        As for Big Government and individualism, mention ONE place anywhere on this earth where people have more individual freedoms than in Denmark ? – You Americans – well, some of your, – really must learn to distinguish Communism from Social Democracy.. – Wellfare brings with it MORE individual freedom, not less. You are turning things upside down.

    • Taking something by force in keeping with a democratic process is the lesser of several evils. It’s still a great evil. It should not be done lightly. Remember: “Thirteen wolves and twelve sheep voting on what’s for dinner.”

  46. Just my grain of salt: Frans: You keep conflating institutional arrangements and behavior. “Freedom to be Goya” does not make you Goya (the painter). The French people enjoy perfect freedom to make rock-and-roll. Have you ever heard French-rock and- roll? (DON’T ) It’s an interesting mistake you keep making.

    Minor point: You keep saying mysterious things. You seem to be saying that Danes enjoy more individual freedoms than anyone on Earth. Why more than, say, the Brits., or the Italians, or Americans? We, by and large enjoy much greater freedom to have guns than you do. I am ready to bet on it without looking it up. So, what do you mean?

  47. I am busy thinking about.. the concept of innovation.. , so only a quick response: I strongly believe inequality strangles individual freedoms, certainly for the underpriviledged, and there are MANY underpriviledged Brits and Americans.. – Italians ? – Jesus, Joseph and Mary.. Free people are mostly secular, and also informed people, and how many Italians read newspapers.. – Ok, – that was nasty.. and my wife would get angry if she heard. Italy is her favourite country.

    Denmark consistently tops Democracy Indexes, an important indicator of freedom, – but I’m a little afraid Jacques will start shouting if I continue.. – Anyone interested will have to do the research themselves. You could check Press Freedom Indexes, Corruption Indexes, Property Rights, etc. etc. etc. – I’ll give you one reference I found quickly, so have no idea how trustworthy it is, but thought it was interesting, because I saw it on a LIBERTARIAN site, – Californian I think..

    Measuring “a combination of civil/political liberties and economic freedom”, – Denmark takes top spot.. (2011)
    http://www.thevolunteer.ca/2011/03/comparing-the-world-in-terms-of-freedom/

    Back to innovation.. – a little boring actually, but I plan to at least write a few lines..

    Guns ? – At this time we have no need for them..

    • As usual, Frans, you cook a rich soup with everything in it. I was just curious about what you think Danes have more individual freedoms than anybody. I don’t even say that they don’t. I have no opinion on the topic. I am only doing ethnographic work here. I want to know how your ideological tribe thinks but only if the work involved is light.

      Please, give me one link one about individual freedoms that places Denmark at the apex or near it. Thank you.

      What you “strongly believe” matters not at all even in a quick response.
      Millions of people, thousands of whom are smarter than yo and even than me (God forbid!) strongly believe that Jesus the carpenter just walked out of his rock grave after the crucifixion. So ?

  48. One link ? – This links to an article only, but I’m sure it’s not difficult to find the actual study and the “democracy barometer ” made by University of Zurich and the Social Science Research Center Berlin. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110127090533.htm

    We’ll keep the religulous versus secular discussion for later perhaps..

  49. Another freaking list, just what we need! I am generously offering my time to read something that my intuition yells at me is irrelevant to anything. Again: I think that there are no differences in personal freedoms between all the developed countries. If there are, they are trivial or a matter of subjective appreciation. One major exception: In most developed countries the freedom of individuals to own firearms is severely limited.. It seems to me that the US and Canada are the only countries where this fundamental right is guaranteed.

    • OK. Frans, I read the article you linked us to. As my intuition kept yelling at me, it’s useless. The research on which it reports might be useful, I don’t know. There is nothing arresting enough to stop me to dig u p and evaluate the original research. The fact that the article names the authors as a university and a research center is a good signal not to bother. Universities don’t perform research. Individuals and teams do. They usually want their names on their research. unless it’s very bad. Authors’ names are filtering devices in themselves. If you see that an article published in a scientific journal has an author named Delacroix, for example, you should rush to get it.. You are almost provoking me into writing another one of my lectures on how to think rationally while still having enough time to watch soap operas on television. I shall resist though.

  50. Hi there, – just so that you know: I am here still ! – I’ve been complaining about you.. to a very good American friend. Apart from being really sweet, she is also wise and understands me, so I was a little surprised that she defended your talk about the right to have guns as a sign of freedom, something I find.. well, stupid is the word I used.. – Here’s what she wrote me back: “The gun issue is mixed, because I also believe in the right to bear arms here – it IS a sign of freedom. – She also writes: “The argument that people kill, not guns, doesn’t hold. Its simply a matter of self-defense”. – So, in a way she saved you from the rich, UNtasty soup I was cooking for you.. :)
    I’m not telling you because I want to get into a discussion about that, – it just occurred to me that this issue illustrates some significant differences in American and European, especially Scandinavian, mindsets. Americans suffer from paranoia I think.. because of a very low level of trust. I think that nowadays some Europeans have more reason to want to defend themselves, as crime in many of our cities is getting much worse than in the U.S. – I read the really, really, really good news for instance, that this november, – not sure about the exact day, the city of New York, for the first time in living memory, spent a day entirely without violent crime !
    Ok, – as I said I didn’t mean to start a discussion, it’s just that I do think people who trust each other and therefore do not live in fear, are FREER..

    I’m glad you read the article. I know you don’t like lists, but when they are based on solid research and many different parameters, I think they should be taken seriously, especially when a number of “lists” point in the same direction. – I don’t just swallow what I read uncritically, – far from it, and I can go along with your skepticism – up to a point.. – If I could “provoke” you to write something yourself, that would be just great.

    Ok, – son’s birthday coming up, so will be busy..

    • Another thick soup and , of course, you started another discussion. I had no intention of discussing the merits of gun ownership with you for the same reason I don’t hit kindergartners.I was only pointing to the inherent vacuousness of claiming that you have more “freedons” than your neighbor. The right to own firearms is obviously a “freedom” to tens of millions. If you dispose of these tens of millions, including me, as somehow insane, you are not saying anything about them. Instead, you are saying something about yourself.

      Your American friend did something useful but she gave you the skim milk version of the argument. One of these days, I will write the thick cream version as a blog for well-meaning, underinformed Europeans. (Another metaphor: She gave you the decaffeinated version.)

      Your statement about the weight of the evidence against guns is simply not correct. There is plenty of evidence supporting the idea that “more guns, less crime.” (There is even a book by that title written by a law school professor.) As usual, you simplify more than is healthy for the exercise of reason.

      By the way, isn’t it the case that the mass murder by a single individual that made the most victims ever since there is a modern press to report such things occurred in a country with strict gun laws? (Pointer: It’s not far from the country with the highest score on everything in the world except gastronomy – Ooops, that was a bitchy thing to say about Denmark. I am ashamed.)

      Your frequent representation of what constitutes valid empirical evidence also would force me to write an educational essay for Europeans if I were no tired of this Sisyphean effort. Today: You statement on multiple variables somehow adding evidence to the evidence. I will use a rural illustration because most of you, Danes, are not far removed from the farm (No, I said nothing about sheep, this time!): If I add a rotten apple to a barrel of apples that already contains five rotten apples, is the whole barrel of apples going to be any the less rotten in the end?

      Happy birthday to your son. How old is he? Tell him Uncle Jacques will teach him how to shoot fast and accurately when he comes to America. I will bet you anything he will like the idea although he is vegetarian spawn. In fact, if he is a very good boy, I can find someone to teach him to shoot from horseback at some defenseless creature from a protected species. Or, we could do it from a truck to accelerate global warming. The possibilities become endless when I fantasize about having a Danish godson!

  51. Insofar as you still have a French heart, this is gonna heart: For the third year in a row, the Copenhagen restaurant “Noma” – meaning “Nordic food” – has been named the World’s best.. – (I’ll have mercy and keep the list to myself :)

    My son is now 19, thanks. I am sending two photos of him so you can see for yourself, that he learned how to shoot already at a young age, thanks to our insane Californian family.. – The one of him holding Stars & Stripes will make your heart melt, – both the French and the American :)

    Have a nice Sunday. Here we are looking forward to a snowstorm, and my wife has “promised” to teach me a lesson with some snow on my bare skin…

    • Of course, I knew about Noma.(I watch trivia television.) I led a trap for you and you walked right into it!

      Best in he world! Think about it.

      • I don’t have to think about that, because my opinion is quite clear already: It is just a fad, – today Nordic foodstuffs, tomorrow something else, much like the current craze about the paleo-diet. I also don’t think it is the best in the world, – that would have to a Vegan restaurant :)
        Also, Noma only has two – or is it three now – Michelin stars, but then Michelin is of course French – as far as I know, – which explains a lot..
        To be honest: Danish food is nothing to write home about..

  52. Jacques – I DO know how to spell hurt..

    • Frans: I am glad that for once, you avoided ridicule by renouncing the siren song of lists. Michelin is severely impartial but it has a strong bias in favor of whatever the French consider gastronomy. (But I find the French quite open-minded about food.)

      Strange you should mention the Paleo diet. No one hates fads more than I do. A year ago, no one would have been more embarrassed than I about the very idea of even discussing diets. Nevertheless, I put myself on the paleo diet three months ago. I thought it was well argued an scientifically well supported. In a short time, I lost effortlessly the weight I had put on when I stopped smoking. I have been a type II diabetic for fifteen years.. On my last visit. my doctor asked in all seriousness if the lab results I was showing him perhaps belonged to another person, if there was an identity confusion because they were so suddenly good. I am positive I have changed nothing else in my lifestyle. This is just a testimony, for what it’s worth.

      The only problem is that I try to pursue an extreme version of the diet, consuming only what I gather and kill myself. I get mushrooms and mussels easily. The red meat is more difficult because the neighbors guard their pets carefully.

      A vegan diet: la dada, dada! I know it’s ethically superior but I believe the vegans I know in Santa Cruz do it mostly to irritate me with their uptight smugness.

      I commented on your blog and made a request.

  53. Pingback: Defining Innovation: Some “innoflating” considerations.. | Transhumanisten

  54. My article on Innovation has been published here:
    http://transhumanity.net/articles/entry/defining-innovation-some-innoflatingconsiderations – Perhaps you’d like to edit / copy the comment you wrote on my blog and submit it to Transhumanity.net..

  55. In between, I drink my coffee in front of the TV, and today my wife had left it on CNN. Right there and then the speaker announced that after the break they had something about “Best countries to live in”, so I stayed tuned, and the program -“What in the World” on GPS, Sunday at 10 a.m. & 1 p.m.- proved to be highly relevant to our discussion here, – strange coincidence. – They briefly mentioned a MIT- publication, that appears to support YOUR claims.. – I’ve downloaded it, but haven’t had time to take a closer look. It basically askes the question: “So can’t we all— meaning all nations of the relatively developed world— be more like
    Scandinavians? – Thought you’d be interested, but remember: It proves NOTHIN’ :) – The paper can be downloaded here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID2132939_code229587.pdf?abstractid=2132939&mirid=1

    I am reading also about “Smart Grids”, an area where Denmark is at the front, and I believe there is cooperation between the State of California / Silicon Valley and Danish Clean-Tech companies.. – I am terribly busy, but trying to look into that also..

    • Hi, Frans. Thanks a lot for providing reading material. I will look at it. Again, you don’t seem to take “Yes” for an answer. Is Denmark the best country to live in? I have no idea. I wouldn’t be surprised. I think the question is largely meaningless because, again, the differences are so small that preference may reduce to a matter of personal, subjective choice. Some French people cannot live outside of France and Italy because ordinary food is mediocre or boring outside these two countries. Polar bears think northern Alaska in the winter is just wonderful.

      I am glad there are differences and therefore some measure of choice between the several prosperous countries that afford their residents a life of dignity. There is no real food in Canada outside of four French restaurants in Montreal. Yet, it ‘s a good country to live in. For one thing, it gets American television direct!

      I want to warn you – out of friendliness – away from a language drift very common among Europeans. You refer to the state of California’s Silicon Valley. But the word “state” is superfluous in the sentence. Its inclusion may well guide/ induce readers to assume that the political creature, the state of California has something to do with the all-around success of the economic and cultural phenomenon that is Silicon Valley.

      In fact, the relationship is like that of an oversize mosquito to a beautiful work horse. The state of California had nothing to do with the emergence of Silicon Valley. SV is centered on a determinedly private university (Stanford). In one view, Cold War defense contracts were at the origin of the bubbling of creativity there. That would have to do with the federal government, not with the state of California. The state of California is almost entirely a parasite whose main task is to provide a mediocre education to millions of children.

      Here are two linked questions for you. They may only distantly related to the issue of societal innovativeness.

      Do you share my impression, (no proof at all) that Europeans who visit the US are nearly always enchanted by the country? If you share my impression, why? (If you don’t share my impression, the second question becomes moot, of course.)

      • My personal opinion is YES, Denmark is the best country to live in, despite being somewhat boring. There is certainly nothing exotic to be found here, nothing I can think of at least, and there is much to be criticized. What counts – to me anyway- is the fine balance between Individual Freedoms and Egalitarianism. – If you asked me instead, which country is best in the world, taking into account also nature, climate, and other aspects I can’t think of just now, then my choice is France ! – and I believe I’ve already said that before.

        Re: State of California – I was only saying what I had read, namely that the State of California along with Silicon Valley companies are cooperating with Danish Smart Grid Innovation. Whenever ex-Governator visited Denmark, he couldn’t stop talking about the STATE of California’s plans for a greener future, but I must admit I have no idea about the extent of involvement / contributions from the State.

        I do agree that Europeans are nearly always enchanted when visiting the U.S., but I think they are dis-enchanted at the same time. It is very much a Love-Hate relationship. Without answering your question, I’d say there is A LOT to love, but unfortunately A LOT to hate also. Hint: We love your freedoms and your kindness, – hate the huge gaps between rich and poor. – Ok, – I guess I did answer your question, – short version..

      • Hi Frans. Thanks for answering including the question I did not ask! OK, Denmark is Number One!

        About the state of California, I think you are confused in the way I fear. Silicon Valley is a model of innovativeness and efficiency both. The state of California has nothing to do with those qualities. Silicon Valley is an ever-renewed demonstration of the superiority of free enterprise, of capitalism.

        Completely aside from this, from spontaneous economic phenomena such as Silicon Valley, the state can vote itself taxes to build an all-solar railroad, for example. Most such projects never get anywhere. When they do they turn out to be so inefficient it’s difficult to believe the numbers. Often, state-supported public projects are nearly useless endeavors to please the labor unions. Thus, thousands of miles of walls now line California freeways as protection against “noise” that no one ever complained about

        Across my street, the Santa Cruz city hall is covering all its parking lots to install solar panels to produce electricity. When I expressed dismay that the municipality did this big project in the middle of a severe economic crisis, I was told not to worry, that most of the funds used where not city funds but state funds. (As if state funds were not also my money.) Then I asked how long it would take before the savings on electricity costs generated by the new solar panels would pay for the panels. The city council woman to whom I addressed the question got close to slapping me, I believe. Yes, I am a real conservative A. H.!. (Do Danes understand the initials : “A. H. ?)

        You have begun answering my question on why Europeans end up liking the US but you did it hastily, not very well, I am sorry to say. You did not give it the attention it deserves. You are lucky this is not graded!

        In your offhand answer you did mention envying American “freedoms.” What freedoms? I am confused now.

      • I didn’t say the state of California has much to do with the qualities of Silicon Valley. – In an interview – with a Californian Transhumanist Think-tank, – the “Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies”, I was asked: “Do you see Denmark as a role model, a desired society for technoprogressives“? – Part of my answer was:

        I’m not convinced that egalitarianism is a prerequisite for technoprogressiveness. Judging from a list of the top 50 universities for engineering and technology, technoprogressiveness appears to have little to do with equality. The top five universities are all American, and three of them Californian, epicenter of transhumanism!

        I would suggest that techno-progressiveness is a function of having a sufficiently large elitist group of people with a higher education, having attended the best universities, and having atheist beliefs

        As I said, I don’t know much about the “merits” of the Californian Public Sector, and I’ll take your word for it, that they are wasting your tax-dollars, but please: Even if it is as you say it is in Californian, it does NOT follow that it is like that in Denmark / Scandinavia !

        I have A LOT of admiration for Silicon Valley innovativeness, which I believe is mostly a function of IQ’s much higher than average.., and I hear about it constantly from my Transhumanist friends, so don’t you worry ! – (By the way: I’ve read the Steve Jobs biography, – a present from my mother-in-law :) – My Liberal (scum-bag) opinions about a fair / progressive tax-system, and other Social-Democratic “immoral” ideas have less to do with innovativeness, and a whole lot more to do Egalitarianism. Extreme inequality in my view, is immoral, shameless, and society at large pays a very high prize – or is it price..

        Re: American “Freedoms”

        Perhaps I should say “Californian” freedoms, rather than American. It is something I hear often from Transhumanists, that West-Coast mentality is one thing, – East-Coast another, and perhaps that is the best way to explain the freedoms I admire – not envy. East-Coast mentality is of course more European, e.g. stiff, snobby, hierarchical, formal, prejudiced, arrogant.., whereas Californians accept you for what you are and what you can actually do, regardless of appearance, education, etc. – I never forget when I first met the man in Newport Beach, whom I later worked for. While driving along, he asked me: Can you drive ? – I said: I don’t have a driver’s license.. – to which he replied: I didn’t ASK if you had a drivers’s license, I asked you if you could DRIVE ! – On confirming I COULD drive, he said: Ok, as long as you’re working for me, you can use this car ! – All that and more is VERY “enchanting” and gives one this unique Californian Free spirit feeling. – There’s much more to say about it, but this is getting too long, so hope I’ve zoomed in on it a bit more.

        conservative A. H.? – No, – please explain..

      • Frans: The task of educating you in endless!
        “A. H.” is polite for “ass-hole,” that’ s all.

        Too much in the soup, as usual.

        The idea that there is a large concentration of high IQs in a small area such as Silicon Valley is not absurd. The really interesting question is how they got to be concentrated there. Europeans in general, and I think, you, are busy avoiding that simple question because they can guess what the main answer will be.

        I am quick to detect a potential drift toward crediting government for free enterprise’s achievement. If you were not so drifting, I stand corrected. (Of course, I suspect you were so drifting.)

        The state of California’s wastefulness and public, open corruption says nothing about Danish and Swedish government spending. That is, except that the same underlying mechanisms are at work. Individual virtuousness can compensate to some extent for structural conditions leading to undesirable results, it does not cancel the tendency to waste. The basic (and base) reason is that a national government has no competition. (Good elections don’t do it.) Under normal conditions, a private sector provider has competitors that keep it honest and lean. If it does not, it invariably starts acting badly and inefficiently.

        Do you ever wonder how Steve Job and his hippie pot-smoking buddy were able to eat giant IBM’s lunch in a few short years?

        California freedoms are freedoms to innovate, even at a personal level . Where do those come from?

      • AH..
        – but already at an early age I learned that those who learn are those not afraid to ask, i.e. “appear” dumb..

        Your “simple” question is very relevant, and I am certainly not afraid of “the” answer, which is: World’s best (Technological) Universities + $$$ + LOW taxes. – Steve Jobs alone roamed the earth to headhunt the best designers, the best this , the best that. That is not all, but I will keep this short, as I intend to give myself a break and play some Chess.. – My son says my brains are getting rusty, and I intend to teach him a lesson.. – Yes, I know, chances are slim..

        Actually, I don’t think we disagree as much as you think. Basically, I think the price the U.S. is paying – ( = inequality) for it’s Cut-Throat Economy is too high, which of course is why I prefer Scandinavian style Economies that are more balanced, and where the Public Sector is working WITH Private enterprise, for the benefit of ALL.
        -I can’t think of any undesirable results, quite the opposite.

        Dog says it’s time for a nice long walk in the snow..

        Ps. Was thinking.. Which one of you two Professors – I am of course referring to Amburgey – takes the prize as the “meanest”.. – You are both highly qualified ! :)

      • Frans: First things first. I am much meaner than Prof. Terry. Why, I make him cry regularly! (But, to be fair, liberals in more in touch with their female side than conservatives which helps the crying.)

        You are simplifying a great deal the sources of the Silicon Valley success, I think. And, some small mistakes of fact strengthen your inaccurate scenario: Steve Job did no go around the world looking for talent. The talent came to him and to Silicon Valley in general. There is a special kind of immigration visa for “brains.” Each year, the applications for this kind of visa fill the relevant quota in less than a day.

        You would have to explain why nothing of the sort exists in Europe. Some quite high percentage of successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley were born in India or in China (The real numbers does not matter; it’s high.) Why didn’t those people emigrate to Denmark, or to Germany?

        Incidentally, some time ago, you made a big conceptual mistake akin to this one. You mentioned that Danish firms had trouble finding enough local capital (Danish investment). Why in the world should they count on Danish money to expand? Why not money from the whole world? Of such inadvertent mistakes fallacious views of the world are built by intellectually honest people.

        The fact that you mention “inequality” (presumably of results) as a “price” to pay, leaves me cold, of course. Although I am poor, I don’t think inequality is a problem. I think, however, that the methods used to reduce inequality are always liberticide. But, my side lost the recent US election to a ccok star who promoted exacgly your kind of thinking. Thus, this great country may be joining you next.

        The US may even ask to be admitted to the European Union. I hope it will be treated more generously than Turkey. And then, the US will become just another placid European-stye country, with cradle to grave security no matter what you do, a country where those who get up at 6 am earn only 25% more than those who get up at noon. But then, where will the music come from?

      • Re: Steve Jobs – I DID read that biography, so I KNOW Steve Jobs very actively sought out people to his own taste, – usually someone who had taken at least a couple of LSD-trips.. – and he DID personally headhunt people, – in France, in Germany.. as well as locally.

        Europe does try to attract brains. I know Sweden and Denmark do, and I believe the Swedes are most succesfull in doing so. Specialists can work in Denmark, – no questions asked – and pay a lower tax than us ordinary folks, but some of them come to Denmark also because it is far more family-friendly than the U.S. – You hear that from those “brains” themselves quite often, so not just something I am trying to “sell” you. They like that their children – if they have any – are taken good care of – usually in Public Kindergartens, but private also, – they like how peaceful it is here, and.. hmm..better stop before you “start crying” :) – The U.S. has advantages apart from low taxes, like speaking English – well, sort of.., and it is true that the Danish “tribe” is somewhat suspicious of people from “out-of-town”..

        Danish firms do of course not count on local investment only. What happens quite often, however, is that local entrepreneurs choose to cash in on their ideas /inventions, as they don’t have sufficient economic muscle to develope further without outside financial help. Big fish eats small fish..

        U.S. joining the E.U. – You are most welcome, Turkey NOT !

  56. I downloaded another publication, – “Peer Review of the Danish Research & Innovations system”, commissioned by the EU. Some of it’s conclusions are:

    • According to most comparisons and indicators, Denmark is one of the innovation leaders both in the European and in world ranking systems. It is often regarded as the ‘one to watch’.

    • The education base is very strong (although STI fields can be considered to be comparatively less strong) and the quality of its higher education and research are excellent: its science production system is of a very high quality and efficient in terms of quality citations per unit of invested public money. The reforms that have been applied to the universities and public research institutions (in 2007) appear to have been very successful and the country has achieved second place on the EU innovation scoreboard.

    • There is a strong commitment, from both the public and private side, to continue to maintain the levels of investment into education, research and innovation. This commitment seems likely to be retained regardless of the political complexion of the Government and despite the prevailing economic conditions in Europe.

    There seems to be a unique Danish approach and culture for innovation and innovation policy, which strongly reflects the country’s open and dynamic welfare society.

    The paper also lists a number of “concerns”, – but I won’t tell you.. :) – Don’t have the link at hand, but will find it if you’re interested.

    .

  57. Pingback: European Union Resurrected. Arafat Exhumed! | FACTS MATTER

  58. Frans: Please, do me and our readers a favor when you have the time. (No urgency, the question will remain hot til after Christmas.) In the article of reference, please, direct us to the part that addresses concretely this claim: “Denmark is one of the innovation leaders both in the European and in world ranking systems.” (WORLD)

    Having been there before, I am not willing to spend much time exploring any country’s place in the “EU’s innovation scoreboard.” That sounds too much like a contest for the tallest dwarf!

    I also have an interest in this:
    “…its science production system is of a very high quality and efficient in terms of quality citations per unit of invested public money.” Yet, I don’t want to plod through reams of report writing to find the support for this because I would bet good money it’s meaningless although “citations per unit…” would be a fair measure. My main guess is that this statement also involves something like a swimming contest between domestic cats: One cat has to get out of the pool faster than the others. That makes it the fastest swimming cat!

    You may wonder where my America-centric arrogance comes from. It has several sources including the Swedish Nobel prizes in science and in economics. Closer to home, I have attended several joint conferences of North American with European specialists in scholarly disciplines in which I am trained. It was downright embarrassing. (Prof Terry could probably chime in here if he were not a liberal, politically correct ninny. I don’t mean this in a critical way at all)

  59. You will find “Denmark is one of the innovation leaders both in the European and in world ranking systems.” in Section 4.1 : “Overall Impressions” of this paper:
    https://docs.google.com/viewer
    I’ve only read bits and pieces, and have no idea where these “impressions” come from. I saw it was peer-reviewed, so figured it would live up to your standards..The other sentence of your interest is right below in the same section, and again,I don’t know what they’ve got to support the claims, but perhaps I’ll try to dig deeper, no promises. – Sorry, – it’s all I can give you just now..

    • What is this one link, two, seventeen? Chose one; give it your best shot. ONE, please.

      Did Steve Job go look for brain everywhere right after he got out of the garage or some time later?

      Were Job and Wosniak American by chance? And Bill Gates too. Shall I continue?

      You must know that European Union has more people and more money than the US, right? What happened; I mean, what did not happen?

      • That was ONE link, and I believe clicking on it anywhere should take you to the right place, but try this also: http://tinyurl.com/d2kstmb – It says in that report / summary, that a full report is /was to be released this October, and I will try to get hold of it..

        Of course Jobs needed first to make some $$$ before he could start headhunting in Europe, that is pretty obvious, but you make it sound as if there are no smart people in Europe at all. How about CERN for starters ? – That is not to say Europeans or anyone else for that matter can match the U.S. when it comes to best brains. – Yes, you heard me ! – (Ok – Israel, perhaps – Ashkenazi Jews..)

      • Frans: Sorry. Give it again, please.

  60. Have sent a PDF-file also to your mail

  61. I don’t suppose you know Bernie Planck’s blog “Planck’s Constant” ? – He is one of my favourite bloggers, and I am 200 % sure you will LOVE him. I’ve just read his latest piece:” The Rich Do Indeed Flee From High Tax Countries”, – http://plancksconstant.org/blog1/2012/12/yes_virginia_the_rich_do_indeed_flee_from_high_tax.html – think you’ll like it too.. – It is a bit of a paradox that I like reading funny / grumpy / old / conservative bloggers…

  62. I don’t get it, – I tried visiting your blog with another computer, and links work fine, but here’s another link-location, and I think that is where I downloaded the PDF in the first place.. – so give it a try..

    http://fivu.dk/nyheder/temaer/2012/innovationsstrategi/analyser-baggrundsmateriale/Peer-review-of-the-danish-research-and-innovation-system.pdf

  63. Pingback: The Miracle of Silicon Valley Explained; a Secret Unveiled! | FACTS MATTER

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