Norway to the future
Friday, March 26, 2004
So, I have only a few months left of my studies. Time to grow up, get a job and worry about the future. No more drinking beer for breakfast, going to bed at five in the morning and studying too little for my exams while not really worrying. From my favourite viewpoint - the egoistical - the future doesn't really worry me. Let's look at some of the reasons why:
I have won the lottery of life. Over and over again, it seems. I am born and live in Norway. Norway, for those of you who don't know much about it - except stories about a freezing cold country where winter subsides eleven and a half months a year - is one of the best countries to live in on planet Earth. Considering we are about four and a half million people, only this privilege is better than a one-in-a-thousand shot. I am also equipped with a brain that seems to be very well adapted to the accelerating change we are experiencing. Far from being a genius; I am generally curious, have a tendency to learn new things fairly quickly and remember all sorts of important and unnecessary facts easily. People tell me that I am kind and have a great deal of empathy for people who are not as well off. I am male, which - even in this the best of countries - is still a slight advantage in society. Born in the more well-off suburbs of Oslo, I believe I have an advantage over other nourishing who might not want to give up their roots by moving to the capital (which, of course, is where most of the mover-and-shaker-jobs are). I have even been allowed a virtually free higher education (uni's are free in Norway, and the state provides you with almost enough money to live a good life whilst studying). All this calls for some kind of commitment.
In this country, the state takes care of you if you want to throw your life away. We are a welfare state, and have the incomes to make it work. Although the tax level would scare off most of the western world's elite (and is currently scaring off several of Norway's richest), we can proudly say that we have almost no poverty, an almost perfectly working free healthcare system, an almost tolerant immigration policy, an almost rational democratic system... (All the "almost"s are because we Norwegians love to rant about all that is wrong with our country. It's one of our favourite topics of conversation.) But, back to throwing your life away. With our social welfare system, you can actually afford to have your own apartment, and do a significant amount of drugs while playing Playstation all day, all while the state provides the money you need. You won't ever be well off or a shaping force of our society if you choose such a life, but neither will you starve to death. All in all a fairly sweet option, at least when considering the conditions of life for most of the world's population. Such a way of life is - thankfully - not the goal of most people here on the top of the world, thus avoiding a collapse of the system. Most people still get stuck in the never-ending quest to live the picture-perfect life of whatever their preferences are, be it the Friends-meets-Ally McBeal-utopian ghettos of web designers and wannabes in the hippest parts of Oslo or the not-caring-too-much-about-the-rest-of-the-world-as-long-as-gasoline-prices-don't-get-any-higher types of people. At least we are not killing each other in ethnic conflicts, or over access to fresh water (y'know, one of the new reasons to kill your neighbour). We even have a few competent people in significant positions (and quite a few of the contrary-- more on them later), and a so far steady supply of income from our beloved oil fields in the North Sea. All in all, we should have every opportunity to make sure this country stays the best country in the world. But are we?
I am still young and naïve enough to believe that I can make a difference, that I have something important to contribute to this world, that the world can become a better place for everyone, that cooperation still is the way to go... The egoistic viewpoint mentioned above will hopefully not be the viewpoint my musings. Who wants to hear about a spoiled little brat's life anyway. So before I get old and all my illusions fade, I will blog my way through happenings in the adventure of Norway to the Future. How are we handling our extreme wealth? Have we actually produced anything of value to the rest of the world lately (our most famous competitive advantage seems to be diplomacy and peace)? Is the rest of the world taking us seriously, or are we doomed to an existence as an insignificant upper class? Can we utilize our resources, political freedom and open society to make the world outside our borders a better place? This blog is as much for me as it is for you, as I seek some insight in these and other questions constantly popping up in my mind.
Considering myself a transhumanist, the main foucs here will be the ethical and rational applications of new knowledge, science and technology. I do not take a side in party politics, so I feel free to shoot from the hip in all directions when it comes to criticizing the pack of religious madmen ruling this country as well as any other policies I find irrational. Luddites to the dust heap of history, I say!
More on being a transhumanist, the new biotechnology law, how to live in a country with a lutheran priest as prime minsiter, and rantings on complany fellow citizens later.
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