The Best Place on Earth, Provided You Grow Your Own Tobacco and Distill Your Own Whisky

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Morten explains the flat tax to the cartoon lady

Every year, the BBC fashions a slightly modified UN press release into an slightly breathless news story, advising Britons to sell their homes and relocate to Scandinavia. "Norway is the best place in the world to live while Niger is the least desirable, according to an annual report by the United Nations."  The results rarely change; Oslo, say the sages at Turtle Bay, is the greatest place on Earth.

In fairness, the BBC concedes that the "consistently high rating for desirable living standards, is, in large part, [due to] the result of the discovery of offshore oil and gas deposits in the late 1960s," though it should also be pointed out that oil-free Sweden also tops the UN rankings. While many critics challenge the study's metrics, after a few days in Oslo let me address only one: the jaw-dropping rates of taxation.

For instance, a Reason-reading Norwegian friend (who, incidentally, works in parliament) points out that "For a bottle of Jack Daniels (1 liter), you'll pay approximately 250NOK in taxes….That`s about $41." Because it is 120 proof—alcohol is taxed both by strength and volume—this small bottle of Absinthe would earn the government $62.70 in tax revenue.

The state run liquor store is admirably honest, calling itself Vinmonopolet ("The Wine Monopoly") and declaring on its website a goal of "remov[ing] the private profit motive from sales of wine, spirits and strong beer." The party cadres staffing the shops are on the lookout for those who might abuse their drinking rights: "Vinmonopolet's shop assistance (sic) are in direct contact with their customers, creating optimal conditions for exercising social control."

So how much were my delicious Marlboro Lights? A pack of 20 will set you back $15, though only half the country is dumb enough to submit to state price gouging. A recent study showed that, in 1990, 91 percent of Norwegians purchased their cigarettes within Norway. After a steep rise in taxes, that number shrunk to 52 percent by 2008 (I write this from just over the border in Sweden, where my 81-year-old host just returned from a beer, wine, and vodka junket in Germany). But all of this tax revenue, my parliamentary comrade told me in an email, is well spent: "An article in the newspaper Aftenposten on Thursday showed that a cow in Norway is subsidized with up to 40,000 NOK ($6,777) a year of taxpayer's money."

It is a lovely country, full of terrifyingly nice people, but after five days, I can no longer afford to subsidize Bessie in Bergen or Jens' rheumatism prescription. I am taking donations, though, after discovering that my taxi ride to the airport will cost $122.

NEXT: What's A Black Metal Band Gotta Do To Get Murdered By Religious Maniacs These Days?

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  1. So how much were my delicious Marlboro Lights?

    You deserve having every dollar stolen from you for smoking those abominations. They are like an instant headache.

    American Spirits or nothing.

    1. Gauloises.

      Smoking Marlboro Lights is like smoking air and thus entirely pointless.

    2. I love the warning on American Spirits.
      “No additives in our tobacco does NOT mean a safer cigarette.”

    3. Piss on you Epi-siotomy, I have few vices and tasty Marlboro reds are one of them, you ignominious sliced pile of twink bait.

      1. Reds are cool brutha. But lights are a staple of ugly women from the Jersey Shore.

        And Spirits are awesome. Plus they are cotton filters so when I flick my butts at some annoying anti-smoking Nazi it’s biodegradable!

      2. I didn’t slag Reds, you quack. I slagged M Lights, because they are disgusting.

        1. Good,I accept your apology. Carry on.

        2. One of the better full flavor commercials i guess.
          If compelled i’ve picked up the very occasional pack of Camels.

        3. I smoke Marlboro Mediums – only because they are easy to find at a dollar off a pack. American Spirits are good too.

          1. Its all about Pall Mall Full FLavor

            1. I used to smoke full flavor but its menthol for me.

    4. Better yet, the dark blue all US grown can, rolled in some Elements or Raw papers.

      Wonder if the euro cigs are RIPs.

      1. Warty, you have the best musical links. This song is excellent.

      2. Hard to smoke ’em if you gotta be running

        Congressional- and DC- PD.

        See? Layers…

    5. Do they come firesafe? If so, no thanks! XD

    6. Somehow I am not surprised you don’t have the stones to smoke a real cig like Lucky Strikes. Why don’t you just cut to the chase and smoke Virginia Slims.

      1. Because he’s neither slim nor a virgin, if one stipulates that anal sex with a tranny hooker at a truck stop ends one’s virgin status.

  2. Only in America can you see the results of right-wing losertarians sucking Ron Paul’s cock. Read Reason! America is the goofiest fucking place on earth.

    1. Edward, you seem particularly agitated today. I know you don’t like taking your antipsychotics–they make you tired and impotent–but you need to every day, or they won’t do any good.

    2. I resent that.

      1. So do I

    3. Max|4.30.10 @ 8:03PM|#
      “Only in America can you see the results of right-wing losertarians sucking Ron Paul’s cock…”

      Or left wing brain-deads like Max licking the government’s asshole.
      And Max would love to to have the US become one of those ‘civilized’ places where Max’s comments could land him/her in jail, right Max?

      1. You might want to have that looked at.

    4. Edward, m’boy. You need to calm down before you burst a gasket. After all, you can’t afford to lose any more brain cells.

  3. Right. I want to live in place where the stated purpose of government is “creating optimal conditions for exercising social control.”

    STFU Max.

    1. Given the subject of the page titled “SOCIAL CONTROL”, I suspect that the Norwegian phrase translated as “social control” is an expression for making sure minors aren’t purchasing alcohol.

  4. It’s an interesting mindset that allows you to put a huge markup on a product while claiming to be “removing the profit motive”.

    1. Bingo. Someone’s profiting.

    2. Actually, it does show a more sophisticated understanding of what profits are than most leftists will cop to. If your goal is to reduce profits, than raising prices to a point past what the market will bear is an excellent way to acheiev that on your stock, even if on an individual unit its though the roof.

    3. They are removing the profit motive. For competitors.

    4. If you’re inefficient enough, you can avoid making a profit no matter how high the price is.

  5. Vinmonopolet’s shop assistance (sic) are in direct contact with their customers, creating optimal conditions for exercising social control.

    If only the State Stores here in PA were so honest.

    1. You’re still in there, Butters? well, don’t stop now. Keep trying.

  6. “Norway is the best place in the world to live while Niger is the least desirable, according to an annual report by the United Nations.”

    Ah.

    1. I’m pretty sure that the United Nations has aptly demonstrated that the most desirable place to live in their eyes is New York City, regardless of what they actually say on the matter.

      Listen to what people do, not what they say.

      1. Excellent point. Time to start agitating for the United Nations to move its headquarters to Oslo.

    2. I think North Korea and Zimbabwe have Niger beat by a considerable margin in the misery index.

  7. Blame France! And Norway’s dried fish lobby!

    A nationwide referendum on prohibiting sales of spirits and fortified wine was held in Norway during 1919. This proposal won 61.6 per cent of the votes cast, but trade considerations meant that prohibition was not enacted until 1921.

    The wine-producing nations were not particularly happy with such a ban, and their objections had to be taken very seriously because Norway exported large volumes of dried fish and other commodities to these countries. Securing good trade agreements with the wine producers was made all the more difficult by the economic crisis, which began in 1920. France was only willing to accept a deal, which allowed Norwegians to buy as much table wine of any kind as they wanted.

    A centralised monopoly would prevent the arbitrary local variations, which prevailed in Norway, it was claimed. This argument made a big contribution to the creation of Vinmonopolet as a private limited company under government control on 30 November 1922.

    1. Some of that “law and order” of which you are so fond? People need stability, right?

  8. Check out the rankings in the UN Human Development Reports of previous years, especially about two decades ago; they tell you all you really need to know about the validity of their standards. I was especially amused to observe their ranking the USSR, in what would be the last year of its existence, ahead of the Bahamas.

  9. Why hasn’t the United Nations relocated to Norway, yet, if it’s so goshdarn wonderful?

    (My preference would be to put them in Haiti.)

  10. This IS RACIST! So, white, blond, Scandinavians are all great but Nigers are “the least desirable”!?! Racism! Racism!

    1. We prefer that you call us the “N” country.
      Thank you.

      1. Is that “Niga” in gansta-speak?

    2. You missed a “g”.

  11. It is a lovely country, full of terrifyingly nice people, but after five days, I can no longer afford to subsidize Bessie in Bergen or Jens’ rheumatism prescription. I am taking donations, though, after discovering that my taxi ride to the airport will cost $122.

    The burning question here Tim, is how far was the cab ride and are the hookers subsidized? I mean if the bovine residents of Norway are raking in almost $7000 grand in subsidies I would imagine the affection industry is pulling in some nice courtesan cash for propping up the tourist industry.

  12. propping up the tourist industry.

    So to speak.

    1. Zing!!

  13. “the jaw-dropping rates of taxation.”

    Yes, and somehow the people there put up one of the highest gdp per capitas and don’t seem to be living in a concentration camp.

    But remember, TAXATION=TEH SLAVERY or TEH FASCISM or whatever…

    1. So move already MNG. If you like it go there. Why insist that I have to do things your way? And I believe the oil has something to do with it.

      1. Yeah, no natural resources or advantages in the USA!

        1. MNG|4.30.10 @ 9:51PM|#
          “Yeah, no natural resources or advantages in the USA!”

          Who know, MNG? Maybe you can hit for the brain-dead cycle this evening.
          Who gets the oil revenues in Norway? Why, I’ll bet it’s the government who still has to charge “jaw dropping rates of taxation”!
          http://www.icenews.is/index.ph…..from-2011/
          Keep ’em coming MNG! You’re always good for ridicule!

          1. What in the world point do you think you are making here? If, as you mention, government activity is included in the GDP then what do you think you’ve demonstrated by showing government involvement in the oil business there?

            1. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:09PM|#
              “What in the world point do you think you are making here?”

              This might quality for the cycle; you’re approaching stupidity squared.
              I’ll keep it simple in the hopes you might understand:
              Crawdad pointed out that oil had something to do with Norway’s “prosperity”; you argued (supposedly conversely) that the US has great natural resources.
              I responded that the funds from the natural resources which Norway does have are harvested by the government, in comparison to those in the US which are largely harvested by private companies.
              So Norway is capturing the profit from those resources and even given *that* tremendous revenue they *still* have ridiculous tax rates to support the “free” stuff.
              Is that simple enough for you? Are you beginning to see that “free” stuff from the government means that the government takes everything it can and *still* doesn’t have enough for the “free” stuff.
              Is that simple enough for you?

              1. And yet here lies one of the most produtctive politically and socially free nations in the world, in the face of such double horrible slavery inducing taxation! Dude, when facts keep contradicting axions. axioms gotta go…

                And more specifically, of course if Norway’s government is much more involved in oil business than ours then that is a great example of government involvement increasing GDP, as we spoke of earlier.

                1. Your idea of “socially free” is taxing the gobsmacking shit out of low-class vices?

                  I guess if you’re a teetotalling non-smoker, Norvege must be paradise. Not so much if your vices are on the official Frowned Upon list.

                  1. Oops, I’m not Goldilocks anymore.

                2. Venezuela experienced an oil boom too. That doesn’t make Petrobas efficient, or Chavez less of a caudillo.

                  Didn’t reason recently post an article detailing how Norway wasn’t really such a socialist place, since it had liberalized much of it’s economy recently, anyway?

                  1. I dunno about that, but I’ve seen occasional postings which hint that some European countries are moving in the opposite direction as the US freedom-wise. Maybe Norway hasn’t joined that club yet, if the evidence cited above –punishing sin taxes beyond even the imagination of the control-freak legislators in my NYC–is any indication. I’m curious if and how Venezuela punishes any d?class? vices practiced by its citizens.

                3. That’s disingenuous. Norway has never had as high a GDP or as fast growing Gdp as the US. Check the facts.

                  1. Sigh, what can you make of the person who challenges a fact while being so lazy as to supply no counter fact? Surely if you are right about GDP it should take you two seconds to find a cite…

                    Norway GDP per capita (2009): $58,600
                    US GDP per capita (2009):$46,400
                    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html

                    As to the question about socially free, while I abhor sin taxes I note these items don’t seem unattainable by the average Norweigian, much may be taxed but little seems banned. They have freedom of mobility, speech, due process of law, association, etc.,, that certainly give the lie to charges of TEH SLAVERY!

                    And I don’t buy the “but oil!” argument. Every nation has certain natural resource disadvantages and advantages. Should the US relatively free market success be discounted because of it’s natural advantages?

                    1. It’s a matter of relative population, MNG.

                      If you allow me to exterminate 90% of the US population, but leave all the “natural resources” in place, based on our OWN oil resources and the manufacturing and agricultural productivity of the remaining 10%, I would absolutely annihilate Norway’s per capita GDP figures. But there probably wouldn’t be a lot more human happiness in that new country, especially what with the piles of dead bodies and all.

                    2. Well jeez fluff with that logic allow me to multiply Norway’s land mass and resources along with its population until its US size.

                      I mean, certainly you know that GDP per capita already takes population size into account.

                      It’s that “per capita” part.

                    3. http://www.nationmaster.com/gr…..per-capita

                      Norway has more oil output per capita than saudi arabia. I don’t think anybody is arguing that Norway is hell. We are simply arguing that their policies aren’t great, and their massive natural resource wealth more than makes up for a lot of what they do wrong. Plus we are talking about a nation with a population half the size of New York City. If New York, New York were its own country, it would have a per capita income of 94,000 dollars.

                      http://www.city-data.com/forum…..s-per.html

                      Also, according to wikipedia, the PPP GDP per capita of Norway is only 53,000 dollars per year vs almost 48,000 dollars for the US. Norway has only 5 million people. The US has 300 million people, and a much more diverse population, with less natural resource output per capita. Do you want to fudge statistics some more?

                    4. And I’m sure you wouldn’t perceive it as slavery, because you strike me as a natural slave anyway.

                      Lots of people don’t perceive the legal limitations of economic freedom is, say, France as restrictive either – because all they ever wanted to do is brownnose their way into an “elite” university, and then weasel their way into some sinecure to waste the next forty years. If your AIM in life is to disappear into bureaucratic serfdom, then a system dominated by that serfdom will be quite pleasant for you. It’s only if you decide you want to do something else that you will brush up against the system limits.

                      And unfree systems won’t produce uniformly poor outcomes, especially when they are able to draw in resources from outside their systems. The Scandinavian countries did quite well because they were able to draw resources in by selling natural resources and weapons. If the various European and North American free economies had never existed, the Norwegians and Swedes would still be fishermen. The wealth of the Norwegians is a lot like the wealth of Mobuto Sese Seko. If you just look at Mobuto’s bank account, you might say, “Hey, savage postcolonial kleptocracies must be the way to go. Look at this guy’s bank account!”

                    5. “And I’m sure you wouldn’t perceive it as slavery, because you strike me as a natural slave anyway.”

                      Maybe I just have a more realistic, grown up concept of liberty than you do?

                      And you don’t need to posit some extraordinary “bureaucratic mindset” amonst most people (and a heroic rugged individualist mindset among you and a few other special people). A simpler explanation is that France is indeed pretty free given a mature meaning of freedom. France has plenty of capitalists, bankers and such. They pretty much are free to speak their minds, go where they want, buy very diverse arrays of things, engage in various occupations, etc. According to your simplistic ideas of freedom France SHOULD be a gulag, but any casual visit shows the lie to that. Ideology should bend to facts, not the other way around…

                      Again, your pointing to a dictators lifestyle is so pointless, we are talking gdp per capita, not “select the most well off.” Heck I could indict Libertopia by choosing someone from teh bottom 1%…

                    6. “According to your simplistic ideas of freedom France SHOULD be a gulag”

                      You like building strawmen don’t you?

                    7. Europe has been subsidized heavily by the US since WWII.

                      Those greatest hurt by socializing the current economic engine will be foreigners.

                      I didn’t know MNG was such a bigot.

                    8. MNG- I applaud your efforts at educating these folks, but they don’t want to listen to facts. They just want to talk a bunch of non-sense about what they suppose “freedom” is. I see absolutly nothing wrong with taxing the hell out liquor or cigarettes. What a bizarre concept – taking the profit motive out of a product that can kill you!! You know the above article was really silly when you get down to it – it seems to boil down to this: Gee Norway sucks because cigarettes and 120 proof booze is expensive here – whaa whaa whaa!

                    9. http://www.nationmaster.com/gr…..per-capita

                      Norway has more oil output per capita than saudi arabia. I don’t think anybody is arguing that Norway is hell. We are simply arguing that their policies aren’t great, and their massive natural resource wealth more than makes up for a lot of what they do wrong. Plus we are talking about a nation with a population half the size of New York City. If New York, New York were its own country, it would have a per capita income of 94,000 dollars.

                      http://www.city-data.com/forum…..s-per.html

                      Also, according to wikipedia, the PPP GDP per capita of Norway is only 53,000 dollars per year vs almost 48,000 dollars for the US. Norway has only 5 million people. The US has 300 million people, and a much more diverse population, with less natural resource output per capita. Do you want to fudge statistics some more?

                    10. I’ve addressed these disparities below, as I say there it at least shows that many factors are more important than whether a nation embraces the “free market” as you folks understand it; it also means that you will have to consider these factors the next time something like Hong Kong’s success is trotted out as supposedly demonstrating the efficacy of libertarian principles.

      2. They wouldn’t accept him. Here’s Norway’s immigration requirements. Remember, MNG is the king of wishing his neighbor’s livestock dead as opposed to wishing for his own.

        1. “Remember, MNG is the king of wishing his neighbor’s livestock dead as opposed to wishing for his own”

          You know another MNG? Fascinating!

          1. Nope. Just you.

            1. Hmm, that’s funny then, because where have I said something like that?

              1. Every time you stand up for expansive taxes and intrusive government and advocating for wealth redistribution like you do every freaking time you post here MNG.

                Every time you have advocated that people have a right to the fruits of another’s labor.

                And the myriad of times you have advocated using physical force to “ecourage” someone to perform an act of work under dubious moral righteous moral indignation.

                You know damn well what I am talking about, you disingenuous, purposefully obtuse pompous ass.

                1. None of your examples (been holding em in a while, eh?) illustrate what you said
                  ” MNG is the king of wishing his neighbor’s livestock dead as opposed to wishing for his own”

                  That’s nuts, I’d want some of this living stock, then we are all happy. That dead one ain’t doing anyone any good, except maybe a burger block party.

                  1. That’s nuts, I’d want some of this living stock, then we are all happy. That dead one ain’t doing anyone any good, except maybe a burger block party.

                    And yet, you still fail to grasp the nuance and the applicability to why you are inherently hostile to the idea of private property and in fail swoop.

                    1. medium rare

                    2. It’s on the grill.

                    3. I’m hostile to the idea of private property if understood in an insane, deontological way, yes. Property was made for man, not man for property. Other than that I’m no more motivated by spite, which is really what your initial charge proclaims, than the next man.

                2. YAWN..boy these arguments are soo tedious. Though it looks as if your comments struck a nerve MNG! Well done.

        2. -jumps in manger, growls-

          ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF

          1. This must be the same guy who used to post as Gobby, same impotent rage sans verbal skills to express them, welling up inside along with the hatred of all those men who graced his mother’s bedroom door….

        3. Norway can get away with such a policy, like Canada, because nobody really wants to live in such a cold place.

          America’s immigration policy is already skills and family oriented. It’s almost impossible to get in unless you either have a close American relative or a college degree.

          But we have a populous neighbor to our immediate south and it’s not a barren tundra here.

          1. I pointed this out to Chad in our HCR reform discussions re: how these smaller nations are able to clamp down on costs from a population and per capita persective. Also, being able to maintain a fairly homogeneous population does have benefits in the predictability of health trends.

            As I said to him, it’s easier to track the health habits of 50 white patients as opposed to 50,000 patients of various ethnicities and there is only one doctor.

            1. I somewhat agree with this. Smaller homogenous nations do seem to have a better time at this (though, see nations like Estonia to see that other things can trump that). If you compare Norway to say Maine alone on many social indicators (health, crime, poverty, etc) you get better results for the American side.

              Of course this imo demonstrates that homogenous polities tend to more readily see the logic of subsidizing and aiding their neighbors, thus making for a more healthy, opportunity filled nation for all across the board.

              1. Of course this imo demonstrates that homogenous polities tend to more readily see the logic of subsidizing and aiding their neighbors, thus making for a more healthy, opportunity filled nation for all across the board.

                Homogenous polities also tend to have people that are less likely to exploit welfare systems, and more likely to feel guilty about living off of the benificence of others, because they feel a closer kinship bond with the other people in society, and feel internal social pressures not to be a dependent.

                Note that everywhere in Europe (including Norway) the Muslim minority tends to exploit the welfare state and is deeply resented for it.

                In other words, if you have an enthnically diverse society it may not be a good idea to provide generous welfare, because the *social* constraints are not there to prevent people from taking advantage of it. The ethnic minority isn’t integrated into mainstream society, doesn’t have a lot of contact with them, or identify themselves as a true memeber of that society, and hence doesn’t feel any social pressure not to exploit the generosity of the majority.

                This may actually be a very significant reason why Europeans have become inclined to roll back the welfare state.

                1. Hazel
                  I don’t disagree with you here. In fact, I hoped I had implied as much when I said down thread that Maine taken alone would fare quite well against Scandavian nations on all the social pathologies that the US as a whole fares poorly on.

                  Remember that I’ve consistenly been against immigration in large part because it balkinizes our nation and strains beneficience in two ways: groups are more likely to exploit it and people are less likely to want to grant it.

          2. Something that many people are missing here is that most of these countries were more prosperous (in terms of economic growth) before they became socialist paradises. Indeed, up until the 1950s Sweden’s government spent less as a percentage of national GDP than the US government, and Sweden was on the five wealthiest nations on earth. There economic growth slowed as their government grew, however, and only picked up in the last few decades as the government backed off somewhat.

            My guess for the reason that Scandinavia is prosperous is that Scandinavians have magical powers that make them inherently awesome.

    2. Just where do you buy your straw? You seem to never run out. You get a good rate on bulk?

      1. I get it from the Randian Rugged Individualists’ Totally Voluntary Association of Liberty Loving Straw Producers. You wouldn’t believe what they put out there! Really, their “taxation=teh slavery” is the best straw one can get without genetic modification (which they are totally cool with btw).

        1. You see, MNG thinks that when you work, and the money you earn goes to someone who didn’t work for it, it’s not a form of slavery.
          I don’t know what his definition of slavery is. Maybe someone can share with me.

          1. I’m workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavary
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery

            Jive’n’fuckin’ whinin’
            Socialist wont leave us alone
            He can take my last dollar
            And claim it as his own.

            I’m workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavary
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavary
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery

            He isn’t the one up in the mornin’
            But he is the one that sets the goals
            He shakes his finger as a warnin’
            And he hisses to do what we are told.

            I’m workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery

            Allah (PBUH)
            How long can this go on?

            I’m workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery
            Workin’ in a gulag
            But don’t call it slavery

            1. I’m pretty sure there are no gulags in Norway.

              See, this is the over the top hyperbolic nonsense I’m talking about.

              Straw indeed! It’s impossible to straw the hardcore libertarian, they always one up.

              1. Literalism from lyrics? Are you a fucking moron? Oh, you spent your teen years reading Rolling Stone Magazine and idolizing Bono. That is where that comes from.

          2. See, members of the co-op are always happy to please!

            So, where are those people who said it was a straw man? [cups hands around eyes] Where are you?

            1. wow. just…. wow.

        2. MNG|4.30.10 @ 9:54PM|#
          “I get it from the Randian Rugged Individualists’ Totally Voluntary Association of Liberty Loving Straw Producers….”

          No, you get it from the voices in your head, jackass. Quit inventing new men of straw.

          1. You don’t think compelled taxation=slavery?

            1. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:11PM|#
              “You don’t think compelled taxation=slavery?”

              No, MNG, I do not share in your comic-book ‘vision’ of those who don’t buy your BS.

              1. If you don’t think taxation=slavery then you agree with me moron.

                1. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:19PM|#
                  “If you don’t think taxation=slavery then you agree with me moron.”

                  I’m sure there has been a more moronic statement someplace, but I haven’t seen it.

                  1. c’mon lil’ Ronnie, every young man has to man up at some point. Do you back off your statement that my assertion of libertarians claiming taxation as slavery was “straw” or would you like to now disagree with your fellow libertarian who has said that exact thing?

                    1. Most libertarians seem to agree that taxation is OK for a list of constitutionally-approved exercises, e.g. national defense. Punishing smokers and drinkers is most definitely not included in that list.

                      But, shockingly, there are differences of opinion. The fantasy you maintain that all libertarians think in lockstep is just that.

                    2. Note no answer from lil’ Ronnie L.

                2. How about taxation isn’t slavery, but it is an evil that should be avoided as much as possible.

                  1. Nah, too shades-of-grey-ey.

                  2. Not slavery? Hazel, I agree, but you better watch your back at the next libertarian meeting, they’re liable to get out pitchforks and such hearing you talk like that…Too much nuance as Rhywun notes.

                    1. I agree with Hazel and Rhywun.

                    2. Not all taxation is slavery. But Norway and France and EU levels of taxation and economic manipulation might as well be slavery. No, I don’t think Norway is particularly productive or free with its collectivism and paternalism. Who knows what kinds of productivity they are missing out on because of subsidized oil and cattle industries.

                    3. Meh, you don’t scare me MNG. I think it’s slavery and have the balls to say so.

                    4. MNG makes good points quite often. Really.

                    5. Enh… joe was better. (Really!) But he got unhinged one time too many. I totally value thoughtful counterpoint, if only as nostalgia (“did I really used to believe that too??”). But the key word is “thoughtful”.

                    6. joe, better than me? Perish the thought!

                      What’s funny is, that while I liked joe, he was FAR more of a doctinaire Democrat than me.

                    7. No, joe may have been the biggest twat of all time.

    3. MNG|4.30.10 @ 9:39PM|#
      “the jaw-dropping rates of taxation.”
      Yes, and somehow the people there put up one of the highest gdp per capitas…”

      Says MNG, ignorant of the fact that government spending is *included* in the GDP.
      And further ignorant of the fact that government borrowing and spending is *included* in the GDP.
      And just plain ignorant. Thanks, MNG, for once again proving you’ll cherry-pick any possible data to support your ignorance.

      1. I know you don’t like government spending, but I have no beef with it. Norway is more productive (I care not if their governent is responsible for more of it than our government is of ours) than we are and has a higher standard of living.

        By your fundamentalist market rhetoric they should be living in dimly lit caves without names waiting for someone to name themselves Prometheus, re-discover electricity and carve “ego” on a rock. And yet, a land of plenty with a well functioning democracy, rule of law, social freedom…

        Maybe it’s the rhetoric that’s broken, not the measures?

        1. How does pushing papers in a government office help the GDP, MNG?

          1. As goofy Ron has demonstrated their government does a lot more than ours does (and even ours produces quite a bit of valued goods and services).

            1. “ours produces quite a bit of valued goods and services”

              [citations] please.

              1. You need a citation for that? Shit, I’ve got a US Army mini-shovel right here, a person doesn’t need wacked over the head with it to see it as a tangible good. Well, multiply that by a lot dude.

                1. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:23PM|#
                  “You need a citation for that? Shit, I’ve got a US Army mini-shovel right here, a person doesn’t need wacked over the head with it to see it as a tangible good. Well, multiply that by a lot dude.”

                  Doooooooooooooooooooooood, we do have the cycle.
                  That shovel was not only *not* produced by the government, it was, by reason of ‘normal’ bureaucratic wastage, ‘way over priced compared to the same thing I’ve got in the shed out back.

                  1. When the governent contracted it out to certain specs, paying for the work, they haven’t produced anything?

                    1. by jove, I think he’s got it.

                    2. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:48PM|#
                      “When the governent contracted it out to certain specs, paying for the work, they haven’t produced anything?”

                      Correct.
                      When you ‘spec’ to the butcher that you want a NY steak, did you raise the beef?
                      Holy cow (pun intended)!

                2. Hmmm. I wasn’t aware that the US Army had it’s own smelting plants, casting and finishing facilities and other implements required to manufacture said shovel. Or tanks, jets, weapons, medical supplies, computers, and every other manufactured item used by the military and government. All government can do is redistribute money it collects via taxes. Which appear to multiply more and more, and provide less and less, breaking windows all along the way. The government manufactures nothing, therefore has nothing to sell. All government can do is appropriate its resources.

                  These enumerated “services”, besides postal, census, and defense, you speak of, please, tell me more….

                  1. A lot of their stuff is not contracted out, but even if it were this is so it is nomore illgeimate than saying a private actor who pays another to produce something hasn’t conributed to the GDP

                    1. A lot of their stuff is not contracted out

                      Linky link?

                    2. He must be talking about federal prison labor via UNICOR.

                    3. That’s why GDP is a strange number. It doesn’t measure quality of life so much as “activity.” As long as a lot of money is changing hands, GDP will be high, but when the government produces things that people wouldn’t have paid for themselves, the mutually beneficial aspect of the market is lost. When I buy a pizza from pizza hut, they are trading their pizza (which they don’t want) for my money (which they do want), and I am trading my money (which I want less than a slice of pizza at that moment) for what I want. We both walk away from the table with surplus happiness compared to what we just had, thus a real increase in happiness has taken place for us both. When the government takes money from me (which makes me unhappy) and spends it on something that I don’t want or will never use, GDP might increase, but my happiness won’t. Can the government do things to make me happy? Sure, but I’ll let you know when I see it.

                    4. “when the government produces things that people wouldn’t have paid for themselves”

                      This doesn’t always translate to “things that are inefficient for economic growth in the short run or long run.” You may have never paid individually for societal police protection or bridges etc., but you benefit from them and so do we all…

                  2. We do make our own tank cannon, thank you very much, and they are quite effective.

                    1. I know most vehicles and weapons are made through contractors. Do those Army machinists really make their own tank cannons?

                    2. With respect to the M1 Abrams main armament, which is the 120mm M256 smoothbore gun: effective they may be, and perhaps even produced by a Government corportist entity, but alas not “ours” in any sense except that of producer (Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH) and consumer (General Dynamics Land Systems – Abrams tank production).

        2. MNG|4.30.10 @ 9:58PM|#
          “Norway is more productive (I care not if their governent is responsible for more of it than our government is of ours) than we are and has a higher standard of living.”

          I know you’re an ignoramus incapable of discerning much of anything.
          And, further, you post crap you ‘bleeve’ without a shred of data.

          1. Do you really need me to cite Norway’s GDP per capita? Or that they have a high standard of living. Dude that’s in Mooynihan’s original post lil Ronnie.

            1. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:16PM|#
              “Do you really need me to cite Norway’s GDP per capita?”

              Doofus, do you really need me to point out (again) that GDP is not the measure of what you claim?
              Look, I’m getting tired of dealing with a bozo who seems incapable of reading or actual thought.
              Go away.

              1. “do you really need me to point out (again) that GDP is not the measure of what you claim?” Dude I can accede to the point and remind you that this only matters to you: if Norway has a much more invovled government in many areas and they are productive, then that makes the libertatian swatting that much easier.

                1. ^
                  Whaaa?
                  Are your familiar with the phrase ‘begging the question’?
                  I’ll presume that’s just one more example of your ignorance.

                  1. I’m more than familiar with it, I’ve seen you do it this whole thread (assuming that government cannot be productive, therefore decrying Norway’s government involvement as evidence they are not really productive! Of course, I never accepted the premise and you begged the question all the way down…).

                2. http://www.nationmaster.com/gr…..per-capita

                  Norway has more oil output per capita than saudi arabia. I don’t think anybody is arguing that Norway is hell. We are simply arguing that their policies aren’t great, and their massive natural resource wealth more than makes up for a lot of what they do wrong. Plus we are talking about a nation with a population half the size of New York City. If New York, New York were its own country, it would have a per capita income of 94,000 dollars.

                  http://www.city-data.com/forum…..s-per.html

                  Also, according to wikipedia, the PPP GDP per capita of Norway is only 53,000 dollars per year vs almost 48,000 dollars for the US. Norway has only 5 million people. The US has 300 million people, and a much more diverse population, with less natural resource output per capita. Do you want to fudge statistics some more?

        3. Norway is more productive

          Bullshit. You have no basis for this assertion and you know it. You are such a disingenuous asshole. Just make up whatever “facts” you need.

          1. According to the world bank, he is correct. However, their human resource wealth is in the toilet. The only thing that makes up the difference is the fact that their natural wealth is 20% higher than ours.

            http://www.colorado.edu/Econom…..table.html

    4. Holy Crap MNG!

      Even minarchists can agree that while taxes like government are a necessary evil … sin taxes blow bad.
      “Thus the number potentially affected by a smoker surcharge is far smaller, and, because smokers are concentrated largely in the lower socioeconomic classes, they are less likely to be able to effectively object. A surcharge on the obese would arouse objections from a much larger segment of the population, including many people with considerable influence.”

      WTF, no less on a Fri nite you killjoy.
      STFU or tell us yer fave smoke.

      Grrr.

      1. I agree with you sin taxes.

        But do you we agree that these “necessary evils” taxes don’t equal TeH SLAVERY? Cuz there’s apparently a lot of folks here you should have a frank discussion with.

        1. How’s that straw doing? Why resort to the “everyone opposed to Obama and my Big Government religion” hates all taxes and all forms of government.

          I know that your liberal pea brain has a very difficult time imagining that there is more to life than the suckers of Big G cock, like yourself, and anarchists, but just try it out for a second.

          1. Why resort to that straw? Because libertarians have claimed it on this very thread goofus, can you not understand the scrolling function on the right hand side of the screen?

            1. It’s a common (but far from universal) libertarian opinion that taxes used to fund redistribution (whether to the poor or to massive corporatations) are, in fact, slavery. Taking away the rewards of labor and giving them to somebody who didn’t earn them.

              But that’s a far cry from claiming that all taxes are slavery. You would be hard-pressed to hear anybody say such a thing, apart from your imaginary straw man.

    5. Ah the joys of comparing a nation of 4m to a nation of 300m.

      I would expect a poli sci Phd to recognize the huge fucking mistake in doing so.

      (I fear I should have capitalized something in the above passage.)

      1. Are you making the case for busting ourselves up into a bunch of nations of 4m?

        Because I could almost get on board for that.

      2. No. I’m making the case that comparing a nation of 4m with a nation of 300m is fucking stupid. It’s like comparing the pond down the road to the Atlantic. The sweeping generalities hold true after that the entire comparison falls apart. So ya Norway is populated by humans and so is the US, after comparisons are retarded. Hence the reason most comparisons compare the US to the EU, which has it’s own headaches.

  14. The Economist recently named Vancouver,Canada the 4th most livable city in the world.
    MoneySense did a poll of Canadian cities, and Vancouver didn’t rank in the top 10.

    Thus proving that these rankings are all horseshit.

    1. I think that Vancouver is the nicest city I’ve seen in Canada. And I’ve been all around that country. What cities were in the MoneySense top 10? Hamilton? Red Dear?

      1. Vancouver is indeed a nice city, if you can get around the vast numbers of homeless accosting you as you walk down the street. Of course they’re all getting free needles and healthcare and generally being a money suck on society but it’s a pretty place, right?

        It’s a great place to visit, but there’s no way that I’d live there. Taxes are stupid high, base cost is West Coast high and Canadians have no sense of the humor. As a friend of mine states, Canada is the land if the interminably bland.

  15. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF

    -GNAWS TABLE LEG-

    1. What a tiny, fragile, impotent ideology you must have my friend…

  16. I spent a month last year in Norway, and yes, the Norwegians are terrifying nice people with terrifying high taxes. I spent most of my time on the Eastern border near Sweden, and the most common thing to do when buying any consumer product was to cross the border and buy your shit in Sweden where the sales taxes are lower. Going to SWEDEN for lower taxes!

    1. Bjorn to Run|4.30.10 @ 10:01PM|#
      “….Going to SWEDEN for lower taxes!”
      And I’m sure the EU (and MNG) wonder why the Greeks don’t pay their taxes!
      The EU might learn, but…..

  17. “Removing the private profit motive” sounds good. We’re working on that now.

  18. MNG still posts here?

    1. Warty posting past 10? Your mom fall asleep before you tonight?

      1. Oh, how cute. Post a metal link or something, fuckdoll, this is Norway we’re talking about.

        1. Isn’t Norway where that metal band was where the lead blew his brains out and a bandmember claimed to have saved some of it and later ate it?

          1. Yep. You’re talking about Mayhem.

            1. Did I mention that I sat next to their manager on a plane last year?

              1. You did not. I’m almost amazed that you could figure out you were sitting next to Mayhem’s manager.

                1. She was reading Lords of Chaos and had snuck her own beers onto the flight, so I asked her if she was into black metal …

                  1. Awesome…she sounds pretty metal.

                    1. BTW Art, you missed the awesomeness of this:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=he7E63qKPng

                    2. Cool…how did you discover that?

                    3. Been into “Neu” for ages, then started looking at side projects etc. That video was my prog contribution to the Suderman’s nightmare on elm st thread.

                      We need more prog on Fridays.

                  2. Apparently that book was co-written by a dude named Michael Moynihan. Too bad it’s not our Michael Moynihan.

                    1. I remember a couple of years ago reading someone label (that) Michael Moynihan a neo-fascist and being a bit flabbergasted, then discovering last year that there was a metal MM as well.

                    2. Who (metal MM) was the alleged neo-facist.

                    3. I admit that confused me as well.

                    4. According to an article by Wikipedia it was the result of a report published by the SPLC. The SPLC article was critized by Decibel Magazine which stated: “The main problem with this particular part of the article?besides being totally misleading?is that Blood Axis is not a black metal band. Rather than interview Moynihan, the authors of the article excerpted quotes from an issue of Compulsion zine published in 1998.”

                      Moynihan (the Metal one) himself denies any political ties.

                      After the lies that the SPLC has spewed about the LvMI I think that Moynihan’s is probably not a neo-facist of any variety. He may use fascist imagery in some of his music but he is probably not an actual neo-facist.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Moynihan_(journalist)#Reception_and_controversy

  19. “[M]y taxi ride to the airport will cost $122.”

    In Europe, public transportation is your best friend.

    And shame on you for smoking Marlboro there when Rothmans are so widely available.

  20. “”Norway is the best place in the world to live while Niger is the least desirable, according to an annual report by the United Nations.””

    The United Nations is RACIST!!!!

    Someone had to say it.

    1. No, you have to say “The United Nations BE racist”.

  21. It really eats you guys up that places like Norway violate all your cherished axioms and claims and yet they live high quality lives full of choice and leisure.

    Well, I guess their very existence does cut out the ground from under you…

    Funny how falling feels like flying eh? For a little while.

    1. “It really eats you guys up that places like Norway violate all your cherished axioms and claims and yet they live high quality lives full of choice and leisure.”

      And how exactly do they do that?

      1. “And how exactly do they do that?”

        I don’t have to explain it, it’s your axiom that these things shouldn’t co-exist. Yet they do here, and other places. So much for your axioms.

        1. MNG, by “these things” what exactly do you mean? And whenever you claim a place in wonderful in one way or the other the responding question should always be “compared to what?” Part of what you may be seeing is that because Norway has not chosen to piss off most of the world with its foreign policy they do not have to spend as much money on their military budget (and part of that budget is subsidized by a U.S. military presence in Europe.) When you spend money on bombs they can only be used for one thing – killing people. There is no civilian use for a bomb. Whenever money is spend on other things a welfare state might do there is at least sometimes a duel use for that product or service. Granted, whatever the government does would be far more efficient in a free market context but if the government spends gobs of money building an opera house it is at least useful for something other than killing people. I would much rather things like opera houses and television programs be handled in the free market but if I could snap my fingers and funnel the U.S. military budget into art programs I would do so in a heartbeat. We would all be better off for it.

          There is something else to consider ? cultural differences. Have you ever heard of the French paradox? It is a medical phenomenon. In France, far more fat and high cholesterol foods are consumed than in the United States. This was studied and several reasons were found to account for the difference. In France, they tend to walk more than in the United States and they also consume more wine. In the United States when alcoholic beverages are consumed they are more likely to be beer or ale. Something in the wine helps to break down the cholesterol (studies were done on rodents). So lifestyle differences account for much of what you may be seeing. I will be among the first to agree that we tend to have unhealthy lifestyles in the United States but this will not be corrected by the institution of a welfare state.

          1. Amendum – I forgot to mention that part of the paradox is that Fracnce has a lower heart-attack rate than the United States.

            1. There is no paradox. The link between fat consumption and heart disease is very weak.

              1. Also the “France has a lower heart-attack rate than the United States” myth was busted twenty years ago.

                Turns out that records of things like cause of death were notably imprecise in France due to the fact that French doctors had extremely wide leeway about listing the cause of death on death certificates and tended to list deaths due to heart disease as “les causes naturelles”.

                The gap is closing and it has nothing to do with the Pierres et les Jacques having more coronary thrombosis than before. It has to do with French medical examiners catching up with American ones with respect to keeping accurate medical statistics.

                1. Thank you Jersey and Isaac, I will have to look more into that.

          2. “by “these things” what exactly do you mean”

            Nations with far more vigorous taxation and redistribution policies. When we move in that direction here you guys say “TEH SLAVERY” or predict we will be living in caves. Yet Scandinavian nations are far further down the continuum and thrive.

            Compared to us dude and other nations, that’s what this thread has been about.

            Now we can add “culture” and foriegn policy along with homogeniety, natural resources, and nation size as exlpanations as to how, oh how, ol’ Norway can be so counter-Libertarian nad yet successful. What’s interesting is that maybe those putting those ideas out there can now admit that many factors can outweigh economic policy in determining the wealth of a nation? It seems to me you’ve just admitted that. It doesn’t win any arguments for me but it sure undercuts the focus you guys often put on free markets, free markets, free markets…

            1. Are you saying that the amount of money a country spends on its military is not an economic policy? You have a mighty convenient definition of economic policy

              “but it sure undercuts the focus you guys often put on free markets, free markets, free markets…”

              A patient walks into his doctor’s office and starts a smoker’s cough. The doctor tells him “You should really stop smoking.”

              The patient retorts: “It doesn’t win any arguments for me but it sure undercuts the focus you guys often put on eating right, eating right, eating right ??”

              1. No, your story would be analogous if the guy did not have a cough.

                Libertarians claim adopting Norweigian style economic policy=ruin. And yet: Norway!

                1. Norway’s “cough” is that its public debt is 60.2% of its GDP acording to the World Factbook. That is ranked #30 better than only 29 other nations. Acording to the same statistics our debt is 52.9% of our GDP thus ranking us at 42nd, better than only 41 other nations.

                  While our debt to GDP comparison is not terrific it is better than that of Norway. I think that debt will crush us. I can only imagine what it will do to those 41 nations with a worse debt to GDP ratio than the United States. Both Norway and the United States need to bring thier debt under control. We are in a better position to do so than Norway unless we continue to destroy our economic system (which seems to be Obama’s plan.)
                  As Douglas Adams fans will tell you, 42 is the answer to the great question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

                  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2186rank.html?countryName=Norway&countryCode=no&regionCode=eu&rank=30#no

              2. BTW PIRS I am in strong agreement with you that we spend way too much money fighting wars and maintining a Goliath level military. I’d like to see us cut it back so we can rise to Norway’s level of prosperity.

                1. At least we agree on something 🙂 All of those military bases we have around the world cost money – this contributes to our debt. We are subsidizing the economies of those other nations – this needs to stop.

            2. High taxes + pointless redistribution = unicorn fart-powered perpetual-health machines produced by government manufacturing plants. Got it.

        2. No, there can be places that are prosperous despite being less economically free, because the level of economic freedom is not the sole determinant of productivity. However (and I know this is difficult for you to understand) TO THE EXTENT that the level of economic freedom has an impact on productivity (which empirical evidence suggests is fairly significant), more economic freedom=greater productivity. That Norway is prosperous proves no more about the validity of socialist vs. capitalist ideas than the fact that Zimbabwe is impoverished. To really compare the effects of economic policy, you have to control for other factors that can affect productivity. The best way to do this is to look at the same country under different economic policies, and what evidence their is suggests that Scandinavian economies worked better (in terms of having higher real economic growth), when they had less government involvement, so the correlation holds true.

    2. Check out their old rankings.

    3. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:30PM|#
      “It really eats you guys up that places like Norway violate all your cherished axioms and claims…”
      It really eats you up to be shown as a serial bull-shitter.

    4. Yeah, I’m so jealous of a country where only rich/powerful people can afford to indulge in vices that they punish the plebes for pursuing. Pray tell, what are the approved ‘leisure’ activities that the working man is allowed to pursue?

      1. I agree about the sin taxes, and I’ve never said we should prefer Norway to the US (I don’t). My point was simply that Norway engages in economic policy that according to libertarian rhetoric should = them living in squalor and slavery.

        Yet they don’t. They’re pretty free (check Freedom House rankings for example) and prosperous.

        1. Gobs of cheap oil + almost no military spending = prosperity under almost any system.

          When you have that many natural resources shared between that few people, it’s almost impossible to fuck it up, no matter how bad your system is.

          The libertarian looks at Norway and thinks “imagine how much MORE well-off they would be if they didn’t have to pay such confiscatory taxes!!!”

          1. A nation adopt non-libertarian economic policy. Economic calamity results. Libertarian reply “Told you this would happen if you adopted these policies, that is the result.”

            A nation adopts non-libertarian economic policies. Prosperity results. Libertarian replies: “That prosperity is DESPITE the policies, imagine how much MORE there would be without them!”

            Gotta love non-falsifiable religious views, the safe, warm comfort of them you can almost snuggle up with on a cold, scary day…

            1. Forget the oil for a moment. The point is that a country gets rich and inevitably the result is the rise of power-hungry nanny politicians who want to punish you for pursuing unapproved pleasures. Why is that? It’s because the wealth eventually leads to demands for cradle-to-grave dependence on government, which of course means that any behavior which is perceived as more costly than average (whether that’s true or not) must be punished.

            2. Exactly right for a change. Socialists impose socialism in the US starting in 1913, economic and social conditions improve, despite the socialist policies.

          2. True enough, but I can hardly blame people in Norway for taking advantage of their good fortune. Everyone really can have a pony when you have those sort of oil / natural gas reserves.

        2. But how would they fund their mammoth welfare state without sin taxes? Would they raise income taxes? But then, that might disincentivize production and investment and make them loss prosperous.

  22. -shreds couch cushions, wags tail-

    ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF

    1. ?? I think you missed your apointment at the vet’t office.

    2. OK, looking upthread I see this may not in fact be the real MNG. I did not look upthread before I posted my original reply to this. Look, MNG disagree on plenty of things but I would never impresonate him to discredit him.

      1. Both of you must be very lonely.

  23. So my dad works for a Norwegian company, and has to deal with a lot of Norwegians. He says that the older Norwegians (>50) love America and all try to immigrate here. Thee younger ones hate it here, and can’t wait to go back to the welfare state. Take it for what it’s worth.

    1. How young is young? Do these younger people not have kids yet?

      1. 30s or younger, I think. I’ll have to ask him for details next time I see him.

    2. Those are probably the folks who congregated in my Brooklyn neighborhood (Bay Ridge) like a hundred years ago. We still have a Norwegian parade every year – even though it’s all Arab, Chinese, and Latino here now. And a few white yuppies like me 🙂

      1. Norwegian Independence Day parties in major foreign cities can be awesome. Heavy boozing with amped up, attractive, promiscuous people awesome.

        1. Emphasis on the heavy boozing. I dunno Norway, but I do know it was overrun by Danes, who are famous (at least when I lived in Germany) for being legendary drunks. I really must check out the next parade. I’m not into northern Europeans, being one myself, but the food (minus the rotten fish) and drink should be enjoyable.

    3. My sister also works for a Norwegian company. They are so used to bureaucracy that she has to call Norway to arrange a business trip from Houston to New Orleans.

  24. Swinging the e-dick around on a blog rabidly biting at everything and everyone for the sake of trolling has to be the lamest waste of a good line of coke ever conceived. Full Fail.

  25. repeated because threading limits suck:
    MNG:
    When the governent contracted it out to certain specs, paying for the work, they haven’t produced anything?

    By jove, I think he’s got it!

    1. Don’t assume that. I think he thinks he is being rhetorical.

    2. MNG|4.30.10 @ 10:48PM|#
      “When the governent contracted it out to certain specs, paying for the work, they haven’t produced anything?”

      I’ll join you; MNG has hit beyond the brain-dead cycle this evening.
      If s/he believes that ‘spec’ing and contracting out’ = ‘producing’ that good, there really isn’t much left to say.

  26. Warty – black metal or death metal? I’ve always considered them death metal, but they definitely have some black about them.

    1. Black Metal sucks balls. Ask Akerfeldt of Opeth. He despises Black Metal, despite their roots being firmly planted there.

      1. Yeah, I’m not a fan either. Unleashed or Grave blows most of that shit out of the water. And most black metal fans look like makeup-wearing emo fags.

      2. Horseshit. Checkout some Behemoth or Nile. Don’t have the sobriety to find links right now.

    2. That’s definitely death metal. And black metal is pretty retarded, all things considered.

  27. So management (planning the work)or client behavior (commissionng the work) plays no part in production?

    Only hammerstrokes by shirtless men counts?

    1. MNG loves the shirtless men

      1. Hey, I resemble that statement!

        1. NTTAWWT

          1. Speaking of Norwegian exports, and being gay and stuff, I appreciate Michael’s pictorial Norway reference up there. Man, I ate that shit up in 1985.

            1. A-ha! I knew you were a fan.*

              *Please forgive this lame play on the band’s name.

              1. Why? Because I’m a 41-year-old gay man? That’s like racist or something. Or just a totally accurate stereotype.

                1. Totally accurate stereotype. I suspect you love ABBA too. And Ace of Base.

                  1. How did we get from Norway to Sweden all of a sudden? Well, Sweden fares a bit better than Norway by being the current center of twee-ish indie or “noise” pop that appeals to Gen-X fags such as myself 🙂 Check out The Legends – good stuff.

                    PS. “Dancing Queen” is a brilliant pop song – and I’ll straight-bash anyone who claims otherwise.

                    PPS. Ace of Base is shite and I doubt anyone here will disagree.

                    1. ABBA is brilliant and so is A-ha. I like almost all synth-pop, personally: the stuff associated with the “gay scene” (i.e. Pet Shop Boys and Erasure) and not.

                    2. Yah, I’m a huge synth-pop fan myself. And anything electronic in general, as long as it’s got a melody. As for the gay, I pay little attention to lyrics (and to “messages” in music in general – and that’s a good thing cuz otherwise I couldn’t still enjoy the likes of Billy Bragg to this day) so it took me a while to realize just how gay Erasure was 🙂

                    3. One wonders what you thought of the gay remake of Don’t Leave Me This Way….

    2. MNG|4.30.10 @ 11:08PM|#
      “So management (planning the work)or client behavior (commissionng the work) plays no part in production?
      Only hammerstrokes by shirtless men counts?”

      Oh, boy! How often do you find *this* level of ignorance!?
      I have a hint; it’s called “capitalism”.
      It’s risking capital to establish a plant and pay those ‘shirtless men’ to produce the good in question in the hopes of finding a buyer.
      Uh, exactly when did you leave school?

      1. What a deconstructionist goof you are without even knowing it! You just made the point you decried as ignorance from me upthread. This is an integral part of “production.” It can be played by government or private actors as we see in the cases of
        Norway and US respectively.

        1. “It can be played by government”

          Haaaahahhahahahahahaha!! Good one! It makes up for all your earlier posts.

          MNG, you’ve been at this site all night just to take a severe beating – I just wonder what prompts a person to do that?

          Is it a pledge activity for your fraternity?

          1. I appreciate that, like the other few times I’ve seen you muster the courage to actually post here, you have no points to make. It’s ok, you can serve as cheering section for those who do. Maybe pull off a pyramid once in a while?

    3. Where does one even begin, when the student is this confused?

      Just continue to use the word ‘ekonomics’ as if you were attempting to mimic sarcasm, and be sure to include a vague reference to ‘behavioral economics’ as if as a short hand refutation for anything you don’t really understand and you’ll do fine as far as satiating your own ego is concerned.

      1. This sort of ignorance is evident more often than it should be, and it is expressed by those who have zero experience in the activity.
        MNG is but a legion of those who draw their pay from some government-funded institution and fantasize that starting and/or running a profitable business is as simple as their (non-accountable) circumstance. And envious of those who produce equally shoddy efforts but get rich *now* instead of rich from the retirement benes.
        Right, MNG? You get paid by the government? And you presume that everyone else is equally able ignore consequences?
        Hell, the government won’t go broke, so MNG has his/her iron rice bowl.

        1. “You get paid by the government”

          Sigh. I forget young Ronnie is a whipersnapper.

          I’ve been reading Reason and posting here for years, I work for a private firm that does demographic analysis. Governments are frequent clients, but I’d say most of them are private actors (some non-prof corps, but I think they count as private). And as to envious of the “productive rich” please get off it. I do quite well imho and feel plenty productive.

          What do you do lil Ron that has you so in touch with the heart of market capitalism, I’m sure we’re dying to know…

          1. MNG|5.1.10 @ 6:34AM|#
            “You get paid by the government”
            Sigh. I forget young Ronnie is a whipersnapper.
            I’ve been reading Reason and posting here for years, I work for a private firm that does demographic analysis. Governments are frequent clients, but I’d say most of them are private actors (some non-prof corps, but I think they count as private).”
            So you get paid by the government? That’s what I thought.
            And, oh, MNG! How……………………
            infantile.
            Using a diminutive simply shows you’re an ignorant asshole without an argument.
            But I’ll guess you have yet to learn that, ignorant asshole.

            1. MNG’s a lawyer or something. He would literally wink out of existence if the government economic policy was minarchist, so he naturally supports expansive government.

        2. MNG’s not working yet – he’s trying to get through college, but his fraternity pledging requires him to troll and severe web-beatings, so it’s been hard to get through teh graduashun rekwirements.

          Go easy on him. Good luck with the pledging, Tony, er, MNG!

      2. Is there an argument in there? [cups hands and peers for a while] Nope? Oh well, moving on…

        1. This is the point in these all too predictable threads that use start flailing those phrases around. Just cutting you off at the knees before you get there, sweet cheeks.

          1. use start flailing

            Jeez, you can take the boy out of his Jersey commute to the NYT, but you can’t take the turnpike out of the boy.

            1. that makes me want to read your book!

    4. From my point of view the essential philosophical difference is the use of violence. Violence is the one and only tool at the disposal of governments to acquire their revenue. In business, where neither party has coercion on their side, revenue must be produced by actually convincing the other party that they should part with their wealth.

      Of course Norway is not a gulag strewn collectivist hell-hole and the USA is not a free market paradise. Human interaction will always be more nuanced than purist philosophical projections. All we can go on is what we feel to be right and what we can see played out in front of us as evidence. MNG sees the evidence of Norway as evidence enough that coercion wielded by central government is the path to paradise as long as the “right people” are the ones with the power. I can see where he would conclude this. I see the immense wealth and innovation produced when people are exchanging with one another voluntarily as evidence enough that the violence wielded by governments is usually at best, unnecessary and at its worst, horribly inhumane.

      1. “Violence is the one and only tool at the disposal of governments to acquire their revenue.”

        Nonsense, there is consent. Ever heard of “consent of the governed?”

        Of course for many reasons (i.e., free rider problems and such) this takes the form of “consent of the majority” and the minority can be compelled to provide for support even when it doesn’t go along. It should remain free to forge a majority, but the majority should not be prevented from providing for the general welfare and defence of the whole because of a few kooky hold outs.

        “MNG sees the evidence of Norway as evidence enough that coercion wielded by central government is the path to paradise as long as the “right people” are the ones with the power.”

        Wrong. I can see interventionist systems working as long as they have certain rule of law and democratic institutions in place. Big difference.

        ” I see the immense wealth and innovation produced when people are exchanging with one another voluntarily as evidence”

        Yeah, but more wealth in Norway with less ‘voluntary exchange’ as you define it is a bit of a problem for you…

        1. Many systems can work. Humans are adaptable creatures. I try not to see the real world through an ideological lens. However I cannot escape the conclusion that coercion is coercion, whether its by the “consent” of the majority or not. The “rule of law” is always going to conflict with “majority rule”. It is true that these things coexist in the world, but I would submit that those places that implement it successfully are pretty xenophobic, culturally homogeneous places. I will take the cacophony of market capitalism over the dull security of democratic socialism any day. If I really thought that the only way people could get along and prosper was to cede more of their decision making to central authority I would lean further that way. I just don’t see that as the correct conclusion. The evidence seems to me to point (overall) in the other direction.

          1. “The “rule of law” is always going to conflict with “majority rule”.”

            Only if you beg the question in your definition of either.

            “However I cannot escape the conclusion that coercion is coercion”

            I respect that. I just don’t think all coercion is wrong, or that it is always the greater of any two given evils.

            1. “I just don’t think all coercion is wrong”

              That’s all we need to know, you can leave now.

              1. Oh get off your high horse, I’m sure you’d be happy to see a trespasser coerced off the owner’s land.

                1. It is the trespasser who is doing the coercion.

                2. As I’ve explained to you before, self defense in the form of “coercing” an initiator of force is not coercion, since the coercer has already lost his right to not be coerced.

                  I guess perfection is achieved through repetition.

        2. Redistribution is not wealth. Voluntary exchange is wealth. Norway does not have more wealth if they have less voluntary exchange.

          1. “Redistribution is not wealth.”

            It moves wealth around just like voluntary transactions do. In theory it could do so in a manner that maximizes human welfare better than voluntary exchange could. Remember: the whole world doesn’t have to start off arguing with you by accepting your axioms.

            “Norway does not have more wealth if they have less voluntary exchange.”

            That’s the paradox for you and your axioms, not mine. According to well accepted measures of wealth and productivity they have more, and given your definition of voluntary exchange, they have less. Your ideology really should bend to the facts, not the other way around…

            1. Hey fuckstick, voluntary transactions do not “move wealth around,” they create wealth. You see, the basis for voluntary exchange is that two people value something differently. Via exchange, they both improve their lots. Assclown.

              1. Involuntary transactions can create wealth too, unless you beg the question.

                A theif can steal five dollars from a person that he was going to foolishly blow on a product he would have been dissatisfied with and the theif can spend it in a fashion which makes several people better off. Coercion isn’t magic, there’s more to it as to whether human welfare is maximized.

                1. The welfare of the victim is lowered.

  28. Know what as long as we’re talking libertopia i nominate Hong Kong.

    Recently, i saw Anthony Bourdain hangin with a chef who was smoking a cigar in his joint.
    And paying a ~15% FLAT income tax.

    Ah, to run an import/export enterprise.

    1. i nominate Hong Kong

      Except for a distinct lack of political freedom and an uncertain future subject to the whims of China’s despots… yah, Hong Kong seems appealing. Plus it’s all high-rise living which is fine with me but not for everyone.

      1. “One China, two systems.”
        Very true that it will depend on the whims of Bejing.
        Still, a good place to bring up when someone blurts out ‘Somalia’.

      2. Lack of political freedom is a problem for libertarianism, but an urban lifestyle due to limited land is simply a response to the market.

    2. The funny thing is all the things that have been attempted to undercut Norway’s success can be turned on Hong Kong.

      It’s small (Christ it’s a city, I mean if we just looked at NYC alone it’s an economic dynamo too). It’s homogenous. It’s gifted naturally (as a port city).

      But you see, I really have no cherished axiom threatened by the success of Hong Kong so I can accept their success just as I do Norways.

      1. Port cities are gifted, and in more ways then just economically.
        I have a preference for big cities as well (hence remaining in Daley’s Chicago for all it’s faults)

        For instance Paducah KY seemed more ‘cosmopolitan’ than Springfield IL having spent some time working in both.

      2. There’s nothing about being a city that necessarily means there will be a high rate of economic growth. It also does not explain how Hong Kong went from being one of the poorest places in the world to one of the wealthiest in a relatively short amount of time.

  29. Good grief MnG … we’re talking the most regressive form of nanny state taxation.
    Give it up.

  30. MNG is my favorite disciple, a real natural. Already understood that absolute materialism is the panacea for all social ills when he showed up for class on the first day. Take a little from this one give it to that one – and viola! – no more social injustice, everybody is happy forever.

    You all know MNG is right, the productivity of Norwegians is unmatchable. Just think of all the products you use from Norway everyday. Just to list a few: …there’s…and ..hmm,…plus,..crap.. anyone eat lutefisk? I know! Kipper Snacks!

    MNG, you there, hey, wake up help me out on this..

    Heh-he, well, you know that MNG a real sexual intellectual he fucking knows-it-all (until there’s a chance to prove it).

    Oookie,..how about I get back to y’all on this one. Bye.

    1. Jeez, I saw that ‘lutefisk’ episode of Bizarre Foods and almost vomited up my Hamburger Helper. But yeah, the only decent Norwegian export lately was Apoptygma Berzerk – although this band did catch my eye during the Wikipedia research I did for this comment.

  31. It’s true that Norway’s per-capita PPP (based on GDP) is about 10% higher than America’s, but factoring in its confiscatory taxation, the typical Norwegian is far less well-off than an American.

    I had a good friend in Trondheim whose dad was the head of all the Norwegian railroads’ maintenance. It was a big, important job, but his house was just an average place. It was all they could afford.

    Everyone made his own hootch with grain alcohol and “essence” of some other liquor, it was so expensive. Ditto the cigarettes.

    The day the oil runs out is the day it all comes crashing down.

    1. I take that back…Norway’s per-capita PPP is slightly less than America’s according to the link below:

      http://www.nationmaster.com/gr…..per-capita

    2. “factoring in its confiscatory taxation, the typical Norwegian is far less well-off than an American.”

      You would have a point if the taxation didn’t go back to Norweigians in any form. Yes, they have to give more to gov, but they also get a lot more back from gov. So, unlike the American your whiskey is heavily taxed, but unlike the American your housing is massively subsidized. This is why most people who visit the nation, like Moynihan, don’t see them as having a worse standard of living than we do.

      1. Housing is not subsidized in Norway, no. Schooling and higher education is free though, as well as healthcare of c.

        Regarding the taxes they are in many ways made so that products that are consumed by tourists are disproportionally higher taxed.

      2. If it’s all going back to them anyway, what’s the point of taking it away from them in the first place? Is the Norwegian state some vast, frictionless machine that somehow gives back every penny it takes in?

        By your feeble reasoning, MNG, the size and scope of the State never matters insofar as all taxes are spent on something. The citizens of Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea will be comforted by this revelation, I’m sure.

        As I said, the day the oil runs out, everything will implode.

        1. “If it’s all going back to them anyway, what’s the point of taking it away from them in the first place?”

          Maybe they put it in more efficient and effective places (in terms of maximizing human welfare, and, as their GDP shows perhaps even in traditional classical economic terms as well).

          ” the day the oil runs out, everything will implode.”

          Again, the US has no natural advantages? The day they run out blah blah blah. Places can have natural resources and still be hell holes (doesn’t Sudan sit on a pile of oil?). A place usually has to have a little something more than just “oil” going for them to have the widely shared prosperity and standard of living as Norway or the US

          1. Sounds like somebody never grasped Hayek’s point about the Knowledge Gap.

            No one person can EVER discern efficiency better than the voluntary actions of millions of people in a free marketplace. Not even really smart people… and really smart people are rarely put in charge of such decisions.

            1. Thank you, my thoughts exactly. While it’s hard to dispute that Norway makes better use of its natural resources and tax plunder, it’s aided by a deeply-ingrained and centuries-old monoculture that is unique to Norway. There’s a broad consensus and very little corruption, something that cannot be said for most nations.

              And yes, the welfare state is heavily supported by the exportation of oil and oil-related services. When the oil runs out, the services industry will remain, but it won’t be enough to sustain Norway’s profligacy.

            2. If really smart people cannot discern efficiency then how could really smart person Hayek discern that it is better met by thousands of voluntary transactions?

              1. Through observation of the market, you dimwit.

                1. you’re going to have to mightily expand on this I’m afraid.

                  1. It’s called comparing outcomes. One outcome of an action can be compared to the outcome of a different action in order to determine which one yields an outcome with the desirable trait.

              2. Also, you are arguing semantics here. Hayek said, that individuals can’t predict what choices will yield better than the market can. He didn’t say we can’t look back to see what was efficient and what wasn’t. God you’re retarded.

                1. “individuals can’t predict what choices will yield better than the market can. He didn’t say we can’t look back to see what was efficient and what wasn’t”

                  ah, post hoc, the friend of all religious views!

                  1. WTF are you talking about? Are you seriously arguing that we can’t use empirical data of past experiences to argue points? DERRRRRRRRRRR.

      3. The more redistribution, the more money is lost on administrative overhead. All bureaucratic personnel and operating costs should be counted as lost productivity, all the time.

        1. No bureaucratic overhead in the private sector!

          1. No MNG, the private sector tolerates far less bureaucracy precisely because it depends on voluntary trade.

            Customers don’t like inefficiency or rude/Kafkaesque treatment. Thus all other things being equal, they will choose to do business with an organization that is less bureaucratic than one that is overly bureaucratized.

            The stae, however, rarely brooks competition, and can operate in a far less customer friendly way than an organization dependent on voluntary trade.

            1. They brook competition every free election.

              1. Oh, for the last fucking time, elections are not the same as market competition. For one, the preferences of the individuals who win are imposed on those who don’t, each person’s vote matters very little to the outcome, so no one has a real incentive to be informed, I could go on and on. MNG fails.

      4. MNG|5.1.10 @ 6:40AM|#
        “factoring in its confiscatory taxation, the typical Norwegian is far less well-off than an American.”
        You would have a point if the taxation didn’t go back to Norweigians in any form.”

        So arithmetic isn’t one of the subjects you studied?
        Pay $20, get $5 back; what does that tell you, MNG?

        1. And you have some proof that they only get back 5 for every 20 paid?

  32. Sounds like my kinda place.

    Lou
    http://www.anon-vpn.se.tc

    1. that’s some mighty fine police work there Lou

      1. Apparently anonymity is highly revered in Norway.

        1. Ya know, sometimes I suspect the anonymity bot might not actually be a “bot”.

          1. It’s not a bot. I read somewhere that these barnacles get paid to crap out endless vaguely-topical comments on various blogs. They skim the topic and post hopefully-sensible replies in order to net more suckers clicking on their links. This one’s often sublimely relevant commentary is a source of comic relief around here. I welcome it.

            1. My God what a horrible job that would be…I guess I don’t have to wish he was in Hell being eaten by Satan anymore, his fate is about as bad…

              1. I suppose it’s largely college-age kids. Which means the job is infinitely preferable to the numerous crap jobs I had when I was that age; cashier, hotel desk clerk, etc. Yeah, I did dishwashing too but it was combined with salad prep so I still had to focus on that. Any job where you get to sit down all day and not get screamed at is better than anything I did in those days.

            2. I think you would have to be very desperate to take a job like that. If that is the case I pitty him ….

              1. I don’t think it would be that bad of a job. Unless they’re getting paid based on the number of click-throughs, or something.

                It beats washing dishes, or telemarketing, or a few others that I can think of.

                1. I have been a dish-washer. I think I would rather be a dish-washer. At least your mind can be active on other topics when you are doing that kind of rote manual labor. Same with being a janitor. With posting spam on comment threads your mind has to be somewhat focused on this, exceedingly boring task. It is not interesting and yet your mind must be focused. Either give me an interesting job or rote manual labor – this is like the worst kind of Purgatory.

      2. But he’s fuckin’ Lou! Either show him some respect, or go batshit insane on him.

        1. Heh. I thought Jess was the more sentient bot.

          1. Yeah, “Lou” is a bit less on-topic. But more fun to shake my head spastically and spray bloody spittle upon.

            1. I know…as you say, their “sublimely relevant commentary” is welcome here.

            2. Rhywun, you make grand mal seizures sound so romantic and functional.

              1. The first rule of Hit & Run is you don’t talk about Hit & Run.

  33. What are taxes but the “profit motive” for government? If profit is bad, then taxes are worse.

    1. Doesn’t sound right to me. Taxes are revenue, profit is what you get after revenue-expenses. In that case it’s been a loooong time since our government “profited” as they’ve outspent their revenue pretty consistently for a while.

      Of course individuals in the government may “profit” while the entity ultimately loses money. This happens in private firms all the time (Enron for example).

      1. And why is it that government has not run a profit, MNG?

        Could it be because members of Team Red and Team Blue, spend it faster than it comes in? Hmm?

        Gosh.

        1. Actually, I think governments have had surpluses in the past. It’s been a while I guess. But this is neither here nor there considering my main point.

      2. The “profit” for government is its raison d’etre: Power.

        1. PIRS, I think you just moved the goal posts to a baseball field.

          Just sayin’

  34. But the profiteers are doing God’s work.

  35. Just a point; It is not all about how much you produce, but also the time you spend producing it
    I work with an Amercian here in Norway and what surprised him here were how efficient people were – at work people actually work and then they go home after 8 hours. He was used to at least a couple of hours of BS time every day – maybe that is why Norway does well on efficiency statistics?

    1. Maybe there’s no monetary reward in sucking up to the boss ten or more hours every day like there can be in the US. But yeah, I have to agree that many of the long hours that Americans work (in the office, which is all I really know) are filled with BS. Dunno what that means for “efficiency” – though I suspect for many it makes a more tolerable workplace.

      1. A lot of those wasted hours are used dealing with government regulations and red tape. I do not know what kind of regulations they have in Norway but it would not surprise me to find out they actually have fewer regulations and less red tape all things considered.

  36. Last year, I (in Virginia) and a chum in Norway bought the same kind of motorcycle – a 2008 Suzuki Hayabusa. Mine cost me $10,500, his cost him $35,000.

    1. Could the VAT tax have to do with part of this?

      1. In Denmark at least, they have ~200% sales tax on cars. They got BURNED in the oil crisis and reacted very strongly to prevent that happening again.

        Some say it is way too high, and it’s hard to disagree. They will probably have to lower it to something reasonable eventually due to their EU membership, I suspect.

        1. Reasonable alcohol taxes though. 🙂

        2. That seems insane, especially when Germany’s right next door. I’d think all the tax would do would be to destroy Danish car dealerships. They must have some equally high fees for importing a car as well.

          1. Makes sense, a similar situation to many states here.
            It doesn’t matter where i buy a car, as long as i pay IL tax on it.
            *shakes head*

          2. Actually quite a lot of foreigners buy cars in Denmark. As there is a 2x multiplier on cost differentials they have to be very competitive. So if you don’t have to pay the local sales taxes then you tend to get a good deal.

            If you buy a car and bring it into DK you have to pay the same taxes. There are some loopholes though for old cars. My old roommate was looking at bringing in a 70’s mercedes from CA/AZ etc.

            1. Speaking of loopholes this is where i might be looking for some ‘flexibility’ in my next car purchase. Cars older than 15 years are no longer bound by the mishmash of EPA, DOT and other goofy regs.
              A station wagon like a BMW M5 or a Mitsu Evo would soooo rock.

              1. I always thought taxes nuked the fridge at 100%, I don’t even know what to say at 200%.

  37. Exercising social control? Sounds like my kind of place!

  38. What should be part of the equation as well is that Norway has the worst food on the planet, and it is probably the most expensive food as well.

    1. Worse than Central Ohio? I did not know that was possible!

      1. Well, what Norway can offer the world in terms of food is very dry sandwiches and sheep’s head. Unfortunately I’m not to familiar with Central Ohian cuisine but is it worse than that?

        1. Here in KY we have the nastiest sounding food item. It’s actually pretty good, but it’s hard to justify eating a “hot brown.”

          1. Is it a kind of brownie?

      2. Hey, hey, hey – we got fried bologna sammiches. And burgers.

        OK, point taken.

        1. Ha ha, “Central Ohioan cuisine.” Good one.

          1. Do they still have the tomato festival in Reynoldsburg? They used to come up with some inovative dishes there that were actually good. The problem was it was only held once a year.

            1. I don’t know, man. That’s a good question. I think I showed up to the Tomato Festival once about 13 years ago but have been oblivious to it since. It seems most of my compatriots couldn’t wait to escape Reynoldsburg, including myself.

              1. Yes, they were trying to escape me.

    2. Man, I don’t know about that. I loved the food my friend’s mom made me. I got addicted to her lapskaus and flatbread. The shrimp and fish were excellent, too.

  39. PS Good Saturday morning to everyone! I’ll take it this is the open weekend link. Off to watch my son’s rugby game. C everyone later.

    1. Hope it’s better than the Blues v Cheetahs game today!

      1. Totally. Fucking. Ruled. The only thing better than plain ole rugby is women’s rugby. My younger daughter plays – they are fucking SERIOUS about it!

        The boys won both games, the first one handily, and an enjoyable time was had by all.

        Wings don’t play till tomorrow – time to start drinking.

        Slainte mhath, Reasonoids!

        1. Eins, zwo, drei – gsuffa! -Hic-!

  40. Rhywun|5.1.10 @ 2:25AM|#

    It’s not a bot. I read somewhere that these barnacles get paid to crap out endless vaguely-topical comments on various blogs. They skim the topic and post hopefully-sensible replies in order to net more suckers clicking on their links. This one’s often sublimely relevant commentary is a source of comic relief around here. I welcome it.
    reply to this

    ……

    MNG|5.1.10 @ 6:43AM|#

    My God what a horrible job that would be…I guess I don’t have to wish he was in Hell being eaten by Satan anymore, his fate is about as bad…

    Am I the only one who found this exchange gut-bustingly funny?

    1. You are not the only one!

    2. P, I am late to the party, but yes, I just peed a little. Out of the mouths of babes……..

    3. I had tears running down my face 😉

      1. Argentina…or other places in South America.

  41. Found it..
    http://hdrstats.undp.org/en/indicators/161.html
    “The index compiled by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) ranks 182 countries based on such criteria as life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.”
    Not looking at either economic, political or personal freedoms much though. Compare it to this slightly different list.
    http://www.heritage.org/index/Ranking.aspx
    Hong Kong #1 – Norway #37

    1. The Heritage list is of limited value because they ONLY look at economic freedom, paying almost no attention to other civil liberties. Low taxes in Singapore, but if you’re a black gay atheist woman who likes to smoke pot, you might not want to live there anyway.

      It is noteworthy, however, that the pre-Obamacare United States already ranked BELOW the “socialist” neighbor of Canada on the economic freedom scale. I’m betting our absurd ag subsidies and massive military spending are major factors in that being the case.

      1. Obviously the lists need to be taken in context of which ‘flavor’ of freedom we’re talking.
        I think with it’s history in the British Empire, Hong Kong would score well in terms of … tolerance.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L….._Hong_Kong
        “The Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance 1991 prohibits discrimination on a variety of grounds, including “other status”. In the case of Leung T. C. William Roy v. Secretary for Justice (2005), this has been interpreted to include sexual orientation. Nevertheless, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance only protects against discrimination by government authorities”
        “Nonetheless, in June 2009, the Hong Kong Government announced that it would recognise cohabitating same-sex couples in its Domestic Violence Ordinance.”

      2. “Low taxes in Singapore, but if you’re a black gay atheist woman who likes to smoke pot, you might not want to live there anyway.”

        But there’s always a job at the NYT with your name on it. *ducks*

        But yeah, this speaks to the fact that there are lots of reasons besides economics that people choose to live somewhere.

  42. LOL, Belarus and Ukraine (teh motherland) are notches BELOW Niger in this comparison.

  43. This is the part that gets every time though; sin taxes and social engineering.
    “The state run liquor store is admirably honest …. declaring on its website a goal of “remov[ing] the private profit motive from sales of wine, spirits and strong beer.” …. creating optimal conditions for exercising social control.”
    *pukes*

    Contrasted with a favorite from Spooner.
    “But it is said, that for one person to entice another into a vice, is a crime.
    This is preposterous. If any particular act is simply a vice, then a man who entices another to commit it, is simply an accomplice. And if he is persuaded or induced to do the act, his act is then his own; and even though the act prove to be harmful to himself, he cannot complain that the persuasion or arguments, to which he yielded his assent, were crimes against himself.”

  44. And if he is persuaded or induced to do the act, his act is then his own

    That’s just crazy talk.

  45. Even though it’s a century and a half old ‘Vices are Not..’ still doesn’t sound dated at all in parts.

    “We see the same principle in the case of prize-fighters. If I but lay one of my fingers upon another man’s person, against his will, no matter how lightly, and no matter how little practical injury is done, the act is a crime. But if two men agree to go out and pound each other’s faces to a jelly, it is no crime, but only a vice”

    “In the first place, the great crimes committed in the world are mostly prompted by avarice and ambition.
    The greatest of all crimes are the wars that are carried on by governments, to plunder, enslave, and destroy mankind.”

    It’s a total ‘clinic’ on so many topics besides slammin teh nanny state.

    1. Oh crap, I was all excited until I saw that isn’t the Spooner I had in mind. Still, great example! I want to subscribe to his newsletter.

      I used to be “against” boxing. I still think it’s stupid – but once one recognizes the crucial distinction he describes, one needn’t waste brain cells agitating over boxing or any other consensual activity anymore.

  46. It’s not a surprise the Scandinavian countries are so good. My sample size is small, but every Scandinavian I’ve met:

    1. Is a fanatically hard worker.
    2. Thinks showy displays of wealth are, at best, tacky and probably outright immoral.
    3. Is honest to the point of annoyance (“No, we are not going back to the store to return the extra nickel.”).

    Almost any economic system with those people will be successful. Consider how well Scandinavians do in America.

    Leaving the people aside, there are other reasons to consider, too:

    1. Scandinavia was basically untouched by both WW1 and WW2. The US was, too, though it did lose many good men. The continental nations were crushed twice over. Truth to tell, I can’t remember the last serious war where the homelands of Scandinavia were ravaged.

    2. Scandinavia has no legacy of slavery or colonialism to deal with inside its borders. The US has both, which created several underclasses locked out economically for centuries. This continues to be a serious drag on the US economy.

    3. Heavy social spending is a relatively new phenomenom in Scandinavia. The US, too. Scandinavian countries followed Adam Smith’s advice of peace, easy taxes, and free trade for 150 years or so. I don’t have any data, but if we figure in slavery, Jim Crow, and female subjugation, the Scandinavian countries have probably been more liberal over the past 200 years than the US, right-wing corporate tool propoganda aside.

    4. Scandinavia has basically no crime. The tiny Somalian minority in Sweden commits more crime than the rest of the four nations put together. That means less spending on security guards, police, prisons, etc. The US spends an assload on security, and it’s a massive drag on the economy.

    I don’t begrudge Scandinavia’s success one bit. Personally, I think they could be even better without the welfare state and ridiculous tax burdens, but I would love to emulate their social harmony, low crime, and peace. Bully for them.

    1. I live in Minnesota, a state populated by many Scandanavian ex-pats and their offspring, and it is definitely true that extremely cold winters tend to keep the riff-raff out.

      1. Good friends in lower middle nowhere WI …. a he’s norwegian, she’s swedish a few generations in.
        They don’t lock their doors much.

        1. It’s like Friedman’s reply to the Swede who boasted how little poverty there was in Sweden, “That’s funny, because we have very little poverty among Swedes in America.”

      2. Well, except Al Franken.

    2. 1. Scandinavia was basically untouched by both WW1 and WW2.

      True for Sweden; definitely not true for Norway or Denmark. Finland is technically not Scandinavian, but it too suffered during that period.

    3. Jersey Patriot|5.1.10 @ 12:30PM|#
      “1. Scandinavia was basically untouched by both WW1 and WW2. The US was, too, though it did lose many good men. The continental nations were crushed twice over. Truth to tell, I can’t remember the last serious war where the homelands of Scandinavia were ravaged.”

      Bull
      ………….
      Shit!
      I presume you’re a public school grad?
      In WWII, Norway was invaded and occupied by Germany (does the name Quisling ring a bell?); Denmark was occupied, while Finland changed sides more often than Italy, but managed *not* to get demolished in spite of the government’s the efforts to do otherwise.
      Sweden, OTOH, managed to avoid occupation, and was one of the few countries to have profited *greatly* from WWII, selling the Nazis high grade iron ore and ball bearings long after they promised the allies they wouldn’t. And probably to this day financing their socialism as a result; they seem to be quite cautious about revealing the numbers…
      So, got any more “insights” you’d like to offer?

    4. It’s the culture, it’s the size, it’s the homogeneity, it’s the foriegn policy of the present, it’s the foriegn policy of the past, it’s the natural resources, it’t, it’s, it’s….

      It’s all DESPITE TEH SLAVERY I tell’s ya! It’s just gotta be one of these things!

      Yes, I admit that implicit in this is the idea that economic policy might not be such a determinative factor as we let on in US policy debates…

  47. Regarding the taxes they are in many ways made so that products that are consumed by tourists are disproportionally higher taxed.

    Now THERE’S a surprise.

  48. A liberal friend of mine wrings his hands that he is not being taxed enough. “California’s problem is that it’s taxes are too low!” he says, and “I will gladly pay more in taxes”.

    Yet he does not voluntarily contribute more on his 1040 or 540. There is a box to check for that, yet he does not do it. Hypocrite.

    1. If their debt was covered by the current taxes, they would only find more manifest purposes to waste the public monies on, and explode the debt even further. In fact, that is exactly what they did in the 00’s. The only thing keeping your liberal friends (why?) from reaching a state of pure wish fulfillment through a commune with Leviathan is the resource limitations represented in that very debt.

    2. Another reason why you should have more respect for Irwin Schiff than people like your liberal friend.

  49. Obama, today:

    It troubles me when I hear people say that all of government is inherently bad . . . For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us.

    I’m not sure what positive effects self regard has for the bottom line of a democratic republic, but don’t worry, old chap, you have enough narcissism and self love in you to cover for any deficiency the rest of us may have in that area given our propensity to self criticism and an atavistic need for improvement.

    1. Apparently us is big fans of Goldman Sachs. *snort*

    2. We have met the enemy, and he is us??

  50. I was just googling FEMA to see what steps the Ferderal Emergency Management Agency was taking to address the multi-state disaster unfolding on the gulf coast.

    I found
    FEMA Yet to Be Deployed to Gulf Region as Oil Washes Ashore, Florida Declares Emergency

    The Coast Guard is in action, the Louisiana National Guard has been mobilized. The Pentagon has sent Air Force planes to the region to dump chemicals on the oil. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson is on site, along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano;

    Even Attorney General Eric Holder has dispatched a team of lawyers to New Orleans to coordinate with a U.S. attorney to protect the “people who work and reside near the Gulf, the wildlife, the environment and the American taxpayers,” Holder said in a statement.

    But despite the fact that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency for the Florida panhandle on Friday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not yet taken a lead role in managing a situation that some say could do more damage than the famous Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989.

    You’re doing a heckuva job, Billy.

    1. Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job!

  51. Crow Eating Dumbass seems to have a lot of extra whiny pussy motherfucker in him lately.

  52. For when our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it conveniently ignores the fact in our democracy, government is us.

    Of course, as may easily be demonstrated by strolling into your Senator’s inner office.

    1. Some people confuse democracy as an end in of itself, when it is actually a means to an end (freedom). Representation hardly means that “the government is us.” People have often been freer under some forms of despotism than they have been under certain democracies. Of course, democracy will protect freedom better in the long run, but even democracy has its limits. Simply saying, “we live in a democracy, it’s okay,” hardly makes everything better.

    2. Some people confuse democracy as an end in of itself, when it is actually a means to an end (freedom). Representation hardly means that “the government is us.” People have often been freer under some forms of despotism than they have been under certain democracies. Of course, democracy will protect freedom better in the long run, but even democracy has its limits. Simply saying, “we live in a democracy, it’s okay,” hardly makes everything better.

  53. http://www.nationmaster.com/gr…..per-capita

    Norway has more oil output per capita than saudi arabia. I don’t think anybody is arguing that Norway is hell. We are simply arguing that their policies aren’t great, and their massive natural resource wealth more than makes up for a lot of what they do wrong. Plus we are talking about a nation with a population half the size of New York City. If New York, New York were its own country, it would have a per capita income of 94,000 dollars.

    http://www.city-data.com/forum…..s-per.html

    Also, according to wikipedia, the PPP GDP per capita of Norway is only 53,000 dollars per year vs almost 48,000 dollars for the US. Norway has only 5 million people. The US has 300 million people, and a much more diverse population, with less natural resource output per capita. Do you want to fudge statistics some more MNG?

  54. I also take issue with your (MNG) argument that “according to libertarians, Norway should be a smoking hole in the ground.” That was never our argument. The real question should be, if bigger government led to more wealth, why does a country with such a big government have a level of wealth that is barely different from that of the US, which has a much smaller government in comparison? The truth is that the government just redistributes wealth, and it can’t create it. A welfare state may not destroy wealth in every case, but it sure doesn’t create wealth, even in the best cases.

  55. “though it should also be pointed out that oil-free Sweden also tops the UN rankings.”

    Sweden’s PPP adjusted per capita income is only 36.5 thousand dollars (wikipedia). If they are raising their median standard of living, it must be primarily due to wealth redistribution. Plus, according to the world bank, Sweden has more natural resource wealth per capita than the US, even if it doesn’t have a ton of oil.

  56. Man, I really want MNG to argue with me!

    1. ARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARFARF

      -humps coffee table-

  57. MNG — per capita GDP figures released by the government are not a particularly good way of measuring the ability of a populace to generate things people actually want.

    First, that “per capita” — Norway has lower birth rates than the U.S., 1.85 kids per women versus 2.05 for the U.S. Not surprisingly, infants aren’t generally very productive, and tend to depress per capita figures.

    Second, government spending building bridges to nowhere counts the same in the statistics as Apple building cool new toys. Digging holes and then filling them back up does not increase prosperity, however much it might pump up GDP.

    Two people can engage in the same activity, but only one would be counted as producing GDP. A Norwegian couple both working to afford the insane taxes hire a nanny to watch their one kid, and enroll their kid in government indoctrination camps / schools — GDP counted for childcare and teacher salaries. An American couple where the wife stays at home and home schools their three kids — no GDP for arguably better childcare and teaching services. Norwegian couple with a much higher GDP per capita, American couple with lower GDP per capita, but much higher standard of living.

    And let’s not forget how, say, legalizing prostitution or dope pumps up official government GDP figures.

    1. MNG — per capita GDP figures released by the government are not a particularly good way of measuring the ability of a populace to generate things people actually want.

      That has only been pointed out to him before a few hundred times. I don’t know why anyone would bother, at this point. His ego is huge because you people created a monster. Even after all of this time, he is more of a novicebater than a masturbater.

      1. “he is more of a novicebater than a masturbater”

        Nice! I’ll have to remember that one. Next time the topic of ‘batin’ turns up here. Three, two, one….

        1. I think of him more as an apprenticebater.

      2. If a commonly used and cited measure doesn’t support libertarian axioms, the problem must be with the measure, not the axioms!

        1. MNG|5.2.10 @ 10:26AM|#

          If a commonly used and cited measure doesn’t support libertarian axioms, the problem must be with the measure, not the axioms!

          Illustrative of my point, take note people. You will always start out on the first rung of the ladder if you are foolish enough to debate with MNG. He doesn’t learn, he doesn’t retain, he doesn’t listen.

          I spent more than a year sorting out his fallacies for him, instructing him, without even a hint of an insult, in the fundamental problems with his point of view. Did he show even a wit of comprehension in posts after that? No. None at all.

          He will always start at the bottom rung of the ladder. It doesn’t matter how badly you beat him down, or how well you treat him because you may well recall how badly you erred in the fundamentals of economic sense when you were a sophomore and were not paying enough attention. You saw the world then almost exactly as MNG does now.

          You are thinking, all you need to do to help him see the light is to engage in debate and help him find where he erred. It doesn’t work that way. You have tried doing it that way for years now, and you should know, he doesn’t learn, he doesn’t retain, he doesn’t listen. Unless you are a masochist, you should stop wasting your time.

          He is going to goad you into making that same mistake of engaging him in debate by decrying that you are not providing a substantial response. Of course, this ignores the hundred other times that you provided a substantial corrective to his fundamental errors. So what are you doing? Starting back on square one for some one who doesn’t learn, doesn’t retain, and doesn’t listen.

          If you feel so compelled to engage the fallacies he regurgitates daily, separate the fallacies out from the individual who makes them and address them. Troll feeding does no one the slightest bit of good.

        2. No, but if the commonly used measure has problems with it that have been cited before (and not always by libertarians), and which might be relevant to the question at hand, the problem might be with the measure. But go ahead, MNG, tilt at that windmill.

    2. Uh, MNG is incapable of discerning economic supply from economic demand, such that MNG bleeves *buying* a hamburger is the same as *producing* that hamburger.
      You’re welcome to give it a go, but if you can find a pig and some wings, I can tell you producing swine-flight will be an easier task.

    3. Look, let’s say I accept your critiques of GDP per capita.

      Do you deny that Norweigians live in relative prosperity? Maybe not as much as GDP measures indicate, but pretty well nonetheless?

      And yet they are like the Libertopian Anti-Christ. What does that say about what you want us to take as axioms and such?

      In other words, I don’t have so much riding on GDP per se. It’s the more bare fact that Norway has anti-Libertarian policies and is, well, a very nice place to live.

      1. Norwegians, and many other Europeans, pursue “relative prosperity” at the expense of, among many other things, a somewhat reduced opportunity to get as stinking rich as a top American earner, and of the loss of certain individual freedoms such as the ability to affordably pursue various vices, which, while increasingly frowned upon in both Europe and America, still remain personal choices, and therefore none of the state’s goddamn business, until and unless the total imposition of socialism makes it imperative.

        I cherish the comparatively greater individual freedom I enjoy here in the US, and the slightly higher–if still improbable!–likelihood of getting stinking rich. Norwegians as a whole may choose differently, as is their right. But as America seems determined to imitate European trends, it’s important to see where they’re going, recognize it as an indication of our likely future, and fight that nonsense before it takes root here.

  58. PIRS|5.1.10 @ 8:27AM|#

    Amendum – I forgot to mention that part of the paradox is that Fracnce has a lower heart-attack rate than the United States.

    Jersey Patriot|5.1.10 @ 12:01PM|#

    There is no paradox. The link between fat consumption and heart disease is very weak.

    Also the “France has a lower heart-attack rate than the United States” myth was busted twenty or so years ago.

    Turns out that records of things like cause of death were notably imprecise in France due to the fact that French doctors had extremely wide leeway about listing the cause of death on death certificates and tended to list deaths due to heart disease as “les causes naturelles”.

    The gap is closing and it has nothing to do with les Pierres et les Jacques having more coronary thrombosis than before. It has to do with French medical examiners catching up with American ones with respect to keeping accurate medical statistics.

    1. Maybe the French “unemployment” stats will one day be, well, ‘better’ than they are…..

  59. Scandinavia was basically untouched by both WW1 and WW2.

    I’d hardly say that Denmark and Norway were “basically untouched” by WWII.

    1. They didn’t have every city destroyed, did they?

      1. Warty,
        See above 9:25PM.
        There *weren’t* many cities to be destroyed in Scandinavia, but that doesn’t matter.
        Sweden is still probably using the income; Denmark did OK, and Norway’s now got oil.
        And they all have tiny, homogeneous populations. Not ‘tribal’, but not what we’d consider ‘national’.
        In the ‘phrase of the day’, diverse, they ain’t. Comparisons to the US are worthless.

        1. Sweden is still probably using the income;…

          Yes, it’s interesting that Switzerland has gotten such a bad rap for its WWII neutrality and trade with Germany when Sweden probably sold far more and had a population that was generally pro-German. Though, in all fairness only a few were blatantly pro-Nazi.

          Switzerland actually did supply the allies with jewels for aircraft and other instrumentation by flying them out through Portugal. But the allies were completely cut off from any of Sweden’s industrial output.

          Still and all, it’s kind of hard to condemn either country for their neutrality. And it was mostly touch and go being surrounded completely by Axis or Axis occupied territory. The Germans could have invaded any time, though they would certainly have paid a high price for Switzerland (though likely not that high for Sweden).

        2. In the ‘phrase of the day’, diverse, they ain’t. Comparisons to the US are worthless.

          Yes, whenever anyone raves about Sweden’s welfare system, I point out that they only have 9 million people, almost all of them are Swedes and they’re all Lutherans. How hard can it be?

          And yet the system has been showing the strain for some years now.

          And the same thing holds substantially the same for both Norway and Denmark.

        3. so diversity, not economic policy, is the key. Thanks lil’ Ronnie!

          1. does this make sense.

            MNG|5.2.10 @ 10:30AM|#

            so diversity, not economic policy, is the key. Thanks lil’ Ronnie!

            Different behavior creates different outcomes? It is almost as if you were quoting The Wealth of Nations. But not quite because it is you after all, stumbling and fumbling your way through like an unaware moron.

            1. Note to editors,
              it’s hypocritical, but
              sorry, I couldn’t resist.

              I mean, look at that argument he makes.
              It’s right there, like a vertical and horizontal line up in Bejewelled that just needs one switch to be in sync.

              Gawd, do you pay him to do that? Is that what keeps us coming back?

    2. If Norway was ‘basically untouched,’ then ‘untouched’ is a highly relative term. The postwar government had the collaborationist leader Vidkun Quisling executed: ‘The charges were based on his coup d’?tat in April 1940, his revocation of the mobilization order, his encouragement of Norwegians to serve in the Norwegian SS division, his assistance in the deportation of Jews, his responsibility for the execution of Norwegian patriots and a number of other charges.’ Not to mention the fact that ‘[t]oday in Norway and other parts of the world, “Quisling” is a synonym for “Traitor”.’

      1. PS – Quisling isn’t really dead, he is just pining for the fjords.

        1. “I want to return this fascist dictator”
          “What’s wrong with him”
          “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with him: he’s dead”
          “No, he’s resting. That’s a Norweigan dictator. He’s pining for the fjords. Lovely plumage.”

  60. creating optimal conditions for exercising social control

    I uhh… yeah. Only on the European continent does that statement ring positive.

    1. It does sound familiar, yes?

      1. I was a George Orwell!

        Er, reverse that.

  61. Are you familiar with the term; “Parmenides Fallacy”, MNG?

    You engage in it repeatedly.

    The fallacy is one which compares one future outcome to the present, rather than to another possible future.

    When you have societies building on the technological advancement of previous generations, and with massive increases in prosperity due to those advancements – of COURSE every society gets better over time.

    That means that future prosperity is almost always going to be higher than current prosperity. So saying that Norway is better off than it was in 1960 doesn’t tell us much of anything about quality economic policies.

    So you’re missing the point and yes, creating a strawman by not understanding the arguments being made here.

    Compared to an alternative where the government wasn’t acting as a massive anchor on the Norwegian economy, Norway’s current economy can be said to be not as good as that alternative based on a sound understanding of economics.

    You are arguing that Norway is the best of all possible outcomes, which a basic understanding of economics suggests absolutely isn’t the case. In fact, if you were to look at some other economy with the level of taxation and government controls which doesn’t have the wealth of natural resources mitigating the negative effects of such policies, you’d find a pretty abysmal set of conditions.

    The point is, no decent economist is saying that *no* prosperity is possible under the conditions described above, but that the prosperity seen by Norway is much much less than would otherwise exist under different conditions.

    1. This seems similar to the staple Keynesian argument of, “It would have been worse in reverse if we did nothing.” that’s trotted out by everyone from Krugman to Rich because it’s virtually impossible to prove incorrect. I remember this line of thought as being pervasive in political science and public administration academic programs. It’s hard to justify your existence as a political figure of anykind if the do nothing option is ever as good or better than the do something option.

      1. Nice blog btw, will be reading it more often.

        Holy crap the first sentence made no sense due to editing.

        *This seems similar to the staple Keynesian argument of, “It would have been worse if we did nothing.” that’s trotted out by everyone from Krugman to Rich because it’s virtually impossible to prove incorrect.

      2. The Keynesian argument is flawed for other reasons entirely, but at least they’re comparing the future of “doing nothing” with the future of “doing something”. Unfortunately, they invariably want the future where what’s done is criminally stupid and counter productive.

        It is somewhat non-falsifiable either way, except… That’s what logic and historical analysis is for. MNG could legitimately try to say that Norway is better off today than it would have been with Laissez-Faire policies – at least he would be arguing Norway today vs. Norway today with alternate policies, instead of Norway today vs. Norway 50 years ago – but history, math and logic would suggest that he’d be making an idiotic argument anyway.

  62. Sean W. Malone-

    Bravo! Your post and your blog. Just read the Parmenides and economic modelling posts.

  63. Sean Malone,
    Most epic win post ever. You are now my hero.

  64. In China, booze and cigs are incredibly cheap, and there’s no sales tax on anything. Of course, there’s that annoying Communist party….

  65. Dear tobacco addicts, may I suggest you go for the real snuff, the sort you inhale? Get your fix and don’t annoy the rest of us!

  66. If it were only the smokes and the booze! In fact, it’s every damned thing.

  67. If it were only the smokes and the booze!

    In fact, it’s every damned thing.

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