Sunday, 27 January 2008

State supported newspapers

Since the 1970's the Swedish state has supported newspspapers in the skids with lavish yearly cash support. What originated as a means of keeping mismanaged and more or less bancrupt local socialdemocratic papers alive, has evolved to a major source of income for two non-socialistic newspapers: The conservative Svenska Dagbladet and the centrist Skånska Dagbladet. Both papers are entitled, and accept, so called "press support" of a yearly 65 and 40 million SEK donation from the government.
In the case of Svenska Dagbladet, a vociferous critic of Big Government and a supporter of free trade and enterprise, the situation is well beyond Hypocrisy. The fact that the paper is owned by the Norwegian very able and very copetitive Shipstedt-group does not make the matter less delicate.
Luckily, the European Union has at long last discovered this blatant form of market manipulation and is demanding changes.
These days anyone can get a website or a blog to express his or her wiews without support from the State.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Uniting by Proxy

President GW Bush former speechwrier Mike Gerson writes in Neewsweek:

"... there is, perhaps, one large American political figure who could cause depressed, fractious Republicans to bind their wounds, downplay their divisions, renew their purpose, and join hands in blissful unity at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Republican convention.
And that figure is Hillary Clinton."

Using the deeply feared C-word as a possible means for uniting and mending the party is in indeed a telling measure of how deep the crisis goes in the G.O.P.

Meanwhile, our readers have already decided on the outcome of the presidential election in today's web question:

Clinton: 57.4 %
Obama: 29.2
Huckabee: 1.2
Edwards: 1.2
McCain 4.1
Romney: 1.5
Giuliani: 5.0

Either people in southeast Skåne are shrewd Rpublican tacticians. Or more probably, they follow Swedish Mainstream media, where the Republican party most of the time lies under the radar.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Reality Check in Ystad

Ystads City Council is in full swing.
Right now the town's 47 elders are currently involved in a discussion wether quality of the hot food distributed to some 70 senior citizens could be improved. Before that a citizen's proposal suggesting that the town cut down a bush in one of the outlying villages was up to discussion.
Well, that's democracy, after all.

Pic: Kolleague Ulf Mårtensson busy taking notes.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Hot Air in Mid Term

Hardly half way through its 4 year term, the swedish right-liberal government is in deep trouble. At least in the opinion polls. As of this monday, Demoskop gave the ruling four parties a mere 38.6 percent and the opposition a staggering near 20 percentage point lead at 57.6. Not bad for a social democratic party that only 14 months ago was thoroughly trounced at the ballot boxes.

Therefore, todays debate in Parliament was little more than close to predictably boring. The social democrat's Mona Sahlin lambasted the administration for stealing from the poor and throwing tax reform at the rich. Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (conservative) in his turn asked her for some tangible proof of proactive or constructive opposition policy.

In other words, things were as they should, and nothing more exiting than that will transpire in Swedish domestic policy before the election season starts sometimes after New Year 2010.

Until then, we political junkies will have to make do on the thin fare of petty scandal and infighting this government has made us expect.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

High Voltage Hypocrisy

Riksdagen, the Swedish Parliament, continues to march out of step with it's constituency. In the Old Days, it was the Temperance movement that traditionally was the most over-represented of all lobby groups when a vast majority of the MPs were Teetotallers, far more than in the population in general.
Today anti nuclear sentiments are chronically overrepresented. A recent poll verifies again that Swedish MP:s are more negative than the common Swede, something that pollster and professor Sören Holmberg at the University of Gothenburg has been able to show through more than two decades now.
Energy policy and energy politics in this country have been gridlocked ever since the misfortunate referendum in 1980. It's inconclusive result (you could either vote no, yes or maybe, to nuclear power, yours truly voted yes, of course)have ever since held swedish political system ransom to their own dated standpoints, hastily made a quarter of a century ago.
Meanwhile in reality, power demand have soared, not diminished. "Deregulation" (of demand, not sypply) and "CO2-tax" (for virtually emission free nuclear and hydroelectric power!) have quadrupled electricity prices. At the same time the ten remaining reactors (two are shut down) are trimmed to produce much more energy than they were designed for, resulting in a wave of incidents and reports of criminal sloppiness the last couple of years.
So, after 30 years of trying to rid us of nuclear energy, it still produces close to 50 percent om the nations needs. Hydroelectric power supplies the other half – with the exception of a measly 3-4 pct of politically correct and vastly more expensive "renewable" sources.
In spite of all this, Parliament still sounds like if people would only dim their lights and powercompanies only would invest in one or two more windmill parks out at sea and in the wilderness up north, things would be just fine. Like drinking so many glasses of ginger ale while people are getting sloshed on moonshine, to complete the analogy of sobriety above.
The solution? Well, six out of four Swedes are for more nuclear energy. There are still four great rivers up north (no-one lives there anyway) to explore for hydroelectric power. Either won't add a single molecule of CO2 to the atmosphere . . .

Monday, 14 January 2008

I'm back, finally!

It took six months, but I have finally succeeded to recover my lost password for this blog. (ah, well, to be honest - I first went on vacation, then digressed another month and THEN discovered I had forgotten the pw)

Anyway, hopefully I'll get up the steam to make a few entries a week also in this forum. At least htat'll be a bit easier between feb 1 and 13, when I plan to visit California to cover the primaries for my newspaper.