Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Herring vs. hamburger

Fascinating interview with Swedish economist Andreas Bergh who discusses whether it is true that Sweden’s socialism was the cause for its growth, whether the “socialist-democratic heaven” has perfect health care system, and, most importantly (for Americans), whether Swedish socialism (whether or not it was beneficial) can even be attempted to be implemented in America.

What do I mean? Well, some people say that just because socialism failed in Russia doesn’t mean socialism is a bad idea. Everything fails in Russia (except things run by Jews, like chess). Russian society was not fit for socialism to be successful. Well, the last bit might be true about American society. In the video above, Mr. Bergh explains that Swedish public sector is more efficient than its counterparts in other countries. Its decisions and involvement still lead to economic problems, but at least it didn’t produce so much waste of heat due to friction. Americans do not have such a public sector and will probably never have it. American society cannot support it. It does not have the cohesiveness, organization and good spirit of the northern Europeans necessary for it.

So, his last point at the end of the interview is: by increasing taxes in Sweden, you get more of Swedish public service. It may not be as good as private service, and its decisions may affect the economy in a bad way, but at least it's efficient, polite and benevolent. If you increase taxes in the US, you get more of American public service: more irritated ladies at the DMV yelling at you to fill out the blue version of form RAX69415.B68 and then go back to the end of the line. Or, rather, more of these ladies in more areas of your life.

Interesting excerpt from a paper called Libido for Ugliness by H.L. Mencken. It deplores general American lack of taste in the architecture. I wonder if there is some correlation with inability to produce civil, friendly and efficient bureacracy and nice architecture. The Soviets also suffered from it. I think it’s correlated with the love of CAPS.
I award this championship only after laborious research and incessant prayer. I have seen, I believe, all of the most unlovely towns of the world; they are all to be found in the United States. I have seen the mill towns of decomposing New England and the desert towns of Utah, Arizona and Texas. I am familiar with the back streets of Newark, Brooklyn and Chicago, and have made scientific explorations to Camden, N.J. and Newport News, Va. Safe in a Pullman, I have whirled through the gloomy, God-forsaken villages of Iowa and Kansas, and the malarious tide-water hamlets of Georgia. I have been to Bridgeport, Conn., and to Los Angeles. But nowhere on this earth, at home or abroad, have I seen anything to compare to the villages that huddle along the line of the Pennsylvania from the Pittsburgh yards to Greensburg. They are incomparable in color, and they are incomparable in design. It is as if some titanic and aberrant genius, uncompromisingly inimical to man, had devoted all the ingenuity of Hell to the making of them. They show grotesqueries of ugliness that, in retrospect, become almost diabolical. One cannot imagine mere human beings concocting such dreadful things, and one can scarcely imagine human beings bearing life in them. 
Are they so frightful because the valley is full of foreigners — dull, insensate brutes, with no love of beauty in them? Then why didn’t these foreigners set up similar abominations in the countries that they came from? You will, in fact, find nothing of the sort in Europe save perhaps in the more putrid parts of England. There is scarcely an ugly village on the whole Continent. The peasants, however poor, somehow manage to make themselves graceful and charming habitations, even in Spain. But in the American village and small town the pull is always toward ugliness, and in that Westmoreland valley it has been yielded to with an eagerness bordering upon passion. It is incredible that mere ignorance should have achieved such masterpieces of horror. 
On certain levels of the American race, indeed, there seems to be a positive libido for the ugly, as on other and less Christian levels there is a libido for the beautiful. It is impossible to put down the wallpaper that defaces the average American home of the lower middle class to mere inadvertence, or to the obscene humor of the manufacturers. Such ghastly designs, it must be obvious, give a genuine delight to a certain type of mind. They meet, in some unfathomable way, its obscure and unintelligible demands. They caress it as "The Palms" caresses it, or the art of the movie, or jazz. The taste for them is as enigmatical and yet as common as the taste for dogmatic theology and the poetry of Edgar A. Guest. 
Thus I suspect (though confessedly without knowing) that the vast majority of the honest folk of Westmoreland county, and especially the 100% Americans among them, actually admire the houses they live in, and are proud of them. For the same money they could get vastly better ones, but they prefer what they have got. Certainly there was no pressure upon the Veterans of Foreign Wars to choose the dreadful edifice that bears their banner, for there are plenty of vacant buildings along the track-side, and some of them are appreciably better. They might, indeed, have built a better one their own. But they chose that clapboarded horror with their eyes open, and having chosen it, they let it mellow into its present shocking depravity. They like it as it is: beside it, the Parthenon would no doubt offend them. In precisely the same way the authors of the rattrap stadium that I have mentioned made a deliberate choice. After painfully designing and erecting it, they made it perfect in their own sight by putting a completely impossible pent-house, painted a staring yellow, on top of it. The effect is that of a fat woman with a black eye. It is that of a Presbyterian grinning. But they like it.
Now, considering that language is one of the most important things to make a society cohesive, I wonder how socialism is working out in Denmark:

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