On the Edge: Enthusiastic about the Enthusiasm

Siv Jensen. Photo: Stortinget

Siv Jensen. Photo: Stortinget

“On the Edge” is the new opinion column in the Norwegian American Weekly offers opinions written by invited contributors to make some comments on the current issues that define modern Norway.

I recently had a week-long visit to the U.S., and when I sat on the plane back home to Oslo, I asked myself one question: What is the one thing you’ll remember most from the trip?

Well, I visited the Lockheed Martin facilities in Forth Worth, Texas and I learned a lot. But the one thing I’ll remember most from my recent visit is the political enthusiasm. During the presidential election campaign in 2008, we witnessed the tremendous power of political enthusiasm. In 2010, we are witnessing a new wave of political enthusiasm— especially the enthusiasm brought forward by the so-called Tea Party Movement.

I see such movements as valuable for a society, and during my trip I had talks with lots of people from this movement. I was invited to speak at a tribute dinner to Ronald Reagan  in Washington, D.C. In my view, Ronald Reagan was a leader who brought back enthusiasm to politics. He was a man of the people and a leader who stood up for the interests of the common man, for their right to live their lives without politicians on your back all the time. Not only me, but many other Norwegians were inspired by Reagan and still do today. As Reagan continues to inspire me, so does the political enthusiasm in the U.S.

For me, limited government is about respect. Respect for the decisions made by the people. Therefore, I want to transfer political and economic power from the government to the people. When I’m in the U.S., many people come up to me and tell me that the United States is now moving fast towards socialism. To be honest, I think you’ve got some miles to go.

However, in Norway we’ve taken many steps in the wrong direction over the years. I’ve noticed that some say that the U.S. should learn from the so-called Nordic Model in health care. If that is the case, then you should also learn about the cracks in the model. Lack of money is not the main problem in Norway, and neither is lack of medical expertise. The problem is that the government is allergic to private-run hospitals. The situation in Norway is that the health sector is almost a government monopoly. And monopolies are not only bad for the economy, they’re also bad for people’s health. The result is that more than 250,000 people are waiting in lines for different medical operations, because the government won’t use the available capacity in private hospitals.

To me, the best way to organize society while preserving the rights of the individuals is to grant the freedom of choice to decide who shall provide the welfare services they can benefit from. Future welfare depends on innovation and the desire to work in order to generate wealth for the individual and the society as a whole. With more than 600,000 people of working age outside the labor market and a population of less than 5 million people, something has gone wrong. Many of these people do want to work, but the rigid system won’t let them do their share. It’s more convenient for the socialists to keep them out.

Once Ronald Reagan compared the government to a car and the people to the driver of the car. The people decide where to go, at what speed and when to put on the brakes. In Norway, it’s now about time to put on the brakes. The good news is that we’re preparing to put on the brakes after the next election. The Norwegian people have started to be enthusiastic about that now. They’ve had enough. They’re fired up and ready to go, as your current president would have said. Norway’s future does lie in less government, not more.

Siv Jensen is the Leader of the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) and also the parliamentary leader for the Progress Party`s group in the Storting (The Norwegian Parliament). The classical liberal (libertarian-conservative) Progress Party is the second largest party in Norway and the leading opposition party. Ms. Jensen has been elected member of the Storting since 1997, representing the district of Oslo. Ms. Jensen is member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense and member of the Enlarged Foreign Affairs Committee.

Please bear in mind that opinions expressed in “On The Edge” are not necessarily those of the Norwegian American Weekly, and our publication of these views are not an endorsement of them.

This article was originally published in the Sept 16, 2010 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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