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Covid in the North: Main Points from Norway's Covid Commission (pt. 3)
Insane levels of trust in government show a rather immature population, easily explained and admitted by the commission by successful corporatism, or fascism
Like yesterday’s post, this is a follow-up on the Norwegian government’s Corona Committee. In the first part of this (apparently) four-part mini-series, we looked at the abysmal way legacy media reported about one of the items, ICU capacity (and omitted all the other aspects). In the second part, we looked at ‘those other items’ the committee found, which includes the admission that obedience and compliance were high enough to render more intrusive measures unnecessary.
In today’s third posting, we shall look specifically at the Corona Committee’s ‘several general recommendations’ (p. 13), which are summarised in Chapter 12, perhaps augmented by sectoral findings in Chapters 4-11; the basis for this post the official report, submitted to the government on 26 April 2022, which you can find here.
Why should you care? The Nordic countries are a tad more transparent about what they will do, hence I propose to you that looking at their examples makes sense to understand what’s in store for all of us elsewhere. Or, as the report’s authors hold (p. 13):
In our opinion, the measures we recommend will make the authorities better able to meet future national and cross-sectoral crises.
Chapter 12 (pp. 443-46; my emphases)
At first, Ch. 12 reproduces the findings summarised in yesterday’s post, and only then did the authors move on to the following highlights. Entitled ‘Norway—a well-equipped society, but with vulnerabilities’, the subsequent lessons are (?) learned:
All such reports being relative, the Corona Committee emphasises—it’s their first mention—that ‘the population has a high level of trust in the authorities’, noting that Norwegians ‘stand out in the international context’ (p. 444). This has resulted in the following observation:
We believe that this high level of trust has contributed to the population supporting infection control measures and mainly following them, irrespective if they have been given in the form of orders or advice. The high level of trust has further contributed to high levels of vaccination uptake by the population. The level of conflict surrounding pandemic management has always been low in Norway, even when the crisis became protracted and the many measures eroded the population’s stamina. (p. 445)
How well did this play out? According to the self-laudatory findings of the committee:
About 2/3 of the population have generally answered that they trust authorities to implement necessary infection control measures, and an equal proportion have said that they trust the information they have received from the health authorities. (ibid.)
So, if I’m in marketing and sales, I’d think that ‘the product roll-out’ was wildly successful, ain’t it? Even a long-standing crisis, such as the ‘Covid Scare’, didn’t upset Norwegians far enough to warrant changing this particular playbook anytime soon (or ever).
This ‘success’ is explained by the much-lauded ‘Nordic Model’, whose key features are ‘elevated economic interventions, public welfare policies, and a well-organised work-life’ (pp. 445). Obviously, being a filthy-rich oil emirate is also helpful, as it allowed (local) governments to open the spigots and offset some, if not most, of the economic hardships deriving from the mandates.
Traditional state-corporate cooperation, and co-optation—euphemistically called ‘three-party cooperation’ (Trepartssamarbeidet) between ‘state authorities, employers, and employees’—is highlighted specifically (ibid.). In my book, this is called ‘corporatism’ or ‘fascism’, and while the Nordic model is definitely ‘nicer’ than many other iterations, it’s fundamentally the same thing:
Norway’s strong tradition of three-party cooperation, where state authorities and the two parties in working life—employees and employers—meet regularly and co-operate to resolve societal challenges, has also been a strength during the pandemic. The three-party cooperation provided an arena for dealing with the pandemic in a collaborative way, where different interests were heard. Throughout the pandemic, the relationship between the employer and the employee side has been characterised by cooperation, and both sides have provided input to the state infection control measures and compensation schemes.
Apart from this feature, I had a veritable bruahahaha moment when I read the next item on their particular bucket list: globally, Norway’s ‘highly educated population provides good conditions for understanding important information’. I find this almost comically un-ironic, in particular in light of the bastardisation, if not outright destruction, of independent though through state-run institutions of, well higher education.
The population in Norway is highly educated…large parts of the population have completed nine or ten years of schooling, and very many also have vocational education or higher [tertiary] education. The population has thus mainly been able to stay informed about the development of the pandemic and to understand the infection control measures and mandates, as well as their reasons, even in situations where there has been great uncertainty and partly conflicting information about them (ibid.).
Moving on to ‘digital infrastructure’, the report maintains the following:
Value creation has been maintained by, among other things, employees working from home. Teachers at all levels have taught from the kitchen table, which has been crucial for the education of children, young people and students [ahem]. Public administration, including important aspects of crisis management, also moved to private homes. This was only possible because most Norwegian households have broadband coverage and access to PCs, tablets and mobile phones, and because most have good competence in using such aids. Without this infrastructure, it would not have been possible to implement some of the infection control measures. Only a few years earlier, this would have looked completely different (ibid.).
Next up, healthcare services (included for your edification, for it’s basically not saying anything other than ‘we’re great’):
Healthcare services have played an essential central role in the pandemic. Norway has well-developed health and care services. When comparing health systems across countries, Norway scores high on quality. Good health and care services were a clear strength in the face of the pandemic.
The public sector is relatively large in Norway, and employees in this sector generally have a high level of competence. In a long-running national crisis, where the situation has changed continuously, this has helped to maintain the quality of pandemic management. (ibid.)
Seriously, wasn’t the poor quality and lack of preparedness what legacy media criticised? Perhaps they read a different report (they didn’t).
Finally, two more rather random issues pop up:
On the significance of geography, we learn that (p. 446)
Norway is located on the northern edges of Europe, and the population lives relatively scattered. The OECD has described this as a contributing factor to the spread of the infection more slowly here than in many other countries.
While, at the same page, we also learn that low population density is something that curtails the spread of respiratory viruses (doh). Entitled ‘spacious living conditions made the measures easier to implement’, one may learn the following:
For the management of the pandemic, it has been a strength that most people in Norway live relatively spaciously, and that the digital infrastructure is good. This has reduced the negative consequences of the imposed home office and home school. In addition, effective infection control measures such as isolation and quarantine in one’s own home have been less burdensome for most Norwegians than for the population in many other countries. These features have probably become more important the longer the crisis has dragged on (ibid.).
Haha, that’s a really good one. Judging from my own experience, yeah, it was ‘nicer’ to self-isolate at-home after returning from abroad, but no-one cared. Sure, I got some passive-aggressive texts and some people even called about it (twice), but no-one checked and/or cared. Once out of the door, I never wore face diapers or any other ‘marker’.
What was ‘effective’ was the government’s propaganda shitshow, and because Norwegians are a really obedient lot, as the report held above, it wasn’t necessary to implement harsher mandates.
Bottom line: either the media read a different report, this self-delusional account is quite something. Please join me tomorrow for a brief tour through the ‘lessons learned’ and ‘future challenges’ sections.