The Scarecrows

The Norwegian national team in football has a long history of honourable losses, but the country had a golden generation in the 1990’s, which resulted in the team qualifying for the World Cup in 1994 and 1998, as well as the European Championship in 2000. Some of the players have had a certain success as a manager.

One of them is Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a substitute in Manchester United during the 1990’s and presently a manager for a Norwegian club. He said in an interview last week that he chose the community. He has become a socalled ambassador for the national lottery in Norway, and his statement was a criticism of some of his former teamplayers on the national team. They have accepted the same position in foreign betting companies, such as Betsson, and the assumption is that the Norwegian state-owned company is a lot more responsible.

The lottery company has 7 different lottery games, 69 online casino-games, 26 types of scratchcards, 5 online bingogames, and you can also gamble on sport results every day. The official position is that the lottery company helps fight addcition to gambling. I’m afraid I fail to see the logic. The governemt also likes to point out that they give a lot of money back to the community. They gave 4,4 billion NOK to social causes, disability organizations and cultural activities for children last year. This is very positive, isn’t it? It’s equally positive when a former professional football player says he chooses the community, isn’t it?

This is certainly in line with the official position, but it is also a problematic attitude. The lottery company is one of the most aggressive in the Norwergian advertising market. I don’t know how much they spend on marketing, but there’s no doubt that they spend a significant amount of resources on convincing us to gamble. One of the programs they fund is something called “the cultural backpack”. These are different events performed by professional artists for students in 1st to 13th grade. Gambling undoubtedly fund a lot of services we need, but it sounds wrong to me when the government encourages gambling.

There are two versions of the story about us Norwegians. There is a very positive one where we are environmentally aware, we are peacemakers and mediators in international conflicts, we are tolerant and don’t really have any negative qualities. At least we don’t have any character flaws that are serious enough to mention. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that we are just like everyone else, and a closer look reveals quite a bit of greed. I don’t know if the government through its oil fund has enough power to influence world economics, probably not, but I think they want financial instability. That’s when they have the chance of really making a lot of money.

We are living in a society where most like the idea of community. We accept enormous taxes on gasoline, road tax,  tolls on everything we buy, income tax, alcohol tax, and tobacco tax. We may not like any of these fees, but we accept them because we get quite a lot back. Just to give you a couple of examples, my step-father had heart surgery twice a few years ago. Another relative is going through costly cancer treatment at the moment. This would never have happened if we had to pay. These fees clearly give us a higher standard of living no matter what our income is. It may well be that our politicians are world champions in giving back to the people and the milieu they live in, but we should ask ourselves whether we have a reason to pride ourselves on the excellent job we think we have done. Are we better people because we have chosen the state lottery instead of foreign online gambling. I don’t think so. I would like to support the community without hiding behind more fees or a socially responsible government business.

I don’t think most people worry about where the money comes from as long as it is deposited into the right bank account. I have conflicting emotions about my recent criticms of the Norwegian oil fund, and the lottery company in this post, because I benefit as a Norwegian from the job these dishonest public traders are doing. I still think they should stay away from the more dubious companies. The Penion Fund’s biggest investments at the moment are Nestle, Novartis, Alphabet, Microsoft and Roche Holding. I have a few things to say about these investments, but I’m saving that for another post.

These are the companies that finance our community. In case you didn’t get the reference, scarecrows may look like people, but they don’t have a brain, or a heart. They are not real people.

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