In the 1990s, Norway realised that its windfall from the discovery and exploitation of North Sea Oil would eventually come to an end. Where the UK had used this new revenue to fund massive Thatcherite tax cuts, Norway realised that it had to protect this money for future generations. With audacious foresight, the country began investing all of the oil revenue into assets abroad.
The sovereign wealth fund is now worth over a trillion dollars.
It owns 1.3% of every listed company in the world, and is ethically managed, sometimes even voting against large companies such as Apple on corporate governance issues.
It is worth $192,000 per person in Norway.
And the Government allows itself to use 4% of the fund in its own budget.
The fund is growing so big that this number might need to be revised downwards.
No doubt there are valid counter-arguments to this approach, and that the way the UK did it was sensible too, but I can’t help feeling it’s another way we pissed everything up the wall (see also Right To Buy).
It’s been a bad year, for so many people, for so many reasons. It might be cathartic to list all the bags that have been filled with shite, and use creative swear words to vent some pent up impotent rage, but that would make this blog about eight days long, and we’d still only scratch the surface.
That said, I have figured out one simple thing we can all do in 2018 that will stop things getting worse and worse every day.
It’s officially Festivus. I have my pole up, and we’ve set aside an area for the feats of strength later. But it doesn’t truly begin until we do The Airing Of Grievances.
So, let’s start.
You, I don’t like the way you sniff too much, and the way your fat face goes wonky when you smile. And your eyes are too small. What’s more, your blinkered belief that you can structure a sentence, and string out a plot is nothing but self-delusion. And why you insist on trying to write a blog every day is beyond me. You’re a giant lump of congealed snot of the bumface of humanity.
We all know that The Force is divisive (and not just among idiot fandoms), what with the Dark and Light sides and all that. But, like all religions, it must have experienced its fair share of schisms leading to differing, and competing factions.
Proceeding with the assumption that the following may contain spoilers for any number of Star Wars type things you have not yet experienced or enjoyed (though probably not), let’s examine some possible fracture points.
Perhaps the biggest one is based around Master Yoda’s teachings. Some argue he said “Do, or do not.” While others contend he said “Do, or do your nut.” I think it’s obvious Kylo Ren believes the latter.
What’s nice is that in this day and age, it’s easy enough to reach out and make a connection with like minded folk. Now that light-sabres have Galactic Positioning Systems, you can Force Chat with anyone, and if you like them, you can swipe right with your laser sword.
But there are some who believe that Jedi really can return from the afterlife, while others think this impossible. This lead to the great East/West Schism, and it’s why some Jedi wear big hats now, and some only wear robes.
No one disagrees that droids are sentient, and that they can clearly feel pain, nor that they are a slave class that the Rebellion is cruelly overlooking, but there are raging arguments over whether the Force should be used to build stone walls or not.
Also, there’s never really been an answer to the age old question, “why does The Force let bad things happen?”
And if you eat a chocolate Jedi, there’s a raging debate about whether that’s literally a Jedi, or just figuratively. No-one doubts that it should be blue milk in the chalice though.
The Force Choke is another bone of contention, though no-one knows why.
Plus there’s some debate as to what the Force actually is, though most agree that it’s something that binds us. That’s why there’s a small cabal of Jedi on Gantoo who believe the Force is a boiled egg.
Elsewhere, the followers of Jax Keiko take regular inventory, and are therefore banned from warehouses across the Galaxy.
Too many politicians invoke the Force to justify there own selfish agendas, while a wing of the Republican Senate has been hijacked by a sect of The Force known as Arrested Developmentalists, who believe that Life Ends At Eight, and that anything that happens in the Galaxy that they disagree with means that they have to travel back in time and murder themselves. There aren’t too many of them left now.
The man was waffling on about deficit reduction, and gross domestic product, but everyone was tuned in waiting to hear one thing, and one thing only.
“When will he get to the tax cuts?” someone in the room asked.
Everyone just shuffled uneasily. No-one liked to admit this was the only thing they were interested in, and so the question remained unanswered.
It was another ten minutes until he turned his page, and cleared his throat, before getting to it.
“Now, I know a few of you have been waiting for my announcement about the tax cuts,” he said with a shit-eating grin that prompted some knowing laughter in the chamber.
When the TV cameras cut to a wide shot, it was plain to everyone that all of the members on the Government benches were a good three foot taller than those sitting on the opposition ones.
A few people in the room darted quick glances at the higher ups, the minority of the group, gathered at the back, peering easily over the heads of their subordinates. No-one really knew when their society had adopted the height-based ‘meritocracy’, because it was so ingrained in their minds. Tall people were just better, it was agreed. Even when it wasn’t.
The six foot tall man on the TV continued.
“Anyone under five foot four should report immediately to their cut centres, and pay,” the pause he left for dramatic effects was appreciated by no-one. “A further three centimetres.”
Groans drifted around the room, and a few mumbles could be heard. Only the people at the back were smiling.
“Anyone over five foot eight, will not be taxed.”
A cheer went up around the chamber, and was echoed from the back of the room.
“It’s only fair,” said one of them, to the agreement of the others. “Short people can’t contribute to society the way tall people do. And it’s only another three centimetres.”
No-one commented that the short were getting shorter.