"Two states in EU ease sales of songs over Internet"

Look at the heading above (blogged by Joi). "Two states in EU"... For me, it is a historical heading. It is the first time I see a blog heading (together with a news heading from IHT I read before) reporting a trivial affair concerning different EU states as a partial EU matter. Even though the context is something that is not regulated by EU in today's legislation.

In the world, Swedes are Swedes, but Swedes are defined by non-Swedes. I believe that the same reasoning works regarding the EU.

I believe that the world will come to look upon Europe (EU) in the same way we look upon the US today. As a Swede, I used to wonder about the logic why people were allowed to get driver's licences at different ages in different US states. I also thought is was kind of weird that Colorado pretty much allowed citizens to shoot burglars to death (a law that reminds us that important legislation still is controlled by states in the US).

Is this idea of Europe as a "larger whole" good? I think so. I think that an increased "togetherness" will help Europe to evolve into a happier and stronger continent. If two states decide different rules for their citizens, there will naturally be quarrels. If the rules are the same, there will be harmony.

Google Talk

Google Talk was launched a few hours ago. It seems like everything Google touches becomes gold. I wonder if they will succeed with something as "old" as IM/VOIP?


55.000 stupid ways to spend a billion USD

I am like most people. Sometimes I get upset with decisions that Swedish politicians make. Sometimes I get a little upset, and sometimes I get very angry. Now I am getting very, very upset, and feel how my heart starts pounding harder.

Our Minister of Finance Per Nuder just revealed that the government has come up with a brilliant new way of creating new jobs. The government is setting up a two-year plan where 8 bn SEK will be spent on creating 55.000 new jobs in the public service sector (elderly care et cetera).

The obvious problem is that the government will spend roughly 120.000 SEK per new job and month. And we are talking about jobs that give the employee not much more than 12.000 in their pocket (10 percent). Per Nuder's comment to this is that "You can not look at it like that. The costs vary between the different parts [in the program]."

Ok, so you can not look at it like that? Even though the program has been communicated as a way to create new jobs? Doh.

PLEASE! HELP ME! I don't know what to do. I would really, really like to slap Per Nuder's hands. It feels like he is a thief sticking his hands down my cookie jar. Why do YOU have to spend the money? If you want to help the elderly, lower the taxes on those services. Or maybe even raise the lowest pensions. If you want more jobs, lower the costs to hire people (and especially for small and mid-sized companies).

My message to Per Nuder and Göran Persson:

Please, let us decide what to do with our lives. Just because you happen to find a billion dollars in the budget that materialized due to a stronger-than-expected economy, it doesn't mean YOU have to spend it. Where does this spending-other-people's-money-obsession of yours come from? Trust the people to make their own decisions, for a change.

Sometimes it is good to interfere. When it comes to creating new jobs for the future, we might need some redistribution of wealth. But we also need a government that does not decide in detail how that redistributed wealth is spent.


"The Asian Age Coming"

"The Asian Age Coming" - that is one of today's posts from Sweden's former PM (and my former board colleague) Carl Bildt. It surely is. One of the most emotional discussions during last week's Frejas konferens (a Swedish world-and-Sweden-problem-solving conference I attended) concerned China's extraordinary economical growth. We were lucky to have the Swedish ambassador in Beijing with us at the conference.

The BusinessWeek graphics Carl is blogging about is interesting. I have a problem digesting two things in it, though: EU is supposedly going to continue downhill for the next fifty years, in comparison with the US. And India will pick up and basically catch up with China during the same time.

My gut feeling tells me that India will have a harder time than China. China has an industry far more superior than India's industry today, and China's mega-boom has been created partly from the fact that there was a need for a player like China in the global economy (low labor cost, low-productivity, large scale exports). India's scenario includes a China that still have a lot of labor that are very poor, but that increasingly gains economy of scale. (One should remember that the graph is produced by Keystone India, though...)

And when it comes to Europe's future, I sincerely believe that the new ten member states in EU25 will make Europe a more competitive player than the US. Long-term, that is.

I and Maja thought about the possibility to hiring a Chinese nanny for Max. Wouldn't it be great for him to become fluent in Mandarin?


Your Majesties

"Your Majesties, My ladies and gentlemen..." That was the beginning of the captatin's announcement on my flight to Kalmar today. Apparently the Swedish king and queen had decided to go back to their Swedish summer retreat on Öland since the weather is supposed to be nice this weekend.

It was kind of impossible to get to the front of the cabin during the flight. I don't think anyone even dared to try, since a team of slightly less than ten bodyguards/people with earpieces were travelling just behind them.

Our Majesties and all the guards got off the plane first, of course. When the whole plane with nearly a hundred people got out, we walked up to the airport building (Kalmar airport is very small, and doesn't have any gates). The king and queen sat alone in their car and waited for the bodyguards to get ready in their cars, but only ten meters from the walkway.

There was not one single person of the rest of us that didn't turn their heads and look at our royalties. They looked rather trapped in the car, not happy, and I can't say I envy them.

PS. I flew back with the same plane twenty minutes later, and one son richer. He had had a wonderful time with his grandma while I and Maja went up north. Will update my Flickr soon.


Frejas konferens

Har precis kommit tillbaka från datorn efter två dagars världs- och Sverigeproblemslösande på Frejas konferens. Årets tema var "Sverige i världen och världen i Sverige". Mycket intressant att få lyssna på många klocka människors idéer kring demokrati och främlingsfientlighet i Sverige, idag.

I mina ögon var det slående hur skillnaderna i åsikter i stor gick hand i hand med åldersskillnader. Det äldre gardet hade större tilltro och respekt för etablerade institutioner och metoder, medan den yngre generationen sökte efter andra lösningar.

Som vanligt på sådana här konferenser så var kanske det allra mest givande att få träffa nya intressanta ansikten. Ser fram emot att få träffa många av er framöver!


The Office

After a friend's recommendation (and astonishment) I decided I had to start watching The Office. I had heard and read about the series, of course, but never gotten around to watch it.

Worth mentioning is also that I haven't watched a single episode of any TV series, or any single movie, for two years. I haven't watched them transmitted over a terrestrial, cable or satellite network, that is. Instead, I have watched several downloaded or disc-based series and movies. This includes basically all Star trek episodes of all Star Trek series ever made (still haven't seen all from TOS), all four seasons of 24, Desperate Housewives, three seasons of Alias... You get the picture.

So, now I finally got around to watching The Office, and it is... brilliant. I haven't ever watched a TV series that really makes me feel truly uncomfortable all the time. I am so ashamed on David Brent's behalf that I sometimes have to pause and take a break while watching.

The series is really focused on people's prestige and communication skills. It takes the most annoying and embarrassing habits people can have (which in my experience usually happen to be most visible during junior high or high school), and refine it to the extreme.

I just watched the first episode from season 2, and it was positively positively horrible. It took me over an hour to watch the 30-minute episode, during which David Brent manages to make the perhaps worst introduction speech ever (while drunk), and then try to repair the damages by making (racist) jokes that no one appreciates.

I heard that Hollywood supposedly is making its own version for the US. Why? Why? Why?


Back from vacation (and gaming)

I've returned from what seems like the longest and most wonderful vacation ever. Lots of consecutive weeks stranded on the island Öland have really done good. I managed to play through Star Wars KotOR and half way through one of the most debated games right now: GTA San Andreas.

Both games are wonderful.

The Economist's special report this week is on video gaming. As (almost) always, they manage to cover the topic really well. They compare today's aversions toward computer games with Socrates' objections to written texts (since they always give unvarying answers!), et cetera.

The perhaps funniest "interpretation" of the report comes from Johan Norberg: