President Donald Trump says we should be importing more immigrants from Norway, rather than spots like Haiti or Africa and other places he diplomatically called "shithole countries" (allegedly). The obvious question, besides "Oh, God, is he really going to be in the White House three more years?" is, "What makes Norway such a non-shithole country?"
Pretty much all we knew about Norway was that it has fjords, it gave medieval Europe a nasty shock with Vikings and its famed Norwegian blue parrots make lousy pets, partly because they don't exist.
So we called Norway's honorary consul in Dallas (there is one), Edward Fjordbak, to find out what there is to love about Norway. Short answer: everything, except maybe long winter nights.
"Norway doesn't send us many immigrants, and there's a good reason for that," Fjordbak says.
There certainly is. Fjordbak didn't say it, but we will: Why would Norwegians want to immigrate to a place that is, relatively speaking, kind of a shithole?
For instance, Norway ranked No. 1 in the World Happiness Report 2017, up from fourth place in 2016. The U.S., meanwhile, dropped in the rankings, from 13th most happy to 14th. (Haiti was 145th, down nine places. El Salvador was 45th, up one notch from 2016.) Norway's healthy life expectancy in 2016 was 70.78 years, versus 70.13 in the U.S. Norway also outpaced the U.S. in the report's indexes for per capita GDP, freedom, low business and government corruption, and social support.
Granted, Norway's population is only 5.3 million, but it's probably safe to assume that its decent-people-to-assholes ratio beats the U.S., too. At least we haven't heard Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg refer to any other countries as shitholes.
Dallas' Norwegian population is likewise small, Fjordbak says, but there are about 7,000 people in Houston who have Norwegian passports, thanks in large part to Norway's standing as a European powerhouse in gas and oil production.
"There aren't any Norwegians coming over here for asylum," Fjordbak says, but they do come for educational and business opportunities, including production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, manufactured by Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth in partnership with nine European countries that, like Norway, build parts for the mother of all boondoggles.
Fjordbak says Norwegians are a famously frugal people, so we supposed they come to DFW to try to find out where all the money for the F-35 went. The $100 million-plus aircraft has been described as a "virtual flying turkey" and "the most expensive defense program in world history."
In fact, Fjordbak says Norway would like to get a bigger piece of manufacturing for the F-35 as the country transitions to a high-tech economy in preparation for the day when oil and gas run out. U.S. trade with Norway supports about 500,000 U.S. jobs, Fjordbak says, so the country's leaders believe the U.S. should open more trading opportunities between the nations.
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On the downside, Norway has some issues with cancer, partly because Norwegians smoke more than Americans and partly because they use those long arctic summer days to spend time outside in the sun. They ski and hike a lot, too, so they tend to be less obese than Americans.
More on the plus side: Frugal Norwegians are careful to invest the government's gas and oil revenues in a self-sustaining sovereign wealth fund, which allows them to provide free education and health care, among generous social services. They also tend to be fluent in English and speak it with better grammar than most Americans.
It's a pinko paradise, in other words, which left us with one last question: Would Norway be amenable to a citizen-swap program, maybe sending a svelte, frugal aircraft engineer over here to keep an eye on the money in exchange for a ... just spit-balling here ... cigarette-smoking editor familiar with good grammar who could stand to lose a few pounds on a salmon diet?
Just a thought.