Mag
Opinion
One Nation, One Party, One Bank Account?

One Nation, One Party, One Bank Account?

Published October 12, 2009

A year after the economic collapse and one can’t help notice that nothing has really changed. The oligarchs, though officially bankrupt, still control Iceland’s industries. Of the two daily papers, one is run by the main architect of the collapse, former PM and Central Bank Manager Davið Oddsson, and the other is still owned by Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, one of the most indebted men in Iceland’s history.
Free speech has been all but suspended, while no one has assumed responsibility for any of the decisions made here in the past twenty years. Even the Icesave issue remains unresolved. Which brings us to the question, are Iceland’s politicians merely incompetent, or could it be that they don’t actually want the current problems solved? It seems the latter might actually be the case.  
In a recent issue of Time Magazine, columnist Joe Klein calls the US debate about Health Care a national embarrassment. Icelanders are no strangers to national embarrassment, but let’s let Klein finish. He writes “Obama should be heartened by the fact that most of his Republican adversaries oppose the bill for crass political rather than ideological reasons.”
He then goes on to explain this, saying that the Republicans are terrified that the healthcare bill will pass, not because they are afraid that the results will be a failure, but because they are afraid that it will be a success. If Obama manages to reform health care, end America’s hopeless wars and rescue the economy, in other words, pull the US out of the quagmire the Republicans have mired it in, the Democrats will be in an unassailable position for the foreseeable future. Therefore, the Republicans seem to have decided to put their own party’s’ political interests ahead of the good of the nation.
They would rather do harm to their adversaries than take part in doing good for their people. No wonder bipartisanship has proven impossible on this or any other major issue.
The Good, the Bad
and the Icesave
Which brings us to Iceland. A year after the October collapse, the Independence Party has proven to be as irresponsible in opposition as it was in government. They spent all of summer squabbling about Icesave while the nation’s households sank deeper into debt. Even after they had made their amendments, they still refused to support the bill, instead electing to remain idle as the bill was passed.
No doubt they hope to accrue political advantage from this. If the bill proves a relative success, they will claim credit for their amendments. If it proves a failure, they will claim to never have supported it to begin with. This argument, of course, can easily be stood on its head. There are no good solutions to Icesave, only various degrees of bad. If worst comes to worst, it will be because the Independence Party left the country in a hopeless position. If the problem can be solved, it only proves that the current government is that much better than the last.
Party or People?
The Progressive Party is little better, if slightly less obvious. On the same day that the current government made their first real proposals, a lowering of the debt of Icelandic families by up to 40%, it was the Progressive Party that captured the headlines by announcing an imaginary loan from Norway.
The Icesave fiasco is something that was created by the previous government. Not wanting to see the country’s problems solved, problems that were created by itself, is therefore a case of the Independence Party offending the people twice. But they don’t stop there. The party still controls the city of Reykjavík, and from there are busy continuing their futile policies, currently by selling off the energy supplies and trying to tear down old houses in the city centre.
From a party-political perspective, this makes sense. Eighteen years of the Independence Party rule led to national bankruptcy. If the Red-Green Alliance manages to solve the major problems, it will be the end of the Independence Party’s dominance in Icelandic politics. It is therefore understandable that it chooses to put its own interests ahead of those of its country. It is also very unfortunate.



Mag
Opinion
An Ornamental Resignation

An Ornamental Resignation

by

Today, (now former) Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir resigned from her post, one year and one day after her ministry leaked a memo to select members of the press containing falsehoods and misinformation about Nigerian asylum seeker Tony Omos. As one of the first people to call for her resignation, you’d think I’d be doing a little victory dance on my desk right now over this. After all, this resignation comes just days after her former assistant, Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, was found guilty of breach of confidentiality for his part in the whole thing and a slew of

Mag
Opinion
Regarding Julien Blanc

Regarding Julien Blanc

by

I do not think we should prevent him from coming here. Barring people from coming here is stupid. Why make a martyr out of him? Scumbags like him are always the first ones to celebrate censorship and deportation. Because fuckwits like him like to pretend they are the true champions of freedom of speech, and use that rhetoric ad nauseam to justify the diarrhoea that flows from their throats so freely. If we deny him entry, he’ll brag about it on Twitter and probably get loads of retweets from a sad army of braindead, semen-reeking, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing humanoids. He’ll be a

Mag
Opinion
All Highly Unlikely

All Highly Unlikely

by

The freedom fighter Last things first: Styrmir Gunnarsson, former editor of Morgunblaðið, has published his memoirs from the Cold War. As reported, these disclose, among other things, that during most of the 1960s, Styrmir provided the Independence Party’s Chair and Minister of the Interior with information about the interal affairs of two socialist groups, retrieved at weekly meetings with an undercover informant. Styrmir’s first years as a journalist at Morgunblaðið overlapped with this activity. In interviews, the former editor keeps insisting that there was nothing wrong with all that, so far without facing anyone who might claim that yes, there

Mag
Opinion
Old Men, Addicted To Power

Old Men, Addicted To Power

by

I’m sitting in a cab waiting for Karin. She is the youngest member of the travel party, and it is our first time travelling together. We are en route to the airport, headed to Toronto. Young Karin is being invited, along with the rest of us, on a mission to showcase Icelandic culture across North-America. The big picture is that by doing these concerts, more tourists will eventually make their way to Iceland, and spend more money. This is essentially a win-win situation for all involved. It’s nice, being a musician in Iceland. Our society supports its musicians, which in

Mag
Opinion
Debt-Relief Bullshit

Debt-Relief Bullshit

by

Today, I am furious. Utterly furious. Everyone that supported the government’s so-called “debt relief” plan, and then made money from said “debt relief” plan, I want to tell you this: Today, you stole money from other people, including myself. If you dislike being called a thief, keep in mind: theft by any other name is still theft. That said, I want to offer my support to everyone who fought against this madness, but still applied for a debt relief. I’d much rather you receive tax dollars allocated out of the meagre salary my wife and I make, than the government’s

Mag
Opinion
Being The Other

Being The Other

by

I won’t soon forget the day I was finally awarded Icelandic citizenship. Having moved to Iceland eight years previous, I fulfilled all the necessary requirements for a non-Schengen immigrant – I had been living continuously in Iceland for at least the past seven years, I had not even so much as a speeding ticket on my criminal record, and I had received no social assistance in the past three years before applying. However, I soon realized that this was about as far as I was going to go towards integration. Citizenship is the immigration ceiling. You are, in the legal

Show Me More!