Published July 15, 2011
Actually, let’s not. Love is great, everyone should have it in their lives all the time and if it is currently lacking from your life then your life is lacking and you should do something about it. Like some buzzband at Airwaves (were they Swedish?) once proclaimed in their very name: ‘LOVE IS ALL,’ and that’s all there is to say about the subject (funnily enough, another Airwaves band, The Rapture (man, that goddamn band was awesome… what happened to those guys?) had a song bearing that same title. Int’l buzzbands that want to play Airwaves take notice!).
ANYWAY. Love is great. It’s good we can all agree on that (if you do disagree, however, do write us a letter. A letter from a love-hater sounds like it could make an interesting read). But enough about love. Let’s talk about other stuff.
I’m not gonna lie to you. I am extremely proud to be publishing our current feature. The story was written and researched by our journalist Anna Andersen over a period of almost six months (!) and is an attempt to give a somewhat comprehensive overview of how Reykjavík Energy—a company that subscribes to monthly payments from a majority of Icelanders—was run into the ground by a poisonous mixture of party politics, ludicrous bubble scheming and plain carelessness.
It is a long story, and a sad one. It acts as a disturbingly accurate microcosm of how Icelanders managed to run their national economy into the ground over the course of a decade; the whats, hows, whos, whys and whens are all present and accounted for. The saga of Reykjavík Energy has damn near every factor: reckless spending, aimless political meddling, crony capitalism, insanely grandiose ideas, scheming banksters and an unmatched capability for self-delusion.
(One point that bears further investigating is that whole REI-affair, from the layman’s perspective, it very much looks like some of Iceland’s favourite banksters, most notably Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, Bjarni Ármansson and Hannes Smárason along with their puppet-corporations FL Group and Glitnir, very nearly appropriated a large chunk of Reykjavík Energy (i.e. taxpayer assets) with the co-operation of politicians and insiders. It is interesting to ponder what had happened had they not been stopped? Would they have treated it like the aforementioned FL Group and other companies that they had a hand in pulverising? Would they have sold off all the assets and mortgaged the rest while sucking the capital out to be stored somewhere in the Caribbean in-between bouts of partying with 50 Cent? Who knows!)
If you are interested in learning how Iceland went from ‘THE GLORIOUSLY QUAINT ELFIN HOME OF UNSPOILED NATURE, SIGUR RÓS, BJÖRK AND THE GOLDEN CIRCLE’ to ‘WALL STREET ON THE TUNDRA,’ then you need to read this. It’s good.
Who is responsible, then? Our research reveals that a lot of people are (a good rule of thumb for spotting someone that’s partially responsible for RE’s poor standing—he or she claims someone else is entirely responsible for RE’s poor standing: “It was doing great when I left!”).
A cynical person might claim that the public body that repeatedly voted these people and their policies to power is ultimately responsible for the poor state of Reykjavík Energy, as well as for the poor state of Iceland’s economy, media environment, legal framework, moral standing and bureaucratic system (etc., etc.).
Now, everyone knows that us, your friends at The Grapevine, are anything but cynical. So even though placing responsibility at the hands of voters—voters that maybe should have known better and perhaps could do well by vigilantly observing what the politicians (and politicians’ friends) they are voting to power at any given time are getting up to—would seem reasonable enough to the cynic’s jaded self, we won’t. But it would be cool if folks paid attention. Nothing wrong with noting that.
Anyway, kudos to Anna Andersen for her excellent work, and good riddance to y’all that had a hand in milking our once standing energy provider ‘til it bled (and good luck to those that are trying to rebuild). None of you have been formally brought to justice at the time of writing, and as things are going it seems unlikely that any of you ever will. But as a firm believer in Karmic balance, a harmonious universe and the noble message of faltered ‘90s pop heroes New Radicals, I can say with some confidence: “You get what you give.”
So watch your backs.