From Iceland — Sour Grapes and Stuff We Like

Sour Grapes and Stuff We Like

Published March 6, 2009

Sour Grapes and Stuff We Like

After reading your second editorial I felt like sharing a thought or two about the current situation in our countries.  So I considered coming to live in Iceland. See, the view that many of us down there have about Northern European countries is that they are… better. Their governments work properly (hold on, I’ll come back to that), the bureaucracy is not narrow-minded and idiotic, people are respectful and highly civilised, infrastructures are impeccable, equality is achieved by all, rights are respected and fought for, etc. Wonderland. I speak as an un-informed person, I am sure. I recognise I am pretty naive and for a second I thought Iceland was a sort of fairie-filled Sigur Ros-singing country were all is well and fine. No, okay, I am not that naïve. One thing gives me hope though. I quote from your article: “Folks were losing their jobs, losing their homes, rushing to the streets in protest. And for our noble Alþingi’s first day in session after their month long Christmas vacation, their chose topic of discussion was… the availability of alcohol beverages in grocery stores?” I can’t help but notice how familiar this is. Our PM is has rushed a judiciary reform so he could save his arse and the ones of his own buddies from guaranteed jail sentences. He has been accused to have paid some guy to lie in court for one of his trials but they can’t arrest him because the law he just pushed in the Constitution won’t let them prosecute the four highest political authorities of the Republic. Oh, and a law on biological testament. And, uhm, a law encouraging doctor to report immigrants without visas. Anything being done about the crisis. No. Well.. a ‘Social Card’. It was some sort of a debit card, topped up with 40 euros every month (mindblowing!) to give disadvantaged people. Needless to say, the bureaucracy behind was impossible to follow. The point is that I feel you Icelanders stilll have hope. By hope I mean this: You do truly expect your Government to do something about the crisis. You do genuinely get horrfied when availability of alcoholic beverages in groceries is being taken care of instead of something else. And you do believe in protesting, because why shouldn’t you if it led your administrators to pack their bags and leave? In Italy we wouldn’t have that. I don’t expect them to do anything. Wanting and expecting could have never been more apart. Of course I want them to fix it, but I simply know they won’t. And after screwing things up, I know nobody will pay, while you get reasonably angry because they don’t. They do everything else but discuss the crisis, and I am not at all surprised. Of course there are protests, but I know they will stay just where they are. So what I am saying is, at least you should feel a little bit lucky you have high expectations for your Government, and that still equals to fairie land to me. Because I guarantee you you wouldn’t want to live in a country that has never given you reason to build such high expectations in the first plac
 Thanks for your time,

Dear Valentina,
you make some good points. Speaking of political apathy, I am actually quite apathetic here, as are most of my friends. We don’t really expect our government to be able to take care of anything, to tell you the truth, but we’ll be damned if we allow them an existence as incompetent fuck-ups without letting them know our feelings.

This morning, when I was drinking my coffee and eating my breakfast it hit me. The reality. I am foreigner.  I work as a cleaner lady and get my monthly salary from cleaning the toilets of rich Icelandic people. You could argue if they are still rich but at least they used to be, until this famous financial crisis. After seeing thousands of  people loosing they jobs I started to worry. I was preparing myself to leave this country because I was thinking that now there are going to be all Icelandic people lining up and wanting my job. But what happened? I still keep on working my as off and cleaning. Nobody has come to me wanting my job. And I keep on paying taxes. What are these all former bankers and flight attendants doing? They still live in their 50 milj. Krona houses. Drive their 6 milj. Cars and what else? They are getting financial support! Living with unemployment support! The very same money that I am paying as taxes! There they are sitting in they fancy sofas and complaining how poor they are and how they had to get their house loan frozen. They are like big fatty bears. Sleeping over the winter. Waiting for the warmer days and time they can sell they houses and make profit again. And I am stupid enough to work and pay their food.
Sour Selma

Dear Selma,
yeah, it’s true. You having to work hard to pay for complaining fatty bear food sucks. Sorry about that. Kinda the nature of capitalism, though, isn’t it?  

Hi, I have been following your country’s recent announcement that it will not only continue whaling, but will increase the kill quota. I see this includes Fin whales which are considered by the international community to be endangered. I am glad that your caretaker government has decided to reconsider this position, but am dismayed that your unions are still pushing the slaughter of these mammals as the part answer to their members financial problems. Is anyone in Iceland aware of just how against whaling people in other countries are? Do you have any idea how backward and cruel you come across as, when two thirds of your people polled say that they think it is a good idea to butcher endangered whales? It is bad enough that you still conduct whaling without this extra Fin whale issue. If the unions think that this will help jobs in the long term, then they are mistaken. Your country will experience worldwide boycotts and might even be barred from joining Europe until you completely give up whaling if you ever decide to formally apply for membership. I have personally sent a petition to Brussels to ask that Iceland is barred from any future membership until it ceases whaling and MEP’s have helped by tabling the question to be debated by the commission in 6 weeks time. I have taken such strong measures not because i dislike Icelandic people, on the contrary, but because if this world cannot look after the creatures that are easy to love, what hope is there for the rest of our ecosystem and the health of mankind? If you publish this letter, there will be a rush of hateful rhetoric, calling me a meddling outsider who knows nothing of the needs of Icelands people.  This may be true, but as a young man, I worked in a small town in Australia where the last remaining whaling operation carried out by a Southern Hemisphere country was still active. I witnessed the slaughter and processing of Sperm whales, which are now endangered. I remember the whalers telling outsiders that it was none of their business. That was 30 years ago and the income from such activity was soon replaced, even though there were few employment opportunities visible at the time. People adapted and found they were not as tied to whaling as they thought. One thing is for sure and that is the needs of Icelands people are firmly tied to a healthy planet. Your collective choice to have embraced the damaging and wasteful lifestlyes of the developed West has now left you very exposed. For the world to support you in your time of need, you will have to change and give up whaling. It is your choice.
Marty Wyness, UK

Dear Marty,
I hope you don’t take this as hateful rhetoric, and I sort of agree with you on the whole whaling issue. It’s un-necessary, and it certainly won’t create lots of jobs. But still, man, why should “being easy to love” entitle one species status over another? Have you looked into the mass-farming of cows, chicken and pigs? There’s some seriously uncool stuff going on right in your backyard. Go there. And give up colonialism and war and stuff while you’re at it, if you want our support.

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