Debunking Socialist Myths: 90 Percent Of Scandinavia’s Wealth Is Privately Owned


PREMO Member
To recap: Through sheer luck, Norway has some of the world’s largest oil and gas resources; To build a domestic energy industry, the Norwegian government created a partially private company that is run by wealthy oil industry executives; This company is publicly traded, operates on the profit motive, and deposits its surplus revenues into a trillion-dollar wealth fund that mostly invests abroad, including in the largest of American corporations.

Moreover, as the very same WIR report the Bruenigs drew their data from states, the Norwegian public wealth fund protects the country against fluctuations in oil prices: “Norwegian public property has therefore largely been accumulated for fiscal and financial purposes.” The study also noted that “Norway’s large positive net public wealth generates capital income that is mostly used to finance further foreign capital accumulation, which in the long-run can be used to reduce taxes and to finance more public spending.”

In other words, unlike in Venezuela, where the government used taxes on oil to fund social programs, the Norwegians use their sovereign wealth to accumulate more capital and cut taxes. Which of the two sounds more socialist to you?

Third, the Norwegian government’s share of the country’s wealth is heavily driven by state capitalism. Bruenig has attempted to downplay the SWF’s effects on the Norwegian government’s share of national wealth by noting that revenue transfers did not commence until 1996. However, a simple comparison of Norway’s national wealth before and after 1996 reveals the role of the SWF in driving the state’s ownership of wealth.

From 1980 to 1995, the Norwegian government’s share of the country’s wealth grew 3.6 points, from 32.9 to 36.5 (or 11 percent). From 1996 to 2015, it grew 22.1 points, from 36.5 percent to 58.6 percent (a growth of 61 percent). Of the 25.7-point growth in the Norwegian government’s share of the country’s wealth from 1980 to 2015, 22.1 of those points (86 percent of the growth) came after the SWF transfers began.
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