Greenlanders and Trump

After Trump was elected, a friend said “If Trump proposes any cuts to the military, Democrats will demand a 600-ship navy.” In that same vein, while I was traveling around Greenland in preparation for a Northwest Passage cruise, my Facebook friends were defending continued white European colonialism in Greenland following Trump’s offer to purchase the island from Denmark.

What does Greenland look like? Here’s Sisimiut, one of the largest cities, population 5,500 (10 percent of the island’s total population):

Danish colonial rule was legitimized (at least by the Klaboona) in the 1930s. History from the museum in Ilulissat (posited source of the glacier that sunk Titanic):

What did Greenland residents think of the Trump offer? I asked everyone whom I met during August 2019 visits to Kangerlussuaq, Ilulissat, Sisimiut, and Itilleq. There was a huge amount of enthusiasm for continued Danish rule… among those who were actually Danish, e.g., an art museum director who was born in Copenhagen to Danish parents and emigrated to Greenland roughly 25 years ago. There was zero enthusiasm for continued Danish rule among those whose heritage was “Greenlandic” (Eskimo/Inuit). People of mixed genetic heritage had a mixed opinion.

One Greenlandic gal noted “the Danes never thought about doing anything for us until Trump made his offer.” The Danes living in Denmark with whom I spoke considered the offer in “What can Greenland do for us?” terms, e.g., what were the value of the minerals that could potentially be mined. They did not mention any consideration of whether Greenlandic folks would be better or worse off under the cruel boot of the Trumpenfuhrer.

Thus, based on my sample of roughly 40 individuals, native Greenlandic folks have the same affection for European colonialism that Native Americans do for European-American immigrants.

My notes from watching short documentaries on Air Greenland (nice airline) during the inbound flight:

People want to fight the Danish and be independent. Yet young people move to Denmark. Young people leave smaller Greenland towns for Nuuk. It is a huge waste of time for Greenland kids to learn Danish; they could be a lot more integrated with the world economy if they learned English instead.

Acknowledgement that they are financially dependent on Denmark, but expressed hope that they can be self-reliant as in the past. Why aren’t the fishing rights lucrative enough for independence ? Plenty of cod back in Viking times.

Why do they have alcohol? Much coverage in the tourist promotional videos of the damage done by alcoholism. Young woman beat up a number of other girls at a bar. Had no memory and no reason to have attacked any of them. Sentenced to 70 hours community service. Industrial cheap alcohol in a place where the sun doesn’t rise for 6 months?

Some photos from the in-flight magazine and seatback video:

Note that helicopters are included within the category of “aeroplanes.” In case you were considering signing up for a dogsled ride, “Travelling with dogs is a sensual experience that penetrates travellers – and remains there”. Mira Kleist, a young diplomat, gives advice to teenagers that might not make sense in the digital age: “Just do what you want to, people soon forget.” (But Google, Facebook, and Archive.org remember, as anyone whose Harvard acceptance has been rescinded can attest.)

Related:

  • “Greenland’s exit warning to Britain” (Politico), regarding the three-year process (1982-1985) required for an island of 56,000 population to leave the European Union. (one fun thing to do on the cruise, whenever the English passengers started to talk about Brexit, was to ask Norwegians at the table if Norway would like to join the EU, a proposal that was greeted with howls of derisive laughter)
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Asking museum visitors for feedback… and getting it

The (awesome) Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark holds five restored 1000-year-old ships:

The museum also features seaworthy replicas on which visitors can travel in the summer.

One fun part of the museum was the feedback wall:

Dressing up is popular:

There is some passion for American culture:

The Vikings had only two gender IDs:

“Send Them Back” stickers in the adjacent parking lot:

I wonder what would happen if American museums allowed this kind of open feedback whiteboard!

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ARKEN: Copenhagen’s contemporary art museum

Some pictures from a summer visit to ARKEN, a waterfront concrete museum that opened in 1996.

The entrance…

The regular collection is heavy on Damien Hirst…

More exciting… Benedikte Bjerre built an airport conveyor system out of IKEA bed parts (she says “the work addresses our dreams and hopes of the good capitalist life and social mobility across global borders”):

The museum was doing a big show of work by Australian Patricia Piccinini:

Does your dog like to jump up and share the bed?

Can you explain this traffic accident to Hertz?

Is it fair to say that not all concepts for Little Mermaid sequels are successful?

Miscellaneous:

Many of the artists claim to be concerned about “marginalised individuals and groups,” but how many of those folks will ever purchase or view a contemporary artwork?

Exit through the gift shop…

And then fold your big Danish frame into a tiny Danish car…

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Danish kids absent from school for a month

The two youngest passengers on our Northwest Passage cruise were 13 and 15, public school students in Denmark. I asked the parents what kind of bureaucratic obstacles there had been to taking the kids out of school for a month. “None,” replied the dad. “The teacher said that they’ll probably learn more on this trip than in school.” Hurtigruten’s promise of working Internet on the Roald Amundsen did not materialize due to (a) limited satellite coverage, and (b) inability of the ship’s antennae to point low enough. Had the disconnected children experienced trouble in completing their assignments? “They weren’t given any,” said the father. “The curriculum in Denmark is standardized at the federal level, which can be great, but for children who are stronger than average academically it means they have no trouble catching up if they miss a month.”

[I also learned from this family that Denmark has instituted a busing system for children of immigrants. If a born-in-Denmark child does not speak Danish well, he or she is bused away from the neighborhood school, which presumably will also contain a bunch of children who speak a non-Danish language, to a school full of Danes. Where are these folks from? “Syria, after four straight years as the biggest generator of asylum-seekers in Denmark, lost its crown to Eritrea last year, but this year it is back on course to generate the highest number. … Uffe Østergaard, a Danish university academic specialising in identity history who works for both Aarhus University and Copenhagen Business School, has suggested in a Politiken opinion piece that Europe should build a wall around its perimeter… ” (CPH Post)]

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Ireland and immigration

The same question of “How do you run a welfare state with open borders?” that Milton Friedman answered with “You can’t” remains a live one in Ireland: “The Irish are losing control of Ireland once again?” is a video that an Irish friend sent me. Gemma O’Doherty, towards the end, asks what the point was of fighting the British colonizers if Ireland ultimately will be primarily occupied by non-Irish. She also points out that one third of “social housing” in Ireland is currently occupied by non-Irish. (Not sure how this can be true since, as in America, there is a long waiting list for a free house (yet folks say that free housing is a basic human right! But if it is actually a right, why is there a waiting list? If it is not a right, why do some people get a free house?)).

Ireland is far more hostile to immigrants and asylum-seekers than the U.S. Voters eliminated birthright citizenship in 2004 with a constitutional amendment. Asylum-seekers are dumped into cramped apartments, forbidden to work, and forgotten about (except by Amnesty International, which criticizes Ireland for this). The Irish with whom I spoke thought this was brutal, but effective. “Nobody is coming here to claim asylum anymore.”

During a May/June trip to Ireland, employers and developers of rental property were the most positive regarding the merits of immigration, praising the work ethic of Eastern Europeans, for example, and noting which neighborhoods in Dublin were now primarily occupied by (rent-paying) Pakistanis.

Folks who were not able to make money as a result of immigration and population growth were less sanguine. They missed the cohesion of a society in which they could find common ground for a conversation with anyone anywhere in the country. A retired police officer sounded unhappy that pedestrian streets now had to be protected from vehicular mass murder, a requirement that he attributed to the decision to allow Muslims to emigrate to Ireland.

The places in Ireland where an immigrant might settle, i.e., the cities with jobs, are jam-packed already. Traffic in Dublin and on the surrounding highways slows to a crawl in mid-afternoon. Commuter trains are standing-room-only during weekday morning and evenings. There is no realistic Chinese-style plan to add a subway system. Here’s the situation close to 9:00 am on a weekday, when people should already be at work:

Housing is not affordable for median-income earners (see “Dublin’s Housing Crisis Reaches a Boiling Point”: “The city’s average rent as of March was up to €1,875 ($2,176) a month. This is a large amount for anyone on the Irish average monthly wage of €3,181 ($3,692) and completely impossible for anyone paid anything close to the minimum hourly wage of €9.25 ($10.74).”) As in the U.S., the government engages in every possible scheme to fight the result of Econ 101 supply and demand curves. Developers of new buildings have to give apartments to central planners for them to allocate. Housing bureaucrats conceive grand plans for “social housing,” never imagining that demand for guaranteed free housing could outstrip supply (as in the U.S., the best way to get hold of a “social housing” unit is to have a child and refrain from working).

It is unclear what it would mean to apply a fashionable American politician’s open borders policy to Ireland. The country is home to roughly 5 million people. If 1 out of every 1,000 people currently living somewhere else decided that it would be nice to move to Ireland, that would be 7.6 million immigrants (from a baseline of 7.6 billion) and the country would no longer be “Irish”.

The debate is pretty much the same as in the U.S., but with all of the numbers scaled down. People who want to exclude 98 percent of would-be migrants claim the moral high ground by contrast with those who want to exclude 99 percent. Nobody who expresses love and concern for migrants actually wants to allow everyone in, much less shelter any of them in his or her own home. The country’s welfare state offers citizens the ability to refrain from work for an entire lifetime and, indeed, for multiple generations. People don’t want immigrants to come in and use the system as designed, but they have signed high-toned international agreements promising not to discriminate when ladling out the welfare.

Related:

  • “Migration in Ireland a huge issue but what we need’s a solution” (IrishCentral), concluding with “As the taoiseach said, the ultimate answer lies in improving the countries migrants are coming from, whether that’s in Africa or South America.” (i.e., Ireland now has to figure out how to make Africa and South America prosperous on a per-capita basis!)
  • “Huge scale of immigration is making our housing crisis worse” (Irish Independent)
  • “In Ireland, Bid to Restore Birthright Citizenship Gains Ground” (nytimes): “The government’s opposition is based on the special relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland, said a spokesman for the Department of Justice and Equality, which has responsibility for immigration matters. Although Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, its people are legally entitled to both British and Irish citizenship. The Irish government fears that people living illegally in Britain could move to Northern Ireland, give birth to a child there and obtain Irish citizenship for their child after living there for three years. The parents could then use the child’s citizenship to obtain residency anywhere in Ireland or the United Kingdom which, though separate countries, confer extensive mutual residency and travel rights on each other’s citizens.”
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Is Irish GDP misleading?

Based on GDP per capita, Ireland is substantially better off than the U.S. It is ahead of Switzerland and Norway, though not within sight of Singapore or Qatar.

Yet the observed lifestyle in Ireland does not seem lavish or gold-plated as it does in Switzerland. A “national road” (comparable to a state highway in the U.S.) will be the width of a North Carolina dentist’s driveway. There is no shoulder and a dirt embankment or hedge will be flush to the edge of the pavement, which is also the edge of the travel lane (see “no shoulder”). Houses are smaller than in the U.S. and systems for central and water heating, etc., seem to be more primitive (one huge plus: no mosquitoes and therefore no screens on the windows!). Public transport infrastructure is better than the U.S., but nowhere near the Russian standard (commuter rail every 15 minutes!). The country does not seem to live any wealthier than southern England, for example.

Costs for labor-intensive items, such as car or aircraft maintenance, are comparable to what people pay in the U.S. and much lower than in Switzerland. Hotels and restaurant prices are also reasonable, especially when you consider that taxes and service are included.

I spoke with several Irish guys who are frequent travelers to the U.S. They think that Ireland is a better country overall, especially for young people, due to the fact that citizens come out of university debt-free and into a strong job market. So they aren’t impressed with our infrastructure, apparently. Thanks to the cold/wet climate, nearly everyone in Ireland can afford to live close to the ocean. Oceanfront property prices are approximately 1/10th of what one might pay in Florida, for example, despite the fact that the Irish property will typically be high enough above sea level (on the rocky shore) to survive quite a bit of sea level rise. (Below, a statue in Cobh that commemorates the first person to immigrate to the U.S. through Ellis Island, but when the future was plainly brighter for a young person in the U.S.)

Our government investigators are the best (look at how the Mueller investigation, in only two years, figured out that older Americans were paying younger Americans to have sex and that Americans sought to avoid paying tax!) so I hesitate to doubt the CIA’s published GDP numbers. However, the facts on the ground don’t seem consistent with the higher-than-Switzerland purported GDP-per-capita.

The Financial Times seemed to agree with this back in 2016: “Multinationals obscure real state of Ireland’s economy; Bloated GDP data blamed on difficulty of measuring their activity.”

The good news is that, whatever the actual level of GDP per capita, Ireland is growing nicely, though property prices are not yet back to their peaks (a real estate developer told me that prices for completed structures, as opposed to undeveloped land, are now roughly where they were at the 2008 peak, but that’s in nominal dollars, not inflation-adjusted).

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Europeans who don’t want to go back to Europe because it is “violent”

At a recent barbecue I talked to a couple of Europeans, one from France and one from Romania. They’re living in Massachusetts now. Would they want to return to live in Europe? “No,” said the Romanian. “It is too violent.” The French woman agreed.

How was that possible? Doesn’t the U.S. have a near-monopoly on violence, at least if we are to believe our media? The answer was “no.” They both thought that their countries were ripe for essentially a civil war between the native Christian population (of which they had been part) and the immigrant Muslim population. They thought that large parts of their respective countries were already unsafe for non-Muslims and that the problems would become dramatically worse in the near future.

They also appreciated America’s service-oriented economy in which the customers usually is a priority. “You think that the French hate Americans because of the way you get treated in shops,” said the former Parisienne, “but they treat us the same.”

They considered the cost of living in Europe to be dramatically higher than the U.S., even more than could be explained by the VAT (consumption tax). “I have a friend who is a nurse and her husband is an architect,” said the French woman. “They live just above what we would consider the poverty line.”

What was good about Europe? “The vacations, the ability to relax and enjoy life, the social contacts.”

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Regulation of aviation in Europe

One thing that isn’t unionized in the European Union is regulation of aviation. All of the member nations belong to the ICAO and there is an EU agency (EASA) that does most of the same stuff as our FAA. However, there is yet another layer of regulation on a per-country basis. “They can’t be less restrictive than ICAO, but they can add restrictions,” said a local pilot. “Every time a plane takes off, the Irish Aviation Authority considers that it has failed.”

It sounds reasonable for a country to have its own FAA-style agency. But Ireland’s population is 4.7 million. Should Metro Atlanta or South Carolina have its own FAA? Estonia, with a population of 1.3 million, also has its own aviation regulatory authority (can there be more than a handful of airplanes based in Estonia?).

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Flight school and airline careers starting in Ireland

On a recent trip to Ireland I visited National Flight Centre, one of the country’s two full-scale flight schools.

Lufthansa decided to abandon cloud-plagued Germany and train all of its ab initio pilots in Arizona. How can it work to learn to fly in Ireland, famous for rain?

One part of the answer is simulator time. The school has several sophisticated non-motion sims, one of which has a full 737-800 cockpit (Ryanair uses this plane). Of the 220 required hours of training for a “frozen ATPL“, 80 may be accomplished in a simulator. (On reaching 1,500 hours of flying experience, presumably gained in the right seat of a B737 or A320, the ATP becomes “unfrozen”.)

Students start as young as 17, though roughly half already have college degrees. They pay 82,000 euros for an 18-month program and, upon graduation, can work for any airline within the EASA umbrella (all of Europe, Turkey, etc.; does not include Qatar, Dubai, or China, all of which would require a license conversion). Starting salary at Ryanair for these 140-hour heroes is roughly 70,000 euros per year (depends on the base). Other European airlines pay in the same ballpark.

(What about Americans who want to escape the cruel dictatorship of Donald Trump? The American ATP can convert by doing 650 hours of home study through National Flight Centre, taking 14 exams (on site), and getting an Irish Class 1 medical. Budget for two trips to Ireland, a couple of weeks on the ground there total, and less than $10,000 out of pocket.)

Job prospects currently are awesome, with Ryanair alone hiring nearly 1,000 pilots per year.

The school is very well-organized, comparable to the best university-run U.S. schools. Instructors are a mixture of young enthusiasts and retired airline captains. Airplanes are dispatched with a GPS tracker and a flat-screen TV next to the front desk shows all aircraft positions. A web-based system keeps track of every lesson and the instructor’s evaluation. There is a nice restaurant overlooking the runway for relaxing between classes.

(It is vastly more difficult to start an airline career in the U.S. due to the 1,000/1,500-hour minimum. Also, the first job for a white or Asian male U.S. pilot will be in a regional jet, not a Boeing or Airbus (opportunities are better for members of victim groups, but there is no relief from the statutory minimum hours requirement).)

More: nfc.ie

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