Friday, October 21, 2005

Norway Best Place to Live in the World!

For the fifth year in a row the UN has ranked Norway the best place to live in the world. The benefits of North Sea oil and a generous welfare state are two of the attractions. Although mention the benefits of North Sea oil to the average Norwegian and they will look at you with a blank expression. In Oslo the infrastructure is crumbling, if you think UK roads are bad you should see Oslo streets. Taxes are some of the highest in Europe and the cost of living is 30% higher than the European average. A pint cost around £5.00 and if you fancy a Guinness it will set you back £8.00. You can buy beer in a supermarket but you can only buy wine and spirits in the "Vinmonopolet"; the State Liquor Store. Cheapest wine is about £6.00 and the hard stuff about 3 times UK prices. Yet despite this deterrent to buying alcohol Norway has a high incidence of alcoholism and drug abuse. The evidence for which can be found littering the many open places throughout the city. As a regular visitor to Oslo for about 8 years I must say that apart from the horrendous cost of living. I enjoy my visits to the city and find it generally very attractive, with one major disappointment, GRAFFITI. I have never seen such wanton vandalism of any city as the graffiti artists and mindless Taggers visit upon Oslo. I know most cities suffer from the problem to a greater or lessor extent but Oslo must be the graffiti capital. I suspect the problem is not confined to the Oslo only from what I read it is a particular Scandinavian disease. I am familiar with the mantra of the dedicated graffiti artist many of whom are far from being children. Many of them are gifted if misguided artists. It is unfortunately the younger element who wish to imitate the activities of their heroes but do not share the artistic skills and have to limit their activity to mindless tagging. They take great pleasure in defacing anything they can reach. Nothing is sacred. Their activities are not confined to paint and markers but to scratching and cutting. It is an outrage the damage they have perpetrated on the windows of public transport, brand new trains and buses mindlessly defaced.

COMMENT from Dagbladet
Graffiti has been a constant problem for the Oslo underground, but things have taken a turn for the worse, with passengers threatened by youths bent on destroying property. Graffiti and trashing are becoming a major problem, with a noticeable impact on the general public. Graffiti is part of an extremely individualistic global youth culture whose roots are to be found in the prevailing social conditions and winds of ideology blowing across the world’s social landscapes. But they also present a challenge to those responsible for maintaining law and order. It is a commendable that the Nordic railways, subject to constant harassment, have now joined forces in an effort to combat the problem. Creative young people should have other outlets. Regardless of the nature of the problem, however, society cannot accept the destruction of our common environment by a few.

Graffiti is destroying what is otherwise one of the most attractive cities in Europe, lets hope the perpetrators turn their undoubted talents to something more rewarding or less anti-social.

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