The Devil Excrement at work…in Norway, as a smør shortage hits that country

December 13, 2011

While I usually don’t write about other countries, this one is too cute to pass up. Thanks to my Norwegian friends I learn that in that oil rich country there is a shortage of butter due mostly to protectionist policies imposed by the oil rich Government. Prices have reached absurd levels, like US$ 109 per pound and the like.

People are giving smør, as butter is called there, as gifts.

Now, there is an idea, a kilo of powdered milk for Christmas, I think I just finished my shopping…

Amazing how well these concepts work everywhere.

64 Responses to “The Devil Excrement at work…in Norway, as a smør shortage hits that country”

  1. wonderful points altogether, you just won a brand new reader.
    What may you suggest in regards to your put up that you made a few days in the past?

    Any sure?

  2. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for Heartburn Relief

  3. Ira Says:

    Gauging the quality of education in disparate nations is a funny thing when you look outside the disciplines of math and science:

    For example, most Americans (yours truly included) are idiots when it comes to our education in geography and world history. We were taught history from a U.S. perspective, and of course. that means our Indians were savages in need of taming.

    That being said, incredibly, you will never meet a young German whose father or grandfather was a Nazi–even though Hitler educated everyone to be Nazis. But current German education demands acknowledgment of their horrible education of the 30s.

    Because, of course, where did all of those Nazis go??? It’s IMPOSSIBLE that you can meet Germans, and that 9 out of 10 deny any connection to Nazism from their parents or grandparents. Kepler is a good example of this. With all of his brilliant lecturing, he never comments on Germany’s Nazi past.

    So what the hell does “education” mean anyway? The word on its own is a JOKE and too subject to subjective interpretation to mean anything:

    What some people mean by education is indoctrination–not education at all.

    The vast majority of Germans in the 30s were highly educated, in the Hitler train of thought, and look what happened THERE!

    • Ira Says:

      As a side note, I grew up with some kids whose parents were tattooed from the concentration camps, and as a Jew (atheist actually but that’s a different story), I take this stuff very seriously.

      • Kepler. Says:

        As a side not I grew up next to parents who had also suffered as Jews in concentration camps and I later met others whose sisters and smaller brothers had been killed by Israeli occupation forces without them posing any danger and I take this stuff as seriously as yourself.

        • Kepler. Says:

          Ah, I forgot: I also met and knew very well the children of Armenians who barely escaped the genocide perpetrated by the Turks, fled through Syria’s desert, etc. So: I didn’t live to just one kind of people and I see not one “ethnicity” or whatever you want to call group is special or more “the Sufferer”. I stop commeting on this because this is a blog about Venezuela and the things we talked about on Venezuela-Norway are about Venezuela-Norway. Don’t try to change it over and over to your specific world.

    • Kepler Says:

      Yeah, and look at what is happening in Palestine now with the Jews treating the Arabs like the Afrikaners were treating the Xhosa.
      They should know better.

      Man, Ira, you are really pathetic. I suppose you like to hear about German Nazism because of your recurrent self-pity.

      Do you also talk about the Shoah when people start to discuss about golf or the weather?

      By the way: I have actually mentioned German Nazis on several occasions, when the topic was relevant. Like I mention the Turks’ genocide on the Armenians when that is relevant. Here we are talking about something else, not about what YOU think is your drama.

  4. Kepler. Says:


    Education…Norway was poorer than other Western European countries (not Eastern Europe), but when it came to general education levels it was not so far away from Sweden. OK, if you wanted to go to university back in the Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson days, you had to go to the then Christiania or abroad, but you had reached the level of education Venezuelans got three hundred years later (most children going to school, etc)

    Venezuela is lagging behind even for Spanish American standards…bottom of the bottom (in part due to our highly arrogant and selfish “elite”).

    By the way: tomorrow we will have some new data on education in Venezuela. 🙂

  5. Ira Says:

    The main problem with protectionism is that it promotes disdain between nations and supports the conditions for war:

    When your economic interests are integrally woven into those of another country, it doesn’t make financial sense to shoot them.

  6. Thanks for an interesting discussion, and I will finish off my part of it with a few clarifications.
    1. I’m not in favor of protectionism, but I defend all countries’ right to protect some vulnerable industries when they are crucial for the country’s survival in times of a crisis, for example a war.
    2. I do believe that all countries can learn from each other, and there are a few fundamental principles of government that are common to all countries, regardless of cultural differences. Which means that it’s meaningless to excuse failure with “Latin tropicalismo” as it is to explain Norwegian progress with “Nordic work ethics”. All Venezuelans I know are as hard working and with high ethical standards as any Norwegian, so I think it all boils down to good governance.
    3. I do not expect you to know Norwegian history. But it is true when I write that Norway was among the poorest countries in Europe before World War II. We did not become rich when we struck oil in the North Sea, but when we did, the country was prepared to exploit the riches. We may still have some Viking genes, but that’s 900 years ago. In the meantime we have experienced “the night of 400 years”, when Norway was ruled from Copenhagen and all officials were Danish. Just like decisions related to Venezuela were taken in Madrid. We gained independence in 1905, almost 100 years after Venezuela did.
    4. The present oil taxation system in Venezuela is almost to the letter identical with the Norwegian system. What you “forgot” to copy is the democratic control of how the income is distributed. And let’s face it; even if the present distribution system is rude and haphazard, that’s hardly news in hundred years of Venezuelan oil history. So, I really hope that new hands will endorse that $65 billion check from 2013 and distribute wisely and fairly, and above all, democratically.
    Norwegians are eagerly waiting for the day we can import butter from Venezuela.

    • The day Venezuela exports butter to Norway, is exactly when I’ll convert to Chavismo, but that’s after Hell itself freezes over, so we wouldn’t need reefer containers to ship that fancy product all the way there across the frozen seas.. We can’t even grow coffee anymore in Vzla, esteemed Mr. Stein, let alone produce and export any world-class butter.. Let us know if you’re interested in Harina Pan or expensive hallacas, and we might send you a few, at the price of Almas Beluga Caviar, though!

      ” All Venezuelans I know are as hard working and with high ethical standards as any Norwegian, so I think it all boils down to good governance.”

      There’s always peril in generalizations, but for the sake of fast dialogues as these, I’ll take my chances:

      There are many hard-working “Venezuelans”. (most of them left the country if they could, but that’s another story); and I don’t know about a prevalence of “high ethical standards” in our country. Actually I do: for the most part, we are lazy, not hard working, opportunists, and with very low ethical standards, corrupt and easy going. There, I said it.

      That’s one of the reasons Vzla is where it is today: poor, in economic crisis, uneducated, and a full generation behind, by now, of other Latin American hard working, and more honest countries. 12 years of Chavismo is proof of it: we love to get free stuff without working for it, and dear Chavito gives out a lot of freebies to keep our lazy people happy. Again, that’s a generalization, no disrespect to many hard-working, honest, humble Venezuelans.

      A couple reasons that I find intriguing, and rather accurate for our laziness, inefficiency, failure and incompetence: since the oil boom.. came the “devil’s excrement”: easy money. corruption. with no investment in education or infrastructure.

      Also, the climate: there’s a saying that if you just throw seeds to the wind in Vzla, fruit will grow, ( they actually do that in the country, it’s called “siembra al voleo”) . We have no winters to worry about, no hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes for the most part. It’s nice and warm all year, and has been for centuries.

      So our people tend to be complacent. We can always go grab a few bananas back in the yard, which grew almost by themselves, no need for plowing or watering. In contrast, places like Norway or even Chile and Argentina, they get nasty winters, ice. They have to prepare for that. Build tougher houses,, hardship that builds Character in people.

      So, in general, I disagree. We are not nearly as “ethical” or as hard working as many other countries in the world. We are just filthy rich, yet in crisis, and with one of the highest levels of crime in the world, and even if we’re blessed with incalculable natural resources, a huge country for less than 30 million people, it’s a veritable mess: poor, chaotic, and retrograde. Mainly because of the reasons stated above.

  7. Kepler,

    First of all, get off that petulant high horse of yours and respect other bloggers.

    I will dissect your non-sense, just once, since you and your arrogance annoy me, and I don’t intend to waste more time on you after this.

    “It has numerous centuries? What does that mean? What, Venezuelans don’t? What we don’t have is memory. They are as much Anglo Saxons as we are French.”

    Norway’s Civilization is evidently much, much older than Venezuela’s, or the USA’s or an American land, or what do you not understand about that?

    And regarding the ethnicity of both nations: quite different: Anglo-Saxons and other tribes, Barbaric invaders for the most part, settled over there many centuries before the Spanish, or Chinese? even set foot in America or Vzla, while the natives here where fishing happily and praising their obscure Shamans,

    In contrast, Venezuela is vastly Latin, in its inherited culture, coming from the Spanish, mainly. Not french Latin, this is not Martinique or Guadeloupe. So there is a palpable difference: The Anglo-Saxon work ethic in northern Europe, compared to our Latin tropicalismo — that’s the notion I was trying to convey, which of course flew right over your pompous head.

    Actually I’m done here with you, just bad karma wasting energy on morons, there’s Latin Jazz live around the corner. Chill and skip my posts, as I will skip yours too

    • about protectionism: didn’t I write “protectionism has never worked anywhere on THE LONG RUN, historically? So chill, dude.

    • Kepler. Says:

      Anglo saxons don’t have anything to do with Norway.

      Protectionism is still applied in the US, in Japan, in China.
      You don’t get that either.
      There is a huge difference between Chile and Venezuela, both populated by “Latins”.

      The US is nothing but a continuation of European and other cultures. It is a fallacy it is a “new land”, same as Canada. Actually: there are a couple of European countries that are newer than the US, including Italy.
      As for culture, heritage: that doesn’t come with a land.

      • Anglo Saxons have nothing to do with Norway, did you actually write that?

        Protectionism does not work in the long run, it’s a bad policy in general overall. Supply and demand laws are what works on any healthy economy.
        That’s the point.
        And, again, you just cannot compare nations that are barely 300 years old in terms of “civilization” as the USA or South/Central America and the old continent. It’s called the old continent for a reason, perhaps because while the Chinese or the Egyptians or the Romans and the Spanish, Europeans were discovering the rest of the world, there were a few scattered aborigines here and there, trying to discover the wheel or light up some primitive fire.

        • Kepler. Says:

          You typed in the words, but you don’t understand. It would be good if you actually learnt how to comprehend what those words mean.

          Anglo Saxons arrived from what is now Northern Germany, part of the Netherlands to Britain several centuries before the Vikings arrived in Britain.

          Did you get that?

          Jutes from Denmark also arrived at about the same time.

          Viking Norwegians (like Danes from other groups), started to settle/attack Britain long after and they engaged in fights with the Anglosaxons and others.

          Norwegians were NOT Anglo Saxons or vice versa.

          Both groups were Germanic, like the Frisians and the Flemish etc.
          Do you get that? Both groups ARE GER-MA-NIC. Like Polish and Russians
          are both Slavic without Polish being Russians or Russians being Polish.
          Get it? That’s why, actually, if you speak Dutch it is rather easy to learn Bokmal or Swedish or Danish…just like for a Spanish speaker it is easy to learn Italian or French.

          That is why I mentioned the French and our Spanish relation with the French: because we both have Italian (Roman, but not alone) influence.
          We, Venezuelans, are thus actually related to the French, to the Italians and even to the Romanians, even though to a much lesser extent.

          Geez, guy, you are embarrasing yourself even further.

          And all those groups are ultimately sharing common Indo European ancestors…which is also connecting us to the Iranians etc at a much higher level, but still…

          The second finding in Google for your blind keyword search
          was about population genetics. I have written a little bit about population genetics in my blog, by the way.

          Try to understand this:

          And please, don’t send me links, but THINK and produce statements or shut up.

          Regarding protectionism: as I said, you repeat as a parrot things without any evidence. I told you: every single nation is and has been taking protectionist measures, ALWAYS, absolutely ALWAYS, even in their “golden capitalist periods”.

          To understand that you need to actually read a couple of good history books, not just repeat what the leaders of your favourite political party tell you.

  8. “the post-war success of my country was due largely to unity, even across political party lines. But for fifteen years we couldn’t spend a penny abroad. Which resulted in a fierce protectionism”

    You can hardly compare Norway and Venezuela.. butter would be an example, good ole Danish or European butter has nothing to do with the crap most of us get “margarina” and others in Vzla or the USA (unless we purchase the good stuff from Europe in certain markets)

    Norway is a highly educated, hard-working country with a long tradition, and numerous centuries in its proud history. (Way before the Vikings, Anglo-Saxons and all, please correct me if I’m wrong)

    Venezuela is a just a spoiled, rebellious puppy in comparison. Our ailments are mainly due to a lack of education, morals and values, such as good old hard work, as the name of this blog suggests.

    We need to learn a lot of things from countries like yours, but one of them certainly is not protectionism: it has never worked on the long run, ever, anywhere.

    • Kepler. Says:

      Carlos, what do you smoke?

      It has numerous centuries? What does that mean? What, Venezuelans don’t? What we don’t have is memory. They are as much Anglo Saxons as we are French.

      Regarding protectionism: that’s completely wrong. Blind protectionism is bad, just as much as “blind free markets”. As I mentioned earlier: there are times it is convenient, other times it doesn’t make any sense, one has to check out time after time, test, test, react asap.

      The United States of America, Germany and Britain and Japan became strong while using quite some strong protectionist measures over and over again (yeah, US from its independence all the way through the XIX century). If you want to know how, please, read a couple of history books about those countries, specially with a focus on economy.
      Their “free market” was only for the things that suited them and preferably in one direction. The US bombed its way to foreign markets. Japan let itself be opened without discrimination and it collapsed until its authorities during the Meiji period changed methods and too a quite pragmatic method, learning some things, not taking every bullshit the others were telling them.

      Read Zinn’s History of the US, read some book about Japan’s Meiji period,
      If you can read German, get something like this:

      I really am amazed at how many Venezuelans repeat like parrots what US or British interests tell them is the “key to success”: just open up, just open up, the magic forces of market will fix it all if you work hard.

      Compradores, just compradores…just the counterpart to those old commies who went to study at the Patricia Lumumba in Moscow.

      • Kepler. Says:

        And by the way: education helps a lot, but it is not enough. Think Germany between 1933 and 1945.
        It was not just the least education who went with it.

  9. moctavio Says:

    Stein: I think it has been quite educational actually. One of the reasons I stick to Venezuela is that I know Venezuela, not that I quite understand it, despite spending my life trying. The difference is that come October 2012, Venezuela will still have a blank check for some US$ 65 billion a year the first day of the year. If we did not have that, maybe things would change sufficiently, but they will not. The remarkable thing is that we are not asking for everything to be rational, just a little bit more sensible. Had Chavez fought corruption and defended human rights, this blog would not exist, even if it is focused on the economics, it is the abuse of power that originated it.

    I should come visit…lived in Denmark for three months teaching, but never got to Norway.

    • Stig Hess Says:

      Yes you should, seems you have a lot of friends here and we still owe you dinner at a nice restaurant (no butter, of course) for that meal in Caracas. Did you know Stavanger has a “Gladmat”-festival (food-festival) in summer, which would be a perfect time? And also a quite large (well, relatively speaking) colony of Venezuelan engineers.

  10. It’s strange to use a day debating Norwegian protectionism, on a blog designed to discuss Venezuelan issues. But there are some lessons from Norway that can be useful if Venezuela sometime soon is going to rebuild the country after twelve year of being destructed by a social experiment which has in all manners been a “fracaso”.
    Before World War II, Norway was among the poorest countries in Europe. And when the war ended in 1945, the country was bombed out but not demoralized, with pride and ethics intact. We didn’t know we had oil at that time, and would probably not be able to exploit it of technical reasons. We had other resources, among the most important, the electricity which could be generated from the many waterfalls. And, of course, the rich fisheries along the coast.
    So we were in more or less the same situation as Venezuela will be, come October 2012. In some ways, I think you are in a worse situation, because the post-war success of my country was due largely to unity, even across political party lines. But for fifteen years we couldn’t spend a penny abroad. Which resulted in a fierce protectionism. Sometimes around 1955, we could afford to import oranges, for Christmas only. A private person could not buy a car, only businesses. Houses would not get a construction permission if it was not build for two families. The resources we had were supposed to go to reconstruction, not to silly imports.
    Do you think that the opposition presidential candidates would suggest such a cure? Of course not, and there is a huge difference between Norway and Venezuela, when you exit the present crisis, you still have an international commodity that can support development. But, personally I’m not in doubt that you have to go through some of the austerity that Norwegians experienced after the war.
    For the record: I love Venezuela, I love Venezuelan people and had intended to retire in your wonderful country. Of obvious reasons, I changed my mind.

    • Kepler. Says:

      I am no Norwegian, but I think this thing about Norway being a very poor country before oil was discovered is a little bit exagerated.
      Definitely it was poorer than Sweden and after the war it was absolute misery, but then: what European countries weren’t in misery after the war?
      And as for poverty before the war:
      Sure, in Norway there was hunger in the XIX century and hundreds of thousands emigrated back then. In Venezuela you just had to have a mango tree, some space, let the plants grow, you had enough food…at least when we were not as many as today.

      In Venezuela we were not even producing pins.
      Niels Henrik Abel was a genius but did not come out of the blue.
      There were more and more engineers in early XX century in Norway than in Venezuela.
      The Norwegian industry, although feeble, was much more developed in 1900 than what we had by 1950.

      Most Norwegians could at least read and write by 1790. Most Venezuelans could not read or write by 1930.

  11. Paal Says:

    Another Norwegian regular reader checking in to drop my two øre (cents). I think the most important points I wanted to make, from a Norwegian perspective, have been covered.

    In general, the partial self-sufficiency policy is a security against possible large scale crisis further ahead, as well as a cultural conservation policy and more.

    This was an extremely short “crisis”. Yes, it was caused by protectionist policies. Of course there is a lot of improvement to be done in Norway, policywise. However, looking at the US´s “give our jobs to China so our rich can get richer” strategy, I think a pragmatic nation building approach to governance is justified.

    The communal ethic and worldview of Norwegians is a very real aspect of the culture (although fading a bit due to the ease of life and postmodernism in general). For a foreigner, it can be hard to grasp or even be accepted into this communal thinking, but it is a beautiful thing. In the end no economic system will work well without ethics and culture. Which is not to say that all economic systems will work with ethics, as communism most definitely will destroy ethics and culture.

    The farmer-cooperative Tine has received a lot of hard critique for it´s responsibility in this crisis, and hopefully they will learn and adjust.

    • Kepler. Says:

      ‘ I think a pragmatic nation building approach to governance is justified.’
      Well, I think you are buttering it up now there. Is it really building up a substainable system or keeping it up via petrodollars?
      (and it’s not I am for outsourcing to China, not at all…but protectionism
      is something you have to use very cautiously)

      • Paal Says:

        In this case it might be very well be keeping up something unsustainable via petrodollars. My point is just that economic policies must serve people, and for this to happen pragmatism is necessary and good. At least as long as individual rights are not completely mangled.

        Beyond this, policies that work well in one culture might be a bad idea in another one.

  12. moctavio Says:

    Stein: It’s a great story! Let’s hope Chavez does not hear about it and starst saying it happens in Norway too! 🙂

    • Kepler. Says:

      Judging from the video Juan placed in his blog with the eldery, where one of them says people are starving in Europe, millions of Venezuelan will probably believe it.

  13. Stig Hess Says:

    Well, my blogging about Venezuela slowly came to an end, partly because main stream media started covering the “revolution” less romantically a few years ago (so my voice was not needed, I guess) and partly because I felt the country was beyond the point of no return, at least in my lifetime.

    Of course I also googled you and think your line is a lot more powerful with those euro-socialists still in love with the revolution.

    I also noticed that you’re the journalist who investigated media bias a few years ago and had William Lara’s rage upon yourself. Congratulations!!

  14. I searched Google for Stig and found out that he is in the same “business” as me, through blogs convince Norwegians that Hugo Chávez is not a socialist folk hero but a president who systematically destroys a country. That’s why we read the Devil and other Venezuelan bloggers. So please, dear Devil, if you find another Norwegian “crisis” in the future, just find out if it really is a crisis or a journalistic stunt.
    My blog is in Norwegian, but here you have a link

  15. moctavio Says:

    I agree with promoting local agriculture and using some form of protectionism to do so, but when there are shortages that those described in a country that has the money to import, something is wrong.

    • Stig Hess Says:

      Well, it was a short crisis. I’ve just been to the grocery store to check for myself and now we have both Tine smør and butter from Belgium. A diversity we normally don’t have, so I grabbed half a kilo of the foreign butter. Tastes just like Tine 🙂

      What I think went wrong is not the protectionist policy but a total failure in planning for the great demand.

      Also I don’t think most Norwegians actually know how much this luxury of self sufficiency is costing us. Subsidies, import taxes, lost efficiency etc.

      • firepigette Says:

        But self sufficiency is good, even if it costs…think about it in the long run..

        • moctavio Says:

          If you have shortages, you are not self-sufficient, there should not eb much seasonality in butter.

          • Stig Hess Says:

            We could have avoided the shortages. The thing is farmers have milk quotas. If they overproduce they have to pay a penalty for each litre of over production. So what they did was slaughter a lot of cattle to avoid the overproduction-penalty. It was quite steep, about 4-5 kroner for each litre of milk. It was, of course, eliminated now, but that doesn’t help, the cows have gone to meat. If we have overproduction cheese is exported at a very low price – so we can go to Denmark or Sweden buying Norwegian cheese at half the price here or less….

            I agree with you, it doesn’t make any economical sense. It doesn’t stop thousands of farmers going out of business every year and there’s a burocracy in place with selling, lending or buying quotas with a very complex set of rules etc., just to mention a fraction of this whole agricultural policy.

            However, we’ve never had shortages of butter before. I can just remember once there was a shortage of milk, but that was due to a strike.

            • Ira Says:

              In the states, dairy cows and meat cows are
              separate breeds.

              Of course, I grew up in Brooklyn, so what the hell do I know about cows?

        • Kepler. Says:

          Now you are talking like Kim Il-sung with his dear Juche.

    • The government does not import food, private merchants do, and in the case of butter, the farmers’ co-operative Tine. As Stig points out below, Tine failed to identify the problem before it was too late. When they did, the government lowered import taxes, and the problem was resolved within a week. The supply system of locally produced and imported food works well in Norway, a week without butter is not a “crisis”.
      As a by-product of the “crisis”, every Norwegian now knows how to make butter at home: Beat whipping cream until it separates. Throw out the liquid stuff, add a teaspoon of salt and you have a tasty butter in less than ten minutes.

      • Kepler. Says:

        “a week without butter is not a “crisis”.”
        Well, I don’t know how it is for you with butter, but for me as a Venezuelan a week without orange juice and I would riot.

        • There is a crisis in Syria, there is a financial crisis in the European Union and a dozen other crises all around world. Then you must allow me describe a few days without butter as a “crisis”, entre comillas. The “butter crisis” was not even nationwide, it occurred mainly in the big cities..In 1993, I moved from abundant Venezuela to post-civil war Ethiopia. so I know what scarcity of almost everything looks like. But you get used to eat a lot of spinach, as you would get used to some time without orange juice. And it tastes so good when it comes back. My first meal after one year in Ethiopia was a solid piece of meat at the now defunct Carreta de Che in Maracaibo. It tasted better than any meat I have ever tasted. And I still love spinach…

        • Insomniac Says:

          You are more than welcome to return to Venezuela and do so.

  16. I have lived outside Norway for almost a quarter of a century, so I’m not the right one to defend Norwegian agricultural policy. What I wanted to point out is that the Devil’s headline “The Devil’s Excrement at Work…..” is misleading; oil has nothing to do with the “butter crisis”. I guess a country has to live through five years of German occupation during World War II to really appreciate the value of self-sufficiency.
    By the way, when I interviewed CAP just after the “caracazo”, he said that the main difference between South America and Europe was that Europe has lived through two long wars and thus learned and practiced solidarity. I guess he had a point.
    Between the lines, I also hinted to a point of view supported by this blog and most other rational people in Venezuela; having enough oil money to import what you need shouldn’t exclude local production, which is very much the case in Venezuela. Norway’s national budget, the money the country uses to maintain the welfare state, consists of almost 90 % income from what we broadly could call “work”, less than 5 % from the oil riches off the coast. If we had used more oil money, Norway would also have an inflation around 30 %.
    When I travel to Norway to see family and friends, I notice one obvious benefit of permitting us the luxury of having farmers; they keep our beautiful landscape in good shape. Besides, seeing a few cows grazing on a steep hillside is when the tourists stop to snap a picture.
    A final point: the “butter crisis of 2011” is not an exclusive problem for Norway, Sweden experiences the same problem this fall. The special with Norway is that it hit exactly the one week of the year when Norwegian families use butter to bake the Christmas goodies.

    Note: I use the form “we” because even if living abroad, I pay taxes to Norway.

  17. Kepler. Says:

    The Dutch are saying there is a shortage of 500 to 1000 tonnes of butter and that will be solved only in January. “rainy summer (and thus little food for animals) and higher consumption are supposed to be the cause…Norwegians say.

    • Stig Hess Says:

      Well as you probably know we imported a lot of butter from Belgium recently. Perhaps we grabbed too much from that part of Europe 🙂

      As you know Denmark wouldn’t sell to us: For 20 years we’ve been trying to crawl over the wall of import taxes, we’re not going to save you for a few weeks just to see that wall up again in January, they said.

      I guess there are a lot of reasons why this happened: Increased demand, too much rain etc. But without the overly regulated market with quotas, penalties for “over production”, Farmer owned Tine as a “market regulator” etc., there wouldn’t have been a problem. We would just have bought more butter from somewhere else.

      • Kepler. Says:

        I know there is quite a lot of blood between you two, but I didn’t know about an official Smørkrig.

        Are they like placing boards with “Welcome to the Land of Cheap Butter, you buggers” on the Øresund Bridge, just to rub it off on your face when you arrive by car there?

        It didn’t help that you produced this, you know?

        (specially the milkman)

        Now: how come farmers are so powerful? It’s not like there are many of them.

        • Stig Hess Says:

          Actually I think most Norwegians think of danes as friendly, relaxed, almost like Scandinavias latinos 🙂 Danes couldn’t care less about us “mountain apes”, as they often say. The bad blood is with the Swedes, in 1814 we actually didn’t want out of the union with Denmark, the idea of belonging to Sweden was what we hated.

          I’m not sure why farmers are so powerful. Most political parties don’t want to change the incredibly complicated system, guess we like the rural cultivated areas, and most of us, even if we live in towns or cities, have roots in some small rural area. Nostalgia?

          • firepigette Says:

            “guess we like the rural cultivated areas, and most of us, even if we live in towns or cities, have roots in some small rural area.”

            That sounds lovely Stigg, I myself have overdosed on city life after umpteen years battling a rat race.Nostalgia is a good reason for a lot.

            • Stig Hess Says:

              Yea, I think there’s a time for the “rat race” when we’re young and ambitious and there’s a time for slowing down, just a bit, enjoying other aspects of life.

  18. Eduardo Says:


    Your friend must be joking here.

    First, sometimes the norwegians call margarin “smør”, and the butter is called “ekte smør” (“real butter” – no joke!).

    Second, the prices they are saying are simply absurd. You can find “ekte smør” price in the following web-site:

    A expensive butter is around NOK 43.00, that means around USD 7,5 per pound.

    Either way, thank you for your web-site. Hope that we could find many others so interesting.

  19. Tuco Juan Pacifico Ramierez Says:

    an interesting article….Chavez seems intent on getting cruise missile up his butt before cancer does him in….Oh wait….Obozo is Prezident….never mind

  20. As one of the Devil’s Norwegian readers, I can assure you that the lack of butter in Norway has nothing to do with oil. The agricultural politics in Norway are much older than our relatively short history as an oil producing nation. In a country partly above the Polar Circle, certain restrictions in importation of agriculture products are necessary to maintain national agriculture at a decent level. I think it’s a good idea that Norway is not importing everything that can be bought for money, contrary to what seems to be Venezuelan politics.
    The price of $109/lb is someone’s bad joke. For that kind of money the majority of Norwegians can fly to Copenhagen and buy all the Danish butter they want. Or as in Eastern Norway, drive an hour to Sweden where they have well stocked shelves.
    A bad Summer and low milk production is the reason for this year’s lack of butter, combined with that the people that should know that this would happen did not react before it was too late. But it is true that traditional, Norwegian Christmas cakes require at lot of butter, and the shortage created a low level panic for a few days and a lot of good jokes. I have myself baked a Venezuelan Christmas cake, and thanks god, it did not require Mavesa.

    • Kepler. Says:


      I know Norway had protectionistic measures since well before oil was discovered, but this is still not clear to me.

      I assume Norway has a greater difficulty than, say, Sweden, because cows have to clinch to steep fjord slopes to survive (OK, I am exagerating a bit), so they may need that extra “protection”…unless they want to become more competitive in something else and simply adapt.

      What would be the consequence of becoming dependent on butter imports from Denmark or the EU, for that matter? It seems to me as if this were a reaction of several political parties to keep votes away from the Senterpartie (which did pretty well when Norwegians were scared about joining the EU back in 93).

      You have been importing wheat and other products since before you visited Lindisfarne, the coast of the Law Lands and Germany, for the first time. Once you couldn’t get the products you wanted as you did in Lindisfarne, you managed to do pretty well by selling all that fish. You are still doing it well.

      I suppose your attitude towards some other foreign “influences” may have made good sense in many cases, like when you regulated how British companies could build hydroelectric stations at the start of the XX century and you saw to it the British had control only for some time and the country could definitely profit from tecnology transfer, etc.

      But butter now? Isn’t this about votes alone? It doesn’t make sense.

      • Dr. Faustus Says:

        That was an excellent counterpoint to the Norwegian’s (Stein) posting. Kepler got it right. The high price of butter in Norways has little to do with a “bad summer and low milk production,” but everything to do with politics. Whenever government interferes in the marketplace there will be consequences. There are, and will be, consequences in Venezuela, as there are for Norwegians trying to buy butter. Venezuela, however, is much closer to the abyss.

    • bobthebuilder Says:

      Psst! Hey friend! Wanna buy some butter? Only $25 a pound!

  21. Armando J Tirado Says:

    By now I know Norway very well, due to my work there, and quite frankly, I am not surprised. The Norwegian society suffers from yet another manifestation of the entitlement mentality.

  22. Roy Says:

    The Norwegians can’t figure out how to make and distribute butter themselves for less than $109/lb…???!!!

    There HAS to be more to that story.

  23. CarlosElio Says:

    This makes sense in Spanish, so, allow me.

    Hacer dinero en Norway? Pero que mantequilla!

  24. Charly Says:

    A few years ago,on a foreign trip, I used to buy Godiva chocolates for family. Now it is coffee and powdered milk.

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