Sunday, May 22

In short, Monday, January 17th

We collect the newspaper’s short articles in the column «In short». Here is today’s post.

Hijab ban. Russia. Pension. Governor. This is today’s card post!

This is a debate post. Opinions in the text are at the writer’s expense.

Error about hijab ban in France

Aftenposten Si; D on January 10 mentions an alleged ban on hijab in public for minors in France. This does not imply accuracy. The law was never passed.

The legislative process in France follows well-known European models. A bill is launched in the National Assembly, then goes on to the Senate, which for many years has been dominated by the right. The head of the Senate is the president’s deputy, and it was in this chamber that the right wing tried to add to the controversial hijab bans.

From the Senate, the bill goes back to the National Assembly, where the vote takes place. The final instance is the Constitutional Council, which assesses whether new laws are contrary to the French constitution. The bill never reached the Constitutional Council, but was voted down in the National Assembly.

It is serious that the Norwegian media does not check the facts before publishing, and in that way contributes to the spread of erroneous claims. There is a lot to criticize France for, but a minimum requirement must be that the facts are in place.

Ingrid A. Thommessen, Norwegian-French journalist

War in Ukraine? Hardly.

Professor Sven G. Holtsmark and director of the Norwegian Home Front Museum Lars Rowe compares in Aftenposten 12 January Vladimir Putin’s pressure on the West with Adolf Hitler’s pressure on Great Britain and France in 1938, which led to the Munich Agreement. There are similarities, but the differences are so great that the comparison lags.

Over the past year, however, Putin has strengthened his grip on power. The constitution now allows him to sit until 2036. But the possibility of popular uprising and coup attempts by groups in the elite is there.

Polls show declining popularity, and in the ranks of oligarchs, who along with the Russian security service FSB keep Putin in power, only money counts. Neither the people nor the elite will support a war that goes out with Russians home in coffins and heavy sanctions.

Putin’s attack force faces about 500,000 highly motivated Ukrainian soldiers, most of whom have been hardened through eight years in the field. Should a blitzkrieg attack prevail, hundreds of thousands of well-equipped Ukrainians will continue fighting in guerrilla-oriented resistance. Afghanistan in 1979–89 frightens.

How long Putin can play on Russia’s greatness to stay in power remains to be seen. But war in Ukraine? Hardly.

Oddmund H. Hammerstad, Oslo

The pension debate: A clarification of the coordination trap

In Aftenposten on 11 January, Fredrik Anspach, head of department, responds to Geir Martinussen’s article about the coordination trap for public employees who work after 67 years. Anspach advises public employees not to take out National Insurance early. But those who follow the advice of Anspach also fall into the trap. Early withdrawal of National Insurance does not affect the calculation of public service pension, as many people seem to believe.

The coordination trap works for the cohorts 1944-1962 and is still active and relevant. For example, the proposal to extend the age limit to 72 years seems unfortunate, without at the same time removing the coordination trap. Then more people who should be so “stupid” to work after 70 years, will fall into the trap.

National Insurance can be taken out flexibly. In the case of early withdrawal, one can choose to have less paid out annually over a longer period than before, when National Insurance was paid out at age 67. And you can choose to get paid more over a shorter period by postponing the withdrawal. In sum, the National Insurance Scheme over an average life expectancy will be the same, regardless of when it is taken out. What pays off becomes a kind of bet against one’s own life expectancy and a question of personal accrual of withdrawals.

The coordination rules do not take into account when you have taken out National Insurance. Occupational pension is reduced against a calculated National Insurance scheme as if the National Insurance pension had been taken out at the age of 67. And for those who are in work after 67 years (the problem), occupational pension is reduced to a calculated and higher annual National Insurance, as if it had been taken out at retirement. The occupational pension thus becomes smaller the longer you stay at work, completely independent of when you actually take out the National Insurance Scheme.

We must distinguish between annual pension and pension over the life course. A public employee who postpones taking out National Insurance for retirement after age 67 will maintain an annual pension of 66 per cent of final salary, but lost occupational pension is financed by the individual National Insurance. A public employee who lives an average long life, and who postpones withdrawal of National Insurance, will receive exactly the same pension loss over the life course as someone who took out National Insurance at age 62.

Andreas GR Moen, lawyer, NITO lawyers

Tailor-made boss

On 11 January, there was a NRK debate on the election of a central bank governor. Several debaters seemed to think that such a boss must have minimal contact with the Ministry of Finance (FD) and not have held political positions.

As a FD employee at the end of the 1960s, I experienced a close collaboration between Norges Bank and the FD on both the central bank interest rate and any exchange rate changes. All heads of Norges Bank after 1945 have been politically active and / or had a professional background in FD:

Gunnar Jahn, Minister of the Liberal Party
Erik Brofoss, Minister of Finance, Ap
Knut Getz Wold, Left Member
Hermod Skånland, FD
Torstein Moland, FD
Kjell Storvik, Conservative State Secretary in FD
Svein Gjedrem, FD
Øystein Olsen, FD

As is well known, Jens Stoltenberg has been both party leader and Minister of Finance for the Labor Party and should thus, in the opinion of some, be twice disqualified for the position of new head of Norges Bank. Although he did such a good job as prime minister for nine years that former US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hijacked him as Secretary General of NATO in 2014.

In my opinion, Jens Stoltenberg, with his financial education, experience from political governance and international status, would be tailored to the additional task of the Governor of the central bank: Responsibility for the Government Pension Fund – Global. This is a huge money box for the Norwegian people that needs a person with the capacity of Jens Stoltenberg to supervise. Here, small-scale consideration of gender equality or political background must be completely subordinate to the quality requirement.

Alfred Kvalheim, former civil servant

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