Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Crazy Norwegians are Normal


The amount of people seeking psychiatric treatment amounts to 25 percent of all adult Norwegians. Another 450,000 Norwegians are believed to suffer psychiatric problems, but don't bother visiting a doctor.

Anxiety and depression are the most common ailments, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday morning.

Even the politicians are wacky:

Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik has been among those seeking psychiatric help, after being diagnosed with a "depressive reaction" during his first term in the late 1990s.

Which might help explain this proposal:

Gjermund Hagesæter of the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) wants to issue a credit card that's already paid up to the tune of NOK 18,000 (about USD 2,700). The money, however, can only be spent outside Norway, in order to keep domestic inflation under control.

Hagesæter also thinks it's wrong that high oil prices mean Norway is raking in much more money than it expected or, perhaps, deserves. This "petro-kroner" means the country's so-called "Oil Fund" (set up to stash away oil wealth for future generations) is growing at such a fast clip that it likely held NOK 80 billion, or USD 12 billion, more than expected in the state budget.

So Hagesæter wants to divvy up the excess and place it directly into the hands of Norwegians, with the proviso that it be spent in places that also can benefit the economies of Norway's many oil customers. He'd also allow the state-issued credit cards to be used to pay for train or plane tickets needed to transport Norwegians off on holiday.

In the meantime, due to lack of funds:

Long queues at the emergency psychiatric ward at Akershus University Hospital (Ahus) have led to suicidal patients being released before treatment is complete.

As well as hospitals generally:

All told, the country's taxpayer-funded hospitals logged a collective loss of NOK 1.1 billion (about USD 165 million), reported newspaper Aftenposten on Monday. Budgets for the coming year demand cost cuts amounting to NOK 1.5 billion, and that will likely mean some painful reorganization by hospital administration.

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