There are lots of reasons why things change, but one of them is public policy. Ideas have consequences, even if it sometimes takes a long time for those consequences to become evident.
During my formative years, Scandinavia seemed like a sort of paradise–strong economies, progressive cultures, swimsuits optional. Plus, Scandinavian cities were safe. Whereas American cities, especially New York, were sinking into what many thought was a death-spiral fueled by rising crime rates, Scandinavian cities were virtually crime-free, and you could wander the streets at any time of day or night. Europeans viewed Americans as a lawless and dangerous people.
Things changed, though. American cities, led by Rudy Giuliani’s New York, rebounded. In Scandinavia, post-Christian culture combined with political correctness to breed ever-scarier urban environments. Today, the roles are reversed, as the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten notes:
While crime in the rest of Norway has been going down, it has been quite another situation in Oslo, where personal and automobile thefts increased markedly last year.
Oslo had the highest rate per person in Scandinavia in terms of reported crimes, with 90 reported crimes per 1,000. Copenhagen had 50 crimes reported per 1,000 and Stockholm had 79.
In New York, there were 22 reported crimes per 1,000 inhabitants.
This means there were four times as many reported crimes per person in Oslo as in New York.
Norway’s crime wave apparently results from poor immigration and law enforcement policies, much as New York’s renaissance is due mostly to sound and aggressive law enforcement strategies. Whether the Scandinavian countries–or, more broadly, Western Europe–will be able to reverse their present decline remains to be seen.
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