JULY 9, 2014
LONGYEARBYEN, Norway — As governor of Norway’s northernmost territory, Odd Olsen Ingero commands a police force with just six officers and a single detention cell for an area twice the size of New Jersey. Even that is overkill: Nobody has been locked up here in the capital of Svalbard since last summer. And that was for just two days.
It is not just that there are not many people — fewer than 3,000 are officially registered as residents — or that what are elsewhere run-of-the-mill crimes like car theft are an exotic and very risky business in a place where there are no roads out of town to escape on.
The key to Svalbard’s status as probably Europe’s closest thing to a crime-free society, according to the governor, is that unemployment is in effect illegal. “If you don’t have a job, you can’t live here,” Mr. Ingero said, noting that the jobless are swiftly deported. Retirees are sent away, too, unless they can prove they have sufficient means to support themselves.
Although governed by Norway, a country that prides itself on offering cradle-to-grave state support for its needy citizens, Svalbard, an archipelago of islands in the high Arctic, embraces a model that is closer to the vision of Ayn Rand than the Scandinavian norm of generous welfare protection.
Even Longyearbyen’s socialist mayor, Christin Kristoffersen, a member of the Labour Party, wants the town — named after an American industrialist, John Munro Longyear, who founded it in 1906 — to stay off limits to all but the able-bodied and gainfully employed.
Read more at the New York Times…
Article in Norwegian…