Since someone mentioned dirt on Scandinavia, I'd thought I'd take a look at what's said about Norway, and see if it's true.
I'm not sure why any of the points raised would make you not want to live in Norway, as they're more national than individual concerns, but I feltl ike writing, so here are my thoughts.
The dignity and resolve of the Norwegian people in the wake of the attacks by Anders Behring Breivik in July 2011 was deeply impressive, but in September the rightwing, anti-Islamist Progress party – of which Breivik had been an active member for many years – won 16.3% of the vote in the general election, enough to elevate it into coalition government for the first time in its history. There remains a disturbing Islamophobic sub-subculture in Norway. Ask the Danes, and they will tell you that the Norwegians are the most insular and xenophobic of all the Scandinavians, and it is true that since they came into a bit of money in the 1970s the Norwegians have become increasingly Scrooge-like, hoarding their gold, fearful of outsiders.
The party in question has actually declined considerable since the election, after having broken nearly every promise they made. Which is not at all surprising when some of the promises they made were actually impossible for them to keep. The social-democratic Labour Party remains the country's largest party. While it is true that certain segments of Norwegian politics are anti-immigrant and anti-Islamic, rest assured they're a minority, and are called on their lies every time. The Progress Party remains a significant party, but there's a significant distance between their base, and the rest of the population. To suggest that their stances reflect the stances of the overall population, is more than a stretch. Consider also that what is called the left in the US, is basically right-of-center in Norway. The Progress Party is right-wing by Norwegian standards, but they're probably closer to the political center than even the Republican party in the US.
Though 2013 saw a record number of asylum applications to Norway, it granted asylum to fewer than half of them (around 5,000 people), a third of the number that less wealthy Sweden admits (Sweden accepted over 9,000 from Syria alone). In his book Petromania, journalist Simon Sætre warns that the powerful oil lobby is "isolating us and making the country asocial". According to him, his countrymen have been corrupted by their oil money, are working less, retiring earlier, and calling in sick more frequently. And while previous governments have controlled the spending of oil revenues, the new bunch are threatening a splurge which many warn could lead to full-blown Dutch disease.
The first part of this is entirely true, unfortunately.
The latter part, I'm not so sure about. First of all, while the government we elected last year promised tax cuts and reductions in the number of toll roads. What happened? Why, the exact opposite. Because, I suspect, it's easier to make promises like that when you're not trying to balance a real budget. The quote above notes that previous governments have controlled the spending of oil revenues, but doesn't mention that the guidelines for how oil revenues should be managed have been agreed to by all parties except the Progress Party, who control only a small minority of the government. Spending is very unlikely to increase dramatically, as I like to think our politicians are savvy enough to realize what this would mean. But, more on that next.
Like the dealer who never touches his own supply, those dirty frackers the Norwegians boast of using only renewable energy sources, all the while amassing the world's largest sovereign wealth fund selling fossil fuels to the rest of us. As Norwegian anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen put it to me when I visited his office in Oslo University: "We've always been used to thinking of ourselves as part of the solution, and with the oil we suddenly became part of the problem. Most people are really in denial."
What Hylland Eriksen - probably our most prominent political commentator - says, is true. It's absolutely true that Norway gets most of its energy from renewable sources, while at the same time we peddle our oil to others. It's a massive problem, and it's one, I think, the country will have to come to terms with quite soon. Because of our dependence on oil revenues, we are lagging in many other areas. Notably, Norway is, I believe, the slowest innovator in Scandinavia - and the only field where we're good at innovating, is oil.
I do believe people are waking up to this. The Green Party, who I believe propose shutting down the petroleum industry entirely, are small, but growing. I doubt they'll have the political power necessary to fulfill that goal before we're forced to transition away from oil for other reasons, but it does, I hope, reflect a growing awareness among the population that there is a problem.