Portlandia & Norway: Desired by the Poor, Educated, and Criminals?

Curated by CLAI

“Young people are increasingly telling themselves, ‘I’m going to move somewhere and pursue my career,’ rather than, ‘I’m going to pursue my career and go wherever it takes me.’” That line stuck with me as many of my friends and colleagues move to other cities and even countries to live. Many young Americans now have the liberty and flexibility to pick up and move wherever our heart desires because we are not worrying about just food, water, and shelter, but are in search of meaning and passion.

With that, countries like Norway have such high standards of living – their prison cells look better than a lot of dorm rooms and apartments I’ve ever lived in. Our needs are all relative to our surroundings.

Portland, Oregon: Where Work is Optional (Kelsey Dake, NYTIMES)

Portland, Oregon: Where Work is Optional (Kelsey Dake, NYTIMES)

PORTLAND: People move to New York to be in media or finance; they move to L.A. to be in show business. People move to Portland to move to Portland.

  • Portland has taken hold of the cultural imagination as, to borrow the tag line from “Portlandia,” the place where young people go to retire.
  • The city has nearly all the perks that economists suggest lead to a high quality of life — coastlines, mountains, mild winters and summers, restaurants, cultural institutions and clean air.
  • According to the sacrifice measure metric, which essentially charts how poor a person is willing to be in order to live in a particular city: Portland is near the top of the list. Even when college-educated residents get jobs there, they earn 84 cents for the average dollar earned in other cities.
  • We’re not the hungry immigrant nation we used to be. We’re more into meaning, into jobs that find fulfillment. And at least some people are willing to accept lower pay to go somewhere they care about.
  • Portland’s paradox is that it attracts so many of “the young and the restless”, that it has become a city of the overeducated and underemployed — a place where young people are, in many cases, forced into their semiretirement.
Norwegian prison art (Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg, WAPO)

Norwegian prison art (Trond Isaksen/ Statsbygg, WAPO)

NORWEGIAN PRISONS OR HOTELS? Norway’s prisons are overcrowded, but the Scandinavian country has found a simple solution: sending some of its prisoners abroad. Up to 300 prisoners could be sent to the Netherlands, which has so few criminals that it’s about to close 19 penal facilities.

The reality of Norwegian overcrowding belies the longstanding reputation the country has had for prisons that looked more like modern art museums than penal facilities. Some Norwegian cells look even more luxurious than student dorms.

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