IT'S THE moment nosy neighbours have been waiting for – the release of official records showing the annual income and overall wealth of every Norwegian taxpayer. In a move that would be unthinkable in most countries, tax authorities in Norway have issued the skatteliste, or "tax list," for 2008 to domestic media under a law designed to safeguard the country's tradition of transparency.
The annual list includes data about fishermen on the western fjords, Sami reindeer herders in the north and urbanites in Oslo. To non-Scandinavians, it appears to be a gross violation of privacy. At home, it has stirred up a media frenzy, with headlines revealing who is oil-rich Norway's wealthiest man, woman and celebrity couple.
Defenders of the system say it enhances transparency, which is essential for an open democracy. "Isn't this how a social democracy ought to work, with openness, transparency and social equality as ideals?" wrote Jan Omdahl, a columnist for the tabloid Dagbladet.
A parte mais irónica é que, apesar de tanta conversa fiada sobre vontade democrática, igualdade e abertura social, o apoio popular a esta medida parece denotar uma oposição definida de quase metade da sociedade:
A 2007 survey by research group Synovate revealed that only 32 per cent of the Norwegian public wanted the tax list published, while 46 per cent were against it.