This little country, Denmark could teach us something
A few days ago Bernie Sanders gave a speech in which he articulated the need for a grassroots movement to effect a government that really works for us all. If we are to have a middle-class and citizenry that have the protections of a safety net as articulated below, the movement Bernie Sanders talks about is indeed what we must effect now.
Last year Denmark was ranked the happiest country in world. This year Denmark is ranked the second happiest country in the world topped only by Norway. They are both successful high tax, very good social safety net (universal healthcare, unemployment compensation, retraining, free or affordable higher education, etc.) countries. They are both democratic.
Denmark and other Scandinavian countries weathered the 2008 Great Depression better than most of Europe and the United States. They did this even with what Americans would consider a bloated public sector.
Many will argue that these countries are small in comparison to the US and as such it is not a good comparison. Many will argue that the wealth from North Sea Oil reserves is partly the reason. Many will argue that because these countries are strong welfare states that they are less competitive.
The reality is Americans have been lied to or allowed to wallow in their own ignorance. They have been taught to believe fallacies that counter one’s intuition. Once this indoctrination is complete, change towards progress is non-existent or painfully slow.
If one is to believe in the economy of scale, America’s size makes efficiency even more possible than in these small countries. America is extremely rich with natural resources, not only oil. The problem is that it is distributed unfairly among the few that ‘stole’ it or bought it on the cheap (e.g.,25 families own 1% of all land and the resources of that land in America).
Denmark and other Scandinavian countries’ with strong social safety nets have not made them less competitive. In fact they are way at the top of the list with the United States. Most other countries at the top have strong social safety nets as well. As a society they care more for the social, economic, and health well-being of their fellow citizens than America.
One of the reasons Denmark and other Scandinavian countries with strong social safety nets weathered the Great Recession better is that they had a built in stimulus. In America when one loses a job, they get unemployment for a short time (this recession was an exception). That unemployment is much less than wages and runs out quickly. That means the contribution to the economy by that laid off worker makes a recession much worse as much less money is entered into the economy. In countries with strong safety nets, workers get up to 90% of their wages. As such the economic shock from unemployment is mitigated till the economy’s ‘overstock’ is mitigated until increased employment is required.
In America we are encouraged to disregard logic and obvious reality for the sake of ideology. The ideology is present to maintain not only a status quo, but a country where only a select few will ever have the opportunity to be wealthy. It is a ‘me first’ and selfish ideology. It is an ideology where wealth is built on the backs of the middle class and the poor, Class Warfare.
Independent Senator Bernie Sander’s article titled “What Can We Learn From Denmark?” is a very important read.
Happiness depends on a sense of freedom. If taxes are high people in general must be able to appreciate what they get in return. The U S is faing in both of these areas, dropping out of the top ten list of “happiest countries.” Yet our politics are supposed to be based on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2013/01/09/the-worlds-happiest-and-saddest-countries-2/
The Happiest (And Saddest) Countries In The World
The U.S. has fallen out of the top 10. Just a fluke, or sign of a nation in decline?
There is probably only one thing where I think Denmark should look to the US. It’s been speculated that the reason Denmark ranks as the happiest country is because Danes have lower expectations than, f.ex., Americans. Americans are far often taught to go for their dreams than we are, even if we have a better chance of reaching them.
Also, it’s not true that the Welfare State is supported by all parties – there are those that actively seeks to destroy it, so that Denmark can be more like the US. It’s quite ironic, actually. You look to us and see how good a system we have, and we look to you and idolizes you, for reasons I don’t understand.
Most of what the article says is true, but don’t think Denmark’s utopia just because the American system is ridiculous.
Bob Barker says
What better opportunity for any person to go into medicine (for example) without coming out the other end with a diploma — and huge debt? Or, not be able to fulfill that dream because they can’t qualify in the first place or were brought up in a socially and financially poor environment? It looks to me that countries like Denmark gives more opportunity to more people than ones such as the USA.
Bob Cole says
Julie the problem here is exactly the expectations – the ‘american dream’ everyone here thinks they can and should be rich. well sorry no. most rich people I’ve met here are just lucky or were born into it – another form of luck. unless you are curing cancer what the hell makes you so special.
Americans were brainwashed by wealthy Americans to think that capitalism and our way of thinking will lead to the American Dream. When Americans were making 15 to 20 an hr in manufacturing in the 70’s that contributed to that dream. When wealthy ppl viewed American workers as “a dime a dozen” and started paying slave wages, the American Dream was pulled out from under us and replaced with poverty and despaired.