The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism

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Seamus: Dare I ask?

Bob: We need to be more like Scandinavia, so that we can be happy like them.

Seamus: How do we need to be more like Scandinavia, Bob?

Bob: Their poverty rate is less than half the United States and they have free healthcare, free higher education, free paternal leave, free vacation, free retirement, a living minimum wage, a high happiness index score, and a higher individual GDP than the US. Scandinavia proves that Democratic socialism can work

Seamus: Actually, Bob, the Scandinavian countries that people like to point to like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway aren’t really socialist all.

Bob: What?

Seamus: Not only has the prime minister of Denmark gone out of his way to publicly say that their a market economy, those four Scandinavian countries ranked about the same as the U.S. as far as economic freedom is concerned. Yes, they have very robust welfare systems that previous administrations have put in place, but they’ve been trimming back both their social programs and their levels of taxation since the 1990s, once the people realized that there are economies were suffering because of the expanding tax-and-spend social democracy policies that kept being implemented. As far as levels of poverty are concern, national-level poverty is measured comparatively to what other people in the same country are making. And where that line is set varies from country to country. Not even the World Bank will release comparative data sets on that. And all four countries have higher individual and family tax burdens than the U.S., with Sweden and Finland is being significantly higher. If you earn in $54,000, once your employer has paid the necessary taxes for hiring you and you’ve paid your income tax, you’re left with $39,000 in the U.S. and only $20,000 to $25,000 in Sweden. I wouldn’t call that free anything.

Bob: But what about their GDP?

Seamus: Well, according to the World Bank’s most recent data, only Norway had a GDP per capita that was higher than the U.S. and that’s largely because of their relatively large petroleum reserves. It’s also worth noting that other per capita GDP has sharply decreased in recent years.

Bob: Their high minimum wage?

Seamus: By and large it isn’t set by their government, it’s negotiated industry by industry between unions and businesses, usually. Bob, it’s great that you want other people to be happier, but maybe we could find a way that doesn’t involve government mandates or Viking horns?

Bob: Val halla!!!

Seamus: You can keep the Viking horns, then!

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