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 a 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 letter below on Denmark is probative.
What Can We Learn From Denmark?
Senator Bernie Sanders – Independent U. S. Senator From Vermont
Danish Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen spent a weekend in Vermont this month traveling with me to town meetings in Burlington, Brattleboro and Montpelier. Large crowds came out to learn about a social system very different from our own which provides extraordinary security and opportunity for the people of Denmark.
Today in the United States there is a massive amount of economic anxiety. Unemployment is much too high, wages and income are too low, millions of Americans are struggling to find affordable health care and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider.
While young working families search desperately for affordable child care, older Americans worry about how they can retire with dignity. Many of our people are physically exhausted as they work the longest hours of any industrialized country and have far less paid vacation time than other major countries
Denmark is a small, homogenous nation of about 5.5 million people. The United States is a melting pot of more than 315 million people. No question about it, Denmark and the United States are very different countries. Nonetheless, are there lessons that we can learn from Denmark?