The argument from the left is often as follows. Socialism (or democratic socialism) works just fine in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The problem with this argument is that these countries are not particularly socialist.
The myth of Nordic socialism. It’s partially created by a confusion between socialism — meaning government exerting control or ownership of businesses — and the welfare state in the form of government-provided social safety net programs through high taxation.
The left have been trying to redefine the meaning of the word socialism.
(While at the same time apparently longing for real socialism. Just look at the leftists affinity with socialist dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela for example.)
Nordic Countries Have Mostly Free Market Economics – Just Highly Taxed
The truth is, the Nordic countries have mostly free market economics paired with high taxes exchanged for generous government entitlement programs. That’s not socialism.
It is worth noting that the Nordic counties were economic successes before they built their welfare states. Those productive economies, generating good incomes for their workers, allowed the governments to raise the tax revenue needed to pay for those social benefits.
It was not the government benefits that created wealth, but wealth that allowed the luxury of such generous government programs.
Did you know that Sweden has complete school choice? Each child gets a ‘voucher’. They can be used to attend regular public schools, government-run charter schools, or private, for-profit schools. Clearly, the use of government taxpayer funds to pay for private, for-profit schools is the opposite of socialism.
Did you know that there is a lack of government interference in business affairs in these countries? None of them have minimum wage laws, for example. They are evidently highly unionized, while government largely does not interfere. Workers are paid according to their worth, not based on government’s perception thereof. That’s not socialism.
Socialism can take the form of government controlling or interfering with free markets, nationalizing industries, and subsidizing favored ones.
The Nordic countries don’t actually do much of those things. Yes, they offer government-paid healthcare, in some cases tuition-free university educations, and rather generous social safety nets, all financed with high taxes.
What Are They?
Nordic countries are not socialist countries. Venezuela is an appropriate example of a socialist country today. The left is confusing the definition of socialism and often cites Nordic countries as their example of success. The problem is, they’re not socialist countries.
Highly taxed nanny state capitalism. I’ve also read the term “compassionate capitalism”.
The point being, lets call it what it is. And not what it is not (socialism). It is capitalism, though highly taxed to distribute certain welfare benefits. Then the debate can be more accurately addressed. Then we can have a discussion.
Do we want to be taxed from 60 to 90% so we can get “free healthcare” (paying it through taxes instead)? Or do we want to continue to pay our insurance premiums as we always have?
Do we want to be highly taxed in order to pay for our kids “higher education”? Or do we want to continue as is…
I’m not implying that I’m in favor of such a system. I’m just saying that it’s NOT socialism. So it should be discussed or debated in the context of what it really is. Higher taxes for welfare programs. It’s a different way of paying for them (taxes).
Are People In Nordic Countries Happier?
Some say that the people living in these countries are happier (than Americans, for example). I’m not so sure about that.
When I’ve searched on this, I’ve come up with explanations that say older people may be apparently happier there. After all, they’re the ones effectively receiving more benefits via high taxation of others.
Younger people apparently are not that happy over there. Perhaps that’s because the young may be (in essence) pressured/paying a disproportional burden for the old? (just a thought).
Anyway, I wanted to write this article today because I anticipated someone bringing this up on yesterday’s post, “Bernie Sanders Socialism Plan For America”
Note: I believe that Bernie Sanders is a REAL socialist at heart.
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