By Tom Quiner
One of this blog’s socialist readers recently waxed eloquent about the economic virtue of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, aka the Scandinavian countries.
She made some compelling points:
“If you look at countries with a strong welfare model, like in Scandanvia, they pay up to 60% in tax, have high rates of benefits yet low levels of unemployment. Raising the social safety net has made them the best and most productive places to live in the world, with the lowest levels of income inequality.”
In other words, the socialist prescription for economic nirvana rests on increasing taxes, taking money from producers and redistributing it to non-producers. You, know, kind of like they do in Cuba and Venezuela. You know, kind of like the Soviet Union did it.
Obviously, socialists are challenged by these examples since these countries have been such abject economic failures. I read just last week in the U.S. Today that Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, has been forced to import crude oil from other countries. Why? Because their failed experiment with socialism hasn’t left them with enough money to pump the oil in their own backyard!
I know, it’s probably the U.S.’s fault one way or another. Liberals are good at blaming every ill in the world on us. So, what about the Scandinavian countries? Are they a shining example of the superiority of socialism?
I’m not sure.
For starters, those countries embrace capitalism more than socialism. They tend to have higher taxes than the U.S. (46% of GDP for them compared to 40% for us) and extensive welfare schemes. But depending on the country, they rank higher than the U.S. in terms of business freedom, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property freedom, and freedom from corruption (according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom).
It wasn’t always that way, but since the Obama Government was installed in 2008, the U.S. has declined in each of these areas.
In this morning’s Des Moines Register was a good example of the decline in our property freedoms:
“The New York Times and Washington Post have reported a huge upswing in the number of federal seizures of cash and property from law-abiding citizens who are not even charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In one year alone, forfeitures have increased from $1.7 billion to $4.2 billion. Under President Obama, the Department of Justice has deliberately twisted the civil forfeiture law into a form of legalized extortion aimed at law-abiding citizens.”
Keep in mind, the Des Moines Register is ultra liberal. Even THEY acknowledge the similarities between the Obama regime and the Castro/Chavez regimes.
So in some respects, Scandinavian countries do allow their citizens a chance to be productive by minimizing the legalized extortion schemes we see perpetrated in this country by the Federal Government. Nonetheless, their productivity still lags behind ours.
The Swedish group Timbro made a study of economic prosperity comparing Scandinavia to the U.S. If theses countries were part of the U.S., they wouldn’t stack up very well to the other 50 states in terms of per capita income. Denmark would be the 10th poorest; Finland would be the 5th poorest; Sweden would be the 7th poorest. Norway wasn’t included in the study since they aren’t a member of the European Union.
In all, only Switzerland (out of the entire European Union), due to its tax-haven status, ranks ahead of the U.S. in terms of economic output per person.
Scandinavian countries even have lower gross disposable incomes both before and AFTER taxes.
If we can regain the freedoms lost under the Obama Government, our numbers will look even better. It is this administration’s tilt towards socialism that has set us back.