Is Scandinavia really better than the United States?

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.




  1. violetwisp on November 9, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    Reblogged this on violetwisp and commented:
    Tom Quiner shows me why the USA is better to live in than Scandinavia. Like most other Europeans I long to live in a country with no reliable healthcare or social security safety net, and open access to firearms.

    • 49erDweet on November 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Garbage in, garbage out. Compare the sizes, populations, economic output and living density of those countries with six of our states and you immediately see they are small potatoes, (probably all with blue eyes). It’s a fool’s game. Pump up Scanidinavian population density – even disregarding Greenland – and your socialist friend’s assumptions fall apart.

    • 49erDweet on November 9, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      I have to laugh at the “no reliable health care” assumption. When we retirees on SS travel abroad our European friends marvel at the advanced pulmonary equipment my wife’s been issued. A decade ahead.

      • quinersdiner on November 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        Thanks for sharing!

  2. jasonjshaw on November 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    Economic output is more important than a happy, functional society? I guess that’s true when there’s a war machine to drive.

    • quinersdiner on November 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Economic output is very important. Without it, our lavish welfare state would collapse.

  3. insanitybytes22 on November 9, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I don’t know how many people are risking their lives to try and get into Scandinavian countries? That is always the bottom line for me, no matter what these alleged measures of economic equality tell us, the truth lies more in where people are actually choosing to try and live. For all the complaints about the US, people are still flooding our borders trying to get in here.

    We have a quality of life that is so high, even our poor are envied. Also, as much as opportunity has declined, there is still hope and freedom and the possibility of the American dream. It’s pretty darn hard to start at the bottom in a Scandinavian country, build a business, buy a home, and work towards your dreams. Our upward mobility may be suffering in the US, but it still exists. I’m not sure how true that is in Scandinavia.

  4. K. Q. Duane on November 9, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Unlike America, I don’t see people clambering to get into Sweden. That should end the discussion.

    • quinersdiner on November 9, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Good point. And for the record, our poverty stats are skewed by immigrants, which Scandinavian countries don’t have to deal with at our level.