Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism

Here is the Myth exposed:

No, Bernie Sanders, Scandinavia is not a socialist utopia
When Bernie Sanders was asked during CNN’s Democratic presidential debate how a self-proclaimed socialist could hope to be elected to the White House, he gave the answer he usually gives: Socialism has been wonderful for the countries of Scandinavia, and America should emulate their example.

“We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people,” Sanders said. When the moderator turned to Hillary Clinton, she agreed that America has to “save capitalism from itself” and that, yes, Scandinavia is great. “I love Denmark,” declared Clinton. It was the only time in the debate a candidate uttered the verb “love.”

Liberals have had a crush on Scandinavia for decades. “It is a country whose very name has become a synonym for a materialist paradise,” observed Time magazine in a 1976 story on Sweden. “Its citizens enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards. . . . Neither ill health, unemployment nor old age pose the terror of financial hardship. [Sweden’s] cradle-to-grave benefits are unmatched in any other free society outside Scandinavia.” In 2010, a National Public Radio story marveled at the way “Denmark Thrives Despite High Taxes.” The small Nordic nation, said NPR, “seems to violate the laws of the economic universe,” improbably balancing low poverty and unemployment rates with stratospheric taxes that were among the world’s highest.

Such paeans may inspire Clinton’s love and Sanders’ faith in America’s socialist future. As with most urban legends, however, the reality of Scandinavia’s welfare-state utopia doesn’t match the hype. [...]
The rest of the article goes into detail about how Scandinavian prospered in spite of socialism, not because of it. How socialism nearly destroyed their prosperity, and how they have spend years rolling back welfare and taxes, and re-introducing free market reforms. How much of the success of Scandinavian countries has to do with who they are:
[...] The real key to Scandinavia’s unique successes isn’t socialism, it’s culture. Social trust and cohesion, a broad egalitarian ethic, a strong emphasis on work and responsibility, commitment to the rule of law — these are healthy attributes of a Nordic culture that was ingrained over centuries. In the region’s small and homogeneous countries (overwhelmingly white, Protestant, and native-born), those norms took deep root. The good outcomes and high living standards they produced antedated the socialist nostrums of the 1970s. Scandinavia’s quality of life didn’t spring from leftist policies. It survived them. [...]
Read the whole thing, it's short and it gets to the point, with many embedded links to back up what it says.

BTW, I've no objections to looking at Scandinavia as a model, so long as we look at everything, their successes and their failures. We could learn a lot from both of those. If some things they've done were successful and could be adopted by us, so be it. It's just the sweeping generalizations based on fantasy that I'm leary of. Read the whole article. Why adopt policies from the Scandinavians that they themselves have discarded as unworkable? Even policies that work for them in their largely homogenous culture, may not necessarily transplant to ours. When looking for role models, let's keep it REAL, shall we?

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