Why do Scandinavian systems seem to do well?

Login or register to post comments Last Post 4872 reads   19 posts
Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 19 total)
  • Mon, Oct 03, 2011 - 03:18am

    #1
    fiorgodx

    fiorgodx

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 31 2011

    Posts: 19

    count placeholder0

    Why do Scandinavian systems seem to do well?

When I talk with people about the futility of excessive government spending, explosive medicare costs, and socialism in general – some people point to the Scandinavian countries and their apparent prosperity despite universal healthcare and high taxes. I don’t have a good response to this, in fact I don’t know much about these countries except that I have the same impression: Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are basically socialist with near 60% taxes, yet are still some of the richest and most stable countries in the world, complete with some of the highest standards of living.

So which is wrong, my belief that these countries are prospering, or my belief that free market economies are the best and only way a society can prosper? 

  • Mon, Oct 03, 2011 - 08:19am

    #2
    RogerA

    RogerA

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 18 2009

    Posts: 66

    count placeholder0

    Keyword is “seem”.

First I must say I regularly tell myself how extremely fortunate I am to live here(Norway).
All this talk about an economic crisis, there is no sign of it anywhere here from the perspective of an average person.
If this really is an advantage can be discussed as a more gradual decline would make problems more visible so more people would have more time to make changes.

The system works, sort of. I guess you have to live here to experience how it does not work.
You get what you need and often more, healthcare, welfare, pensions, social security. It works as long as you "fit in", behave as everybody else, conform.

The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration has some serious problems, quite many people live off social security, I could mention more but I do not have time.
It is complicated but in my view the system does not work better here but there are other factors which helps it going.

Myself, I do not believe in any system longer. No system will work if the people are corrupt, "any" system will work if people are angels.

A quote from john Adams:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

  • Mon, Oct 03, 2011 - 10:51am

    #3

    goes211

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 18 2008

    Posts: 287

    count placeholder0

    Is it transparency?

Although I get to Europe fairly regularly, I have never been to one of the Scandinavian countries.  From what I have read, my guess as to why they seem to work so well is:

  1. Small homogeneous populations.
  2. Not a foreign power, so no illusions of grandeur or empire.
  3. A mostly transparent system which seems to result in far less corruption.
  4. Not known for their entrepreneurial innovation.  This might not be fair because this might just be due to their small population size.  However if it is the case, maybe it is because they are effectively free riders on innovations (scientific, technology,medical,…) from other western countries.

If the current US government had the those tax rates and the power to do whatever it wanted (completely unconstrained by the constitution), there would be no freedom left and we would effectively live in a totalitarian system.

  • Mon, Oct 03, 2011 - 12:02pm

    #4

    frobn

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 28 2010

    Posts: 38

    count placeholder0

    fiorgodx wrote:When I talk

[quote=fiorgodx]

When I talk with people about the futility of excessive government spending, explosive medicare costs, and socialism in general – some people point to the Scandinavian countries and their apparent prosperity despite universal healthcare and high taxes. I don’t have a good response to this, in fact I don’t know much about these countries except that I have the same impression: Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are basically socialist with near 60% taxes, yet are still some of the richest and most stable countries in the world, complete with some of the highest standards of living.

So which is wrong, my belief that these countries are prospering, or my belief that free market economies are the best and only way a society can prosper? [/quote]

I think the answer to your question is what you believe prospering is. If it to accumulate wealth and goods then the free market–which is not really free–provides more opportunities.

I have not been to Sweden or studied their system so this is just speculation. A 60% tax rate effectively lessens income inequality and lessens competitive incentives thus reducing the consumer mentality to acquire wealth and more goods. A large portion of taxes are for shared values like health and education. With less emphasis on goods people make better choices in what they purchase and with less work competition are better able to enjoy family and friends. I think we get hung up with our prejudices, i.e. socialism is bad, free market capitalism is good. But how good is capitalism that enables less than 1% to accumulate 2/3 of the wealth? To me Sweden appears to be a mix of socialism and capitalism, there are tradeoffs but it works for them, due to other factors it may not work for other countries. Ocuppywallstreet is questioning some of fundamental beliefs and prejudices about capitalism.

Disclaimer, I am not advocating a 60% tax rate.

  • Mon, Oct 03, 2011 - 04:18pm

    #5
    oscarkjellberg

    oscarkjellberg

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 28 2008

    Posts: 1

    count placeholder0

    Sweden is not prosperous and it is not a free market

I am swedish and I live in Sweden. Sweden used to have a social democratic government but at the the end of the 1980-ies the swedish social demovratic party suddenly turned neoliberal. This was an inofficial decision and the party and the media and the political scientists pretended that no real politicalk change had been made. From then on the Swedish politics has been guided by the Washington Consensus. The only party that does not adhere to that consensus is the left party. 

The standard of living has been sinking since then and the ownership and the income has been rapidly concentrated in the hands of the few. According to a report from the Credit Suisse Sweden is now the fifth most unequal country int the world as measured by the gini coefficient. Sweden is extremely dependant on import and export and our housing bubble has just begun to burst. There is no way that we could uncouple from the trend in the global economy. Hence your belief that our countries are prospering is wrong

We do not know of any markets that are regulated in order to be free for all actors, big or small, and unregulated markets are free only to the most powerful who can kick out all the others. Hence your belief that free market economies are the best and the only way a society can prosper cannot be proved since there is no such economies. 

  • Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - 12:36am

    #6
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 31 2017

    Posts: 1583

    count placeholder0

    Sweden is not prosperous and it is not a free market

So Oscar, had Sweden continue on its previous path, do you think Sweden would still be
‘prosperous"?

  • Tue, Oct 04, 2011 - 06:06pm

    #7
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 31 2017

    Posts: 1583

    count placeholder0

    fiorgodx wrote: When I talk

[quote=fiorgodx]

When I talk with people about the futility of excessive government spending, explosive medicare costs, and socialism in general – some people point to the Scandinavian countries and their apparent prosperity despite universal healthcare and high taxes. I don’t have a good response to this, in fact I don’t know much about these countries except that I have the same impression: Sweden, Norway, and Denmark are basically socialist with near 60% taxes, yet are still some of the richest and most stable countries in the world, complete with some of the highest standards of living.

So which is wrong, my belief that these countries are prospering, or my belief that free market economies are the best and only way a society can prosper? 

[/quote]

I think they were looking at (pre-tax) per-capita income, but not net worth.

  • Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - 02:41pm

    #8
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 31 2017

    Posts: 1583

    count placeholder0

    differernt societies

I have not been to any of these countries.  However, I think the US has different demographic issues than they do.  We have a surprisingly large percentage of our population who have/will not go to school, who are violent, and who honestly believe the government is supposed to give them a lot  of stuff (money, things, opportunities, etc.).  This is a real problem in the US.  We have nobody to blame but ourselves and we created this situation here on purpose for some reason(s) that are not clear to me.  We did not used to be that way.  The US used to be about hard work, honesty, self reliance, you know – all that old fashioned stuff many do not believe in any more.  It is what made us a great country at one time.  Then something happened.  The mind set changed.  We started all these programs to create transfer payments.  We tax the hardest working people more (remember about half of America pays no Fed income tax) and transfer the wealth they create to those who do not work hard or just simply do not want to work.  It is just that simple.  A large percentage of the taxes collected go to transfer payments of one kind of another instead of paying for the kinds of things a government should be doing (infrastructure, military, controlling illegal immigration, etc.).  The transfer payments have now become so large that our economy will not longer support it so we have to borrow vast sums of money from the rest of the world and directly monetize a fair amount of it through the Federal Reserve.  And even that is not enough.  We have become a society that is defendant on transfer payments.  If the transfer payments were to be cut significantly or even stopped then America would come apart and once the civil war was over we would probably end up being a much different place indeed.  Nobody knows what is going to happen as it is impossible to predict such things.  But if you go look at the numbers it is clearly unsustainable so something is going to happen.  It is probably going to be really bad.

  • Sun, Oct 09, 2011 - 04:58pm

    #9
    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Peak Prosperity Admin

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 31 2017

    Posts: 1583

    count placeholder0

    Weeding through the Mess

[quote=dshields]

I have not been to any of these countries.  However, I think the US has different demographic issues than they do.  We have a surprisingly large percentage of our population who have/will not go to school, who are violent, and who honestly believe the government is supposed to give them a lot  of stuff (money, things, opportunities, etc.). 

[/quote]

Actually most of the "stuff (money, things, opportunities, etc.)" is going to the upper 0.1 percentile of the population. Citibank analysts call them the PlutonomyBy greasing the palms of the political system with large campaign contributions, they get what they want – favored legislation and control of regulation. They even get to park their money in off-shore accounts to avoid taxation. 

[quote=dshields]

This is a real problem in the US.  We have nobody to blame but ourselves and we created this situation here on purpose for some reason(s) that are not clear to me.  We did not used to be that way.  The US used to be about hard work, honesty, self reliance, you know – all that old fashioned stuff many do not believe in any more.  It is what made us a great country at one time.  Then something happened.  The mind set changed.  We started all these programs to create transfer payments. 

[/quote]

Yes, a government corrupted by corporate money is a problem because the people are no longer served. Instead, the corporations are served. And Americans never got lazy. As a matter of fact, they are putting in more hours now than ever before. American workers have the longest work week of any developed nation in the world:

According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.

 

[quote=dshields]

Then something happened.  The mind set changed. We started all these programs to create transfer payments. 

[/quote]
 
That’s right, something did happen. It’s called neoliberal economic policies, i.e. deregulation, NAFTA, and the off-shoring of jobs to China and the Third World. This started around the presidency of Reagan and has continued to this day. Remember the Glass-Steagal Act — the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banks ? Look into what happened to that piece of legislation and you might understand the 2008 financial meltdown a little better. The largest transfer of wealth has been going on for a while now and it’s funneling upward to the uber wealthy and well-connected elite. Is anyone still using the term "trickle down economics" while keeping a straight face?
 
[quote=dshields]
 

We tax the hardest working people more (remember about half of America pays no Fed income tax) and transfer the wealth they create to those who do not work hard or just simply do not want to work.  It is just that simple. 

[/quote]

Really. Actually the Internal Revenue Service records show that the 400 wealthiest taxpayers pay tax rates of less than 20 percent.(PolitiFact). The vast majority of Americans who don’t have to pay federal income tax don’t because they are too poor, perhaps with children, or elderly and on fixed incomes. And, they still pay other taxes(sales tax, business tax, payroll tax, state income tax, etc.).

[quote=dshields]

A large percentage of the taxes collected go to transfer payments of one kind of another instead of paying for the kinds of things a government should be doing (infrastructure, military, controlling illegal immigration, etc.). The transfer payments have now become so large that our economy will not longer support it so we have to borrow vast sums of money from the rest of the world and directly monetize a fair amount of it through the Federal Reserve.  And even that is not enough.  We have become a society that is defendant on transfer payments.  If the transfer payments were to be cut significantly or even stopped then America would come apart and once the civil war was over we would probably end up being a much different place indeed.  Nobody knows what is going to happen as it is impossible to predict such things.  But if you go look at the numbers it is clearly unsustainable so something is going to happen.  It is probably going to be really bad.

[/quote]

I can’t refute what you say here. Charles Hugh Smith has a nice article on this:

charles hugh smith-The Promises That Cannot Be Kept

 

A reallocation of priorities such as a reduction in military spending and the closing of tax loopholes for corporations would help mitigate, but not completely solve the problem.

[quote=xraymike79]

[quote=dshields]

I have not been to any of these countries.  However, I think the US has different demographic issues than they do.  We have a surprisingly large percentage of our population who have/will not go to school, who are violent, and who honestly believe the government is supposed to give them a lot  of stuff (money, things, opportunities, etc.). 

[/quote]

Actually most of the "stuff (money, things, opportunities, etc.)" is going to the upper 0.1 percentile of the population. Citibank analysts call them the PlutonomyBy greasing the palms of the political system with large campaign contributions, they get what they want – favored legislation and control of regulation. They even get to park their money in off-shore accounts to avoid taxation. 

[quote=dshields]

Yep – the income distribution graph of the US looks like one from a 3rd world country.  Shocking.  America was a much better place to live when the distribution was flatter.

[/quote]

[quote=dshields]

This is a real problem in the US.  We have nobody to blame but ourselves and we created this situation here on purpose for some reason(s) that are not clear to me.  We did not used to be that way.  The US used to be about hard work, honesty, self reliance, you know – all that old fashioned stuff many do not believe in any more.  It is what made us a great country at one time.  Then something happened.  The mind set changed.  We started all these programs to create transfer payments. 

[/quote]

Yes, a government corrupted by corporate money is a problem because the people are no longer served. Instead, the corporations are served. And Americans never got lazy. As a matter of fact, they are putting in more hours now than ever before. American workers have the longest work week of any developed nation in the world:

According to the Center for American Progress on the topic of work and family life balance, “in 1960, only 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of American children live in households where all adults are employed.” I don’t care who stays home and who works in terms of gender (work opportunity equality for all – it’s a family choice). Either way, when all adults are working (single or with a partner), that’s a huge hit to the American family and free-time in the American household.

 

[quote=dshields]

Agreed – The gov is corrupted by corporate, union, and other money.  This corruption results in all kinds of malfunctions.  It is one of the major reasons we are in trouble right now.

[/quote]

[quote=dshields]

Then something happened.  The mind set changed. We started all these programs to create transfer payments. 

[/quote]
 
That’s right, something did happen. It’s called neoliberal economic policies, i.e. deregulation, NAFTA, and the off-shoring of jobs to China and the Third World. This started around the presidency of Reagan and has continued to this day. Remember the Glass-Steagal Act — the Depression-era law that separated commercial and investment banks ? Look into what happened to that piece of legislation and you might understand the 2008 financial meltdown a little better. The largest transfer of wealth has been going on for a while now and it’s funneling upward to the uber wealthy and well-connected elite. Is anyone still using the term "trickle down economics" while keeping a straight face?
 
[quote=dshields]
 
Free trade agreements and turned out to be very bad for America – no question about it.  The gov wants more of them.  They are negotiating several new ones right now.  You would think there would be all kinds of trouble about that but nobody but people who study this stuff seem to know or care.  We have to many regulations.  Unfortunately, we have lots of regs about stuff we should not be regulating and not enough around the stuff we should be regulating.  In a number of cases we have sufficient regs but they are not enforced.
 
[/quote]
 
[quote=dshields]
 

We tax the hardest working people more (remember about half of America pays no Fed income tax) and transfer the wealth they create to those who do not work hard or just simply do not want to work.  It is just that simple. 

[/quote]

Really. Actually the Internal Revenue Service records show that the 400 wealthiest taxpayers pay tax rates of less than 20 percent.(PolitiFact). The vast majority of Americans who don’t have to pay federal income tax don’t because they are too poor, perhaps with children, or elderly and on fixed incomes. And, they still pay other taxes(sales tax, business tax, payroll tax, state income tax, etc.).

[quote=dshields]

I was pointing out that the top 10% pay 70% of the taxes in America.  That’s what they numbers are.  I believe that the 400 wealthiest have figured out ways to avoid as much taxation as possible.  Part of that is giving away money to charities.  Part of that is no doubt hiding off shore is secret accounts.  Does not surprise me.  But the top 10% are a lot more people than that.  And, they do pay 70% of the taxes so the IRS says.

[/quote]

[quote=dshields]

A large percentage of the taxes collected go to transfer payments of one kind of another instead of paying for the kinds of things a government should be doing (infrastructure, military, controlling illegal immigration, etc.). The transfer payments have now become so large that our economy will not longer support it so we have to borrow vast sums of money from the rest of the world and directly monetize a fair amount of it through the Federal Reserve.  And even that is not enough.  We have become a society that is defendant on transfer payments.  If the transfer payments were to be cut significantly or even stopped then America would come apart and once the civil war was over we would probably end up being a much different place indeed.  Nobody knows what is going to happen as it is impossible to predict such things.  But if you go look at the numbers it is clearly unsustainable so something is going to happen.  It is probably going to be really bad.

[/quote]

I can’t refute what you say here. Charles Hugh Smith has a nice article on this:

charles hugh smith-The Promises That Cannot Be Kept

 

A reallocation of priorities such as a reduction in military spending and the closing of tax loopholes for corporations would help mitigate, but not completely solve the problem.

[/quote]

I have read the charles hugh smith article.  I like him and visit his site every week.  He has an interesting article up now about the future of the dollar.  Today the Burning Platform has a good summary of the problems we face.  He does not delve in deep but lists a number of the black swans we face.  Pretty scary.

In crazy ways we agree on almost everything to one degree or another – I just did not write that much.  Interestingly enough, you just added spice to the bland thing I was saying.  You take a somewhat more extreme view than I do.  One thing that is true is 47% of the people in the US do not pay any Federal Income Tax.  It’s true.  You are good at research, you research all kinds of stuff.  I am sure you know this.  That is just one of the many things that are broken.

I am sure we can agree on this, however we got here we are now all in very hot water.  There are about 20 black swans happening right now.  Any 2 or 3 of them could cause enormous hardship on the people.  With 20 of them it is pretty much guaranteed there is going to be one or more large financial events over the next months and years that are going to be shocking to the people.  The majority have no idea what is coming.  It seems like right now we are just waiting for the trigger event.  The event that will kick off the first large event.  Tick Tock…

 

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 19 total)

Login or Register to post comments