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16 October 2011

The myth of Scandinavian Socialism


Just wanted to quickly share this post from the mises.org forums which serves as an awesome resource to combat the oft-repeated meme that Scandinavia shows that “mixed-economy-socialism” can work great. Full credit to krazy kaju for the excellent post. You can read the full thread here:

Many leftists often point to the “superiority” of Scandinavian “socialism.” Leftists often use Denmark and Sweden as their examples, since they are the most successful Scandinavian nations. I already covered this issue in an earlier post, but I feel it is important to rehash this topic and to post a refutation of this leftist fallacy. For this post, we shall define Scandinavian countries as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. Some might dispute whether we should consider Finland and Iceland as Scandinavian, because of cultural differences (Finland) and geographical barriers (Iceland), though we the point of this post is not to argue whether or not these countries are Scandinavian, but to dispute the fact that they are indeed successful socialist states.

First of all, most leftists will use the USA as the measure of laissez faire capitalism. We all know that this is completely false, so I won’t go into detail refuting this casuistry here but I’d like to point several things out: Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland, and Australia were all rated as “more free,” according to the Heritage Index of Economic Freedom. It would probably be better to compare these Scandinavian nations to Hong Kong or Ireland than to the United states.

Furthermore, Scandinavian nations are not nearly as socialist as leftists claim they are. Although the United States ranks higher than these nations on the Index of Economic Freedom, Scandinavian nations are more free in several decisive areas. Denmark has greater business freedom, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, freedom from corruption, and labor freedom while having comparable property rights and trade freedom scores to the U.S. Sweden has greater business freedom and freedom from corruption, while having comparable trade freedom, monetary freedom, property rights enforcement, investment freedom, and financial freedom to the United States. Finland has greater business freedom, monetary freedom, and freedom from corruption than the United States, while having comparable property right enforcement, financial freedom, and trade freedom.Norway, the least successful Scandinavian nation, has greater freedom from corruption than the United States while having comparable business freedom, trade freedom, and property right enforcement. Iceland has greater business freedom, fiscal freedom, and freedom from corruption, while having comparable trade freedom and property right enforcement. In many ways, Scandinavian countries are more “laissez faire” than the United States.

To finish of this deal, here are some articles, excerpts, etc. about the failure of specific welfarist policies the Scandinavian countries follow, change occurring in these nations, and the like:

The Sweden Myth (LvMI)

How the Welfare State Corrupted Sweden (LvMI)

Sweden: Poorer Than You Think (LvMI)

Can the United States Learn from the Nordic Model? (Cato)

Sweden: From Capitalist Success to Welfare-State Sclerosis (Cato)

Should Scandinavia Be Our Model? Podcast (Cato)

Should the United States Be More Like Scandinavia? Policy Forum (Cato)

Johnny Munkhammar in Defense of Free Market Capitalism in Sweden Weeky Video (Cato)

Sweden Repeals Wealth Tax (Cato)

Sweden is a Tax Haven? (Cato)

The Welfare State Causes Sickness (Cato)

If the Swedish State is Socialist, What is Ours? (Cato)

New Challenge to the Nordic Welfare Model (Cato)

Introduction to Economics Review (Mackinac)

Free Enterprise in Action Review (Mackinac)

Institutions and Analysis (Mackinac)

Where Are the Omelettes? (Mackinac)

Scandinavian Irony (FEE)

Are High Taxes the Basis of Economic Growth? (FEE)

Sweden: Tightening the Screws (FEE)

Swedish Welfare (The New American)

Sweden after the Swedish model.

EU vs USA.


Here is one more thing of interest to everyone interested in living standards in Scandinavian countries vs. the US. First, according to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the CIA World Factbook, the USA has a higher GDP per capita than any Scandinavian nation with the exception of Norway. Norway has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, right after free market paradises such as Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, and oil rich nations such as Qatar and Kuwait.

Although Norway’s GDP per capita seems to be boosted by huge oil and natural gas production, do Norwegians actually enjoy higher living standards than Americans? I dare say that they don’t. A quick look around worldsalaries.org shows that:
1. Americans enjoy higher average disposable (after tax) AND gross (before tax) income than Norwegians do.
2. Americans enjoy a significantly lower cost of living than do Norwegians (1.00 vs. 1.487).

Here (url: http://www.ssb.no/en/fnr/main.html) is another source of Norwegian disposable income. As you see, average household disposable income is 176503 NOK, which is approximately $29,373. Note that the USA has a per capita disposable income of about $21,500. Since the average US household consists of two wage earners, it follows that US household disposable income is higher than Norwegian household dispoable income.

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