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Blue Model Death Watch
Denmark to Bernie: Stop Dissing Us with That Word

The Danes are worried that Bernie Sanders is giving them a bad name. As Matt Yglesias notes at Vox:

Bernie Sanders has long referred to himself as a socialist rather than a member of the Democratic Party, which has naturally lead to a lot of questions about what socialism means to him. He consistently references the social models of the Nordic states — and especially Denmark — as his idea of what democratic socialism is all about. But in a speech Friday evening at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that while he’s flattered to see Denmark discussed in a widely-watched US presidential debate he doesn’t think the socialist shoe fits.

“I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” he said, “therefore I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

In Rasmussen’s view, “the Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

No doubt the Danes are worried that if international investors thought they were taking Bernie Sanders’ advice on economics, they would have a much harder time sustaining the high standards of living that come from living in a market-driven economy.

In any case, for many years now the Scandinavian countries, like the rest of Europe, have been moving away from the blue model policies that dominated the postwar era, mostly for the same reasons that we have been doing it here in the U.S. Policies that worked relatively well in a closed, steady national economy don’t work nearly as well in a global economy characterized by rapid economic change and technological progress.

There are blue nostalgists in Europe, as there are here, and they attract real public sympathy. The trouble is that the old policies don’t give the old results anymore. Even the French Socialist Party, much against its will, has had to give up much its neo-blue model agenda. Germany’s current success rests on the very non-blue labor market and welfare reforms that the Social Democratic Party enacted into law the last time it was in power. All across Europe, the countries that are reforming their labor markets and pension systems, opening themselves to more competition, fighting structural deficits, and otherwise migrating away from the kind of policies Bernie Sanders longs for are doing better than those who haven’t been able to make the shift.

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  • Re

    Hi TAI, I’m one of these invisible guys that follow your interesting takes on the events but I must say I’m a bit disappointed for now : in Syria a great offensive took place from Assad/Iran/Russia, as you said it, but why don’t you tell people it failed?

    I’m not a fan of the current administration in terms of foreign policy but that doesn’t mean you should stay silent when Putin failed…After 1 month of bombings in Syria the Assad regime didn’t gain ground and lost dozens of tanks and hundreds of men, it also lost villages. The rebels decided to cooperate and opened multiple fronts while getting many weapons from the Gulf nations and the CIA, particularly TOW weapons…
    Please, don’t forget to talk about that, it’s very important and ignoring it would be unprofessional…Putin could have been toally wrong to go there, seems like Syria is becominng a costly quagmire for Russia, that would serve Putin right.

    • bannedforselfcensorship

      I have seen writing about this, maybe even here.

  • Blackbeard

    The fact that a no-nothing like Bernie Sanders can say, for example, that Denmark is socialist and not be laughed off the stage shows how far are educational standards have sunk and how incompetent and biased our news media have become.

  • Fat_Man

    “Yes, America Needs to Be More Like Denmark: Bernie Sanders is right: let’s copy Denmark!” by Tyler O’Neil • October 27, 2015

    “Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a good point — America needs to be more like Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries. But he’s wrong about the reason why. He thinks socialism is the cause of their success, but the true cause is their older free-market culture and their recent efforts to return toward market and economic freedom.

    “Since the 1990s, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway have expanded private property rights, business freedom, investment freedom and financial freedom. Each of these countries has increased its score on the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom, and Denmark now outranks even the United States as a good place to do business.

    “Sanders sees the size of the Scandinavian welfare states and the relative health and happiness they enjoy, and thinks this correlation proves causation. A deeper look at the history and current affairs of Denmark and the surrounding countries tells a different story, however. These countries’ benefits arguably spring from their free-market pasts, not their brief dalliance with big government.

    * * *

    “With little fuss or political protest — or notice abroad — Denmark has been at work overhauling entitlements, trying to prod Danes into working more or longer or both,” New York Times reporter Suzanne Daley continued.

    “The welfare state here has spiraled out of control,” declared Olsen …

    “Denmark has been hard at work at reform, however. In 2013, it reduced early-retirement plans, and cut the term for unemployment benefits from four years to two. …

    * * *

    In recent years, all the Nordic countries have decreased their corporate tax rates — each one is lower than in the United States. They also support free trade, unlike American Socialists like Bernie Sanders, who opposed the 1990s North American Free Trade Agreement.

    • Deserttrek

      and sweden is in the throes of muslim rapists terroizing communities and the scourge of mohammedanism destroying society

  • Episteme

    The problem is that Sanders and other see high tax rates and a large safety net and assume that the Scandinavian system must be their Socialist ideal. Instead, as noted, countries like Denmark are actually very investment- and market-friendly. The basic structure of the tax economy is less of a redistributionist one than effectively a nation-wide actuarial risk pool: you have a small middle-class country with demographic similarities across the population where a good chunk is taken pretty transparently in taxes and then returned to the same middle-class population in bulk services. First off, it’s not the sort of socialism that Sanders and such look for (if anything, it’s closer to the sort of “third way” Distributionalism that 19th-century Catholic thinkers like Chesterton wrote about – seeing conservative Lutheran countries implement systems close-ish to that doesn’t surprise me); secondly, such systems wouldn’t work in the scale and diversity of America (I mean that in the literal actuarial sense of our social, cultural, and economic demographics). The thing is, I could see something along the lines of Scandinavia’s policies working locally (even in a place like Vermont, for example) among smaller and more demographically-akin populations, but not on the sort of scale Bernie Sanders is imagining: for any faults that America’s economy has, it’s developed specifically for a large, diverse, and expansive nation (and we need to keep that in mind when considering options, while not neglecting federalist subsidiarity options where needed – although I’d use those more for reducing regulatory options rather than trying to expand them)…

  • Jim Dawkins

    Point is that Denmark and most of these socialist countries work well when they are small and homogeneous. With more immigration, aging populations, global markets it becomes much harder to sustain a welfare type of state. You can tax only so much. Also in acoutry like the US with a dropping educational ranking you just see an abusive debt ridden system. What Bernie Sanders proposes would be somewhat suicidal in the US.

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