May
10

Is Denmark an Example of Great Socialist Success? No, Not Really…

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The following is a comment originally posted in response to this article about Denmark, a country often cited as a paragon of socialist success. It makes excellent points, and therefore deserves a blog post all it’s own. Many thanks to the author.

I’d like to weigh in on a few points… First of all, I am an immigrant ACTUALLY living in Denmark and there is quite a bit those on the other side of the world will actually never know until they live here.

- The “happiness” argument…if you ask any Dane on the street he will tell you he is happy. Happiness is subjective and fleeting for all human beings. However, their perception of reality is a bit off centered. The average Dane walks around like a deer in headlights, mentally-checked out, completely oblivious to preventing certain accidents, walking into people, and having no concept of personal space. They live a simple, small life equivalent to rural or town, off the beaten path living. Happiness is derived from simply knowing their Dankort will work, the weekend will arrive, sex is easy to obtain (but why is it so difficult to wear condoms, boys?), and they will have money to maintain their metrosexual look. It is equally so with the women who maintain bottled blonde coloring. Happiness is easiest for those who ask for nothing of life but this. If you have no goals, no hopes, or ambitions, you fit right in with Jante’s Law.

-Denmark is no stranger to exploiting foreign workers. If you find places under construction in Copenhagen and speak to the workers, you’d be surprised to learn many have no certificates for construction and do not speak Danish.

-Denmark still claims not to be socialist but it is fine. A small percent is rich, and I mean very rich. But the majority of them are middle-class with “working class” mentalities. Their education is free and mediocre and does not guarantee one a job in Denmark. They are not an imaginative, avante-garde, purposeful, people. They are successful in terms of Scandinavian culture, but the individual Dane lives a mediocre existence. What makes them successful is that there country, economy, or currency hasn’t been tested, but if it is, or should ever admire too much the democratic way, the sheep of Denmark will perish. Their society is not set up for change. This is evident in how nationals and foreigners ignore each other. They are collectivist maintainers by nature, not innovators. I guess if it is fine to go through life and not make any real achievements and not be motivated to. Oh, but hey! Where are you getting wasted Friday night?

- As for immigration, they have opened their doors to darker skin foreigners, which they show their “tolerance” by ignoring and speaking derogatorily in Danish about. This is how they show they are peaceful, they won’t hit you but they will condescend you. It is awful to be a muslim here, because in Denmark, it is *socially acceptable* to publicly hate Muslims or people from the east. They simply label foreigners as, and I quote by many, “Stupid immigrants who are too dumb to learn the Danish way.” They think foreigners are robbing their system when many are not even eligible for benefits excluding healthcare. They blame crime and the depletion of welfare on immigrants, whom must have citizenship/permanent residency in order to reap any of the benefits many of the Danes receive, even though they are out of, and/or refuse to work. Danes are blatantly intolerant, but it is considered bad taste to admit it. And unless you know them, they definitely won’t admit to it publicly.

– Strangely they live, as if oxygen for the brain, to compare Denmark to the US, and with Europeans, the UK. It is the worst display of envy ever. They don’t bother to research how US government is set up, only to compare their iddy biddy city nation to a monstrous sized nation. The reason the US is a superpower is because of capitalism, its military, GNP, GDP, and the strength its multicultural nation contributes. Denmark has specks of other nationalities, but cannot be considered cosmopolitan in this decade. They do not have the mentality for it.

-They are financially thriving above the UK and US––NOW, only because these two are in a recession, which the US has proven its ability to bounce back like no other nation and the UK, well, will take a bit of time. They lose their “educated” to other countries, which many of them must take a standard of living reduction, in order to survive in those other countries. If you are not used to competing in the workforce, earning your wealth out of skill, talent, or being better than the next man, how will they survive when there is no handout and hundreds who are better educated and more talented with cultural experience who apply for the same job? What was your GPA? And how does your university rank with the top in the world? In Europe? What are your conversational skills? How will you treat clients who are from different cultures? Who are Muslims or from the Middle East? If you dislike the US so much, why are you here asking us for a job? And blah, blah, blah,

I don’t mind the Danes at all. I just think the idea of success is subjective, and what it measurable needs to be measured equally and properly compared. Denmark needs to stop envying the US because they will never be the US…if nothing more than just not producing world leaders of industry. However, as long as their mentalities stay confined to this tiny glacier and doesn’t infect the rest world, all will be just fine.



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15 Comments

1

Scandinavians are some of the most intelligent, best-educated and kind people in the world. And we have real cultures, and do not feel the need to fit into the world capitalist-socialist polarization. We care about the poor, so we make legislation that protects them BECAUSE we care. If things like patriotism and Christianity are making society worse, our response is to stop believing in them and find a better way to live, to make ourselves truly happy (I find it amazing that you can ridicule our desire to enjoy our lives and make friends when Americans are some of the most lonely people I have ever met). And when it comes to Islam, we realize that it is not compatible with our values and we don’t pretend to like it because it’s shitty. We are honest people, and if you take the time to want to come here to Denmark, Sweden, Norway or Iceland and be part of our culture(s) (or at least take a look at them), then we will be more than happy to lend you an honest hand by this endeavor. But that’s just it–we aren’t fakers, we don’t try and pretend to like you if you are disrespectful to us with your body language and attitude. We have a real society, with heart, and we care about one another. That’s something that most Americans have a hard time understanding, yet they insist that they are so intelligent and so hard-working (when they are superficial and lack discipline in professional areas). They talk about freedom, but the U.S. in reality represents a sort of new technological feudalism, where everyone is deluded, scared and making a fake smile. In Europe, we are fighting for individual rights (and that also includes workers’ rights)–and sometimes it is difficult to have to tell the truth to the people, but we do. We care about education and real research. We care about being happy and being authentic. In Scandinavia, we have strong economies because we are intelligent, and we encourage intelligence (as in, real, not superficial, thinking). We think deeply about issues and about what the future will hold. We don’t wish to be slaves to the world bank, and we are fighting against that. It is our true Viking heritage and spirit of freedom that motivates us more than anything else. I’m sorry, but it seems that you are just too dumb to understand–or are too insensitive. Or both. Either way, you have no idea what you’re talking about. And don’t you dare accuse us of racism, because there is not a culture that exists, muslim, white or otherwise, that is not race-sensitive, because that’s what culture is. Obviously, as an American yours is so fucked up that you wouldn’t know what that is.

2
Capitalist in Chief
May 14th, 2011 at 11:13 am

Middsquid, personally I like Scandinavians, but it’s just that their countries are not the wonderful socialist heavens that some make them out to be.

And as for your comment, I can sum it up in one sentence: How dare you call me a fake heartless dumb racist idiot, you fake heartless dumb racist idiot!

It’s a bit ridiculous to open with how nice, lovely and caring Scandinavians are and then proceed with a barrage of insults, which includes the f-word, directed at all Americans, don’t you think? Oh, you’re so CARYING! Caring never helped a single person on this planet. Results did.

3

Capitalism in Chief, really? You can’t put your ego down for a second and examine his argument, try to create some dialogue/debate? “All patriotism does is teach you to hate people that you’ve never met”. Look up something called “appeal to emotion”. Thats what this site is all about. fucking hell, people.

4

@lj, What!? In no way did the guy argue Capitalist’s points in this artical. He just got butt hurt and believed he was getting insulted by him which in no way Capitalist did that. You say to look up appeal to emotion, I think you should practice what you preach. Your little sound byte you just made fits perfectly with that. If you can’t argue the points he made on here then get out of here and let the grownups talk.

5

Well Middsquid illustrates nicely the Danish inability to take any criticism. As an Irishman who has lived and worked in Denmark for nearly 5 years now I can only say I am astonished at this society. I have lived and worked all over the World before coming to Denmark, but I never expected to see what I have seen here. I must know 50 people in my local area. 4 of them work, 2 of those 4 are foreigners, and 1 of that 2 is me. So out of perhaps 48 Danes I know, 2 work. I have never seen anything like it anywhere else. It is the Ultimate Welfare State. A minority works and breaks their backs so the lazy majority can live for free of their sweat and labour. It is sickening. For a nation that apparently prides itself on equality it is the most grossly unfair and immoral social system I have seen. Walk down any street here any morning of the week. The Cafe’s and bars are packed. At 11am on a Tuesday morning. Anywhere else in the world they would be empty at that time since nearly everybody is at WORK. And we are not talking here about people who are over 65 and therefore retired after a lifetime of working and paying taxes. We are also not talking about the rare few who are physically or mentally disabled and therefore should be provided for by the state. No, I know many people in their 30′s, 40′s and 50′s, who are perfectly physically fit and able to work. And yet they receive welfare checks from the Government every month for the whole of their lives. I know many many people who have never worked a single day in all the years I have known them and never ever will. Go into any Bodega (bar) here in Denmark any day of the week and you will see many fit able men drinking all day long and pouring money into slot machines. None of these men work. The precious few in Denmark who do work have to pay extortionate taxes so these guys can drink all day and play slot machines. But of course as a foreigner (for all their preaching about equality) you are not entitled to the tiniest bit of help at all should you lose your job. You are only entitled to work and pay huge taxes to support all the lazy Danish bums. As if that is not bad enough, after the Government has robbed you and re-distributed your hard-earned money to the unworthy do-nothings, the paltry sum you are left with does not go far as the Government then taxes all goods and services to the hilt, again to fund their lazy populace with free welfare checks every month. The last day of each month is a funny experience in Denmark. There is practically a carnival atmosphere as almost everybody runs to the bank to pick up their welfare check and then hits the bodegas to piss it all up the wall. What I find most amazing is that if I literally had 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every week until I die free to do what I want. I would take up some worthwhile pursuit. They could become experts in Mathematics, take up painting and produce masterpieces, or write world-famous novels. Basically all the things anybody could acheive if they had enough time to work on them but dont because they have to work 9-5 all their lives. But none of these bums do any of that. I just hope I live to see the day this unsustainable and deeply unjust system comes crashing down. I want to see the looks of panic on their worthless faces when their welfare checks dry up. No man on this Earth has the right to live off the sweat and labour of any other man

6

Dear Michael,
There is currently 6% of the danish work force that is unemployed(http://www.dst.dk/pukora/epub/Nyt/2011/NR147.pdf).

This does not even count the students that receive a paycheck to go to the free university and probably has a part time job on the side.

To compare with a country that does not have a welfare state; I currently live in USA and when I walk down the street 11.00 am a tuesday morning the cafes are also packed. In this modern world a lot of jobs do not have a 9-5 schedule and you can come an go as you want, some people even take their labtop to a cafe and work from there.

In Denmark there is an unemployment check for people that do not have a job and then there is something called “daymoney” that is like an unemployment insurance, that people pay for themselves while having a job. Yes the govenment gives a contribution too but basically people are paying themselves for such insurance.

You could say that the conclusions you conduct from you stay in DK are very prejudices and not very well-considered, they witness that you have not really tried to understand the country and it’s system into depth. Also you come off as a little bit jealoux:)

Best Wishes from Soeren

7

Michael wrote:

“But of course as a foreigner (for all their preaching about equality) you are not entitled to the tiniest bit of help at all should you lose your job.”

If you still work in DK I will advise you to become a member of an “A-kasse” (http://www.ma-kasse.dk/da-DK/Engelsk%20site). This one is for academics, but there are others for people in other jobs.
In case you loose you job you will be funded, thanks to your own contribution and thanks to the government supporting this. I have foreign friens working in DK that are members.

8

Those of us who live in the US know that there are advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, different national cultures value different aspects of life differently. A handful of statistics cannot provide a valid comparison, especially when it comes to lived experience.

For example, here in the US, we enjoy the freedom of mobility given to us by private transport, outside the major cities, but the cost bears very heavily on the poor, as a proportion of income, and the elderly and disabled can be left isolated in the absence of efficient public transport. Few benefits are unalloyed goods, and no one anyone lives in a perfect world. However, we are too apt to assume that the US is always best at everything, and to ignore any information that might modify such a view.

I don’t think that the Heritage Foundation is a cheerleader for European social policies. Nevertheless, it ranks Denmark as the #8 free market economy. The United States is ranked #9.

http://www.heritage.org/index/Ranking
http://www.heritage.org/index/country/Denmark

The centre-right government has had to introduce significant cuts, to cope with the worldwide economic downturn and the consequent loss of revenue. Unemployment went up markedly in the aftermath of the 2008 crash, because commercial credit evaporated. The current deficit — 3.8% of GDP — is predicted to rise a little next year. Sovereign debt is 42% of GDP, as compared with 53% in the US.

Levels of taxation are surely not the only way to measure quality of life, regardless of one’s political or national viewpoint. As with any expenditure, one must ask what one is getting for one’s buck. Cheap cars, and food, and hotels are not always what one might choose, given the resources. However, transnational comparisons need to include all citizens, not just the top 1% which, in the US, receives 21-24% of income and pays 22.7% of all federal taxes.

Here are some fairly recent comparisons, gathered from various authoritative sources such as the OECD, to show where Denmark and the US stand in relation to other rich countries.

http://scholar.oxy.edu/uep_faculty/146/
http://www.stateofworkingamerica.org/charts/subject/15

Denmark has a far lower poverty rate than the US (defined as less than 50% of median income). This is very striking in the case of children and the elderly. In part, this is because of the much higher level of care provided for children, the disabled, and the elderly in Denmark. Before redistribution, the levels of poverty are similar in the two countries.

Workers in manufacturing industries are paid substantially more than their US equivalents. Part-time workers are paid a much higher hourly rate, compared with full-time workers, in Denmark that the US.

In Denmark, the top 10% receives 235% of median income, and the bottom 10% receives 89%. In the US, the top 10% receives 231% but the bottom 10% receives only 231%. This is a major factor in creating the very low level of transgenerational social mobility and educational improvement in the US.

Danes have, on average, twice as many weeks vacation and work 7 fewer hours per week. This has many effects on health and welfare.

The US pays far more of its GDP on health care than Denmark does. However, environmental pollution is ridiculously high.

All affluent countries have reduced their rates of infant mortality in recent decades. The US currently has the highest rate, and the endless comments about different collection methods, etc., are false in most cases and insufficient as explanations in the rest. Indeed, some regions of the US have rates that would disgrace a Third World country. Life expectancy is also a problem, especially in relation to the resources expended.

Imprisonment rates are absurdly high in the US. Literacy rates are lower in the US than in Denmark, but they are spectacularly lower for the US poor.

9
Capitalist in Chief
August 24th, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Yes, you can always find a tiny population that does better than the US, and attribute its success to the ideology of your choice. But is the welfare state the cause of Denmark’s success? If we have more of a welfare state in the U.S., would literacy rates, imprisonment rates, poverty rates be comparable to those of Denmark? I think not. None of those problems have been mitigated as welfare spending in the U.S. exploded in the past decades.

However, transnational comparisons need to include all citizens, not just the top 1% which, in the US, receives 21-24% of income and pays 22.7% of all federal taxes.

Where have I compared just the top %1? And as for your little statistic, it seems like the top %1 pay in proportion to their fair share of income, so what’s the big problem? And and and did you know, the system in the U.S. is so unfair that the top %1 pay taxes in proportion to their income.

And as long as we’re picking small heterogeneous populations to compare, why don’t we compare Denmark to Jews living in the U.S. under its system and see who wins, shall we?

I don’t think that the Heritage Foundation is a cheerleader for European social policies. Nevertheless, it ranks Denmark as the #8 free market economy. The United States is ranked #9.

So what you’re saying is that Denmark is more successful that the U.S., and that it has more economic freedom, and therefore we should work toward more economic freedom in the US, which means less taxation and less regulation. So you’re agreeing with me!

All affluent countries have reduced their rates of infant mortality in recent decades. The US currently has the highest rate, and the endless comments about different collection methods, etc., are false in most cases and insufficient as explanations in the rest.

They’re true and sufficient.

Life expectancy is also a problem, especially in relation to the resources expended.

Life expectancy is not a problem. Obesity rates and car accidents are the problem. I doubt more welfare spending would help the situation.

10

Dear Capitalist in Chief,

Now I have re-read the original post and I am really curious which excellent points you think the author makes?

The only valid point I see is that Danes tend to be scared of immigrants. This is a huge problem, we are working on it because we need immigrants due to our aging demographic.

Dare I point out that the US is just as xenophobic as DK when it comes to immigrants from, for example, Mexico. I do not think this xenophobia is caused by socialism.

Finally, you will be happy to learn that Denmark is not a socialist country. Denmark is a mixture of socialism and capitalism and it is working out pretty great for us.

I really enjoy reading your blog; however, the original post is lacking in nuance and I do not believe that hyperboly makes for any kind of argument.

Best Wishes Soeren

11
Capitalist in Chief
August 27th, 2011 at 10:11 am

The only valid point I see is that Danes tend to be scared of immigrants. This is a huge problem, we are working on it because we need immigrants due to our aging demographic.

Denmark will not be able to keep the extent of its welfare state if it extends the same rights to immigrants as it does to native Danes. The Danes have a culture of low corruption and social mentality and they’ll find out that the world population at large does not quite share in those values. As the the population becomes more heterogeneous, Denmark will discover that willingness to abuse the welfare system and selfishly take from the state as well as vote in politicians who do so on their behalf, will increase drastically. As the Danes work on being less scared of immigrants they will also be unwittingly working on destroying the welfare state they seem to love so much.

Dare I point out that the US is just as xenophobic as DK when it comes to immigrants from, for example, Mexico. I do not think this xenophobia is caused by socialism.

You may dare, but I don’t see how that’s relevant. Is there anybody here claiming that the United States is perfect?

Finally, you will be happy to learn that Denmark is not a socialist country. Denmark is a mixture of socialism and capitalism and it is working out pretty great for us.

China is also a mixture of socialism and capitalism, yet we call it communist. It’s a matter of degree.

I really enjoy reading your blog; however, the original post is lacking in nuance and I do not believe that hyperboly makes for any kind of argument.

Well, at least I’m glad you enjoy the blog.

12

First of all Denmark isn’t a socialist country so this article is almost null and void in my opinion since he can’t even get his terms right. An example of a true socialist country would be Vietnam, and I am willing to agree there is an even bigger wealth gap there than the in the US. If you research Denmark on Wikipedia or otherwise it’s stated as a “Mixed Economy” where the government and the private sector direct the means of production.

I think the best kind of economy is a mixed economy which the U.S. also has, only I believe the U.S. leans more toward capitalism and Denmark leans more toward Socialism and social programs. The real question then is how many social programs, for whom, and how much?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and see where the author stands. Right now in America because of the government subsidy’s if your friend gets in a car wreck or has a heart attack he or she can be taken to the emergency room and the hospital “MUST TREAT THAT PATIENT even if they can’t pay for it, and later and have to declare bankruptcy.

This would likely not happen in a pure laissez faire capitalistic system. It’s either do you have a means to pay for this or die. So tell me do you think this current system is a good idea? Or do you think if doctors and hospitals don’t think you have enough money that they should turn down someone who gets in a car wreck and just let them bleed to death?

13
Capitalist in Chief
November 21st, 2011 at 11:42 pm

First of all Denmark isn’t a socialist country so this article is almost null and void in my opinion since he can’t even get his terms right.

Really? Null and void? And here I thought I was arguing against proponents of socialism who bring up Denmark again and again as an example of how great socialism is working out.

I think we all understand here that Denmark is not a pure socialist country and therefore it need not be mentioned.

I suppose all those people bringing up Denmark as a great example of socialism think that it has a lot of socialism in it. I think that even you agree or you wouldn’t have said that “Denmark leans more toward Socialism and social programs.”

So yes, “the real question then is how many social programs, for whom, and how much?” Because socialism, as many things in life is a sliding scale.

So your argument is null and void by virtue of it being a straw man argument.

14
Capitalist in Chief
November 21st, 2011 at 11:52 pm

This would likely not happen in a pure laissez faire capitalistic system. It’s either do you have a means to pay for this or die.

I do not accept your premise that under a laissez-faire system “it’s either do you have a means to pay for this or die.” Under lassiez-faire there would still be volunteerism, charity and many doctors would not let people just die in front of them without lifting a finger as is evidenced by the many doctors who volunteer their time to save lives. Furthermore, health care costs would go down dramatically, making it more affordable to many more people.

15

People.
The high GDP per capita of the Danes comes through their vast Oil and Gas reserves and exports (vast in comparison to the tiny population). They can afford their free lunch society only through this. Kind of like a mini Norway. It’s like a bubble frozen in time. Nothing ever happens there; they don’t have to make anything happen. A leaden time like in Cuba, but not frozen in poverty but frozen in a kind of mediocre wealth. The dogma is not “Hasta La Victoria Sempre” but all-encompassing political correctness.

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