Monday, February 01, 2010

Denmark - a Model for the U.S.?

Denmark (and much of Europe) has a far better social welfare system and a better quality of life overall, than what you would find in the U.S. In Denmark, peace of mind touches far more people, or at least it seems that way from everything i've read or heard about Denmark. Middle class life is the established norm, and people will fight to keep it. The "least of these" and the working poor aren't left to fend for themselves. Greater emphasis is put on investing in infrastructure, education, health care, child care and other human needs.... needs of their own citizens. The approach in the U.S. is almost the opposite. Such programs are often the first things to be cut in a fiscal pinch, which provides a candid look at where these items fit on the list of the nations priorities. It's no coincidence that much of Canada's system is modeled after Europe, rather than its closest neighbor. But all of this is provided at a price.... higher taxes. This is something that I would be o.k. with, as long as my money was not horribly mismanaged or was spent on corrupt politicians.

Consider how our money is wasted here in the U.S.-- on corruption; on bailing out rich CEO's...almost directly funding obscene bonuses for corporate egg heads, many of whom couldn't change their own tire or manage their way out of a paper bag; wasted on some Senator's pork project; or supporting ill conceived wars and misguided foreign policy. Until recently, few Americans bothered to complain. But if something came along that could actually improve their quality of life (even for a fraction of the money that goes to waste each year), they fight tooth and nail against it. I never believed that this made much sense. They are o.k. with being robbed of their money each year for all sorts of wasteful, misguided purposes, but they won't fight for a better quality of life, better health care, education, etc. It's strange. I really think the difference in voter competence, voter engagement and voter education plays a big role in this.... as Europe tends to have a more astute electorate.

I would much rather have higher taxes with greater accountability and a much higher quality of life (a normal life). Is that socialism??? I don't see it that way... but call it what you want. I would rather live in dignity rather than in misery (almost in shame really). Right now I feel like a struggling slave in the private sector service economy. My American dream = being savings, shaky health care (as long as I don't get sick), in debt to the tune of $70,000 with no prospects for meaningful employment (all because I wanted to go to college), driving a POS car, decent place to live....and no woman/no dating (no money = no woman & extremely restricted social circle if any at all). Not that I am actively looking for one... the point is, even if I were looking I couldn't find what I wanted. I couldn't even mount the search if I wanted to in my current state. This is why more people go on rampages in the U.S. than anywhere else in the Western World. I wouldn't do it myself, but I can see how some of the motives develop.

Should the U.S. system change? (not that it will happen... ) But the current system driven by greed, corruption, and an economy that is based on the biggest gambling operation in the World - Wall Street and the hope that more Americans will go out to buy cheap products from Asia (esp. China) is a failed system. It has been proven time and time again to be a failed system.

Hear a segment from NPR about Denmarks system and how life is so much different for those who live there. Denmark has shown that taxes aren't the end of the World.


Liberal Arts Dude said...


Check out the An Ordinary Person blog for the book review I just posted of Steven Hill's work, Europe’s Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age. If you want I can post it at MOA as well.

It is a great book which explains exactly how European countries accomplish a more equal society where the fruits of a capitalist economy are more broadly and equitably distributed than in the US. And also, contrary to popular understanding, Americans and Europeans pay just about the same amount for the basic services of living such as healthcare, education, etc. Europeans may be taxed more but Americans pay just as much in the end if you count in how much we pay in deductibles, fees both overt and hidden, co-pays, etc.

Once upon a time said...

The power elite doesn't want an educated, well fed, healthy population because that takes a few extra billions out of their pockets. I too would pay more in taxes if I were getting free healthcare, education, etc., but that's not going to happen here anytime soon. Most people don't know the difference between a communist, socialist, or a Satanist... to those who prefer the "American way" they're all the same.