Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If They Can Do It, Why Can't We?

There is a lot of discussion lately about the failure of Social Democracy. As the Conservatives continue in their rise to power, we will certainly see more on this topic.
It's true that the supporters of laisse-fair capitalism are quick to point out that the failures of social programs, yet they never point out the obvious successes.

Here is a story of an obvious success.

Our European neighbors in Scandanavia have a great deal to show the world on the topic of egalitarianism.

United Nations: Nordic Countries Best Place to Live in the WorldThe Nordic countries have the best standard of living in the world, as per the Human Development Report published by the United Nations

Best Standard of Living in the WorldThe Nordic countries are overall the best countries to live in the world, according to the Human Development Report which is published annually by the United Nations. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland figure among the top countries on the UN index because of their high levels of education, democracy, income and public health.

The Human Development Report (HDR) is an annual independent study commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme and published into more than a dozen languages. The HDR measures the wealth of nations by the standard of living of their population and considers several indexes related to life expectancy, education, economy and environment.Economists, philosophers and political leaders have long emphasised human wellbeing as the sole purpose of economic development. A successful community is not that which has one wealthy member and nine living in poverty, but that one where all members of the community have succeeded in achieving a high standard of living.

The HDR measures whether the national income of a nation is creating an environment for its people to enjoy a life with good health services, political freedoms, security against crime, greater access to education and a satisfying leisure time.Norway tops the index for third consecutive year

The Nordic countries have always performed very well in the United Nations' HDR, all figuring within the top 15 countries on the index. Among the Scandinavians, Norway has become the best performing Nordic country in the report after ranking number one in 2001, 2002 and 2003, heading the Development index for the third consecutive year.
In Norway, 99 percent of the population can read and write, there are 413 doctors per 100,000 citizens, the average life expectancy is 78.4 years, and the Norwegians are even wealthier than ever before. The famous Nordic social welfare state remains efficient and provides the Norwegians with a first class health, education and benefits system, which is financed through their taxes.Norway has also topped the lists for being among the most generous countries in the world in terms of foreign aid donations on a per capita basis, and for their green environmentally friendly policies.However the Norwegian society is the most developed in the world, the average Norwegian is still known to complain nonetheless.

The current discussion topics in Norway range among the waiting lists for medical care, the shortage of nursing homes and the cuts in police and school budgets.Quality of Life, Income, Education and Life ExpectancyIf we would only focus on per capita income statistics, we would perhaps be surprised to hear that the inhabitants of the small central European nation of Luxembourg are the wealthiest in the world, with an average salary of $53,780. The average salary in Norway is $45,000 but the Nordic countries are above all known for being an egalitarian society; of the seventeen richest countries in the world, Sweden ranks first as having the fewest people living in poverty and the fewest illiterate people, while other rich countries such us the United States have the the most, showing that stark inequality persists even in middle or high-income countries.

Education is one of the pillars of the Nordic society. Illiteracy is practically non existent from Iceland to Finland, and the free national education systems breed some of the most skilled workforce in the world. Moreover, when it comes to equality between women and men, all the five Nordic countries top the index and score again the highest; Iceland takes the lead in terms of emancipation, followed by Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland on the fifth position.You may now be convinced that people in the Nordic countries live well, but they also live long. The HDR averages life expectancy on the Nordic countries between the 77.7 years of Finland and the 78.9 of Norway. Japan has the longest life expectancy with the average Japanese living up to of 81.3 years.



Anonymous JMK said...

Van, there's little dubt that the Scandanavian countries are among "the best places to live," BUT NOT BECAUSE of any Socila Progrmas.

The primary reason is that those countries are virtual heterogeneous countries absent an underclass, especially one comprised of non-Europeans.

The rest of Europe now struggles with a very real and very ugly "Third World problem" - more aptly an Arab/Muslim problem.

I believe ultimately England, Germany and France will be forced to expel the Third World underclass from those nations...I look forward to that day.

Still, the Scandanavian are blessed with a near heterogeneous population, with a strong work ethic and despite one of the highest suicide rates in the world, have fewer problems than places like Germany, France, etc.

Disparities between skill sets is the basis for a strong and vibrant economy.

After all, if a janitor made $60,000/year and a heart surgeon say only $120,000/year, few would take on the exhorbidant expense, the rigorous, ongoing education, the marathon hours (surgeons are often in surgery ten hours or more straight) and the crushing responsibility of having another's life in your hands, when the rewards, comparative to far less demanding skill sets (janitorial work, truck driving, etc) is so small.

No, like most economists, I support a wide disparity between skill sets that is set by "prevailing market forces."

The government controlled economy NEVER WORKS. ALL those Scandanavian nations are Corporatist, like the U.S., not Socialist, as Socialism is based on the eradication of private property and private enterprise - Volvo, Erickson, etc are ALL private corporations, NOT State entities.

Ergo, those nations are Corporatists, NOT Socialist.

Why is this important?

Because it adds to the proof that Socialism CANNOT work under any circumstances.

The market may not seem fair, but it's the only economy that rewards human achievement and moves society forward - as they sat, "A rising tide lifts all boats."

6:36 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I'll come back to your initial comments later, but for now I would like to say that I am not suggesting that Denmark/Sweden/Finland/Norway/Iceland or Greenland are Soccialists nations.

They are all Social Democracies, or better stated, they are Regulated Capitalist Societies.

No one is suggesting that the means of production should be owned by the government, that's been tried and it failed miserably; besides I don't think that I want the government making my shoes.

The success of the Scandinavian Model is due to their belief in Social Democracy and Capitalism. There is a tertium quid to your apparent suggestion that Socialism and Capitalism are mutually exclusive. It's called Social or Liberal Democracy, and the Scandinavians, as well as the Irish, have been very successful at implementing various forms of it.

The Scandinavian Model (Anglo-Saxon Model) is successful because they believe not only in individual freedoms, but also in freedom from discrimination and freedom from dependence on either the owners of the means of production or the holders of abusive political power.

They also believe in equality and social justice - not only before the law but also economic and socio-cultural equality, and equal opportunities for all including those with physical, mental, or social disabilities.

And finally they believe in the profit motive. In a Social Democracy profit is important as the mean of production are owned by the public, not the government.

What Social Democracy attempts to accomplish is a balance of power and interests between the people and the business interests.

This is not socialism, far from it. This is regulated capitalism.

Like it or not, the Scandinavians and the Irish provide a successful model in which a regulated form of capitalism, or Social Democracy, works for the people and for the business owners.

They are not purely corporatists, nor are they purely socialistic.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous JMK said...

Van, there are numerous problems in many of those Scandanavian countries surrounding the size & scope of government.

In Sweden, the fastest growing Party is the Freedom Party, a Libertarian Party. Sweden is bereft by a Child Welfare bureaucracy that is out-of-control.

Moreover, the tax burdens for furnishing their lavish welfare state dictate that most workers cannot afford to work more than six months per year.

A system, where everyone pays into and also uses such a public welfare system CANNOT work in a non-homogeneous nation.

Japan, Iceland - YES, England, the U.S. - NO.

These Scandanavian nations aren't "Socialist" at all, as Socialism is predicated on the eradication of private ownership and the government controlling "the means of production."

They are as "Corporatist" as we are, they simply use the wealth we've had to use defending the West (all of Western Europe, Japan, the Americas) into Social services.

Yes, we could elimiate our Armed Forces and do the same...and our women would be wearing burquas within three years and an Islamic theocracy would be fully established here within five.

The money we've spent on our "war machine" has largely been money well spent.

Its eradicated the Nazi threat after a World War, eradicated the threat of global Communism after a protracted Cold War and is currently protecting the West/"Christendom" from a resurgent pan-Islamic, pan-Rabic threat today.

2:42 PM  

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