Senator Sanders, do you believe the free enterprise system is the best means for growing jobs, the economy and opportunity — or do you believe in more socialist central planning? I ask because I have often heard you praise Scandinavian countries, like Denmark, as exemplars of democratic socialism. Have you ever been to Denmark? It’s democratic but not socialist.Actually Bernie Sanders is very smart and he may understand this perfectly well. He seems to believe, though, that the existing American system can never be made to produce those goods because of the conservative forces that oppose them. He thinks we have to smash those forces, and the way to do so is by mobilizing voters, especially young votes, with talk of revolution.
Denmark is actually a hypercompetitive, wide-open, market economy devoted to free trade and expanding globalization, since trade — exports and imports — makes up roughly half of Denmark’s G.D.P.
Indeed, Denmark’s 5.8 million people have produced some of the most globally competitive multinationals in the world, by the names of A.P. Moller-Maersk, Danske Bank, Novo Nordisk, Carlsberg Group, Vestas, Coloplast, the Lego Group and Novozymes. These are the very giant multinationals Sanders constantly rails against.
As the former Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen once remarked in a speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to those who might not fully grasp the Danish model: “I would like to make one thing clear, Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy. The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state, which provides a high level of security for its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”
But "revolution," as I said here before and Friedman also emphasizes, is antithetical to the Nordic way:
The less obvious, but more important, feature of Denmark’s success is the high-trust social compact among its business community, labor unions, social entrepreneurs and government.The Nordic model involves getting everybody together in a room to talk things out rationally, and mainstream politicians there shun the sort of rhetoric that would make those agreements difficult. America is of course very different politically, and maybe Sanders thinks that since the American right refuses to be rational and polite, he'll be damned if he will. About that, maybe he is right. But if you ask me the underlying reason that Americans won't agree to the sort of high-tax, high safety, lots of free services model they have in Denmark is that we hate each other too much. Whatever else Sanders is doing, he is not helping overcome that problem.
"if you ask me the underlying reason that Americans won't agree to the sort of high-tax, high safety, lots of free services model they have in Denmark is that we hate each other too much"
I think that's right, alas.
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