Baltic Socialism

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Baltic Socialism

Postby KeithE » Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:26 am

Happiest Countries - Forbes Poll

Socialism gets a bum rap. The Forbes article lists the happiest countries in order as Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Netherlands. They are all socialistic by US standards (and all govt's are somewhat socialistic).

Our recent cruise to the Baltic, I received the following info.
1) Finland tax rate is 0-60% very progressive - no sales or property taxes. Sweden's tax rate was 40-50% (less progressive). They are not 80% taxes as I hear some claim!
2) Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway all have universal health care, free education thru graduate work, and livable incomes for all seniors with those taxes.
3) Finland at least bragged that their poverty rate was 0% - and if anyone was found in need, they were provided it.
4) All had livable minimum wages (e.g. in Copenhagen it was 100 kronas per hour ~ $16/hour)
5) Denmark at least (maybe others) even offer free education to immigrants - our waiter at the hotel was from Poland and was in Graduate school (molecular engineering)
6) St Petersburg had no so happy people (it was apparent). 2 young people expressed hope to move to Finland (both - 1 guy and 1 girl - volunteered that independently). No one desired a return to communism which is not true soicialism. Young St. Petersburg ladies dress to kill.
7) Tallinn, Estonia was the prettiest city we went to and has a vibrate economy (not sure exactly what it is) that has taken off since the fall of the Soviets.

Arguments that proceed from "socialism is bad, just look at the failed Soviet Union" are vaccuous. Communism as practiced by the Soviets was fundamentally different from that of Scandanavia - the happiest of all regions in the world.
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Re: Baltic Socialism

Postby ET » Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:54 pm

A related article in the New York Times back in 2005: We're Rich, You're Not. End of Story., by Bruce Bawer, 4/17/2005.

The question follows then. What would Americans have to give up to gain what those countries have? And would the trade-off be worth it? There is no free lunch. To get that which Keith lists above, we shall most certainly have to give up more economic freedom to obtain it. Instead of deciding for ourselves how our money is to be spent, it will be largely decided by others.
OSLO — THE received wisdom about economic life in the Nordic countries is easily summed up: people here are incomparably affluent, with all their needs met by an efficient welfare state. They believe it themselves. Yet the reality - as this Oslo-dwelling American can attest, and as some recent studies confirm - is not quite what it appears.
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Dining out is just too pricey in a country where teachers, for example, make about $50,000 a year before taxes. Even the humblest of meals - a large pizza delivered from Oslo's most popular pizza joint - will run from $34 to $48, including delivery fee and a 25 percent value added tax.
***
...a Swedish research organization, Timbro, which compared the gross domestic products of the 15 European Union members (before the 2004 expansion) with those of the 50 American states and the District of Columbia. (Norway, not being a member of the union, was not included.)

After adjusting the figures for the different purchasing powers of the dollar and euro, the only European country whose economic output per person was greater than the United States average was the tiny tax haven of Luxembourg, which ranked third, just behind Delaware and slightly ahead of Connecticut.

The next European country on the list was Ireland, down at 41st place out of 66; Sweden was 14th from the bottom (after Alabama), followed by Oklahoma, and then Britain, France, Finland, Germany and Italy. The bottom three spots on the list went to Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Alternatively, the study found, if the E.U. was treated as a single American state, it would rank fifth from the bottom, topping only Arkansas, Montana, West Virginia and Mississippi. In short, while Scandinavians are constantly told how much better they have it than Americans, Timbro's statistics suggest otherwise.

Contrasting "the American dream" with "the European daydream," Mr. Norberg described the difference: "Economic growth in the last 25 years has been 3 percent per annum in the U.S., compared to 2.2 percent in the E.U. That means that the American economy has almost doubled, whereas the E.U. economy has grown by slightly more than half. The purchasing power in the U.S. is $36,100 per capita, and in the E.U. $26,000 - and the gap is constantly widening."
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...another study, this one from KPMG, the international accounting and consulting firm...indicated that when disposable income was adjusted for cost of living, Scandinavians were the poorest people in Western Europe. Danes had the lowest adjusted income, Norwegians the second lowest, Swedes the third. Spain and Portugal, with two of Europe's least regulated economies, led the list.

Most recently, the Danish Ministry of Finance released a study comparing the income available for private consumption in 30 countries. Norway did somewhat better here than in the KPMG study, lagging behind most of Western Europe but at least beating out Ireland and Portugal.

The thrust, however, was to confirm Timbro's and Mr. Norberg's picture of American and European wealth. While the private-consumption figure for the United States was $32,900 per person, the countries of Western Europe (again excepting Luxembourg, at $29,450) ranged between $13,850 and $23,500, with Norway at $18,350.

One need not look only at the Soviets for examples of the bad side of socialism. It be easily found in any country that practices it more than we do here in the U.S. More socialism means giving up more freedom as we work more and more not for ourselves and for the betterment of our children's and grandchildren's lives, but for others who did nothing to rightfully expect to receive and benefit from our work.

There may be some who would wish to give up half of their current disposable income to pay for the college education of someone else's children or for any number of programs from which they have no say in their creation or maintenance and from which they most likely will never received any benefit, but I prefer to leave the decision on how to spend one's money in the hands of those who produce it.
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