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The Nordic countries The next supermodel
The Economist ^ | Feb 2nd 2013 | unknown

Posted on 02/04/2013 5:50:35 PM PST by beaversmom

SMALLISH countries are often in the vanguard when it comes to reforming government. In the 1980s Britain was out in the lead, thanks to Thatcherism and privatisation. Tiny Singapore has long been a role model for many reformers. Now the Nordic countries are likely to assume a similar role.

That is partly because the four main Nordics—Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland—are doing rather well. If you had to be reborn anywhere in the world as a person with average talents and income, you would want to be a Viking. The Nordics cluster at the top of league tables of everything from economic competitiveness to social health to happiness. They have avoided both southern Europe’s economic sclerosis and America’s extreme inequality. Development theorists have taken to calling successful modernisation “getting to Denmark”. Meanwhile a region that was once synonymous with do-it-yourself furniture and Abba has even become a cultural haven, home to “The Killing”, Noma and “Angry Birds”.

As our special report this week explains, some of this is down to lucky timing: the Nordics cleverly managed to have their debt crisis in the 1990s. But the second reason why the Nordic model is in vogue is more interesting. To politicians around the world—especially in the debt-ridden West—they offer a blueprint of how to reform the public sector, making the state far more efficient and responsive.

From Pippi Longstocking to private schools

The idea of lean Nordic government will come as a shock both to French leftists who dream of socialist Scandinavia and to American conservatives who fear that Barack Obama is bent on “Swedenisation”. They are out of date. In the 1970s and 1980s the Nordics were indeed tax-and-spend countries. Sweden’s public spending reached 67% of GDP in 1993. Astrid Lindgren, the inventor of Pippi Longstocking, was forced to pay more than 100% of her income in taxes. But tax-and-spend did not work: Sweden fell from being the fourth-richest country in the world in 1970 to the 14th in 1993.

Since then the Nordics have changed course—mainly to the right. Government’s share of GDP in Sweden, which has dropped by around 18 percentage points, is lower than France’s and could soon be lower than Britain’s. Taxes have been cut: the corporate rate is 22%, far lower than America’s. The Nordics have focused on balancing the books. While Mr Obama and Congress dither over entitlement reform, Sweden has reformed its pension system (see Free exchange). Its budget deficit is 0.3% of GDP; America’s is 7%.

On public services the Nordics have been similarly pragmatic. So long as public services work, they do not mind who provides them. Denmark and Norway allow private firms to run public hospitals. Sweden has a universal system of school vouchers, with private for-profit schools competing with public schools. Denmark also has vouchers—but ones that you can top up. When it comes to choice, Milton Friedman would be more at home in Stockholm than in Washington, DC.

All Western politicians claim to promote transparency and technology. The Nordics can do so with more justification than most. The performance of all schools and hospitals is measured. Governments are forced to operate in the harsh light of day: Sweden gives everyone access to official records. Politicians are vilified if they get off their bicycles and into official limousines. The home of Skype and Spotify is also a leader in e-government: you can pay your taxes with an SMS message.

This may sound like enhanced Thatcherism, but the Nordics also offer something for the progressive left by proving that it is possible to combine competitive capitalism with a large state: they employ 30% of their workforce in the public sector, compared with an OECD average of 15%. They are stout free-traders who resist the temptation to intervene even to protect iconic companies: Sweden let Saab go bankrupt and Volvo is now owned by China’s Geely. But they also focus on the long term—most obviously through Norway’s $600 billion sovereign-wealth fund—and they look for ways to temper capitalism’s harsher effects. Denmark, for instance, has a system of “flexicurity” that makes it easier for employers to sack people but provides support and training for the unemployed, and Finland organises venture-capital networks.

The sour part of the smorgasbord

The new Nordic model is not perfect. Public spending as a proportion of GDP in these countries is still higher than this newspaper would like, or indeed than will be sustainable. Their levels of taxation still encourage entrepreneurs to move abroad: London is full of clever young Swedes. Too many people—especially immigrants—live off benefits. The pressures that have forced their governments to cut spending, such as growing global competition, will force more change. The Nordics are bloated compared with Singapore, and they have not focused enough on means-testing benefits.

All the same, ever more countries should look to the Nordics. Western countries will hit the limits of big government, as Sweden did. When Angela Merkel worries that the European Union has 7% of the world’s population but half of its social spending, the Nordics are part of the answer. They also show that EU countries can be genuine economic successes. And as the Asians introduce welfare states they too will look to the Nordics: Norway is a particular focus of the Chinese.

The main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical. The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets decent schools and free health care. The Nordics have pushed far-reaching reforms past unions and business lobbies. The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations. But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum. The world will be studying the Nordic model for years to come.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: denmark; finland; norway; sweden
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1 posted on 02/04/2013 5:50:41 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: beaversmom
Did anybody point to the observation that they are shrinking the state in the Nordic countries?. Mostly in Sweden.
2 posted on 02/04/2013 5:53:36 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: beaversmom

Bump


3 posted on 02/04/2013 5:55:14 PM PST by The SISU kid (I think they taste like Barbie dolls smell.)
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To: beaversmom

Oh, I thought this was an article dealing with Sweden’s state sponsored Eugenic program.

http://www.google.com/#hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&gs_rn=2&gs_ri=hp&cp=10&gs_id=87&xhr=t&q=swedish+eugenics

Never mind.


4 posted on 02/04/2013 5:55:36 PM PST by TArcher
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To: beaversmom

>>On public services the Nordics have been similarly pragmatic. So long as public services work, they do not mind who provides them.<<

A gilt cage is still a cage. It sounds like you can be comfortably numb for all your life in these countries. If you want to really succeed, you have to choose your parents well.

Until 2008, you could succeed in the USA with average talent and intelligence but a lot of drive. Now, I don’t think so.


5 posted on 02/04/2013 5:57:56 PM PST by freedumb2003 (I learned everything I needed to know about racism from Colin Powell)
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To: beaversmom
Strange article. The Author mixed the Sweeds and the Nords freely, the Sweeds as examples of how not to do it, the Nords as examples of socialism that works.

Yet he ignored the 600 pound Gorilla in the room, the Nords fund their socialism experiment with the North Sea Oil fields and the Sweeds with chocolate...

Taxation in Norway is extreme and the social bennies are great, till the oil runs out. But the cost of living is insane, a hotdog in a gas station runs 6 bucks, and it is the cheapest food in town.

Norway is a great socialist experiment, till they run out of oil. Then like all socialistic schemes, when the money runs out, it will inevitably collapse destroying the Society.

I have spent some time in Norway, love it and the people. Just get tired of all the “Obama is going to teach you how to be good socialists” cocktail talk.

To ignore the vast funds pouring into Norway from the State run North Seal Oil sales to make socialism look good is duplicitous at best.

6 posted on 02/04/2013 6:02:06 PM PST by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
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To: beaversmom

Not only that, but the Nordic peoples may well have been the progenitors of ancient Greek civilization. Felice Vinci, in his seminal and well researched “The Baltic Origins of Homer’s Epic Tales”, hypothesizes that the scene of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” transpired in the Baltic Sea before the proto-Vikings pulled up stakes due to a global cooling period that rendered their lands uninhabitable. They then invaded the Middle East by two routes- overland via the Volga and Dneiper rivers and by sea in their long boats which were recorded by the ancient Egyptians as the “Peoples of the Sea”, an enigmatic and massive history changing migration for which archaeologists have few explanations for. The book is a fascinating read and anyone of Scandinavian descent will have their notion of “roots” re-engineered” into the position of being the wellsprings of Western Civilization. More here:

http://www.kiskoseura.fi/troija/english/3.2.html


7 posted on 02/04/2013 6:07:16 PM PST by Yollopoliuhqui
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To: American in Israel

Sweden and Finland does not have oil. Denmark has some natural gas resources, but negligeble compared to Norway.

And, the Economist talks about how Sweden has learnt from “some” of its socialistic mistakes.


8 posted on 02/04/2013 6:08:56 PM PST by Eurotwit ("Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.")
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To: beaversmom

Well okay then, where are the Nordic supermodels?


9 posted on 02/04/2013 6:09:17 PM PST by Wyrd bi ful ard (Gone Galt, 11/07/12)
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To: beaversmom
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1372959/posts

Muslim Rape Epidemic in Sweden and Norway—Authorities Look the Other Way
10 posted on 02/04/2013 6:10:02 PM PST by 45semi (A police state is always preceded by a nanny state...)
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To: beaversmom

Article fails to discuss, or ignores for politically correct reasons, the violent crime epidemic in Nordic countries, i.e. Sweden.

Sweden’s rapes are double Britains and four times France’s or Germany’s.

Sweden is now experiencing the results of multiculturalism and and its facilitating of Islamization.

“According to a new study from the Crime Prevention Council, Brå, it is four times more likely that a known rapist is born abroad, compared to persons born in Sweden. Resident aliens from Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects. According to these statistics, almost half of all perpetrators are immigrants.

...statistics from Sweden’s National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet) show that the number of reported paedophile rapes against children is on the rise. The figures have nearly doubled in the last ten years: 467 rapes against children under the age of 15 were reported in 2004 compared with 258 in 1995.

According to a new study from the Crime Prevention Council, Brå, it is four times more likely that a known rapist is born abroad, compared to persons born in Sweden. Resident aliens from Islamic republics of Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia dominate the group of rape suspects.

1) 2001: According to these statistics, almost half of all perpetrators are immigrants.

2) In Norway and Denmark, we know that non-Western immigrants, which frequently means Muslims, are grossly overrepresented on rape statistics.

3) The numbers in Denmark were the same (2001), and even higher in the city of Copenhagen with three out of four rape charges.

3) In 2011 the rape statistics had skyrocketed and were now fully dominated by immigrants, mainly Muslims. Authorities in Oslo, Norway, reported that immigrants were responsible for 100% of all rapes in the capital, while 90% of these were committed by Muslim immigrants.

Sweden has a larger immigrant, including Muslim, population than any other country in northern Europe. The numbers there are likely to be at least as bad as with its Scandinavian neighbors.

Link: http://europenews.dk/en/node/22631

http://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/sweden-shocking-muslim-rape-wave-epidemic/

Also: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1372959/posts


11 posted on 02/04/2013 6:16:02 PM PST by CharlesMartelsGhost
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Yeah, not good news on that front. Maybe Sweden will wise up in that area too...hopefully before it’s too late.


12 posted on 02/04/2013 6:18:03 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: beaversmom
Graphs of Sexaul Offenses committed in Sewden
13 posted on 02/04/2013 6:20:09 PM PST by CharlesMartelsGhost
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To: beaversmom

Sweden has a population just a bit greater than Long Island, New York, and Norway about half that. To compare the United States, with it’s ethnically diverse population of 310 million, vastly larger physical size and economy, with a couple of largely racially homogeneous and sparsely habited forested strips of land, with comparatively miniscule centrally planned economies is laughable on the face of it.


14 posted on 02/04/2013 6:21:29 PM PST by SpaceBar
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To: Eurotwit
When does the ridiculous Pollyanna who wrote this drivel get to the part about Muslims overrunning Malmo and many another hapless burg in marvelous Scandinavia.

Or the hordes of Muslim gang-rapists and other violent criminals making life miserable in their big cities. Or the police forces' seeming inability to arrest anyone darker than your average Viking? OK, OK, they seem to be recovering some economic common sense. But in every other regard, Scandinavians are so politically correct and far left they make Barbara Streisand look like Maggie Thatcher

What the Swedes and Norwegians need is for some hardheaded Swedish Americans and Norwegian Americans to hightail it back there and set a few things straight. On the way, they might drop off a few more Euro-Americans to do the same for Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Before we all go Viking-gaga, let's stop and remember that these are the people that gave the Soetoro Kid the Nobel Peace Prize when he had been in office about 16 minutes, and think Al Gore is a great scientist. Steady men. Lutefisk poisoning can sneak up on anyone.

15 posted on 02/04/2013 6:23:15 PM PST by Kenny Bunk (The Obama Absolution Molecule: Teflon binds with Melanin = No-Fault Marxism.)
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To: Wyrd bið ful aræd

16 posted on 02/04/2013 6:23:55 PM PST by EEGator
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To: Eurotwit
Bankruptcy tends to teach a hard lesson. But the economist is trying to teach an entirely different lesson.

Carefully omitting the gorilla is a calculated lie. Shame on them. No integrity these days. Why would I buy a magazine that that reports what they think I need to hear, instead of simply reporting what IS.

Economist my eye, more like Anti-Economist.

17 posted on 02/04/2013 6:28:21 PM PST by American in Israel (A wise man's heart directs him to the right, but the foolish mans heart directs him toward the left.)
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To: EEGator
Admirable bone-structure. Admirable.
18 posted on 02/04/2013 6:28:51 PM PST by Wyrd bi ful ard (Gone Galt, 11/07/12)
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To: CharlesMartelsGhost

Looks like Finland too :(

Muslim Immigration Transforms Finland
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/2075/finland-muslim-immigration


19 posted on 02/04/2013 6:29:20 PM PST by beaversmom
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To: American in Israel

Norway is a great socialist experiment, till they run out of oil.
................
most obviously through Norway’s $600 billion sovereign-wealth fund...

Norway is still pumping money into that fund which will be around producing income for that small country long after the oil is gone.


20 posted on 02/04/2013 6:29:58 PM PST by ckilmer
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