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(Economist)   Don't look now, wharrmeisters of the left and right - but the Scandinavian nations renowned/despised for their socialism have been cutting spending and taxes and in general doing well, by using the both-sides-are-bad model   (economist.com) divider line 60
    More: Cool, Nordic countries, government spending, public hospital, American conservatives, socialists, for-profit schools, Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstockings  
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1625 clicks; posted to Politics » on 01 Feb 2013 at 10:32 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-01 10:33:15 AM
Uh, I guess I'll put a comment here. This thread looks so empty sitting here with zero comments.
 
2013-02-01 10:35:39 AM
Could it be a both sides are good model?
 
2013-02-01 10:40:08 AM

MFAWG: Could it be a both sides are good model?


The "compromise is not anathema" model.
 
2013-02-01 10:42:31 AM
interesting
 
2013-02-01 10:43:52 AM
Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.
 
2013-02-01 10:44:25 AM
How about the "What works depends on where you start" model?
 
2013-02-01 10:45:03 AM

MFAWG: Could it be a both sides are good model?


Not in America. We have to rage face.
 
2013-02-01 10:45:23 AM

WireFire2: Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.


Yeah, came here to say this.  If you cut our defense spending down to the size of theirs, I'd bet you'd see some similar economic markers.
 
2013-02-01 10:47:25 AM

Frozboz: WireFire2: Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.

Yeah, came here to say this.  If you cut our defense spending down to the size of theirs, I'd bet you'd see some similar economic markers.


You missed my point.  They didn't have the burden of fighting off the Nazis or the Japanese and they let us deal with the Soviet Union.  That wasn't cheap and was money we spent and is now our debt.

The current problems with over spending is our own fault.
 
2013-02-01 10:54:08 AM
For anyone curious about how someone's tax rate can be above 100%, it was actually her "Marginal Tax Rate"  (the rate on the last dollar you earn) that was above 100% (102% to be exact), and it was due to sloppy tax policy the removed a tax benefit too fast at a certain income level.

For example, if on $100,000 in income you pay $50,000 in taxes, but on $100,001 in income you pay $50,002 dollars in taxes, you "Marginal Tax Rate" is 200%.
 
2013-02-01 10:56:08 AM

cameroncrazy1984: Uh, I guess I'll put a comment here. This thread looks so empty sitting here with zero comments.


It is an Economist article that doesn't distill itself down to "your side bad, my side good".  How many comments to you think it is going to get in the Politics tab?
 
2013-02-01 10:56:33 AM
And my last bit of two cents and I'll shut up, is that they can ram through "regulations and reform" because they don't actually have to deal with the mega corporations and their billions of dollars.  I'm sure in the Nordic countries corporations aren't considered "people" and can't spend as much money as they please during elections.

We're so far down the road that the only way back is to amend our constitiution.  That is damn near impossible if the people we want to stop getting involved in politics already have all the money and free license to spend it to influence politics.
 
2013-02-01 11:01:14 AM
Could it be they are doing so well due to some of the following factors:

-Near zero immigration and incredibly small populations

-Mono-culture, when everyone in the country have nearly the same ethnicity, religion, work ethic, etc.,.

-Massive off shore oil reserves now available and economically viable due to changes in tech and in the world market

-Very little military spending due to NATO and other military alliances

-VAT taxes, yeah let's put a 50% sales tax on clothes, videgames, big screens, cars, etc.,. to pay for our awesome social/government benefits.
 
2013-02-01 11:03:06 AM
"But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. "

Yep, we're screwed.
 
2013-02-01 11:06:00 AM
... so vote scandinavian?
 
2013-02-01 11:11:26 AM

Duke Phillips' Singing Bears: MFAWG: Could it be a both sides are good model?

Not in America. We have to rage face.


It's not just American politics that get in the way of us becoming more like Sweden or Finland or Norway. My friend is Swedish and was raised both here and there. While she was still living here we watched "Waiting for Superman", which lambasts the American education system and compares it unfavorably to the Finnish education system. Swedish friend was like "I hate when Scandinavian countries are put on a pedestal about this sort of thing. Finland has been nearly homogenous racially, religiously, and economically until very recently and it's a lot easier to convince a bunch of Finns to band together than it is to convince people in an immigrant country like the US that the far right Christian white guy in Texas who makes $35,000 a year and the liberal atheist Indian guy in Boston who makes $35,000 should identify with each other and want laws that benefit them both equally."
 
2013-02-01 11:19:58 AM

mahuika: Duke Phillips' Singing Bears: MFAWG: Could it be a both sides are good model?

Not in America. We have to rage face.

It's not just American politics that get in the way of us becoming more like Sweden or Finland or Norway. My friend is Swedish and was raised both here and there. While she was still living here we watched "Waiting for Superman", which lambasts the American education system and compares it unfavorably to the Finnish education system. Swedish friend was like "I hate when Scandinavian countries are put on a pedestal about this sort of thing. Finland has been nearly homogenous racially, religiously, and economically until very recently and it's a lot easier to convince a bunch of Finns to band together than it is to convince people in an immigrant country like the US that the far right Christian white guy in Texas who makes $35,000 a year and the liberal atheist Indian guy in Boston who makes $35,000 should identify with each other and want laws that benefit them both equally."


That speaks more to the failure of our political culture rather than of their economic policy.

/Education is another matter though, since that's very dependent on cultural values.
 
2013-02-01 11:20:59 AM

Famous Thamas: cameroncrazy1984: Uh, I guess I'll put a comment here. This thread looks so empty sitting here with zero comments.

It is an Economist article that doesn't distill itself down to "your side bad, my side good".  How many comments to you think it is going to get in the Politics tab?


If not for that stupid title, it wouldn't be in the Politics tab.
 
2013-02-01 11:23:25 AM
I love it when the "racially homogenous" argument gets trotted out.  Do people really want us to believe that if we magically replaced the populations of the urban projects with white kids that all our troubles would go away?

Or do we just get really defensive and agitated every time someone suggests that maybe our pathological need to screw everyone else over on the economic ladder maybe not such a good thing?
 
2013-02-01 11:23:48 AM

I am Wee Todd Ed: Could it be they are doing so well due to some of the following factors:

-Near zero immigration and incredibly small populations

-Mono-culture, when everyone in the country have nearly the same ethnicity, religion, work ethic, etc.,.

-Massive off shore oil reserves now available and economically viable due to changes in tech and in the world market

-Very little military spending due to NATO and other military alliances

-VAT taxes, yeah let's put a 50% sales tax on clothes, videgames, big screens, cars, etc.,. to pay for our awesome social/government benefits.


- Population is small, true, but we did have 1.6% immigration in 2011 - that is 1.6% of the entire population was immigrants arriving that year. For what it's worth, the immigration in 2011 was LARGER than the population growth. Currently a bit over 13% of the population in Norway is first or second generation immigrants.

- Not really no more - see previous point.

- True, we in Norway have that - Sweden and Denmark not so much. Funny how they seems to be doing great too though.

- Norway spends a higher percentage of the GNP on the military than most NATO countries - didn't get to sit out WW2 either.

- Most Scandinavians are fine paying reasonable high fees and taxes - unlike the "I got mine, fark y'all"-crowd, we realise that our welfare-state requires funding.
 
2013-02-01 11:24:28 AM

I am Wee Todd Ed: Could it be they are doing so well due to some of the following factors:

-Near zero immigration and incredibly small populations

-Mono-culture, when everyone in the country have nearly the same ethnicity, religion, work ethic, etc.,.

-Massive off shore oil reserves now available and economically viable due to changes in tech and in the world market

-Very little military spending due to NATO and other military alliances

-VAT taxes, yeah let's put a 50% sales tax on clothes, videgames, big screens, cars, etc.,. to pay for our awesome social/government benefits.


WAT?

Using Sweden as a proxy for immigration since I don't have time to recalc weighted immigration numbers for all countries, in 2010 ~14% of the population was foreign born and ~9% were from outside Europe. Perhaps not an diverse as NYC but it is hardly a mono-culture. Regional cultural differences are typically more pronounced than in the U.S.

Aggregate population among the four countries is ~26M. Not exactly 300M of the U.S. but hardly 'incredibly small'.

Only Norway has a petroluem industry and it is in decline. They've been very good at saving the proceeds though, and the country has no debt and and a sovereign fund in excess of $600B. All the other Scandinavian countries have no oil to speak of.

Regional military spending is actually not that different from other OECD countries (excluding the U.S. which is an anomaly).

Yes there is VAT, but it is not 50%. For the most part it ranges from 10-25% depending on type of good and the country.
 
2013-02-01 11:29:26 AM
The trick is you can sometimes stimulate a little growth by lowering the tax burden on the largest portion of the population that spends the most aggregate amount of money.

Also, oil money and having a small nation helps.
 
2013-02-01 11:32:03 AM
I'm thinking that their starting point for most negotiations is slightly left of where they start here in the US.
 
2013-02-01 11:35:47 AM

karmaceutical: I love it when the "racially homogenous" argument gets trotted out.  Do people really want us to believe that if we magically replaced the populations of the urban projects with white kids that all our troubles would go away?

Or do we just get really defensive and agitated every time someone suggests that maybe our pathological need to screw everyone else over on the economic ladder maybe not such a good thing?


Let's not be too hasty to call someone a racist. Monocultures are easy to target programs to, for practical reasons, so there's some validity to the argument. Just like advertising targets different demographics, if there were fewer demographic differences in a population, then advertisers would need fewer types of ad campaigns.

/Of course most people who trot out the argument ARE racists
 
2013-02-01 11:36:05 AM

WireFire2: Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.


Umm... Norway was occupied by the Nazis and Finland fought both the Soviets and the Germans in the last war. Besides, it was WWII that saved the American economy, first with the Lend Lease program with Britain (and then with the USSR), and when the US finally entered the war.
 
2013-02-01 11:36:15 AM

karmaceutical: I love it when the "racially homogenous" argument gets trotted out.  Do people really want us to believe that if we magically replaced the populations of the urban projects with white kids that all our troubles would go away?


Only if they are homogenized.
 
2013-02-01 11:36:32 AM

FooDog: a sovereign fund in excess of $600B


I really wish the US would have invested SS like Norway did with their oil profits.  We invested in the govt and then reinvested the money in questionable ROI projects, and now we are faced with large deficits at the time where the govt will need to start paying itself back....  I am curious though what Norway does with its voting shares?  Do they use the voting provisions or choose to abstain?
 
2013-02-01 11:43:41 AM

ghare: karmaceutical: I love it when the "racially homogenous" argument gets trotted out.  Do people really want us to believe that if we magically replaced the populations of the urban projects with white kids that all our troubles would go away?

Or do we just get really defensive and agitated every time someone suggests that maybe our pathological need to screw everyone else over on the economic ladder maybe not such a good thing?

Let's not be too hasty to call someone a racist. Monocultures are easy to target programs to, for practical reasons, so there's some validity to the argument. Just like advertising targets different demographics, if there were fewer demographic differences in a population, then advertisers would need fewer types of ad campaigns.

/Of course most people who trot out the argument ARE racists


It only really holds water if we are willing to accept that different races are more or less intelligent based on race alone.  Usually, this is tethered to an "but economically homogenous!" which is a solid argument for why more progressive countries are doing things right, and the US is doing things completely bass ackwards.
 
2013-02-01 11:52:39 AM
FTA: 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.

False.  The average tax paid by US corporations is currently 12.1% in the US. Yes, the US corporate tax rate is 35%, but thanks to an enormous number of deductions pretty much nobody actually pays that.

I don't know enough about the Nordic economies to identify any other attempts to "massage" the truth into backing up the writer's ideological leanings, but the whole article stinks of bullshiat.
 
2013-02-01 11:55:59 AM

Gunther: The average tax paid by US corporations is currently 12.1% in the US.


Hrmph, link goes to a different article for some reason. Here's another link, this one from Time.
 
2013-02-01 12:01:22 PM

Uranus Is Huge!: I'm thinking that their starting point for most negotiations is slightly left of where they start here in the US.


Pretty much. The Economist is pretty much arguing that Scandinavia swung right because they have school vouchers and the government,  as a percentage of the total economy, has gone down. That's a pretty hard sell what with the single-payer healthcare, free college, some of the highest union membership in Europe, and relatively high taxes. Even if they've moved a few steps right that still makes them a few running jumps to the left of any politician in America.
 
2013-02-01 12:01:47 PM

WegianWarrior: Most Scandinavians are fine paying reasonable high fees and taxes


Most people anywhere are fine paying reasonably high fees and taxes - IF they think they're getting good value and the governments collecting the high fees and taxes are basically honest and competent.

(looks at Washington) (looks at Albany) (stifles gag reflex) Yeah, not so much from where I'm sitting.

Now I'm going to drive home on the potholed-to-shiat roads I pay 51 cents a gallon to not be maintained.
 
2013-02-01 12:02:32 PM
FooDog: - Wegian Warrior


Really?  Holy crap...learn something new everyday!

About the whole immigration/mono-culture I'd like to clarify I didn't mean it in a racist way.  I meant to say that certain cultures have a real strong loyalty to the state and identify more with collectivism than with individualism.  Some of the things I've read about Greece and it's recent economic problems is that tax avoidance is a way of life there.  Bribery, corruption, and nepotism is more prevelant and just their way of doing things.  Give a tax assessor a bribe to make your taxes go away, that sort of thing isn't frowned on as a society.  I do think that culture influences domestic policy and when most citizens identify along the same ethinc, cultural, religious, lines you have a better chance of getting a concensus on things.

The whole VAT thing I pulled the number out of my butt.  I just remember that in HS, in Minnesota, we would get foreign exchange students from Scandinavia and most were astonished about how much material stuff Americans had.  One guy was suprised about how almost everyone had videogames.  And a girl was suprised about how many outfits all the girls had.  I thought that one reason why so many foreigners come over to the States is to shop as they pay less in taxes here than back home.  They wanted to avoid the VAT tax.

I'm wouldn't call anyone from the land of the vikings a wimp or anything but saying you pay a higher % on military spending as compared to GDP than other countries in NATO is great and all.  But if the % is like 5% of GDP....um well that's not much.   No offense.  Please don't raid and burn my village in the middle of the night. Thanks!

I didn't know about the decrease in oil production. I thought the Scandinavians were raking it in with all that oil money, that oil was a government owned resource, and were using it to fund their different social programs.  But I stand corrected, thanks! Srsly!

On a lighter note:

Have you guys ever seen  "Until the LIght Takes Us" ?  WTF?  You can stab two people to death and do less than 20 years?  WTF???  Weird but good documentary worth watching about Death Metal Bands.  Is Death Metal really big over there or is it just like the Juggalos a small crowd that gets a lot of attention for dressing weird and acting strange?
 
2013-02-01 12:12:19 PM

I am Wee Todd Ed: But if the % is like 5% of GDP....um well that's not much.   No offense.


Yeah, I'm sure no offense (comparatively) is the pretty much the goal of their defense forces.  :)
 
2013-02-01 12:24:39 PM
When the Scandinavian countries have a country of +300 million people, with a GDP over $15 trillion, all spread out over a space of just under 4 million square feet ... then they can say their system is better.
 
2013-02-01 12:41:38 PM

HellRaisingHoosier: When the Scandinavian countries have a country of +300 million people, with a GDP over $15 trillion, all spread out over a space of just under 4 million square feet ... then they can say their system is better.


damn it's crowded in here
 
2013-02-01 12:41:59 PM

HellRaisingHoosier: When the Scandinavian countries have a country of +300 million people, with a GDP over $15 trillion, all spread out over a space of just under 4 million square feet ... then they can say their system is better.


A big population, high per capita productivity, and vast natural resources make "their system" easier, not harder. Or are you unfamiliar with economies of scale?
 
2013-02-01 12:50:28 PM

Arkanaut: mahuika: Duke Phillips' Singing Bears: MFAWG: Could it be a both sides are good model?

Not in America. We have to rage face.

It's not just American politics that get in the way of us becoming more like Sweden or Finland or Norway. My friend is Swedish and was raised both here and there. While she was still living here we watched "Waiting for Superman", which lambasts the American education system and compares it unfavorably to the Finnish education system. Swedish friend was like "I hate when Scandinavian countries are put on a pedestal about this sort of thing. Finland has been nearly homogenous racially, religiously, and economically until very recently and it's a lot easier to convince a bunch of Finns to band together than it is to convince people in an immigrant country like the US that the far right Christian white guy in Texas who makes $35,000 a year and the liberal atheist Indian guy in Boston who makes $35,000 should identify with each other and want laws that benefit them both equally."

That speaks more to the failure of our political culture rather than of their economic policy.

/Education is another matter though, since that's very dependent on cultural values.


Our failed political culture doesn't need to be proven by their successful ones, but cultural values definitely have an effect on politiics. When you hear "welfare" or "universal health insurance" and think of yourself losing your job, you're a lot more likely to support it. I mean, most of the current Swedish political disagreements said friend complains about are centered on the new wave of Muslim immigrants who are moving there.
 
2013-02-01 12:57:03 PM
Sorry Libs, but Scandinavia is nice because it's full of Scandinavians. Socialism has nothing to do with it.
 
2013-02-01 01:02:52 PM

WireFire2: Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.


Um, try telling that to the Finns or the Danes. After the World Wars , why on Earth would they have gotten involved in American adventurism? (Sorry, should have included Korea with the WWs.) Aside from that what connection exists between being a war mongering superpower and governing your country with reasonable policies based on reality rather than ideology?
 
2013-02-01 01:15:40 PM

WegianWarrior: I am Wee Todd Ed: Could it be they are doing so well due to some of the following factors:

-Near zero immigration and incredibly small populations

-Mono-culture, when everyone in the country have nearly the same ethnicity, religion, work ethic, etc.,.

-Massive off shore oil reserves now available and economically viable due to changes in tech and in the world market

-Very little military spending due to NATO and other military alliances

-VAT taxes, yeah let's put a 50% sales tax on clothes, videgames, big screens, cars, etc.,. to pay for our awesome social/government benefits.

- Population is small, true, but we did have 1.6% immigration in 2011 - that is 1.6% of the entire population was immigrants arriving that year. For what it's worth, the immigration in 2011 was LARGER than the population growth. Currently a bit over 13% of the population in Norway is first or second generation immigrants.

- Not really no more - see previous point.

- True, we in Norway have that - Sweden and Denmark not so much. Funny how they seems to be doing great too though.

- Norway spends a higher percentage of the GNP on the military than most NATO countries - didn't get to sit out WW2 either.

- Most Scandinavians are fine paying reasonable high fees and taxes - unlike the "I got mine, fark y'all"-crowd, we realise that our welfare-state requires funding.


Oops. My apologies. WWII. I mentioned Denmark and Finland, meant to include Norway too. Trouble is, since the Nazis overwhelmed countries like yours as well as Belgium, the Netherlands, etc.,, many Americans simply discount your efforts. It is ignorance, but it is an unfortunate part of their culture. Most Americans will still claim to have never lost a war. They just have to make longer explanations these days.
 
2013-02-01 01:18:38 PM

beta_plus: Sorry Libs, but Scandinavia is nice because it's full of Scandinavians. Socialism has nothing to do with it.


As opposed to?

Go on. You know you want to.
 
2013-02-01 01:23:53 PM

odinsposse: Uranus Is Huge!: I'm thinking that their starting point for most negotiations is slightly left of where they start here in the US.

Pretty much. The Economist is pretty much arguing that Scandinavia swung right because they have school vouchers and the government,  as a percentage of the total economy, has gone down. That's a pretty hard sell what with the single-payer healthcare, free college, some of the highest union membership in Europe, and relatively high taxes. Even if they've moved a few steps right that still makes them a few running jumps to the left of any politician in America.


The point is pragmatism, not ideology. If a private solution gives better results at a lower cost, use it. If a public solution gives better results than private, use that.
The states, far too often opt for private solutions that deliver less effective and more expensive alternatives simply because of ideology that says private is always better. Guess what? That's incorrect.
 
2013-02-01 01:32:38 PM

HellRaisingHoosier: When the Scandinavian countries have a country of +300 million people, with a GDP over $15 trillion, all spread out over a space of just under 4 million square feet ... then they can say their system is better.


Square feet? Ok, I know that was an error. Still, economies scale. Your economy provides you with tremendous opportunities to benefit from economies of scale. Far too often you don't. Face it. Your country has emerged from the industrial revolution to enter into the corporate revolution. Guys...scale back just a little. You're being robbed blind and wrung dry.
 
2013-02-01 01:35:26 PM

WireFire2: Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.


Uhhh... what area of Europe do you think this article is about?
 
2013-02-01 01:38:05 PM

PlatinumDragon: WireFire2: Kind of easy if your country sits out two world wars and every major modern conflict.

Uhhh... what area of Europe do you think this article is about?


The US didn't have significant involvement in Scandinavia during WWII. Therefore they weren't involved.
 
2013-02-01 01:47:40 PM
How much do they spend on defense and national security?
 
2013-02-01 01:53:32 PM
i'm a dual citizen, american and swedish... and my take on it is: sweden is a perfect utopia of awesomeness... but, their political and social desires are different from americans.  for that and other reasons, their system would not be as effective in the US.  however, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to learn from other places and take and apply what might work.

on a more important note:

the vikings NEVER had horns sticking out of their helmets!

this all started because of a confused costume designer working for a showing of Wagner's ring cycle.  Wagner demanded helmets and horns.  The horns were drinking horns, because that was a common way to carry drink.  the costume designer got confused by the instructions and glued the horns to the helmets.  thus, the myth of horn helmeted vikings.

think about it, horns on a helmet would defeat the effectiveness of a helmet.  the whole point is to deflect blows to the head, no direct them straight to the head.
 
2013-02-01 01:58:35 PM
Came for all the hot scandinavian babes photos.

Leaving very, very, very disappointed.
 
2013-02-01 02:00:35 PM

spelletrader: How much do they spend on defense and national security?


How much do they need?  They don't have enemies because they don't act like the international dicks that some countries behave like, causing animosity to rile up in the disaffected countries.

Be nice to your neighbor and you don't need to carry a gun everywhere you go.
 
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