The Scandinavian countries hold a unique place in the world. Words that come to mind are: cold, friendly, the outdoors, winter olympics, and socialism. National Geographic did an unusually politically friendly piece on Scandinavia entitled, "True or False: Scandinavians Are Practically Perfect in Every Way." The article consists of an interview with a Michael Booth who wrote a book entitled, "The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia.
Besides the interview questions with the Scandinavian expert, the National Geographic writer includes this narrative:
"Frequently derided by right-wing politicians as an example of everything wrong with Big Government, the Scandinavian countries are, in fact, some of the richest, most successful societies on Earth, with exceptionally high levels of education, health care, and safety."
The National Geographic author sets out to interview the author to find out what America can learn from the left leaning countries.
In numerous polls the Scandinavian countries come out on top when measuring happiness. As of recent however, Denmark for example has slid from 83 to 67 percent of countrymen claiming to be "thriving." It is also mentioned that Denmark has the second highest consumption of anti-depressants in the world with candy and alcohol consumption near the top of the charts as well.
The New York Times called Denmark the best place to be laid off to which the author agreed but added that it can be better pay not to work in Denmark and Sweden. A third of Denmark is public employees and another third do not work and notes they are trying to change the system but are having a hard time doing so. Danes also work fewer hours than any OECD country and are in trouble as of late because most of their economy is dependent on oil.
Mr. Booth says that Norway depends mightily on oil which increases sick days, vacation days, and dramatically decreases working and innovation.
Alcohol is the number one cause of death to male Finns and is a big issue in all of Scandinavia.
The National Geographic journalist asks the following question:
Right-wing U.S. politicians like to cite Scandinavia as an example of everything that is wrong with a high-tax, welfare state. But Scandinavia proves that government can work, doesn't it?
To which Mr. booth replies, 'I often get asked whether you could take this template from Scandinavia and apply it to America. But that would be ridiculous. It's a site-specific system."
Johan Norberg is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and discusses how Sweden's socialism rode the coattails of a very free market economy through the 1950's and how, for example, they haven't added a single new private sector job since 1950.