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'Remember, what goes on in Valhalla stays in Valhalla.'

Perhaps the Nordic utopia is not all it’s cracked up to be! Here’s a glimpse behind the facade from Michael Booth in The Guardian, with some blistering (and humorous) country-by-country commentary on a few of the cultural and economic failings of these darlings of the American Left. Here is The Conversation‘s rather cautious response. And here’s a comment from McLean‘s.

Apparently, the meme-niks of the Left are unaware that the more recent trend in Nordic countries has been away from government domination of the economy and high taxes. In fact, to his likely demerit, Booth even bemoans the widespread privatization of services that has taken place. This week’s Swedish election results were expected to herald a shift in direction, however, back toward the kind of welfare statism from which the country has turned away. Here’s The Economist‘s pre-election take on the situation. It includes some detail on the dismantling of the vaunted Swedish welfare state. But the outcome was not quite what The Economist expected. John Fund discusses the results, which included the advance of hard-line nationalists. Support for the welfare state seems to have eroded in tandem with the influx of immigrants. The hard-liners aside, this shift could simply indicate that support for the state from taxpayers is contingent upon the expectation of a return in the form of services, which may be diminished by redistribution to newcomers. However, some of the articles linked above imply a rising degree of racism toward non-Nordic immigrant populations.

As a further indication of the extent to which the Nordic countries have evolved, take a peak at the rank given to Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland in this survey of international tax competitiveness. They are all ahead of the U.S. (which ranks 32nd out of 34 OECD countries) on the overall score and on most individual categories of tax competitiveness and neutrality.