One of the really great moments in the Democratic debate, at least for those of us who think America can learn from other countries, was the exchange over Denmark. Bernie Sanders said he wants America to become like Denmark; Hillary Clinton was a bit skeptical, but agreed that Denmark is a good role model. And it is! Denmark has combined high taxes and strong social benefits (free college, heavily subsidized child care, and more) with strong employment and high productivity. It shows that strong welfare states can work.Krugman knows better,
Here are some of the facts about Denmark, this centrally planned utopia (via Per Henrik Hansen ):
Despite its reputation as a showcase of political utopia, 40 percent of its adult population live on government transfer income, full-time, all-year.And that was in 2003. Things have gotten worse as even Krugman admits:
[T]hose with only 9 years of education, in Denmark it is 34 percent, whereas in the U.S. it is 14 percent. In Sweden the number is 26 percent and in Norway 18 percent. Again the numbers are much more favorable in the U.S.
In Denmark, many people are prevented from gaining the education they would like. All higher education is publicly run and free. Central planners decide how many doctors, architects, engineers, lawyers, economists, etc., that society needs. Students are rationed according to their grades in high school. If your grades are not high enough, you may not begin a degree program of your preference.
There are no objective tests of the quality levels in Denmark that I know of. However, one indication of the falling quality level in education could be the considerable shift in applicants for higher education away from the sciences and into the humanities. Everything involving mathematics, or other clearly demonstrable skills such as natural science or economics, is disliked by the applicants.
Denmark is one of the few OECD countries where the average life span has hardly increased since the early 1970s.
[I]t is worth noting that Denmark has had a fairly bad run since the global financial crisis, with a severe slump and a very weak recovery. In fact, real GDP per capita is about as far below pre-crisis levels as that of Portugal or Spain, although with much less suffering... just in case you wanted to think of Denmark as a role model across the board, this is a useful reminder.So where does he get the absurd idea that "strong welfare states can work" and mention Denmark in the same breath?