So I’m doing research for a longer post when I came across a couple of articles in Vox about just how great Sweden, Denmark, and the Scandinavian countries are compared to the USA, and why the USA sucks so much.
The gist of these articles is “I love these countries because gimme, gimme, gimme…” The authors praise free college, free healthcare, heavily subsidies (often free) public transportation, months of paid vacation and maternity leave.
Here’s an excerpt:
“High taxes give me more choices and freedoms… Guys like Brooks seem to be proud that tax revenues in the US are only 26 percent of GDPwhile in Sweden they are 43 percent. But tax dollars are not burned — they are used to provide collective goods that are beyond the reach of any individual and that benefit everyone. These collective goods give the middle class more choices, not fewer… Our public transportation system. Betty and I used to live the village of Lodi, about 25 miles from Madison. This being America, I was free to travel to Madison however and whenever I wanted, as long as it was by private automobile. There was (and is) no bus service to Madison. Even though railroad tracks run right through the village, there is no commuter rail service either. If this were a suburb of Stockholm or any other European city of 250,000, there would be train service and bus service several times an hour. These are the choices Europeans have that we don’t, because they devote more of their income to collective goods. If we value freedom, those of us who drive cars should pay higher gas taxes so that those who are old, infirm, too poor to have a car, or want to reduce their environmental impact can have fast and efficient bus and train service.”
According to Vox, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. Owning is car is wrong an a unnecessary amount of personal freedom, and you should pay more so that everybody can take a turn riding in a bus on a time table set by the government.
But let’s pretend for a moment that everything these people say is correct. Democratic socialism is wonderful. Sweden is a paradise. Europe is better.
Lets crunch some numbers. Sweden has a population of 9.8 million and a GDP of about $470 billion (US). To put that in perspective, the population of the Chicago metropolitan statistical area (Chicagoland) is 9.5 million with a GDP of $560 billion. Chicagoland is the 3rd largest MSA in the US. Sweden has an economy about the size of the Dallas MSA at $460 billion, produced by a population of only 7.1 million people, and is the 4th largest MSA in the US.
Denmark has a population of 5.7 million and a GDP of $260 billion (US). This puts it about halfway between Atlanta (9th) and Boston (10th) in terms of size with an economy in between Miami (12th) and Detroit (13th).
Switzerland has a population of 8.2 million and a GDP of $480 billion. This gives it a population of about 1 million more people than Dallas (4th) with an economy the size of the Washington DC MSA (6th).
All of Scandinavia combined has an economy of $1.3 Trillion (US) and a population of 25 million people. The largest MSA in the US is the NYC MSA with a population of 20 million people and an economy of $1.5 Trillion.
What does all of this mean?
Well… those beloved countries are just big American cities. And if you go to one (I used to live in Chicagoland), they have much of the same public transportation access and other perks of these countries. Where don’t you find these benefits? Rural Wisconsin.
Therein lies the rub of transporting Scandinavian socialism to the US. The people of NYC, LA, Boston, Chicago, and others will be paying for buses that won’t be used in Iowa and Nebraska. We’re just too big and too spread out. What works in a densely populated are won’t work in farm country.
The math just doesn’t work out.
Also note, that in every example I showed above, every American city had a larger GDP than the European country of the same size. Every. Time.
Why do these European countries enjoy such wonders? Because we Americans work for it. NATO. The Marshall Plan. Europeans can take 6 weeks of vacation a year ONLY because Americans take 6 days of Vacation per year.
But none of this reality matters to these people. The gimme is strong in them. An understanding of economics, not so much.