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.

I’m an American living in Sweden. Here’s why I came to embrace the higher taxes.

I live in Denmark. Bernie Sanders’s Nordic dream is worth fighting for, even if he loses.

Living in Switzerland ruined me for America and its lousy work culture.

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.


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By J. Kb

11 thoughts on “Econ 101”
  1. I haven’t yet clicked on the links but I’d like to know where do they have 6 weeks of vacation.

    1. t’s August again and in Europe that means “out of the office” messages, “closed” signs, and desolated streets. August 1st marks the unofficial start of summer vacation in Spain, France and Italy, and even in times of economic crisis, most employees are dead-set on taking their summer days.

      And why not? According to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, European countries lead the world in guaranteeing paid leave for its workers. Among OECD countries, 16 of the 18 most generous governments when it comes to paid vacation are European.

      Spain and Germany are among the most holiday-happy, both offering 34 days of paid leave each year. Italy and France guarantee 31 days of paid vacation, and Belgium requires 30. These numbers include both mandatory vacation and public holidays.

    2. And that does not include sick days, holidays and their equivalent of the Family Leave act. I have been in Spain in the summer and if you need to do anything government, it is pretty frustrating. If we are to invade Europe, let’s do it during the summer and nuke the beaches.

      1. Is the beginning of the first post missing?
        Unfortunately, I’m not from any of those countries and don’t work in a government job. I have 25 days of leave.
        But then again, if you want to do anything government in my country, it doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. It’s only slightly worse during summer.

  2. Is this idiot seriously comparing the public transportation of a Wisconsin city of 200 some thousand people to Stockholm, a city of 1.4 million+ and the largest city of all the nordic countries?

    Yes…because that’s a logical comparison…they should totally have equivalent investment in public transportation…

    1. No. He’s comparing Lodi, a town of 3,000 people, 25 miles from Madison, to Stockholm. He wants a bus to run several times a day, round trip from Lodi to Madison to serve the handful of people that might use it. He wants tax dollars to pay for the bus so use of it is cheap. This way he can have the low cost of living way out from the urban hub, and have his neighbors cover the cost of his 50 mile per day round trip commute.

      1. In his democratic socialism fantasy he gets bus service but in reality the bus will run once a week if it hasn’t broken down and when it does show up he will be riding on the top because the inside is packed to the gills with smelly people and smeller chickens, ducks and cute baby pigs shitting on everything. Oh and who was it that invented the term democratic socialism? None other than Lenin not the Beatles Lennon the Russian Lenin, he called the movement democratic socialism to give the peasants the “feeling that they had a say” just a few years before the movement murdered 100 million give or take a few.

  3. I get 160 hours of PTO a year plus all fed and state holiday another 12ish days plus the couple of bonus ones the company throws in. So it’s pretty great to me. The only downside is sick time is not separated from vacation so if you get sick you can burn through your vacation time.

    Oh yea probably most relevant to this is that 40 of those PTO hours are SELF FUNDED. And guess what, if I could take more SELF FUNDED PTO ID do it. But guess what I’m not complaining about? Not getting something for nothing. I basically pay myself to take a week off and again I’d do more of it if they let me.

    Also thanks for the comparison number wise. I’ve often thought about comparing Western Europe as a whole to the US so the numbers are closer population wise and see what that does for per capita crime rates.

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