News and Commentary

Leftists Angry As Utopian Denmark Moves Right. Here’s Why They’re Moving Right.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the left fawn over the utopia that is Denmark, Denmark is moving right, much to the left’s dismay.

An article in CNN Money details Denmark’s move to the right. While it’s written as a “news” story, it’s quite apparent that the leftists at CNN are not happy about the changes in Denmark. The article starts:

Income inequality is on the rise. The rich control more of the country’s wealth. Union membership is falling. The ranks of the poor are growing.

Sounds like the United States? Actually, it’s Denmark.

The article points out that Denmark has recently cut taxes while reformed welfare programs have been cut (without providing much details about either action) and that union membership has declined by 10 percentage points since the 1990s. Naturally, CNN Money quotes somebody from a leftist think tank:

“There’s more of a stigma on unemployment,” said Kristian Weise, director of Cevea, a center-left think tank. “Danes generally support a big welfare state, but there is a growing feeling that people have to do more for themselves to get a job.”

“A stigma on unemployment.” In other words, unemployment should be celebrated instead of encouraging people to work. This is how the left thinks. Notice that nowhere in CNN Money’s article did they quote anyone from a conservative think tank; they didn’t explain why these conservative reforms are taking place.

“Danes generally support a big welfare state, but there is a growing feeling that people have to do more for themselves to get a job.”

Kristian Weise, director of Cevea

The Daily Wire editor-in-chief Ben Shapiro wrote that former Enron advisor Paul Krugman admitted that Denmark has had a 5.5 percent decline in real capita per GDP since 2007, but Krugman blamed it on “austerity.”

Denmark’s economic decline occurred because of their welfare state. Economic prosperity in Scandinavia had occurred before their socialism experiment, according to Nima Sanandaji in The Wall Street Journal, back when they embraced capitalism. Since then, “numerous studies show that high taxes and generous welfare benefits are impairing the Danish economy.”

“Welfare dependency easily translates into widespread social poverty,” Sanandaji wrote. “This is even more pronounced among those with an immigrant background.” He points out that Danes living in the United States have a 37 percent higher standard of living than Danes living in Denmark.

The Daily Wire editor James Barrett previously wrote that Denmark has personal income tax rates as high as 60 percent for everyone making $60,000 or more and have a Value Added Tax of 25 percent. VATs are especially insidious because every level of production is taxed, which makes their effects hidden. These high taxes are the result of an overly-generous welfare state.

The New York Times had a piece in 2013 detailing how Denmark’s welfare state has provided for incentives not to work. The story discusses how a welfare recipient, given the pseudonym “Carina,” received $2,700 a month and made more money than a significant amount of the Denmark’s full-time workers. She has been on welfare for twenty years.

Carina is a microcosm of the problem with Denmark’s generous welfare state. The country has a “troubling” long-term outlook, because “the population is aging, and in many regions of the country people without jobs now outnumber those with them.” The reason for this is not necessarily due to economic problems; the welfare state has encouraged Danes to stay out of the work force. In fact, 400,000 Danes face “limited economic incentives” to work because of the high taxes and welfare state, which is significant given the fact that Denmark is a country of less than three million working age people. In addition, only 47 percent of the Danish population works, and even then they work short hours because they are guaranteed lengthy vacations and paid maternity leave.

And then there are their problems with immigration. The Gatestone Institute explains:

As soon as newcomers arrive and have been granted residence (and to some extent even before), they receive every benefit our welfare state has to offer: Free medical care, free education through university, housing that is often better than what poor natives have to make do with, integration allowances, free language education, disability pensions, old age pensions, equal rights under the law etc. Cannot pay for yourself, your wife (or wives) and your numerous children because you are not qualified for a job or would rather not work? No problem. The taxpayers will provide you with everything you need. Want to go and fight in Syria for the Islamic State and leave your dependents behind? That’s fine. The state will pay for them while you hone your skills as a holy warrior. Want to come back to Denmark if you get tired of slitting throats and burying people alive in Syria? You are welcome, and you will enjoy all the transfer payments you had before your exotic venture.

As a result of Denmark’s lax immigration policies, there are 33-40 Muslims areas in Denmark, some of which have been labeled as “no-go zones” because the police and firefighters are afraid of being attacked.

The effects of these liberal policies would likely explain why Denmark threw out the Social Democrats in favor of anti-immigration politicians. Denmark has tightened their immigration laws and curbed their welfare state through reforms of the retirement plans and unemployment and disability benefits.

It may surprise many that Denmark’s current economic freedom is about the same as the U.S.’s, with freer trade and a better business environment than the U.S. Maybe the U.S. should learn from Denmark and start moving right instead of further left.