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Message To Bernie: Denmark is Not a Socialist Economy, But a Market Economy with an Economic Time Bomb Called The Welfare State

From Denmark’s prime minister says Bernie Sanders is wrong to call his country socialist – Vox

[I]n a speech Friday evening at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said that while he’s flattered to see Denmark discussed in a widely watched US presidential debate he doesn’t think the socialist shoe fits. “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.” In Rasmussen’s view, “The Nordic model is an expanded welfare state which provides a high level of security to its citizens, but it is also a successful market economy with much freedom to pursue your dreams and live your life as you wish.”

Here is Lars Løkke Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark addressing the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on a range of Nordic solutions and challenges affecting the state of Denmark.

From Danes Rethink a Welfare State Ample to a Fault – The New York Times

It began as a stunt intended to prove that hardship and poverty still existed in this small, wealthy country, but it backfired badly. Visit a single mother of two on welfare, a liberal member of Parliament goaded a skeptical political opponent, see for yourself how hard it is. It turned out, however, that life on welfare was not so hard. The 36-year-old single mother … had more money to spend than many of the country’s full-time workers. All told, she was getting about $2,700 a month, and she had been on welfare since she was 16.

[…] Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. The population is aging, and in many regions of the country people without jobs now outnumber those with them. Some of that is a result of a depressed economy. But many experts say a more basic problem is the proportion of Danes who are not participating in the work force at all — be they dawdling university students, young pensioners or welfare recipients like Carina who lean on hefty government support.

[…] Denmark has among the highest marginal income-tax rates in the world, with the top bracket of 56.5 percent kicking in on incomes of more than about $80,000. But in exchange, the Danes get a cradle-to-grave safety net that includes free health care, a free university education and hefty payouts to even the richest citizens.

[…] But few experts here believe that Denmark can long afford the current perks. So Denmark is retooling itself, tinkering with corporate tax rates, considering new public sector investments and, for the long term, trying to wean more people — the young and the old — off government benefits. “In the past, people never asked for help unless they needed it,” said Karen Haekkerup, the minister of social affairs and integration, who has been outspoken on the subject. “My grandmother was offered a pension and she was offended. She did not need it. “But now people do not have that mentality. They think of these benefits as their rights. The rights have just expanded and expanded….”

[…] Robert Nielsen, 45, made headlines last September when he was interviewed on television, admitting that he had basically been on welfare since 2001. Mr. Nielsen said he was able-bodied but had no intention of taking a demeaning job, like working at a fast-food restaurant. He made do quite well on welfare, he said. He even owns his own co-op apartment. … “Luckily, I am born and live in Denmark, where the government is willing to support my life,” he said.

Also worth reading: Why Denmark isn’t the utopian fantasy Bernie Sanders describes – The Washington Post

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