Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reader Questions....

A quick, and probably not entirely correct, set of answers to some questions from avid reader Eric M:

1. Scandinavian countries get a great reputation for providing a high standard of living alongside big government programs to redistribute wealth. I am sure they didn't invent a free lunch up there so what part of the story am I missing?

Maybe *I* am missing something. But here are my answers.

I. Sweden has created this lovely mindset.
II. If you look at Scandinavian communities in the U.S., their standard of living is higher, their level of health care is higher, and they have far more freedom. In fact, there are more Norwegians (2nd, 3rd, 11th generation) in the U.S. than there are in...NORWAY! The only way to compare Northern Europe to the U.S., and have Northern Europe win, is to compare to the ENTIRE U.S. Yes, the U.S. has populations (native Americans, African Americans, Latino immigrants, and so on) whose economic well-being, and health care, is not as good as in Northern Europe. But the native Americans had all their property stolen, and subjected to collective property rights, which destroyed their economic well-being. African Americans were enslaved, and then subjected to Jim Crow and discrimination until...well, still. And Latino immigrants moved to the U.S., not to....well, not to Scandinavia. They don't want to have to wait two years for an emergency appendectomy.

In short, the Northern European solution involves:
a. Keep out the poor people
b. Send lots of your poor people to the U.S., where by the way they become rich and prosperous.
c. Rely on a cultural ethic of working hard, even if lazy people take advantage of you.

(a) is still working pretty well. (c) is falling apart.

2. Ohh and on the socialized medicine thing. If i am paying for your health care through transfer payments all of a sudden I become real concerned with your choices in life and anything that could lead to chronic health problems like diabetes. No one wants to live in a country where people are constantly pissed at you for not hitting the gym and having in-vitro pregnancy induced. Just a thought

It is interesting, isn't it. If we collectivize costs, by having a social safety net, suddenly most of my choices have externalities associated with them. My big fat ass is likely to cost you higher medical bills, because I rely on you, the working guy, to pay my health insurance.

But then of course you are going to want my big fat ass to get thinner.

In twenty five years: It's six a.m. An alarm goes off, in Norman, OK. Sleepy, but extremely fit, people climb down the stairs of their high density apartment blocks. They move to the middle of the streets, which have been blocked off to traffic. (The traffic is only buses nowadays, running on solar cells. The EPA has outlawed fuel cell cars, because some people got wet from second hand water vapor exhaust).

The folks in the street get into the ready position. THe ubergruppenhealthfuhrer blows her whistle and says, "250 pushups, all of you! You must be healthy, for the common good! DOWN! UP! DOWN! UP!"


Jeff Holmes said...

Another reason why big government might not be so pernicious in northern Europe is that the societies are smaller in size and far more homogeneous than other rich countries. It would be reasonable to presume that the incentives of such governments would thus be more often in line with the interests of the denizens. As you mention, however, this homogeneity is achieved by keeping (poor) foreigners out.


As an expat writing from Germany, I'm impressed by your grasp of Denglish.

Angus said...

Norman is one of the last places on earth where that would happen mungowitz o mine. much more likely in wussy NC!

Michael said...


That's why I picked Norman.

I figured if it had happened there, it had happened everywhere.

Like the movie, "Red Dawn": Commies in Colorado.

Stephen said...

Colorado is also where the resistance to the Commies took place. Somehow they never made it to Wisconsin or Minnesota.

I saw some stills from the movie of a Santa Fe diesel with a big red star painted over the Holy Rood. If anything, it will be the other way around, with Omaha Orange and Glacier Green on the Trans-Siberian some day.