Government

Should we just Finnish off America?


            As each socialist experiment makes its way to the ash heap of history, leftists incessantly scream the same old song that socialism will work if only implemented by the right people.  Scandinavian socialism is often touted as the shining example.

            Why can’t America be like them?  Even Hillary Clinton admitted America is not Denmark to debunk Bernie Sanders’ promises of free everything.  A Finnish-American, Anu Partanen, published a mild scolding in The Atlantic that Finland is a model America should and can emulate; and that capitalism and socialism are like peanut butter and jelly.

            Aside from Partanen immigrating to America for presumably greener pastures, she extols Scandinavian entrepreneurship.  She names some successes, but most of the companies were founded 50 to 150 years ago; and all sought success by going global, in effect leaving the socialist utopia to make money.

            Volvo was bought by Ford and now owned by China.  Nokia and Skype are now owned by Microsoft.  Sure some great ideas come from Scandinavia, but the capitalist profits are made in the world to pay the exorbitant taxes for the select few in utopia.

            Finland’s economy is feeling the drag of socialism.  The Finnish economy contracted 8.3% in 2008 and has essentially never recovered.  After a tiny growth spurt in 2010-2011, Finland has been mired in deep recession since 2012.  Unemployment is climbing, now at 9.4%.

Finland is a fascinating study, but closer examination exposes more of the limits of socialism than its universal application.  Partanen’s premise is simply that Finns gladly pay high taxes and get “top-notch services” in return; and she completely dismisses any argument that that works because Finland is a small homogeneous nation.

            Finland’s about 5.4 million people is not much larger than Alabama’s almost 4.9 million; and the economies are generally proportional with Finland’s about $222 billion to Alabama’s about $200 billion.  Comparisons of government spending are a bit distorted by massive defense spending in Alabama, but clearly Finland’s 58% of GDP to Alabama’s 52% shows Finland spends a lot on generous benefits.

            Everyone in Finland gets great parental leave, vacations, and retirements; they all get universal health care (quality is not compared).  This is where Finland’s homogeneity applies; pretty much everyone pays HIGH taxes – a veritable smorgasbord of income, capital gains, excise, sales, and many more taxes.  Whereas, in America about 45% pay no federal taxes.

            Leftists hold this notion that the economy is like an enormous full service resort or condominium with huge homeowner’s fees for the best amenities.  That can work when all the residents pay their fair share, but when you have about half free loading, services start falling off.  Finland is more like the exclusive gated community of Europe than an example of welfare for the poverty stricken masses.

            Concerns about running out of money are rising.  Finland is discussing a “minimum income” where every person is paid about $896 monthly.  Sounds like extreme wealth distribution, but the reasoning is to save money.  Apparently, rising costs and abuses threaten the survival of the system, so the concept is to delete most services and benefits and each citizen just gets cash to spend as they please.

            A somewhat libertarian leap but it may prove that people are better stewards of public money when they choose how its spent rather than waiting to see how government regurgitates your wealth. 

Therein lies perhaps the biggest problem.  Finns apparently trust their government to spend wisely.  Our federal government proves daily they happily spend mountains of our money on things the people reject, like abortion, illegal immigration, and over regulation to name a few.

            Finland is learning and Americans should know that the more responsibility the people assume for themselves and government, the more prosperity for all.

            “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.”  Genesis 2:15

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