Bob: (Dressed as stereotypical Viking) Seamus: Dare I ask? Bob: We need to be more like Scandinavia so we can be happy like them! Seamus: How do we need to be more like Scandinavia? Bob: Their poverty rate is less than half the United States’, they have free health care, free higher education, free parental leave, free vacation, free retirement, a living minimum wage, a higher happiness index score and a higher individual GDP than the US! All with only a barely higher individual tax burden than we have here! Scandinavia proves that democratic socialism can work! Seamus: Actually, Bob, the Scandinavian countries that people like to point to, like Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Norway, aren’t really socialist at all. Bob: What?? Seamus: Not only has the Prime Minister of Denmark gone out of his way to publicly say that they’re a market economy, those 4 Scandinavian countries rank about the same as the US as far as economic freedom is concerned. Yes, they have very robust welfare systems that previous administrations have put in place, but they’ve been trimming back both their social programs and their levels of taxation since the 1990s once the people realized that their economies were suffering because of the expanding “tax and spend” social democracy policies that kept being implemented. As far as “levels of poverty” are concerned, national-level poverty is measured comparatively to what other people in that same country are making, and where that line is set varies from country to country. Not even the World Bank will release comparative data sets on that. And all 4 countries have higher individual AND family tax burdens than the US, with Sweden’s and Finland’s being significantly higher. I wouldn’t call that free ANYTHING. Bob: But what about their GDP, huh? Seamus: Well, according to the World Bank’s most recent data, only Norway had a GDP per capita that was higher than the US, and that’s largely because of their relatively large petroleum reserves. It’s also worth noting that their per capita GDP has sharply DECREASED in recent years. In 2013, it was over $100,000 a year. In 2017, it was $75,000. That’s a big change, and not for the better. Bob: Their high minimum wage? Seamus: By and large, isn’t set by the government. It’s negotiated industry by industry, between unions and businesses usually. And if a union isn’t involved, it’s negotiated between the worker and the business. Government doesn’t have much of anything to do with it. Bob: But… but… they’re so happy…? Seamus: Bob, most Scandinavians consider it very impolite to tell someone else, particularly a stranger like a survey-taker, that they’re unhappy. And if you look at the World Health Organization's statistics on telling signs of mental health like alcohol consumption, they’re about on par with the US, in that regard. Bob: (droopy Viking horns) Oh. Seamus: Look, Bob, it’s great that you want other people to be happier. It’s great that you want to be happier, too. But maybe we could find a way that doesn’t involve government mandates or Viking horns? Bob: VALHALLA! (World Bank data on Scandinavian GDP per capita vs. US) Links below are the World Health Organization data sets by country regarding alcohol consumption

Common Sense Soapbox


About this show

Short videos with a punchy, comedic tone and entertaining Socratic characters taking on trending issues and important concepts from a classical liberal perspective, written & animated by Seamus Coughlin.

The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism

July 9, 2019

Tons of people who support "Democratic Socialism" argue that the US should be more like Scandinavia, and while there are some great things about Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway, the idea that they're good examples of socialism is a myth.

Written by Seamus Coughlin & Jen Maffessanti
Animated by Seamus Coughlin
Produced by Sean W. Malone


The Myth of Scandinavian Socialism
Scandinavia is No Socialist Valhalla
If Scandinavia is Socialist, So is the U.S.
Are Scandinavians Really That Happy?

All Shows

Invisible Hands

Popular YouTube host Kevin Lieber (VSauce2) hosts this informative and entertaining video series designed to introduce key concepts of economics to younger audiences through credible arguments, comedy... And puppets!

Connect with FEE