Finland Is a Capitalist Paradise

Can high taxes be good for business? You bet.

Comments: 290

  1. This sounds like Elizabeth Warren's vision for our economy; yet she is vilified it even by mainstream Democrats. I guess having two major candidates with similar visions having signficant amounts of public support is at least a starting point for Americans for discussing the issues.

  2. @Larry Figdill She is villified because of the costs of her plans, and her lack of transparency about how they will impact our economy and many of us individually. For example, up until recently, she was sticking to the line "the net cost will be the same" re: single payer, which just is an attempt to obscure the fact that taxes would increase and some folks may end up paying more. Why couldn't she just be honest about what an average family vs high earner would be paying? Similarly, some of her policies on corporations would be overly restrictive to the point where they would discourage job creation and investment. For example, paying capital gains tax every year, even on investments that are not liquid. Imagine working for Uber when they were still private and having to pay 40-50% tax on gains, even though you can't sell your stock. That could bankrupt you, or force you to take out crazy expensive loans to pay for taxes when it's not clear that your company will ever even succeed. Who would be able to work at a company like that (besides the 0.1%)? She has a lot of policies that could be good if they were not taken all the way to the extreme, but she pushes to the point where they're incredibly destructive. Worse, people may only see the good parts but not the bad, so we will get whiplashed when the negative effects come to fruition.

  3. @Brian With two exceptions, corporate investment in the US hasn't been happening for a while now, even with the recent tax cuts. The exceptions? Defense and surveillance. I fold Uber into that latter category, and even with massive capital investment Uber remains a zombie firm. Without the differential between capital gains and income taxes, Uber's market valuation would not have been so inflated so your concern that it would have been washed out by gains taxes is dicey at best. But I tire at concerns expressed for our surveillance industry. We don't make shoes. We don't make clothing. We don't make furniture. We produce megatons of bad food. We don't provide for our children or for the parents who scramble to raise them. Firms have been leaving the US because of corporate attacks on its people. Firms that need healthy, focused people have found other countries better bases for their operations.

  4. @Brian Go look at her latest policy numbers. But in any case, ask yourself could she be any worse than what Trump and the Republicans have delivered for you — which is basically less than nothing and making your life harder and more precarious every day?

  5. This is an excellent and well thought out op-ed and simply confirms my own decision to leave the US as it follows a downward spiral of mass inequality and is rapidly losing developed nation status on just about every metric.

  6. @Bob I'm seriously considering the same. I hate to see what is happening to this country and fear what will happen next if Trump wins reelection.

  7. @Bob I am considering doing the same thing, going to South or Central America or Europe upon retirement. The advantages of this move greatly outweight any disadvantages.

  8. @Bob Yes, I truly believe we are on the way to becoming a country with living standard on income polarization on par with Latin America

  9. A quick Google search reveals that median annual household income in Finland is ~$30,000 and that the country’s population is ~5.5 million. The country is essentially mono ethnic. The size and ethnic composition of Finland is very much like Minnesota. Minnesota’s population is ~5.7 million, and is ~90% White. The state has a median annual household income of ~$86,000, ie almost 3 times that of Finland. The average Minnesotan gets to keep more of their income as well as taxes are lower than in Finland. Even if health insurance costs are higher in Minnesota and day care more costly, most Minnesotans come out far ahead of most Finns. With respect to the authors’ other points, many large corporations are headquartered in Minnesota, and fancy cars are hardly rare there. Seems like the authors should have moved to Minnesota.

  10. @Shiv Minnesota is a nice place to live. Can confirm. However, I would gladly pay more taxes for all the great benefits mentioned in this article (universal health care, affordable child care, more generous vacation time, tuition-free college, etc.).

  11. @Shiv You forgot to mention : 1) Poverty in Minnesota is 10.8%, Finland 5.8% 2) Life expectancy in Minnesota is 78.7 yrs. Finland = 81.78 3) Infant mortality Minnesota= 5.0/1,000 births. Finland = 1.7 I could go on an on with all sorts of metrics, but please, the quality of life is not measured in raw $$ or the ownership of fancy cars. If I had to choose between bad weather Finland and bad weather Minnesota, Finland wins hands down.

  12. I agree that Finland has an overall better environment to live that that of US. But Finland is such a small country with homogeneous population, which is very easy to manage. And it is good for middle class citizen to live there because rich people will pay for the services. On the other hand, we have such a large and diverse population, which is very difficult to manage. And it is good for rich and poor people to live here. Rich people will avoid paying taxes, and poor people has nothing to pay. And middle class citizen will bear the burden of the society. Depending where one stands in the society, one can easily pick which country is the best to live.

  13. @Usok I get your point but Finland has its fair share of wealthy people trying to avoid paying taxes. In fact, in the late 1990s it was possible to handle your finances in a way in which your effective tax rate was 0%, although you were earning hundreds of thousands of euros in capital income annually. This loophole was fixed in the early 2000s but the prevailing gap between the tax rates on income tax and capital income tax has largely benefited the wealthy. This has, in turn, resulted in the upper middle class having a relatively higher tax rate than the richest 1%. This comment might seem quite hypocritical coming from a law school student who will most likely find himself in that upper middle class or even that wealthiest 1% in 15 years. However, it just feels unjust to me that during the first 5 years working as an associate at a big law firm in Helsinki my income tax rate could be about 35-45%, whereas 15 years from now working as a partner in that same law firm my total tax rate could settle to about 35% while making about 2-3 times the amount I made as an associate. My solution would be to increase property taxes on the rich since in Finland it's practically impossible to avoid paying property tax when acquiring real estate and I think that the people who are buying second or third homes can also afford to pitch in in the funding of our welfare state.

  14. Helskini looks like the twilight zone in the images. I spent the night in the airport there once and can confirm that it kind of is...

  15. @AC agree. There is a stark coldness in the photos that are off putting.

  16. This story would have more relevance if neither person in the couple were a Finnish national

  17. Ive been to Finland, love it. But if you cherry pick the US., like Minn.Wis, you can make similar comparisons. Good luck in Finland getting mental health drugs, buying a car without going broke, and a few other things. I also witnessed a number of extremely intelligent, multi lingual individuals in dead-end jobs where they would dominate if they moved here. Federalism is the answer for this country where if the federal tax burden was reduced to the basics, people could afford to pay more taxes at the local level which would be more productive for people.

  18. Capitalism can work for all of us if we make it work for all of us. This style of capitalism is in line with what Elizabeth Warren is campaigning for for America. Her focus has been on raising wealth taxes, but a higher corporate tax coupled with reducing tax loopholes and corporate write offs would augment her push toward a capitalism for all. I’ve never understood why Republicans are against universal health care that would allow people to shift jobs and follow their personal entrepreneurial whims without the yoke of employer-based health care restricting their personal freedom. It seems obvious that businesses would be better off without having to closely manage employee’s health care options, and with a well educated population to recruit from. I pay a lot in taxes but most of that is spent on weapons and interest on debt instead of health care and education. We’ve strayed far off course with capitalism and it’s time to re-set. Warren shares this vision of how capitalism can thrive for all of us and that’s why I support her campaign.

  19. @AW One plausible explanation is that Republicans in office serve a Republican donor class that thrives through crony capitalism and which would prefer to have a workforce of indentured servants. The money guys and their lackeys really have no interest in the wellbeing of the American people as a whole. What's more, they don't even believe in the free market ideal they preach.

  20. @AW "This style of capitalism is in line with what Elizabeth Warren is campaigning for," also applies to Bernie Sanders, Sanders having far more experience in the political arena and consistent over the years in what he stands for.

  21. @fishergal Thank you. Agreed.

  22. Anu Partanen's book completely changed the way I consider freedom. Why in the world cannot those intelligent, well-intended people pushing for universal health care, strong unions, affordable education, affordable child and elder care stress freedom since, here in America, freedom is everything? As long as we continue to wrap well-intend arguments in the mantle of welfare, we will fail to progress. Freedom is what sells here. And freedom is what Partanen and Corson are telling us about. Really, really ought to listen. Read "The Nordic Theory of Everything". Read it again. Consider the lessons.

  23. @operadog --so right...I gifted over a dozen copies of her book to many of my friends. Also we lived in Finland for a year with our kids (4, 6, and 12 at the time) and saw it all in action. I'd move back to beautiful Turku, Finland in a heartbeat.

  24. @operadog Freedom from want. Freedom from fear. There's a lot more to freedom than just being able to do whatever you want to.

  25. I really enjoyed reading this article. I am Slovenian, like Melania Trump and here we also have a public health care system (my husband and I we pay about 60 € / month for our family of 3), we have an excellent public day care center, that provides 5 healthy meals a day (180 € / month) and the school system is free from 6y-26y. The problem lately has been because the housing prices increased enourmously given the average income (average salary is about 1100 € / month), but it's still not as scary as reading what some people experience in the USA. In Slovenia you can always apply for the governement founded housing - it can be take a lot of tine, but still, at least it exists.

  26. Our two-party system is non-functional. The last really positive legislation passed were the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. That was almost forty years ago. Otherwise we've just gone back and forth arguing over the same issues ( gun control, abortion, etc) without result. Other important issues (child care, for instance) haven't even been addressed. Yet the whole time the "burden" on the upper classes has been gradually reduced until the tax revenue simply won't cover the costs associated with a modern civilization. As it stands now the great majority of American voters have no one actually representing their interests in Washington.

  27. @laurence I disagree that the Clean Water Act was the last good legislation. The Affordable Care Act was not perfect and left alot undone, but it has move the needle tremendously to where many Americans are talking about some sort of universal healthcare and most believe the government should be doing more about healthcare. That was unthinkable 10 years ago. Everyone who is disappointed with it doesn't remember what life was like before: coverage for pre-existing conditions is just part of what we got, but it's huge for families that have a seriously ill family member.

  28. I wish I could like this comment more than once!

  29. All things in proper proportions and balance. Why can,t our Capitalists see that a healthy and stable population is more cost effective than the constant chaos and low wage system we have now. If the Powers that be think that running a country by trumps standards of keeping everybody in chaos, constantly paying pennies on whats contracted and owed or not paying at all will get us the same future that trump has experienced, bankruptcy, not just of finances but also bankrupt ethics and failed standing in the world. A little socialism , like that which Warren or Bernie propose, would go a long way to stabilize our society provide a prosperous environment for a growing economy, an economy for all.

  30. Finland is pro wealth creation (anathema to the left) and pro wealth sharing (anathema to the right). Sounds just about perfect!

  31. @Will. I have never heard of anyone on the left being against pro-wealth creation.

  32. @Will. The left is not against wealth creation. Just wealth hoarding at the expense of other citizens.

  33. @Will. Hey! The whole "left" is not against pro-wealth creation. A lot of think that Warren's and Sander's plans, even though we like the general idea, are too much, too soon. A lot of us DO recognize that we have dynamic wealth creation along with some means to share that wealth! But the question is: do we want our health-care system to be based on dynamic wealth creation?

  34. Let's face it. Americans have been sold a rich man's fairy tale. Whenever someone floats the idea of providing universal health care or subsidized child care or family leave or higher education or, heaven forbid, a reevaluation of our military, the cries go up that we cannot possibly afford it. Instead, they say, tax cuts for the wealthiest will solve all of our ills, and trickle down on all of us. Who do you think benefits most from that message? Something has to give.

  35. @avrds Well said. We have all heard that story over and over. I would like to suggest a new tax cut plan "trickle down to Rob". This tax proposal makes sense to me :).

  36. Not only benefits, but offshore-hoards their cash to perpetuate that system. By so evading (yes, EVADING) taxes, government is starved and unable to provide its services and stay accountable, the inmates of the vile GOP run its asylum, and the rich can tell us now-poorer non-corporations "you're not working overtime enough!" Nostradamus got nothin' on that self-fulfilled prophecy.

  37. @avrds , It doesn't stop amazing me that so many americans buy the idea that any constraint on the market economy always implies the government ownership of the means of production, and dictatorship of the proletariat. A la Venezuela or North Korea. I believe it was precisely the similar constraints which made the US so successful in 1930's - 60's. And combined with the otherwise free markets.

  38. Also remember reading about the teaching profession in Finland. It is tough to become a tecaher. Teachers are respected and paid very well. The result is it is competitive, very bright minds who love children and youngsters become tecahers. When I was a graduate student in a larghe public university in the midwest, I met an undergraduate majoring in education. Asked her why she chose education. She responded saying she was not accepted for major.

  39. Great article. I've seem some recent polls that put the US in the bottom half of industrialilzed nations in terms of happiness and livability. I have almost no confidence that it will improve. I think it will be dissolved.

  40. Fantastic. We spent a week in Finland on our honeymoon back in 1973. It was great then, and it's great now. Time to get back for a visit!

  41. The writer has gracefully omitted all the very sad facts about Americans health, and mental health. Suicides, mass shootings, anxiety, depression...Americans outrank the planet in these areas. I just like to live the last 20 years of my life without having to fear that the government is falling apart and I may end up in a tent somewhere if I can scrape together enough healthcare to live that long!

  42. This article seems quite biased, as there is no data given about the amount of taxes paid by people in Finland for these services. The price that Elizabeth and Bernie are putting on these things are enormous - $30T for healthcare alone - and (for me personally) would constitute a $20-40K increase in taxes, even though I cannot afford a home or child.

  43. @Brian The taxes are pro-rated based on income. Finland does not tax people into poverty.

  44. @Brian And what is the cost we pay for our current system, every bit and more than that.

  45. @Shane Judge I'm fully aware of how taxes work and clearly did not make the strawman argument that your comment projects. There is a massive difference between taxing someone into poverty (strawman argument) and taxing someone to the point where it's detrimental to them being able to achieve their humble aspirations. Many middle class people or, in my case, "rich" people in cities with very high cost of living, would potentially be in the latter bucket with the level of costs being proposed by Elizabeth/Bernie.

  46. In the U.S. the shift started with Ronald Reagan with its infamous self-fulfilling prophecy - government is the problem. With government being the problem, the solution was to make it smaller and defund it. That sure made government programs ineffective, so more defunding was in order and the cycle continued. That’s where we are today. Now government programs need to be recreated from scratch and that costs a fortune for which nobody wants to pay for.

  47. @BWCA "There’s a big lesson here: When capitalists perceive government as a logistical ally rather than an ideological foe and when all citizens have a stake in high-quality public institutions, it’s amazing how well government can get things done." Hopefully one day, a critical mass of voters will shake off Reagan's narrative that government and freedom are mutually exclusive. It has put us at least 30 years behind much of Europe.

  48. @BWCA "Now government programs need to be recreated from scratch" That's absurd. The federal government is much larger than it was in 1980.

  49. @BWCA You can hardly imagine how deeply this flawed and oversimplified reasoning has penetrated American culture. It stands in the way of virtually EVERY effort to reduce our growing inequality. Its a primary reason Trump supporters keep dreaming that the jobs of the 1950s should be brought back--only they can't be.

  50. I grew up in a medical family and have worked in surgery for over 27 years. There’s been no end around me anywhere ever to the talking up of “American Healthcare”- much worse seeming the lip service it’s paid by non-American general and professional staff at any level, only to be told or to hear later and in private that it’s just their way of smoothing their work relationships with their American counterparts. When I regard the hardships and frankly the tragedies that have afflicted so many lives here because of obscenely high costs of care (and uneven care at that) and take into account how by virtually any measure Americans cannot distinguish fact from opinion in their reading skills alone, any summary of the efficacy of “our” healthcare is surmisal at best.

  51. The authors seem to miss the fact that the article proves conservatives’ point: business-friendly policies are good. The article itself notes that Finland, despite higher taxes, is much better than the US in other areas of business friendliness. Imagine how successful they would be if they lowered taxes and spending too.

  52. @Anonymous Terrible logic. You’ve missed the point entirely. Businesses are already successful. The point is that businesses aren’t hurt by high taxes. Those taxes underwrite the cost of securing high-quality, healthy employees.

  53. @Anonymous They would not be successful if they lowered spending. They are successful because they spend on education and healthcare and parental leave, etc. With that, they don't have the poverty we have and don't have the welfare and prison costs we have. And since a larger percentage of the population is not poor, people spend more money which is good for business. Take a look at poor urban black and poor rural white America up close. Walk the streets and towns for a couple of days. Then take a trip to Finland sometime (but go in July). Let us know what you think.

  54. @Anonymous : You turned all the facts in the article on their heads, and came out with a completely false conclusion.

  55. Poverty is the great tragedy inherent in the American capitalist system. Poverty has made our country unsafe and unstable due to the desperation it has caused among the less fortunate. I would gladly sacrifice some of my retirement income to increased taxes in return for living in an America where it is safe to go to a shopping mall, church, movie theater, or nightclub.

  56. @BJ Kapler, So true. In our visit to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway couple of years ago we were so surprised to see much less presence of security personnel than here in the States. One night, after sightseeing in Stockholm, we changed one train, and a bus, then walked for 30 minutes to reach our Airbnb apartment near central train station around 1:30 AM - a city we were visiting for the first time and did not fear for our safety one bit. Imagine doing that in any major city in the U.S.

  57. So business-friendly? I'm with you there. But let's get to brass tacks on the taxes. People earning the equivalent of ~$3600/mo. have an *effective* income tax rate of 44.5%. They also pay separate state income taxes, social insurance taxes, and pension taxes. Corporate income taxes are *20%*; that is right--lower than US corporate income taxes. And there is a 24% VAT on everything. That may or may not be good, but don't suggest that only the "rich" will pay.

  58. @James Agreed. On the other hand while I pay lower taxes, they don't have out of pocket health care costs. And if you don't have employer provided health care, it can be $2,000 a month for a family of four. And if parents want to send their children the quality schools described here, pay $15,000 a year in a small city. Maybe $30,000 a year in New York. Then there is university costs, maybe $60,000 for a four year state university. They don't have the poverty we have. They have better economic mobility. I don't mind paying taxes to help others and live in a country without poverty. Kind of sounds like a Christian and the teachings of Jesus I learned, what you do for the least of my brothers is what you do for me. Perhaps most importantly, is their quality of life. We can see it in this article. For some of us, we don't mind paying taxes like that and feel we are getting our money's worth.

  59. @James : That is one way to look at it. The other side of the coin is that regardless of the taxes they pay, the Finns have more disposable income at the end of the day. They can take a $1000 sudden economic hit in a way that the majority of Americans cannot. What you miss is that it is not what you pay, it is what you have in your pocket after you have paid everything. And here the Finns win.

  60. @James Egads! Taxes. What you fail to mention, or apprehend, is that after paying their taxes, Finns pay little or nothing for health care. They pay close to nothing for quality child care which would cost at least 20K per annum after taxes in the US. They pay nothing for schools that we can only dream about. They pay little or nothing for university. And they don't need to amass a minimum of a million dollars in a 401K. And you think you're getting a "great deal" because you pay 10% less in taxes. A perfect illustration of typically poor American understanding of math.

  61. Republicans and Fox News always say the left wants to make the US a socialist country like Venezuela. I even saw Ron DeSantis use that against Andrew Gillum in the Florida governor's race. They never say a country like Finland or Denmark. Republicans and Fox News count on the ignorance of their voters / audience. And they aren't disappointed. And when I talk with individual Republicans and they have to acknowledge the things we read here, all I get are excuses - those countries are small, it's a less diverse population. Yet we are the richest industrial country GDP / capita on the planet. We have the money. So much for all their talk of American Exceptionalism.

  62. @Independent We are the richest, and think we are the smartest, after all fearless leader has unmatched wisdom. So why can’t we figure this out. Easy. The minority still in power don’t want to.

  63. There's a question I ask my educated friends who abhor socialism: How does the wealth distribution in socialist countries, like Sweden and Denmark, compare to the US? I point out that these socialist countries have much higher personal and corporate tax rates, and more burdensome regulations and laws, such as paid parental leave and free education for all. Shouldn't it be next to impossible to become wealthy in those places? The majority of people don't believe me--indeed, they often run to Google to prove me wrong--when I tell them that the wealth distribution in these countries is nearly identical to ours. What's missing, of course, is our abject poverty.

  64. @shiv, others. I too can confirm MN is a great place to live, but even if all your numbers are correct, the median MN family could be wiped out by a costly medical issue, and I think this produces an anxiety in many people that simply doesn’t exist in Finland. My overall question is one raised by others - can the Finland style system work in a country as large and diverse as the US?

  65. When everyone says free college in European countries it is not what they think. College in the US has been dumbed down to the point it is basically high school with a little more freedom. Many who get into college in the US would have no hope of qualifying to go in Europe. The testing to get in is exceptionally difficult to keep out all but the best students. There are alternatives in terms of trade schools to attend that are easier to get into. Most US parents would not be able to stomach their child(ren) not making it into college and having to “settle” for trade school. Entry requires significant There are difficult tests to take to qualify college. Many of the the

  66. One item that might be keeping Finland in relative better economic/financial shape than America is the fact that Finland doesn't have the bloated defense budget and military spending known to the U.S. since the end of World War Two. This fact allows much greater resource and expenditure available to the Finish government to spend on the people of that nation with the end result that its citizens enjoy a high standard of living overall.

  67. @Cate And them with Russia right on their doorstep.

  68. My sentiments exactly

  69. Our billionaires have known of this for years. And so do the overseers they employ, say about 20% of the population. But it's the overseers not the billionaires we have to fear the most. And the billionaires probably fear the overseers more than they do the rest of us. And who are the overseers? For one the GOP, a significant portion of the military and police, mid level corporate types, the religious right and right wing para- military groups. Given the odds, the majority of billionaires would probably bet on them than on us. No the odds of civil war are far higher than political reform of the kind the article describes. And the Finns did have to endure a civil war on their journey to the end they now enjoy. An end we are unlikely to see.

  70. The GDP of Finland is roughly one sixth the size of the state of New York. The author is comparing apples and oranges... or in this case herring.

  71. @Robert : So, why are the roads in better shape. The size of the country is huge. The population is scattered. But the people are so much more economically secure, To me, it seems to be a matter of good vs poor management.

  72. @Robert All I ever get from conservatives are excuses. And we are the richest industrial country GDP / capita on the planet. So much for American Exceptionalism.

  73. @Concerned Citizen 85% of the Finnish population lives in urban areas, which usually have well-developed public transportation systems. Take Helsinki: in the dense, hip center, car ownership is at around 30%. This is not because people there can't afford it, it's because we don't need it. Public transportation in Helsinki is modern, covers the area excellently, bring me faster to most places I go than I'd get with a car, and costs way less than having a car to maintain and park in the first place. When we need one, we rent one. I've read so many stories of people in the US having to sell their car because they are not able to afford it and need the money, yet I have never once encountered a similar story here.

  74. Get the feeling there are more than a few good examples of how to run countries around us, if we’d care to look. Corporate interests prevent us from moving forward, though. Too bad there isn’t a candidate talking about changing that. I mean, other than Elizabeth Warren. Right, fellas?

  75. Call it socially responsible capitalism, or call it smart long term capitalist self interest - it works. In 1914 Henry Ford (hardly a socialist) doubled his workers wages. In 1922 he implemented the 5 day work week. In 1926 the 40 hour work week. Why? Workers could afford to buy what they made, and did. Productivity and labor stability improved, and increased leisure time stimulated demand for cars. The result was a new path to the middle class, one that benefitted Ford, its workers and the nation.

  76. Finland is tiny, does not have the ethnic, religious and racial makeup the US has. It does not have the vast and highly expensive climate change challenges, infrastructure problems or expansion of sustainable energy or sustainable agriculture. It does not have The concept of "compassionate capitalism" is not even on our radar for most of our people. So please don't use tiny, rich countries who use petroleum for most of their energy, have to import quite a bit of their commodities, as well as labor, to be an example the US or any large country. We have social problems that won't be solved with people flush with cash. And the people who elected Trump were middle-income voters, not the poor. Our corporate structures and our markets have no sense of morality or care for the future. Until capitalists invest in a sustainable and compassionate code of ethics, we are on the cusp of an economy and society that will collapse.

  77. Having worked in Sweden and Norway, it is not all that great. Sure, the people have much more economic security, but the winters with all that dark and cold is not my ideal.

  78. @gratis I felt the same way about Colorado when I spent a winter there in 1970-71.

  79. @gratis, Then we can have a better economic system for our country that promotes more economic security for all while not having the Nordic type winters that are dark and cold. If you are happy with the cold of Colorado in winters, then a large swath of the country is much warmer and brighter than Colorado in the winter.

  80. @gratis That's a bizarre take. The takeaway from the piece is about the benefits to Americans would accrue from taking a more Nordic approach to public services. The weather has nothing to do with it.

  81. Henry Ford, for all his faults, is rightfully regarded as a capitalist hero for instituting the $5 day, a generous wage in those days. He recognized that people couldn't afford to buy Fords if they were only paid subsistence wages. He would recognize the wisdom in the Nordic system. Why can't our modern capitalists see this?

  82. @jrh0 It wasn't Ford's generosity that caused him to raise pay to $5/day. After all, Ford vehemently fought the unions throughout the 1930's. Ford's problem was that the assembly line was so soul-deadening that he had worker turnover worse than that of any fast-food restaurant today. He had to raise pay to that level to keep workers.

  83. Henry Ford raised the wage for two specific reasons: 1. To ensure a stable workforce. 2. To boost sales of Fords to the workers.

  84. "The top marginal tax rate in 1960 was 91%, which applied to income over $200,000 (for single filers) or $400,000 (for married filers) – thresholds which correspond to approximately $1.5 million and $3 million, respectively, in today's dollars." Unfortunately, too many Americans have been told a lot of lies over the years regarding taxes. The fact remains that GDP growth was far higher under higher historical tax rates. Dec 31, 1969 2.05% Dec 31, 1968 4.96% Dec 31, 1967 2.67% Dec 31, 1966 4.50% Dec 31, 1965 8.46% Dec 31, 1964 5.16% Dec 31, 1963 5.16% Dec 31, 1962 4.31% Dec 31, 1961 6.40% If we actually want to make the American economy 'great again' we need to return to fair tax rates and not overburden the middle class with oppressive taxes.

  85. I don’t think there is a correlation between taxes and GDP. I’d love to see data proving this and until then it’s simply political rhetoric.

  86. @Linus tell that to the Republican Party. They've been saying taxes kill jobs, investment, innovation, etc., for 40 years now. It's all intended to suggest taxes and economic growth are directly related, and they use different synonyms to scare different folks (e.g., "jobs" for the blue collar set).

  87. @Linus I agree there is no correlation. And probably the growing baby-boomer population was a big factor along with manufacturing and good paying union jobs. On the other hand, it shows that higher tax rates don't stop high economic growth rate. Reagan cut taxes and got 16 Million jobs. Also a big increase in the deficit. It is the reason they put the debt clock in Manhattan. And Reagan added 200% to the debt. Clinton raised taxes, balanced the budget, zero deficit. And we got 23 Million jobs, almost 50% more than Reagan. W Bush took that zero deficit, gave use two "tax cuts for the job creators" and we got 3 Million jobs. He also added 100% to the debt. And from that zero deficit, W Bush handed Obama a whopping $1.4 Trillion deficit. Also the worst recession since the Great Depression. Obama got us through the Great Recession, cut the deficit by almost 2/3 to $550 Billion and we got 11.5 Million jobs, almost 400 % more than W Bush. And that was with the "jobs killing" Obama-care. And 20 Million got healthcare. All of which to say, corporations paying taxes doesn't hurt the economy. And we have examples of just the opposite.

  88. Here is the thing. Finland does not have "High Taxes" in the American sense. In the United States, high taxes translate to high taxes on corporations, given the current mindset that corporations are not paying their fair share of taxes. Not on individuals. In fact, try raising taxes on the middle class or anyone in America and that party will lose the election In Finland and across Scandinavia have historically had low corporate taxes and high income taxes. In Finland the corporate tax is 20 percent and the highest it has ever been is 26 percent before 2012. Meanwhile individual income taxes ,when you factor in municipal taxes can exceed 50 percent. This also goes for payment of utilities. Danish companies pay for energy at rates similar to France and China at 7 cents per kilowatt hour but domestic users pay more than 30 cents per kilowatt hour, a rate many consumers in the US outside of Hawaii would find scandalous. Essentially, Scandinavians actually subsidize corporations, the very same ideal that has been demonized in the United States. As such, in order for the United States to be like Scandinavia, we would have to cut the current corporate tax further and nearly double the tax rate for virtually every working American(both rich and poor) and introduce a VAT tax on top of the sales taxes we have in every state which in Finland is 24%. Yeaaaaah!! I do not see that happening even under Warren and AOC.

  89. @Gerald Just citing a flat number for corporate tax rate is deceptive. The US nominal corporate tax rates conceal a convoluted array of incentives, subsidies, and rebates on both the state and federal level. One needs to look at what companies actually paid, particular large corportations like Fortune 500. Incidentally, under Trump's 2017 tax cut, the nominal federal corporate tax rate in the US is 21% vs Finland's 20%. But again, one needs to look beyond that one number at the fine print...

  90. @citybumpkin -- Are you -sure- the new Trump corporate tax rate is 21%? Because I think I read that Amazon, and GE, and a few other really, really big corporations paid 0%. Which is even lower than Finland, for sure. So maybe we need to raise the tax -compliance- rate, to make sure -all- our corporations really pay "their" 21%? Honestly, I don't need to subsidize Amazon any more than I already do... :-p

  91. Thank you for the article. I knew that Finland is among the top countries to live in and for the happiness of its citizens, but have never seen such an analysis as to how it came to be so. A model we should strive for. I would say, however, that such a model may be more difficult to implement here in the U.S. because of our large size, diversity, and that it may not work as well here as it does in Finland. Certainly something to strive for - to have as a goal to achieve at least some of its goals.

  92. @javierg i love the long time excuses of other countries being too small or diverse--which often is isn't true--so the usa cannot be compared to any of 'em. much of this is just american ignorance of the more than 95% of the world--poor them--that isn't american.

  93. It all depends upon how you define capitalism. If you define it as the rich robber barons getting richer at the expense of everyone else as we do in the United States then very few of the rich who control the system will agree to anything that makes the lives of the rest of us better even if you tell them it will help them in the future. If you define capitalism as a part of a system where people compete with each other to make the best goods and services possible in the context of everyone sharing a piece of the pie and being protected as best we can from the outrageous slings and arrows of fortune as you do in Finland then everyone gains and a working society becomes possible.

  94. It's called civilization. It's also Elizabeth Warren's message. Please listen and investigate. By the way, in a generally inferior book -- for him -- Jared Diamond's chapter on Finland in "Upheaval" was very enlightening.

  95. the number of stories written about 'gee, there are other countries that have higher taxes than the usa and they actually FUNCTION' is beyond tiresome. apparently many americans are so provincial and brainwashed they have no clue that other countries not only exist but people aren't permanently scarred by paying higher taxes. perhaps one reason is because they get something for their taxes--the list is too long to say what--and they're ok.

  96. For a country less than the size of the city of Los Angeles ,California,comparisons are rather vague.I just want to go in a closet and cry.

  97. I find it hard to believe the authors that those ideas can be transplanted to the US. Let’s be honest here. Socialism is a code word these days, in America, and is a proxy for uncomfortable realities of race/religion/ethnicity we have to contend as voters and as a nation.

  98. Gee, did not even mention the balanced budget every year.

  99. "...people in the United States have been peddled a myth that universal government programs like these can’t coexist with profitable private-sector businesses and robust economic growth." Many Democrats have recently scoffed proposals such as Medicare for All and tuition-free public universities as though they were unaffordable and even impossible. But, until the United States guarantees to all it citizens a decent education and affordable healthcare, our capitalist economy will never be even remotely fair. And, as Anu Partanen and Trevor Corson point out, businesses benefit when workers are better educated and healthier. I cannot pick up and move to Finland, but I would love to see the U.S. adopt some of the wise, humane policies described in this essay.

  100. @Chris Rasmussen we need much more affordable health care, child care, college, etc...not "free"....

  101. @Jim The key word is "affordable". As long as the cost of health care are more than 200 % higher than of the average of European cost level you can´t establish any working health care system no matter which system you choose. NHS style (UK), Medicare for all, ACA, mandatory insurance (Israel), a mix of private and public insurances (Germany), a combination of public aid system and insurance for co-payments and remainng gaps (France) or whatever - without massive cost cut all this is a bottomless pit no matter how it is labeled as private or public. In all cases It´s too expensive for everyone who has to pay the bill in effect. It´s almost the same with tuition and public transport It´s a disaster that "progressives" are always talking about welcomed widening and never about indispensable structural reforms to reduce costs to some 40 %. Finland and all other countries in Eastern and Western Europe who have similar systems in fact could never maintain the system correctly described in this article without rigid cost management because otherwise tax burden would increase without limits. It´s plain to see. So if you want to know who brought the health care funding to it´s knees in US just look at those donors who have obstructed effective cost cut mechanisms up to now. It´s a tragedy that Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders do not address this crucial issue properly. Ms. Warren is definitely able to understand. But she doesn´t. Maybe she fears to loose the rest of party support.

  102. @Jim Agreed.

  103. I've never understood why American business leaders have not DEMANDED that the government provide education, vocational training and healthcare. Surely as a business you would be better off with healthy, educated, trained employees and not have to worry about all that within your business.

  104. One of the main costs that brought down GM and put them into bankruptcy was their health care costs. And yet they were never in favor of government providing healthcare to its workers and just taking this enormous expenditure off their books. Most corporations, including Walmart still are opposed to this notion which seems to be helpful to companies

  105. @Pat Tighe It wasn't GM that opposed government healthcare for its workers, it was the unionized workers. Why pay for a Medicare-like system when the union negotiates a gold-plated health insurance system.

  106. @J. Waddell you are correct. What is collective bargaining going to look like if healthcare is not tied to work? If they don't have to focus on healthcare maybe they could turn their energies towards better pay. Unions depend on members to voluntarily pay dues - they need to show they are indispensable to the worker and there has been no better way to do that then negotiating robust healthcare packages.

  107. The real key to the Nordic model may well be that the people in these countries missed out on the worst excess of the Protestant Reformation--namely, the ethos of Calvinism, which absolutely afflicts the socioeconomic philosophy of the United States and Britain, even if many of its proponents have forgotten the religious underpinnings of their Social Darwinism. Calvinism, you may recall, posits that one shows one's worthiness to enter heaven and evidence of God's favor--be a member of the elect--by accumulation of wealth in this world. If one does not accumulate wealth, one is obviously not favored, and one should not be charitably helped, as one does not deserve that help, as that only drains resources from those that do deserve them. One sees this attitude in our oligarchs who think they should accumulate any and all, and believe the poor are poor through their own lack of effort and intelligence ("if you're so smart why aren't you rich"), and that institutional practices have nothing to do with who makes it and who doesn't. In some way, the Nordic nations managed to escape this equation of wealth with worthiness, and kept the idea that one was deserving of a degree of security even if one wasn't in the top tier of wealth. The relative homogeneity of the population likely plays a significant role in this; most people see most people as "one of us". One more thing: Nordic nations, for the most part, publicly fund election cycles--one more thing those taxes go towards.

  108. @Glenn Ribotsky Quebec has gone from pre Revolutionary France to 2019 Finland during my lifetime with an almost bloodless quiet revolution. The homogeneous/heterogeneous debate still takes away too much of intellectual energy but the political and social balance of our public and private sectors function rather well. The we are hiring signs are everywhere and we look forward to a better future.

  109. @Montreal Moe Um. Quebec is one province in a nation. I fully support the low tuition fees and subsidized daycare that Quebec residents get. I think all Canadians should have the same. But let's not kid ourselves that Quebec is some bastion of 'capitalist paradise'. Quebec will get somewhere in the neighbourhood on $13 BILLION dollars in transfer payments collected from taxation in other Canadian provinces this year alone.

  110. @Glenn Ribotsky I strongly agree, but it might be useful to explain that the Nordic countries at the time of the Reformation adopted Lutheranism, which combines the best features of Calvinism and Roman Catholicism. Lutheranism embraces both a strong work ethic and communal values.

  111. I have a key employee who makes close to 100k a year and besides his taxes through an unfortunate set of circumstances we have been paying about 36k a year to insure his family! Do the math on that 36k and you get effectively a tax of 36% on top of SSI, State and Federal taxes plus co pays and out of pocket, which I am sure exceeds the tax costs of most Nord’s! I would love to outsource my healthcare to the federal government!

  112. @Joe Jensen Lucky for him you consider him a keeper. In my years working in Mega Corps I’ve seen employees whose health care became too expensive let go.

  113. Would be nice if the health care industries really did put the American patient first and supported Medicare-for-all and govt negotiated pricing.

  114. Finland doesn't have a massive military-industrial complex like the U.S., demanding constant feeding? Finland invested in its citizens? It all seems very un-American.

  115. @R. Law Correct, Finland's two core military strategies over the last century have been "Hope that the USA will intervene" and "When in doubt, defer to Moscow." These are not high dollar cost strategies, but I don't recommend them as viable for us here in America.

  116. @Rex Nemorensis There's a difference between having a robust national defense, and maintaining a de facto empire as the world's policeman. We have the latter, but could opt for the former, you know.

  117. @Rex Nemorensis Rex, I understand. But at least Finland has only 'deferred' to Moscow. The U.S. currently is completely kowtowing to Moscow.

  118. I wonder what makes the United States so different other industrialized countries? Why doesn't the US provide affordable higher education, parental leave, health care for all? A theory is that the United States has spent the decades since World War II building empire and fighting wars over oil and being the world's policeman and so has wasted much money on this. Other, smaller countries like Finland, spent that time improving the lives of their own citizens. Can we change the course? I hope so. This article doesn't mention the climate crisis. But passing and enacting a Green New Deal would raise the standard of living for many Americans while also acting on the climate crisis. If we are to listen to the United Nations, we have 11 years to do this. All hands on deck.

  119. I gave out at least a dozen copies last year of Ms. Partenen's book "The Nordic Theory of Everything" to all of my 20-something relations with the inscription "this is what we need to be fighting for." We lived in Finland for a year (on my husband's Fulbright) when our kids were 4, 6 and 12 and it was a huge eye-opener in many ways. Kudos to Anu and Trevor---when I finished Anu's book, I thought "if I had written this book, I would leave and raise my child in Finland" so I'm glad they did!

  120. When I first went to Finland, I had all the fears that any US citizen would have, having been steeped in the constant anti-socialist propaganda that we get daily in the USA. After having lived there for over a year, and in nearby Sweden for about 4 years, I was a total convert to the Nordic way of life. I then made the worst mistake of my life, that of returning to the USA after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Life here is miserable compared to life in Scandinavia, and I only wish that I had the opportunity to escape the US and return to one of the Nordic countries.

  121. @Total Socialist I'm sorry! I taught English in Finland about fifteen years ago right out of college, then studied/lived in Sweden for two years, and reading this similarly pains me! Though I didn't have the fears you did, at the time of my departure my father suggested I would be living below the poverty line with my new job, despite not understanding their economic, health, or social structure at all. He's still not interested, offended by my relationship with Europe, and voted for Trump.

  122. @blw I too returned thinking that Obama was the change that would make everything right again. He was blocked in every way. I wish I had not returned! Planning to leave as soon as possible and will not return to the US.

  123. "Capitalist Paradise" sounds like an oxymoron. This great piece does not account for one variable: American's distrust in it's public institutions--and their willingness to act in our best interests. It's difficult to imagine our higher taxes will be used efficiently. Robert Reich's book "The Common Good" illustrates this point well.

  124. That’s right, I have almost no trust in my government, regardless of which party currently occupies the White House. I live in Illinois which defines corruption and insolvency. Then there’s Cook and the collar counties. Cook has Democrat corruption while you’ll find some Republican examples in the collar counties. Do I have to mention Chicago? However, to be fair, the local municipality is halfways decent. On the federal level, I have personal experience with regulators and can’t say much good about it. The fact that the job is pretty much a sinecure doesn’t breed competence nor does the political ideology frequently on display. No thank you. We are not now and are unlikely to ever be, Scandinavian

  125. The Wall Street Journal made a similar point in an editorial within the past week or two. The Nordic countries are aggressively competitive capitalist economies with a large welfare state. But the author neglects to mention a few crucial details. The corporate tax rate is 20% - even less than in the US. It's the Finnish citizens who are funding the welfare state. VAT (i.e. sales) taxes are 24% (with a reduced rate of 14% for food.) Pension fees (equivalent to US Social Security) are 23% compared to about 15% in the US. There are also excise taxes on certain products (especially high on autos) and health care taxes. 2015 estimates put the total tax burden on an average wage earner ($3,600/month income) at 44.5% Liberals want a Nordic style welfare state, but aren't willing to implement the taxes required to do so. Contrary to what Elizabeth Warren says, generous welfare benefits can't be funded just by soaking the rich.

  126. @J. Waddell Just a caution - comparison of nominal corporate tax rates could be misleading on it's own. It's the EFFECTIVE corporate tax rate that matters. We know for instance that many very large and successful U.S. corporations pay essentially no tax. Although their nominal tax rate might seem high, they employ tax avoidance strategies that reduce their EFFECTIVE tax rate to something much lower. I've seen statistical breakdowns that show U.S. nominal corporate tax rates often do look high, but when you look at what is actually paid, the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is actually pretty low compared to other nations. It would seem the U.S. provides excellent corporate tax avoidance opportunities. However, I don't have a link to provide for that information right now.

  127. @J. Waddell The citizens are supporting it, but also benefiting to a degree greater than their individual contribution. Read the article again - Finns aren't the wealthiest individuals, but they are living better lives than we are.

  128. @StatBoy I think you're missing J. Waddell's main point. What he's saying is correct; the really big taxes in Nordic countries are on individuals, not corporations, and a lot of those taxes are very regressive. The VAT hits you harder the less money you have. It might all be worth it, but in the United States we don't get the full picture from most people who argue for expanded government services.

  129. A cheery story, but it leaves out a lot. To start with, Finland is a small country, less than 6 million. And it is a relatively homogeneous country. Both contribute to people feeling more connected to fellow citizens than in the US, so you don't have the bitter resentments that "they" are looking for gov't handouts that has been so often discussed here in the NYT. Second, while the article discusses the tribulations following the war with Russia, it leaves out important details. The Finns understood they are small relative to Russia and have followed a policy of accommodation. They maintained relations with Russia during decades when the West shunned Russia. They media self-censored and didn't report on Russian atrocities during the war, nor did they publicize the failures in Russia or their interference with other countries. The point is Finland is not America. What works well there may not work here, and vice-versa.

  130. @Mike T. But what works well here? That is certainly not clear anymore, is it? Almost half the population cannot meet basic living expenses and another 40% can only do so by going into permanent debt. What does work here? Unfettered capitalism and minimal taxation is a brutal experiment that is failing. But it is also enforced by those who benefit and by the government infrastructure they have built. We are at a tipping point here in the USA. Which way will we tip?

  131. @Mike T. The differences you mention do not seem to be relative to the social/economic intent of this article. Of course they have a different relationship with Russia, but how does that mean their economic/social system couldn't work (perhaps with some adjustments) here?

  132. @Mike T. - are you not able to perform multiplication?

  133. The Finnish “miracle” cannot be replicated in the U.S. for a simple reason – immigration. The U.S. population consists of about 14.3% foreign-born residents. The vast majority of these are low-income, low-education immigrants, legal or illegal. The Finnish population consists of 5.4% foreign-born residents. Modern social welfare systems cannot support mass immigration of low-wage workers. This isn’t xenophobia or bias, it’s just math. On the other hand, Finland is a rapidly aging country, which could also undermine their social welfare system. Over time, immigration could mitigate the impact of this. The bottom line is that the long term sustainability of the Finnish model is unclear. But it’s a wonderful country with great people, so I wish them the best.

  134. @John Sweden has a much higher foreign born population and it works there. All of western Europe has high immigration and they all have universal health care and free college. I just don't see the connection.

  135. @John I live in California, and every day I see these "low-income, low-education immigrants, legal or illegal." They cook meals in cafeterias and restaurants, clean offices and houses, and pick food in the central valley. And when they can't find more steady work, they stand outside of Home Depot, willing to go off for a day or work where they may have no breaks or good access to water or sanitation. Please enlighten me as to how it would be a bad idea to make sure these people have healthcare and to educate their children.

  136. @John Immigrants pay taxes. Government spending on immigrant families does tend to be higher, because they have more children in school. But the adult children of immigrants tend to pay more in taxes than other Americans—the details vary by state. The greatest federal spending, by an immense margin, is for Social Security and Medicare (and defense, of course). Those benefits are paid mainly to people born in the United States, using taxes drawn from both immigrant and native-born workers. Strong immigration is one of America's key economic assets.

  137. Part of my youth was spent in Denmark. I'm considering seriously retiring there. I visit regularly. I may need the health care. And, the one time in my youth when I visited a doctor in Denmark he was clearly the kindest doctor and the most willing to explain what was happening that my life has exposed me to. My education needs are minimal. My financial needs are covered. Since I'll be living off my retirement funds I'll probably actually be a net gain for the Finnish economy. Yet, this article reminds me of so many elements of Scandinavia. For me it won't be about the government services, yet I can understand how this was important to the author, spouse and child. To me it's about a way of facing life that I think would benefit everyone. It is completely lost in the United States if it was ever there. Nonetheless, this article should be required reading.

  138. And I see the homeless men and women in out little city begging at the stop lights, there has to be something better here in the states. I sure those people would love to have a roof over their head and a job that paid a living wage and some health care and a society that cared about them.

  139. @scott t Bend? God, what a shame. I fished the Deschutes , went to graduate school at Oregon State more than 40 years ago. Sorry for your (and their) troubles scott t.

  140. There will always be those who say it can’t be done here. Or that health care is not a right. And on and on. This is and always has always been the propaganda of the rich. The greedy rich and their corrupt government. And, in the words of Jim Jordan, guess what? We don’t have to freeze in the dark to make this a decent, humane, capitalist society.

  141. About the only downside to Finland seems to be the long winters. :>) And just think, you are on the doorstep to Europe!

  142. We need an education system like Finland. Schools of education in Finland are very competitive and it's not easy to get accepted. That's why teachers are well paid and respected. Teachers in the US will achieve similar status when we reach the point that some students majoring in education change their majors to engineering because it's easier.

  143. Teachers in CA have been required to major in an academic subject since 1965, mine was History!

  144. @J. Waddell But that can only happen when teachers here are treated as professionals, with respect and support...and I don't just mean higher salaries. Teachers are often treated badly by administrators, politicians, and the public.

  145. I've spent some time in the Nordic Countries and worked for a while in one of them. Every time I've returned to the US I've been struck by the fact that I live in a curious amalgam of the first and third world.

  146. @Steve - Exactly, as I confirm by my annual 3 to 4 weeks in my USA - New England - NY State in June. But Mount Philo State Park is great. Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com Citizen US SE

  147. @Larry Lundgren ; in terms of income inequality, the US today is a third world country.

  148. @Steve Yup. Have spent a fair amount of time in Sweden and Norway over the past five years due to work, and it saddens me to see how the American value system simply doesn't care about the public good. There are countries that take excellent care of their most precious resource - their people - and it's a shame that a country as wealthy as ours presently cares most about how the powerful can better exploit its people. I really wish more Americans were more aware of the world outside our borders. I still run into many people who think the Nordic region is a gray socialist tundra devoid of prosperity. Too many of us have sadly been brainwashed with the "USA #1" myth, and the only way to break out of such silliness is through first-hand experience.

  149. One important aspect of American life that the article omits is the extent to which Americans live a leveraged-life on credit and the life-stresses it produces. In many ways, this is a result of government policy and a lack of state-support. Educational loans, because people cannot pay for their college education. Home loans because US cities, unlike most countries, are zoned for single-family homes, not apartments. Auto-loans because the public transport system is rotten and cities are not organized around it. Outrageous health-care costs that can bankrupt even a well-off family in a heartbeat. The result of all this is an utterly "slavish" relationship of labor (i.e. employees) to Capital (their employers) because they are just one job away from being homeless on the street (no unions). Clearly, you can win in America only if you are a capitalist i.e. your money works for you and not the other way around. Very few Americans, however, own any capital. They have not benefited from either the stock-market boom or the housing boom. For all the immigrant-bashing in America, it is the only first-world country that gets highly talented immigrants chasing the American Dream, while providing no social-services in return. It comes across as an elaborate scam, and perhaps that is exactly what it is.

  150. Once again...all countries are not alike. If you have a country that is homogenous and everybody largely shares the same culture and values a system like this can function...for a while. But if you have a multicultural society in which the citizen don't have the same culture or values, this cannot work. Those who embody the "horrible and destructive" Protestant work ethic would wind up carrying the water for cultures who like to take time and smell the roses. Ultimately this would lead to resentment and destabilization.

  151. @Dan Nelson Nothing diverse about Finland. The total number of people in Finland with an African background is 51,645, which is 0.94% of the Finnish population. Homogeneity may make governance easier, but it's not for those who value diversity.

  152. @Dan Nelson Diversity is America’s greatest strength and source of innovation.

  153. @Dan Nelson This is exactly right and you can expect to be excoriated for stating it here. Finland is the size of California with 1/8 the population, one language and a culture with a high degree of trust. There is no way that their system of a generous welfare state will ever be implemented here.

  154. As a Trump voter and a Finland lover (I even learned a bit of Finnish), I enjoyed this article and wish it could be so simple. I am afraid that if healthcare in the US was made universal, it would be captured by commercial rent-seekers participating in this new entitlement and would bankrupt (or further bankrupt) the nation. I don't trust the lawmakers and commercial interests to take the long view. What a shame since we appear to be heading to the edge of a cliff. I am all for studying successful examples, the key is in the planning, implementation and oversight - and in having at least some degree of national consensus.

  155. @Chris O'Neill Chris, can't we be smart enough to do it well? You mention the concern "...it would be captured by commercial rent-seekers participating in this new entitlement ..." So, let's consider that in the planning and make corrections along the way. Is it really better to give up and go off the cliff?

  156. @Chris O'Neill We’re heading for a cliff, we either change course and try something radically different or go over. Your choice.

  157. There has been a complete brainwashing of GOP politicians and supporters as to what "capitalism" and "socialism" actually mean. They have absolutely no idea. The belief that taxes = socialism and government programs of any kind = socialism are intellectually dishonest and completely wrong. But, of course, none of these thought leaders likely ever read any recognized authority on political or economic theory. They get this nonsense from Rush Limbaugh, Fox News commentators, Breitbart and various GOP PACs and (non)-think tanks.

  158. We are not opposed to well thought out, cost effective and corruption free programs (if we can ever find them).

  159. @tom Sorry, Tom, but that is more Fox News propaganda. The idea that every single government program is a poorly thought-out, corrupt waste of money is nothing but a conservative media talking point. Sure, not every government program works perfectly and many can be improved. But some evangelical churches have pastors who steal from their churches, and many businesses wind up in bankruptcy (including a few run by President Trump). But you don't hear Democrats say we should ban religion and businessmen.

  160. @tom Look in Scandinavia!

  161. This article states the obvious - 1. A healthy population is good for productivity and business 2. An educated populace is good for business (and government) 3. The best way to achieve #1 and #2 is to pay for it using taxes It’s striking how many people can object to these facts, just like some object to ramifications of climate change

  162. @M ….yes...I saw that point made the other day on the TV show Democracy Now---they interviewed Mikael Törnwall, Swedish author/writer for a Stockholm newspaper, on how they tax Swedes for social supports. The taxes are worth it, he says and gives examples. The transcript is on line. He says a country is actually more competitive, not less, if citizens have good health care and education, which are affordable. That makes sense. People are less sick, disabled, more trained, more productive for their economy and society. And also they have less political/social polarization. America is seething in polarization. Even with ACA we have about 37 million uninsured, and millions more burdened with high costs. Our college tuition debt is a scandal. Millions of US jobs have been sent to low wage countries, to increase corporate profits. Some of these increased profits end up as mega donations to politicians, who then pass laws insuring profits increase even more. It's a system.

  163. @M American capitalism doesn't operate like Finland. ours is a wild form.

  164. @M And those who object cite "homogeneity," as if the Finns were a nation of clones programmed to be nice to one another. I take "homogeneity" as a code word for white superiority.

  165. Wasn't it Reagan who said the "government is the problem." I guess the Finns wouldn't agree and for good reason. And they have the proof on their side. All we have it Trump.

  166. @Don Reagan was the problem and we all pay the interest on his capitalism-run-amuck disaster.

  167. That all made sense. Keep Making Sense. I thought this phrase was key: “Finland’s capitalists cooperated with government to map out long-term strategies and discussed these plans with unions to get workers onboard.” Emphasis on long-term strategies. This sort of thing can’t happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that. Timing, form, and sequence will matter a lot. We’ll have to figure out just how to go about this. To do that we’ll have to figure out how to steadfastly pursue our broad goals while being flexible about how we achieve them and while remembering that others may have some good ideas (and some of our own favorite ideas may have flaws).

  168. Can we be smart enough to go in this direction? Maybe we truly need to elect Elizabeth Warren.

  169. The author conveniently neglects a fair amount of research that has been done on the so-called "Nordic Model". First - after correcting for wealth-transfer strategies in the Nordic countries - the rates of social mobility are remarkably similar to the good ol' USA. Part deux - the Nordic social system is based heavily on the power of labor and the homogeneity of the population. Both have been changing since the late 1990's - so let's see what happens in the next few decades - you can already see the backlash appearing in Sweden right now. You honestly want to see the future of the Nordic Model - look no further than France today - that is exactly where they will be in a couple of decades - just in time for the author to move back to the States to escape the madness and get her kiddo into a good university.

  170. Yeah, tell us more about 'wealth-transfer' in the US and Finland to compare the two system. I am not exactly understand what do you mean by homogeneous population? Do you refer to the systematic oppression of the part of American population? Yes, you are right this oppression didn't happen in Finland , but still we can correct for that as well. Finland was able overcome the civil war with much more United population

  171. @SteveRR "You honestly want to see the future of the Nordic Model - look no further than France today - that is exactly where they will be in a couple of decades " That simply total nonsense.

  172. @SteveRR Please site your sources -- " a fair amount of research" is a lot like Trump's "people say."

  173. 1. You're preaching to the choir. 2. Finland is virtually a homogeneous country, so there's one less hurdle to go past.

  174. @John : Waiting for someone to write that. Its population is also much smaller. Finns don't talk very much, and recall Finnish saying,"An empty can makes too much noise." Late friend, Ned Stewart, author of "Ballerina" and other works whom I knew in Paris in early sixties went to Finland to get away from it all, to be able to write. But it is not only a homogeneous country population wise but almost everyone is white. They have turned out some great hockey players, Jeri Kurry, Rajo Ruitsolenan, Peti Lind, "the flying Finns!"But Finns don't have the problems we have in the states. No comparison.

  175. Why? Do you think that other nationalities/races are so diverse that they can not find a common ground?

  176. @John Not quite. The Finns have the indigenous Sami, and many migrants from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Helsinki has a chain of great Nepalese restaurants; just down the street from one of them is another run by a Vietnamese.

  177. Some people have put forth an argument that Finland is not comparable to the U.S. Here is another (supporting) question: if it is so obvious that the Finland model is as strong as depicted, then why haven't all other countries and societies rushed to implement this model in their countries -- not just the U.S. And, what are the examples of failed implmentations of this model? This is a great first-hand account, but far from a convincing or conclusive argument. I would suggest a day-in-the-life series, in video format, that compares people of similar socio-economic backgrounds and their experience in the US vs. elsewhere. Sort of like a day-in-the-life, including where people live (apartment vs. house), their incomes, how they use their cars, spectator sports (yes, that too), etc. A couple from Brooklyn, with one child, working as freelancers, who then move to Finland, is far from representative of the entire U.S.

  178. @AW Perhaps not, but what they describe as the lifestyle and support services is pretty much the same throughout the western world. Everywhere except the good old US of A of course. If you don't like it, compare to somewhere like here in Australia, or New Zealand, or Germany, or somewhere else. You will likely find while there are differences around the edges, our lack of terror around governments providing essential services allows us a lot more freedom than it allows you.

  179. @Flossy You raise a good question. It is perhaps underappreciated , when looking at the level of non-interaction that many Americans have with the U.S. federal government. For example, for many, many people, the interaction is one time per year, to pay federal taxes. Setting aside opinions on existing US federal social programs, the lack of confidence in the U.S. federal government to administer or regulate vast social programs and the lack of interaction with the U.S. federal government are observed together. Having been this way for so many years may mean it is so for a good reason. The request remains: lets see day-in-the-life comparisons, so that the trade-offs are clear across comparable people. No system is perfect -- each has its benefits and downsides. Lets see the comparison, including job mobility, social mobility, taxes, housing, etc. Lets also be realistic about size and complexity. The U.S. is extremely diverse in every dimension, extremely complex, and 'global' in every respect.

  180. What represents America? Unemployeds? Homeless? Low-waged workers? Billionaires? Identify what group you think most represent the US and let's compare.

  181. I can’t speak to GDP or to any relationship between GDP and taxes, whether fact or fiction, but I most definitely can speak to matters of efficiency, education, and how they correlate with healthcare. Not one is even scarcely acknowledged as inherently untenable (and proven so time after time) when left to competitive forces in the so-called open marketplace to be resolved. I have no doubt that equally professional or dedicated individuals under even similar demands and duress can be found in a labor force anywhere but the military, maybe...or with a more immediate and constant grasp of teamwork. The opinion that any of this is sustainable or can be harnessed to the machinations of a system incentivized by profit is daily proven to be unfounded in hospital administration, never mind the juncture of hospital administration with the marketing and sale of healthcare products. Growing old, getting sick, and getting injured are as inevitable as they are public.

  182. I didn't notice mention of overall tax rate in this article; are these authors aware of the rate? Perhaps not. It appears the cumulative tax rate is fairly low in Finland (around 31%), and the corporate tax rate is still lower than the current rate in the United States (20% in Finland). Property taxes are also minimal. See wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_Finland There is also no mention whether one would have to pay out of the pocket for a serious health problems, although routine medical checkups and procedures might be covered that is also funded by a medical care tax in Finland. Additionally, Finland does not have as diverse of a population as the US with big disparities in capabilities, and the Finland government might be operating much more efficiently when it comes to allocating and managing expenditures and regulation allowing more to assist its general population. Basically there is no such thing as present day US democratic party dysfunctional policy in Finland that this article does happen to mention.

  183. @sh See Table 1. https://www.oecd.org/tax/tax-policy/revenue-statistics-highlights-brochure.pdf Finland tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is 42%. US = 24%. OECD average = 34% One of the major reasons is a VAT tax responsible for on average ~20% of tax income for OECD countries. The only except exception? US = 0%. But no, this is too "regressive" (despite being shown in every oecd country to be highly efficient and implementable) for the far left populists in the US so we get proposals of failed wealth taxes. If we had taxes at just the average levels that's an extra $2T, Finland levels that's $4T. Tell me again how we couldn't afford universal programs because we're too big/diverse?

  184. @Alex To start, higher taxes are not good - you seem to think that. Second, VAT = Sales Tax (about 9% is California). The OECD figure is relative to GDP, which is about 46K in Finland 60K in US (in google, enter per capita GDP for finland, US). There also has to be larger larger disparities in tax payments in the US relative to Finland due to income equality that separately biases that number - the SD is much higher from the mean in the US. The OECD figure also does not appear to account state income taxes, which as you know is excessive in California. Overall the taxes appear to be about the same in the US and Finland for those at middle income and perhaps also above. We just get less in return at middle and above income levels

  185. For those who believe that Finland's success is not applicable to the USA, there is another Nordic country they might look at. It is called Canada, and it is a blend of Finnish winters, socialism, caring for each-other, as well as American diversity, capitalism, and entrepreneurship. The author rightfully brags of Finland's ranking in world happiness, education and health; Canada is up there with them, ranking in the top 5 for health, happiness, and PISA student results. I have many reasons to love the USA, and no doubt that it will pull out of the tough patch it is in at the moment. Yes, America, you can do it. And thanks Finland for making light of the long winter nights.

  186. I think it is insulting to suggest that the US with all its innovating spirit could not make its citizens more happy than tiny Finland. I guess we just should demand it, and we will get it.

  187. For some reason, “economy of scale” doesn’t seem to apply to social structures. I’ve long felt that the U.S. is just too large and bulky to be effectively governed. The Nordic countries are all relatively small, and yes culturally homogeneous but with growing multi-ethnic immigration. Maybe small is more efficient. We do have our smaller units of states and cities, but for grand social safety nets, it has to be “all in”. I’d love to live in a society that provided for the healthcare, child care, education, housing assistance and general well being for all citizens. The U.S. is becoming a harsh dystopia, with no signs of turning that around. But most of all, MOST of all, I’d love to feel safe, without the constant fear of mass attack by firearms and the constant background of petty crime engendered by poverty. I just want to feel safe. That’s the most basic function of a social structure and we aren’t doing it. I’d move to any Nordic country in a heartbeat, but I doubt they’d welcome a retiree no longer in the work force.

  188. I am curious by an apparent dichotomy. The article makes a point of saying that Anu became a US citizen, yet based on the article, I see no reason why they might move back to the US in the future. This leaves them with the complex tax disadvantages of being an expat US citizen. Her book, written in 2016, suggests that they were aware then of the advantages of living in Finland. I do not doubt what they write. So, why then, become a US citizen?

  189. I think they actually wanted to live in the US while they didn't have a kid,but the they realised Finland is better when you do have kid, so they moved where the life is better. Isn't it how capitalism is supposed to work?

  190. Oh, and they aren't mired in squandering a huge portion of their budget on senseless military spending, supposedly making us more "secure." I'll bet an awful lot of people would feel genuinely more secure with fewer medical expenses, no student loans, and a greater concern for the environmental apocalypse awaiting us if we don't wake up.

  191. Let's admit to ourselves that most Americans live a fairytale dream of becoming multi-millionaires. They buy into the fantasy that a just society would not be one that they could ever live in as a millionaire. Like small children who aren't fully formed, many people complain that socialism would take away the dream. MOST of America pays the price for our undeveloped national psyche. We can do better than childish dreams and laissez faire Capitalism.

  192. "But the poll also revealed that Americans feel deeply pessimistic about the nation’s future and fear that worse political conflict is coming. Some military analysts and historians agree and put the odds of a civil war breaking out in the United States frighteningly high." I'd like a reference for the military analysts and historians who have said this, please...(I tend to agree....)

  193. This is an excellent piece! I shared it on FB in hopes that my trumpy family will read it. I’ve been studying the Nordic systems for years, and no one can conclude anything other than they are much more successful then we are in the US in providing a better life for their citizens. Their version of capitalism is the future. Some say we are too diverse and too big to emulate them. Well then let’s do M4A and regionalize it, break our healthcare into 6 zones, let the experiment begin! And let’s Give all students the same financial support, not just kids in rich towns. Lastly, let’s spend much less on defense. Thanks for this opinion piece.

  194. The population of Finland is 5.53 million. The population of the US is 327.2 million. If you want to compare Finland with the "Republics" of Wisconsin, Minnesota or Colorado", that would make sense as each state has a population close to that of Finland. The population of France is about 67 million. The history of Finland, its position and role in terms of geo-politics is so different from that of the US that it is hard to understand where the basis for any comparison is. This is not apples and oranges. This is apples and e.g., chayotes or salaks. Anything can be compared. Not everything should be.

  195. @Joshua Schwartz There are more than 15 different countries in the EU with different cultures and languages whose total population exceeds that of America, yet, ALL of them have many similar social benefits as do the Finns, yet, they are still capitalist in nature. The constant excuse of similar culture, small populations, yada, yada ,yada, is a fiction put forth by those that just wish to maintain the "status quo" in America and it has been going on for decades.

  196. @Deus And we have seen how German solutions worked for Greek economic problems, just to cite one example. Population does not matter? Estonia just overtook Finland in OECD education 2018 results. Perhaps the US should copy Estonia? Population of Estonia: 1.325 million. I am not against comparison. It should be, however, apt. Finland and Estonia are not apt examples for the US.

  197. @Joshua Schwartz I would point out that you have presented zero logical argument why a larger population necessarily makes moving in the direction of more government services impossible. You first give a "fact" about Estonia that may or may not be relevant given the particulars. You offer a red herring that population "does not matter." No one said it doesn't. Then you merely repeat your conclusion about smaller countries not being "apt" examples. You simply haven't made a sound logical argument based on facts.

  198. Finland is a lovely place. But it differs from the US in significant ways. It's a country of only 5 million people. It's one of the most homogenous countries you'll find anywhere. And they do not need to lead the world in anything. Most notably, not in defence spending. Because no one is looking for them to defend the free world. They can comfortably rely on the US to do that. But also, not in technology development, R&D, pharmaceuticals or medical equipment. And not in post-secondary education. The US leads in all of those fields; and must. That doesn't / didn't happen in America by accident. Finish people share cultural values. People can rely on the safety net. But they know they must contribute to it, so they feel socially responsible to act responsibly. It's part of being a small country. Everyone pays high taxes. Not just the well off. Certainly there are things to learn from each other. But you are comparing apples and oranges.

  199. I am not buying that at all. Nobody forces the US to lead anything. The US WANTS to lead despite limited capacity, because it is obviously could not lead and keep its citizens happy, but that IS THE US CHOICE. The article makes the case for other choice that could make Americans more happy and the World more safe.

  200. The Finnish economic model is sustainable, the U.S. model is not.

  201. @Bert Right Bert, that's why its been going on for 250 years and turned an agricultural backwater into the richest economy in the world that produces most of its innovations.

  202. Well, it could not be done without socialist correction (see Great Depression), some help from geopolitics (WWI and WWII) and by misery of the American population that have none of the safety net of the Europeans. Considering that, what do you mean by 'great economy'.

  203. @Dave That was the past. The future doesn't look nearly as rosy.

  204. This article just illustrates the great liberal strawman argument. They berate conservatives for dismissing Scandinavian "socialism" and ask why this couldn't be applied in America. But they miss the point. Scandinavia isn't as much "socialist" as it is collectivist. Yes, government services are far more expansive - but they are generally universal (rather than means tested) and funded with fairly flat taxes. The article states, "Finnish capitalists also realized that it would be in their own long-term interests to accept steep progressive tax hikes." But the data belies this point. In Scandinavia, the top income tax rate applies at only 1.2 x the average income compared to 8.5 x in the US. Moreover, everyone pays a flat VAT (sales tax) of 25%. https://taxfoundation.org/how-scandinavian-countries-pay-their-government-spending The problem for this liberal dream isn't conservatives. Even in blue states like VT and CA, citizens resist increases in broad flat taxes to pay for services. Instead, the only way liberals can try to pass new programs is with the Marxist idea of "from those with the greatest ability to those with the greatest need". In CA, for example, half the budget is paid for by just 1% of the population. If liberals really want to try to emulate Finland, maybe they should honestly call for everyone to pay broadly higher taxes - and see how many still support them.

  205. Should we compare range of incomes in Finland and in the US?

  206. FINNISH WINTER MAKE YOU HAPPY? I bought into most of the ideas in the upbeat, highly important article. But 6 months with very long cold dark nights? Happiness? NAH! When Ronnie Ray Gun foisted his con on the US, I was sure it was a declaration of war on the middle class, which it has proven to be. The 99% here in the US has been ripped off to the benefit of the 1% of the millionaires and billionaires, who get far more government welfare than the rest of us. Trumps most notable and dangerous accomplishment is to cozy up to the world's worst dictators. On top of impeachable actions--high crimes and misdemeanors. It remains to be seen whether he will destroy the US for 4 or for 8 years. His treatment of employees is deplorable. No hope for social advancement there, or elsewhere in US business, for the most part. I wish that the Nordic countries could teach us some lessons in fairness and good governance. Meanwhile, when I visit Finland, it will be in the good old summertime!

  207. You have to be specific if you talk about "high taxes" Sweden eliminated the inheritance tax in 2005, the wealth tax in 2007 and taxes on residential property in 2008. The corporate is at flat rate of 21.4% and will fall to 20.6% in 2021. Sounds like a capitalistic dream ? Not so fast. The Nordic model is very, very simplified to have everyone accumulate capital but then to level high progressive income tax on what that capital generates. That income is transfered from the "rich" down to the "poor" , The motivation is to reduce income inequality (which is different from wealth inequality) There is something to be said for this model. For example, a forest that does not generate income is not taxed, but should the owner you log it, than her profit is taxed. This makes it easier to conduct a responsible environmental policy. Not everything around must generate profits

  208. I find always entertaining USA comparison to Scandinavian countries. What is the use? Where are the Scandinavians on the world nations league? They are developed western democracy. Where is America? We are in giants league, We are democracy too. Giants league is nothing to do with western developed nations. USA, China, Russia, India, Brazil. I do not see any resemblance nor any lesson to taken. USA is giant and has a very different destiny.

  209. @su When confronted about other countries successes in various areas, I find it rather bizarre that Americans are constantly making excuses as to what others might do can never apply to America, yet, really, nothing could be further from the truth. In smaller countries big ideas and changes such as those described in the column can be more difficult because of their limited population and resources, NOT the other way around and essentially culture has little or nothing to do with it. In almost all cases it is electing those that have the political will to follow through with the policies that the majority of the electorate want, not the lobbyists or corporate donors who dictate the agenda at the expense of everyone else. Since money is the prime driver of government policy in America it seems to have become very easy to fool Americans into thinking that they are exceptional and always have the best ideas and the solutions to all its problems. It would seem the election of Donald Trump (who was 40 yrs. in the making) proved otherwise. BTW: I copied this comment from "Deus" (from Toronto), because I agree with it 100% and I couldn't say it better.

  210. What kind of Destiny?

  211. @su America is now an Empire and history tells us that empires eventually overextend themselves and collapse.

  212. "Even more peculiar is that in Finland, you don’t really see the kind of socialist movement that has been gaining popularity in some of the more radical fringes of the left in America, especially around goals such as curtailing free markets and even nationalizing the means of production. The irony is that if you championed socialism like this in Finland, you’d get few takers" Who? Where? When? Why/How (if applicable)? I realize this is an op piece. This statement is not attributed by any facts in the piece. But I need to know who is advocating these goals so I can be prepared.

  213. When confronted about other countries successes in various areas, I find it rather bizarre that Americans are constantly making excuses as to what others might do can never apply to America, yet, really, nothing could be further from the truth. In smaller countries big ideas and changes such as those described in the column can be more difficult because of their limited population and resources, NOT the other way around and essentially culture has little or nothing to do with it. In almost all cases it is electing those that have the political will to follow through with the policies that the majority of the electorate want, not the lobbyists or corporate donors who dictate the agenda at the expense of everyone else. Since money is the prime driver of government policy in America it seems to have become very easy to fool Americans into thinking that they are exceptional and always have the best ideas and the solutions to all its problems. It would seem the election of Donald Trump(who was 40 yrs. in the making)proved otherwise.

  214. Great article, which has obviously made many people think about the relationships between government, the organization of value creation (the "means of production"), and the distribution of that value... what it totally misses is that the Nordics are completely different culturally than the US, which has attracted a diverse collection of people drawn to American's wealth, as well as a variety of Americans who vary greatly in their capacity to create value. American could look like Finland, if we had Finland's population... From World Population: Finland is very ethnically homogeneous. Finland does not keep official statistics on ethnicity. Just 3.5% of the population is made up of foreign citizens." Time to think about our diverse population and the initial differences in education and value creation capacity and how we can improve, given this population -- that is our reality.

  215. @RGB It's actually around 7%, hasn't been at 3,5% for decades. In Helsinki, about a quarter of the population will be foreign language speakers by 2035. Yes, the majority of the country is homogeneous, but if anything, social homogeneity is more relevant to this conversation than ethnic homogeneity.

  216. I lived and worked in the nordic countries for several years, and agree with most of this article. A key aspect of the nordic public support system is the high level of taxes imposed on almost all levels of income. Everyone owns and helps pay for the system. Contrast that with Ms. Warren's proposal for universal health care, where she has had to go to great lengths to ensure that most Americans will not see higher taxes as a result.

  217. Thank you for this article. Having traveled extensively to Sweden over the last ~40 years, I've had similar observations and experiences. What stands out for me is freedom from the tyranny of privatism that Swedes enjoy, along with the Nordic countries in general. These countries embrace regulations, mores and sanctions that protect people from bearing the externalized costs of other people's private benefits. There is so much we could learn from them, but ignorance will ensure that we don't.

  218. @JH Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans have never owned a passport, as such, they will never experience the advantage of travel and if they did, what they might find would probably shock them. The reality is, outside of the very wealthiest in America, when it comes to the real quality of life issues that are the most important to the vast majority of Americans, compared to many of those countries, America is well down the list.

  219. It's a pretty giant oversimplification. Not without merit and important points, but still....way too generalized. Most Americans would not wish to live in the type of dwellings considered adequate in Finland. Most would not be willing to part ways with cars as many Finns have. Most would not be willing to live withing treatment options constraints offered by Finnish healthcare. And so it goes....It's apples and oranges. I am not passing judgment, but rather simply saying it's not as simple and "nice" as described in the article. Finland also has one of the highest levels of suicide in the world. Climate is brutal. There is one more issue which bears mentioning: For more than 100 years Finland has benefited as a commercial buffer between Russia and the West. A lot of money flow through Finland because of where it is and because it's literally an hour across border from St. Pteresburg. That's a unique benefit few other countries have. It's a great life if you are willing to live within certain constraints and limitations. The sort that many Americans would struggle with and consider "unamerican".

  220. While you make a few valid points, I don't agree with them all. I've been in Finland many times ... and would happily live in any of the dwellings I visited (except maybe student apartments). The educational and health care systems are superb. The worker benefits lead to a good work-life balance. And, it's considered one of the happiest countries in the world.

  221. @Yuri Vizitei We live with different constraints and limitations. For example, we must support our cars because the only transportation infrastructure we invested in was interstate highways. We don't have employment mobility because our healthcare is tied to our jobs. Our younger generations can't buy houses because they bought expensive degrees when they were barely twenty years old, and must spend most of their lives paying for them. See how that works?

  222. @Yuri Vizitei Finland's main benefit from being next to Russia was to make it clear that national cohesion was crucial to keep the country from suffering the fate of the Baltic countries. Even losing huge numbers of war dead and a tenth of their territory, having to resettle Karelian refugees, and paying a large war indemnity was better than having the country undergo occupation, Stalinisation and mass colonisation. The Finns I've spoken with don't consider their long border with Russia to be a unique benefit.

  223. The truth is Neither Capitalism nor Socialism ( communism) worked or create a society people are all lived well. Historically, US, USSR,China, India, Brazil have used these systems. So far the the results are at best cannot even produced 1/10th of what is done in Scandinavian nations.

  224. @su Get one thing straight, once and for all, socialism is NOT communism.

  225. The Finns have gotten it right and they agree that they've gotten it right. The USA ia a very different country, though. We have many immigrants who haven't been well integrated into American society, a large number of nativists (the Christian Identity movement and such), a sizeable contingent of gun-rights activists, a widespread abhorrence of anything that looks like socialism, and a solid group of people who believe that Trump is the savior of America. The problem is not that the Scandinavian model couldn't work here. It could -- if enough people believed it could. And we're very far from that. Unfortunately.

  226. @Paul Abrahams Finland, like many other countries in the world, is a social democratic country where capitalism does well because they emphasize fairness, NOT the "dog eat dog, winner take all" mentality of America where many millions of people have been left behind in the process. The excuse of culture and size is a red herring. Contrary to all the naysayers who claim that it cannot happen in America because it is different is a result of decades of indoctrination by the "elites" and the wealthiest in America(including the media) whose sole purpose is to maintain the "status quo" at all costs including the "legalized" bribery of politicians whose job is to strictly serve the interests of their wealthy benefactors at the expense of everyone else. America may have the strongest economy in the world, however, given, among other things, that it also has the most people in jail and the worst inequality of any of the western industrialized nations(including Finland), all of it has come at an extremely high price including, of course, Donald Trump.

  227. Socialism and capitalism seem to be misnomers, because what the article describes is a democratic society, with basic needs accounted for by regulated health, education, and public safety services, paid for by progressive taxation, and a resulting fertile ground for individualistic professionalism by a well-educated and productive work force. It is only capitalistic in that individual productivity is rewarded above subsistence economically. It is only socialistic in that basic welfare is provided collectively by mutual agreement. It is the type of social democracy where individual greed and commonweal are balanced. The United States lost that balance in the eighties and now has ineffective production due to lack of basic welfare for the working class, with the wealthy moving production globally to capture more economical and skilled labor. What the country needs is neither capitalism or socialism, but rather a balanced social democracy as described in the article. Given the current governance and jurisprudence, the way seems blocked.

  228. Enough about Finland already. It’s a tiny country with a generic population on the other side of the world. Why does the U.S. media not focus on Canada? Same social democracy as Scandanavia, with strong capitalism and extremely an business-friendly environment. As an American living in Canada for many years now, I can tell you that this country is what the U.S. should look to for ideas. Canada sailed through the 2008 recession in part because of our very strong banking system, controlled with laws set by the federal government. In Quebec our educational childcare is world-class at $10/day—diapers and healthy meals included. We have universal healthcare. The majority of companies offer their employees additional private healthcare to cover those costs not covered by Medicare: dental, therapy, massages, etc. And the basic vacation package is 3-4 weeks. As for education, the latest PISA findings put Canada ABOVE Finland, just below China and Singapore. Canada is the country closest in culture to the US. University isn’t free, but it’s pretty darn close. But, no, let’s focus on Finland… or China, or Germany, or France.

  229. @Jenny Schumacher Don't leave out Venezuela. The US can't possibly look at any of your ideas for the US because any of the ideas is Socialism, Venezuela was socialist, and Venezuela was a disaster. End of conversation, case closed. Thus, I currently don't see any evidence that the US will be able to fix its ills.

  230. @Jenny Schumacher What is a "generic population?" Everything you wrote about Canada is true and those of us with open minds and many who grew up near the border know that. Be careful, though, you might get loads of Americans wanting to move there, only to discover that your immigration policy favors certain skilled workers. Your last sentence makes no sense. The four countries are nowhere near equal in this discussion. It's about the Finns' beliefs about education, medical care, etc. and the small size of the population that are important here. One last thing: Lots of Finns playing in the NHL these days. I wonder if the number of Finish NHL players per capita is creeping up on the number of Canadian NHL players per capita. Even if it isn't, it's a pretty good showing for a small country with a "generic population, Whatever that is.

  231. @Mitch Venezuela wasn't really socialist. It had too many oligarchs and corrupt government officials who bled the system.

  232. Finland is a small country. America is big. Finland is filled with Finns. America is 50 nations masquerading as states. Still. A healthy, well-educated populace, with help for parents and children, is what makes a country poised to take on change.

  233. @Jenny Finland is filled with Finns, of whom a non-trivial number are folks who came from refugee backgrounds. Finland counts among its citizens now people whose families came from Croatia, Congo, Syria, and Somalia, as well as the indigenous Saami. The rural-urban rift in Finland is shaking up the government and causing huge debates about delivery of social services, like health care. The postal service recently went on strike. It's important not to over-homogenize the country. I agree with your last sentence, for sure, and will add that policies that support parents & kids are *truly* pro-family.

  234. @Toaster I saw a lot of immigrants in Finland. I did a double take when I walked by a darkly pigmented child speaking perfect Finn to his equally rowdy pale friends.

  235. ‘What we’ve experienced is an increase in personal freedom. Our lives are just much more manageable.’ Endless insipid right-wing attacks on government provision of services just make us all worse off. So depressing. Whether this is a workable American model is irrelevant. Something better is possible. But let’s focus on Q-Anon or Pizza-gate.

  236. As others have noted in various ways, Finland is not the home country of a global military empire, with 700-800 military bases all over the planet and a vast, corrupting "military industrial complex." It is no "superpower" and doesn't imagine itself as the world's policeman. All empires ultimately decline, quickly or slowly, depending on circumstances; there has never been an exception, in thousands of years. (It is now believed by some specialists that climate change played a major role in the decline of one of the world's first truly large empires, the Assyrian Empire.) Possibly, the U.S. will become more suitable for Finnish-style government programs after the decline of its empire. ("But what will be left of the place by then?" asks Sennacherib.)

  237. I can almost hear an army of angry nay-sayers getting ready to bash every statistic and every study cited in this article to pieces. But I'm expecting something else, too. One of the excuses you always hear as to why this system won't work in America is there are "certain groups of people" who will ABUSE welfare benefits! Have you heard this argument? All we'll end up doing is subsidizing a bunch of "ne'r do wells" who will contribute nothing, and cause soaring government debt and even higher taxes!! But the correct reply is that the benefits would be for EVERYONE, not just "certain groups of people". The other arguments you'll be hearing are that we're "too diverse", and "too big". There's too much of a history of local government in this country, too much suspicion of "distant bureaucrats". These are serious concerns. You'll probably have to redo our entire corrupt election system (and reduce a lot of the military-industrial complex as well) before you could even think about creating social welfare systems like they have in Finland. But who says there can't be some compromise between federal and state powers in implementing something like this? We did pull off the New Deal once, after all!

  238. When comparing the US with Finland, we can be stimulated by how we can do better. Fund a healthier, happier and supportive lifestyle could also create a more favorable business environment. Just keep in mind that Finland’s population is about that of Massachusetts, and it doesn’t have the same scale of immigration. So when ALL our democratic candidates raise their hand when asked if all immigrants—legal or not—should ALSO get full, socialized healthcare, maybe those of us in the more moderate camp get a bit nervous.

  239. Almost all of us are capitalists whose American dream is a Finnish reality . We are progressing slowly in that direction .

  240. I don't want my smart children to be stuck in schools with dumb, disruptive kids. I want my kids instructed by teachers who attended elite colleges. I don't want to pay for other people's obesity. To my mind, those are the three thoughts that keep the 1% opposed to giving up wealth (through taxes). I attended a top 50 university and want my kids taught by teachers who went Ivy (more or less). I want my kids in class with other kids who test well, study hard, and pay attention in class. My take may be skewed. Most of the 1% people I know are highly educated and super athletic. To them, wealth, education, and fitness are all sides of the same coin.

  241. I wish you were wrong, but you’re not. I graduated from multiple top 25 universities. Having a perfect SAT score made this somewhat easier for me. I was also a professional athlete and remain vigorously active. I have instilled appropriate qualities in all of our children.

  242. @Milton & Rose Friedman (dec.) Mazel. Breckenridge or bust.

  243. High taxes help give government employees something to do and a general feeling of contribution of wellbeing as they redistribute the fruits of others labors to people who don’t really do anything. This isn’t true of course, it’s just how it feels.

  244. @Milton & Rose Friedman (dec.) Uncle Milt never got too far from his office at U of Chicago. Many of his theories looked great in print, but had little to do with actual economic behavior. The economic behaviorists have pretty much knocked the old boy to the mat. And markets do not balance themselves. That clever fable was about as sound as Adam Smith's "invisible hand." What a concept: You can't see it, but it's there. Really?

  245. I lived in Helsinki for three years, and I’m liberal who expected to love everything about living in a social democracy. But a couple moving from a Brooklyn apartment to Finland wouldn’t notice a difference us midwesterners see: Finns live small. One small car for a whole family. A townhouse with one bathroom for a family. None of these cheap. Visiting me in Minnesota, my Finnish relatives think my craftsman bungalow is a mansion with its three floors and three bathrooms. And this is my starter house. There were things I loved and miss about Finland, including the excellent healthcare, the respect Finns have for teachers and education, the elegant public transportation and the trust they have in their government because they understand that they are their government. But frankly those weren’t enough to keep me from wanting the familiar creature comforts of a big house in a country with a big, loud, messy culture.

  246. @Jenny have you thought about how much that big house costs? What happens to you if you become seriously ill, lose your job and your health insurance? Big, loud, and messy has a price. If you want to pay it that's great. But don't forget there are benefits to small, polite, and well run. We may be a big country but we can and ought to do better by each other than we are now.

  247. @Jenny: “Finns live small. One small car for a whole family. A townhouse with one bathroom for a family.” Jenny, I grew up in the Midway neighborhood in St. Paul. There were seven of us in my family. Small house: no dining room, only one bathroom. Three bedrooms for us five kids so only one, the oldest, had his own room. While it would have been nice to have had a little more room, we didn’t need the huge house that so many Americans have to have these days. Living small is better for the planet.

  248. @Jenny maybe the days of each of us living in a big old house in the country are over! Maybe that lifestyle is not sustainable any longer! What a waste heating that big old house with drafty old windows! What an old fashioned idea of "Creature Comforts"! Maybe well planned and smartly built small apartments with state of the art efficient appliances will be our only choice in the future if we want our planet to survive.

  249. Incredible article. Albeit Finland is a much smaller country than the US, this it’s problema are of a lesser scale, it has found its path as a nation, while keeping the same competitive spirit that characterizes our country, there are many lessons to be learned from them.

  250. What many authors fail to understand is that these pint-sized European countries are so small, that managing all the realities are easier. They have so meagre populations. America has world's third largest population. Do you think it is possible to have such public schools for everyone in USA? All the Nordic and Scandinavian or European countries do not have issues related to over population. Easy to point out problems in a large country.

  251. @Nikhil Sharma America is not over-populated. Vast swaths of the country are virtually uninhabited, and not all of them because they are in desert areas or mountainous areas that are inaccessible. Small populations mean less tax dollars coming in, so your reference to country sizes is not relevant; it's national wealth that matters--and the desire to serve all of the population.

  252. @Nikhil Sharma You're wrong. They are facing those problems. Danes are questioning their social safety net. Other countries have large Muslim populations. I think that American politicians lack the nerve to do this. After all, so many of them are bought and paid for by their large rich donors who don't want to pay more taxes even if it might improve society. You list Mumbai as where you are located. What's India's excuse for its extremes in income and wealth? And if India isn't doing anything to improve things it's a shame. Nothing stirs up unrest faster than being unable to improve one's lot in life unless it's watching others have a good time at one's expense.

  253. wait, I thought that the US is the richest country in the world per capita, Why does our total size mean we can't deliver good gov run programs? it's just a matter of good organization. Are you saying we don't have people who can do this?

  254. Why is it that those who live outside the U.S. embrace social programs, greater equality and pay for all, universal health care, subsidized child care and so on while the Americans seem to find convenient and phony excuses as to why these programs would never work here? The U.S. is powerful and mighty when it comes to bullets and bombs and offer freedoms galore but badly lacking in essential programs that most Americans call progressive or socialist. The U.S. is so heavily into self reliance along, love of money and stuff and an archaic Wild West gun policy that it's no wonder we continue to fail in so many ways. Media don't help either.

  255. @Sammy Zoso Good questions. And the "Wild West" gun laws are based almost entirely on fabrications and movies and TV. Cities and town throughout the West in the nineteenth century enacted laws forbidding carrying guns and laws against discharging firearms within their boundaries.

  256. How honest and refreshing. This should be required reading for every member of Congress, and every member of the current and future administrations. So often, "socialism" is confused with authoritarianism, intending to make us fear that our lives would be less free. But this shows exactly the opposite. Democracy is much healthier and stronger in the Nordic countries. And the freedoms that we all long for - that allow us to thrive in our daily lives - are far more available there. Please, everyone ... read and learn.

  257. @Nancy O'Hagan I agree. But I suspect at least half our Congress members are so soaked in old Cold War bilge and the prevarications of oligarchy that seeks to run the country that it wouldn't make a dent in their skulls.

  258. As a Canadian there was little in the article I found particularly surprising: not so the comments. It is surprising that so many comments conclude that because America’s population is less homogeneous than Finland’s there is just nothing to be done, as if those who are not - what? - white? - have no interest in better schools for their children, better access to healthcare for their families, parental leave, etc.

  259. Americans want big, loud and noisy. That's what we're taught to want and to expect. In the last 40 years it hasn't been the middle and working classes that have been catered to at all. Nor have the poor been given handouts. It's been the wealthiest businesses, individuals, and families that have benefitted from downsizing the government, tax cuts, and tax breaks. Working Americans have shouldered the burden of a crumbling infrastructure, a failing wealth care system that masquerades as a health care system, an indebtedness for a college education that is ridiculous, and the severe anxiety of watching life's necessities become unreachable because salaries have not kept up with the real cost of living anywhere in America. But it's okay. The economy keeps on adding jobs. Whether these are good jobs with benefits or temp jobs that last a few months doesn't seem to matter to our politicians. All that matters is that there are jobs and that unemployment is low. It's a wonderful excuse for not properly funding the government, cutting social welfare programs, and telling working or unemployed Americans to shut up and accept their lot in life. If I were some of these corporations and families and yes, politicians, I'd go read my history of the French Revolution, the Communist uprisings, and a few other revolutions. Revolutions occur when too many people have too little. It's happening here. 12/7/2019 11:03pm first submit

  260. @hen3ry, your comments are always insightful. Americans have been fed right wing propaganda over many decades; "pull yourself up by the bootstraps; shining city on the hill; work hard and prosper; best medical and education system in the world; freedom of personal choice". All of it designed to call into question the need for government policies that actually help people and create a better business environment. Rather they support a myth. Today's world is complex, requiring higher levels of basic and advanced education with ongoing training at an affordable cost. If people can't affordably access it they become ineligible for a living wage, yet many states have reduced subsidies to all levels of education. Business also reduced its internal training for higher profits. Healthcare and population health in America is uniquely an individual responsibility, as is the cost. America has some of the most advanced treatments in the world, if you can afford it. If you can't, then it is useless. Spreading the cost is the norm elsewhere. Negotiating at a national level for better prices on drugs, physicians and hospital charges produces savings that benefit everyone, the wealthy included. I don't understand why every American can't see that. The American model is not working for the vast majority, but Americans are so committed to the myths, they can't see the truth about successful alternatives.

  261. The argument people here have made that Finland's social programs wouldn't make it here in the U.S. b/c we are not a homogeneous society leaves me confused. Everyone here participates in funding social security and medicare, really the only two nationally funded safety net programs.. So if Congress and the Executive wrote new social programs into law, the population would then have to pay for those too. Just like we pay for medicare and SS. Being homogeneous has nothing to do with it. It's lack of political will that has everything to do with it.

  262. @hmsmith0 Very well said. This is a simple and cogent way to discuss a very bad argument!

  263. @hmsmith0 I can't speak for others, but my argument about "homogeneous population" being a hurdle is this: It comes up again and again whenever compared against other nations. It's thinly-veiled form of racism. It's also a view that is unfortunately held by a significant number of Americans, so it's a real hurdle.

  264. Great pictures of Helsinki. I found Finland to be a wonderful country on both my visits. The berries are as good as Michigan’s and they have speed cameras so drivers don’t speed as much as here.

  265. @Diane A propos speeding in Finland: Fines for speeding are income indexed. They are assessed based on a percentage of your declared income, so they hit everybody equally hard. One of the Finnish millionaires was fined 116000 Euros for speeding on his motorcycle.

  266. This article is very interesting but perhaps a tad overblown -- both in terms of the idyllic way in which life in Finland is pictured, and in the author's glum comparisons with what is true of the United States she has left behind and what will become of it. Obviously it is necessary to rationalize and justify a move of such proportions, but as a senior on a slender budget I could not afford a V.A.T. tax and I am very glad that we do not have it in the United States. Also, I ask myself, what are Finland's immigration policies? Are they yet more narrow than ours? And in what language are these idyllic schools conducted? If in Finnish, is it necessary to learn English, too? What kind of culture is Finland able to sustain, or does it import a lot of it -- from movies to music to (you should pardon the expression) art? In other words, would Finland be able to enjoy its present existence if it were not for neighbor nations that supply a lot of what it may not have?

  267. @Piri Halasz Most students in Finland are at least bi-lingual and many are tri-lingual. English is spoken all over Finland. I taught in Finland on two different occasions. Some of my Finnish students spoke and wrote better English than some of my American students. The Finnish art scene and design scene are both lively and original. Ever heard of Alvar Aalto, Timo Sarpineva, Eero Saarinen, Essa-Pekka Salonen, Jan Sibelius, etc.? Like all other cultures, Finland synthesizes work of other peoples and "exports" elements of its culture, as in the case of Salonen and Saarinen. Finnish folk culture survives in both academic and vernacular architecture, songs, and tales, as well as foodways, dress, and other cultural elements.

  268. @Piri Halasz Finland's ranked higher than the US in the Migrant Policy Index - the data is a little dated but I hope it will get an update soon: www.mipex.eu/finland If you get to the front page, you can also play with the data and compare indicators between the US and Finland. I'm on my phone so I unfortunately cannot link directly to the relevant comparisons. As for the culture and art scene, it's vibrant. Annual library lending per capita is over 15 books a year, book fairs are major events where the President comes to hang out among the audience. Besides having the most metal bands per capita in the world (or was it just Helsinki?) most people I know play music, or draw, paint, sculpt, make handicrafts. This is of course based on my own experience, but although Finland's cultural production and export might be limited in some fields by its language, the fact people have free time for these enterprises, which also get support from the state, sustains it.

  269. If we want Finland we can have it but let’s be clear about the price . It will primarily fall on the middle class . In Finland someone making as little as 70,000 a year is taxed at the highest rate of 50% Even the Fins realize that you cannot tax capital too much. Their corporate tax rates are very close to those in the USA . They realize that capital is mobile and will to go where it gets the fairest return,it has no reason to stay in a confiscatory environment . Thus the burden falls on the middle class. Furthermore I would be very hesitant to trust the USA government with our healthcare . To get an idea of what it would be like try visiting your local DMV office .

  270. @Ben Comparing my experiences with the DMV and Social Security with my experiences with the health care system strongly suggests that it would be a good deal.

  271. Not sure, but the last time I checked, the US Gov’t didn’t run a single DMV. Those are state run. And some work quite well and some don’t work well at all. I’ve patronized for-profit businesses that were privately owned and others that were publicly traded. I’ve used and contributed to non-profit organizations and used the services of both federal and state run ‘public’ institutions. What they all seem to have in common, wether they are privately or publicly managed, is that you have some good employees and some bad employees. You have some good managers and some bad managers. Just because something is a public good or a public service does not make it inherently bad or dysfunctional. I think fire departments and most public schools work just fine at state and local level. I’m glad the Natl. Institutes of Health and the CDC are improving health and protecting us from bad health outcomes at the federal level. The last time I checked, it wasn’t federal or state governments that caused the Great Recession in 2008. That was the private banks and mortgage related companies. Pretty sure Enron wasn’t publicly run by any Gov’t. Does anyone actually like their privately run...(insert name of 1. Cable provider, 2. Internet provider 3. Cell phone provider, 4. Health insurance provider or 5. frequently used airline?)

  272. @Ben The high tax rate _kicks in_ for earnings exceeding around 70,000 US$ in Finland. The portion of income below 70,000 US$ is taxed a lower rate. I do agree that the burden falls on the middle class, but the Finnish middle class arguably receives commensurate value in return. I don’t think you can say that’s true of the middle class tax payer in the USA.

  273. The United States suffers from arrogantly thinking they're the best nation on Earth. This thinking cuts them off from learning from others. There are so many countries doing health care 1000 times better than the United States. If this nation was humble, smart, and open to learning, it could have a think tank devoted to learning how other countries do healthcare so much better than the United States, and start finding ways to implement real change. But no, the United States is THE best nation on Earth and we don't have anything to learn from anyone. The author has one thing right, America says it's all about freedom, yet Americans are less free in many ways than citizens in most other industrialized nations. Yes they're free to say whatever they like, but they're not free from the corrosive stress of healthcare or debt or starting a new family without any parental leave. They're shackled to jobs they despise, to pay exorbitant rates for healthcare that costs considerably less in other "socialist" nations.

  274. @Lisa: “The United States suffers from arrogantly thinking they're the best nation on Earth. This thinking cuts them off from learning from others.“ I wholeheartedly agree. And I feel that my city has that same full-of-itself attitude.

  275. Funny. The Nordic countries brick and mortar retailers are growing--2%-3%, where retailers in the USA or shrinking. Maybe it pays to have a middle class if you're trying to sell stuff?

  276. @Terry Lowman News to me. In Norway these retailers are closing like crazy.

  277. @Terry Lowman As Elenore Roosevelt said: "when everyone does better, everyone does better".

  278. @Terry Lowman As Jim Hightower aid: "everyone does better, when everyone does better".

  279. Finland is a small country with a political consensus. The US is a large country with no political agreement. Finland works because there is probably 2/3 to 3/4 popular agreement on taxes, health care, employment law etc. In the US there is no such agreement. A sizable part, if not an outright majority of the electorate is opposed to single-payer health care, tax increases or anything else that smells of socialism. Some Americans may want to go the Scandinavian road, but there are more than enough who don't. Socialism is not happening in the US.

  280. @r a The disagreement you describe is the result, not the cause, of the disparities in the US. If there was a proper social safety net in the US, the influence of political and social disagreement would become background noise.

  281. @r a It was a political consensus arrived at through years of negotiation, as it was in a multitude of countries around the world. Why not in the US? Figure it out. It's not hard if you check out some history of the country.

  282. @SpyvsSpy Indeed. We'd have a lot less petty disagreement if people felt more secure about their shelter, their health, and their children's ability to live life. Capitalists in the Americas have always divided to conquer, starting with race-baiting in the 17th century and continuing today with red/blue baiting.

  283. What has always astounded me about my fellow Americans is their almost instant recoil when universal health coverage is discussed. The response is always the same, "but that's socialized medicine." Why is this so scary? A progressive tax instead of monthly premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. A card that gets you into any hospital and to see any doctor; never mind whether or not he/she is in your "network." Finland is a model in many ways; they revere their teachers; they are highly educated in the field of teaching and are afforded the professionalism they deserve. Why the U.S. does not see the parallel of good education, good health care, along with capitalism with more of an equal partner with the working class as the foundation of a society that is more productive and less bent on lawlessness. What ever happened to for the "common good," aspect to a society we all wish to live.

  284. @Diane I am now 59, and I remember when I was a kid my lower-middle class grandparents - both sets - would visibly shudder when anything close to the topic of public health care came up: "Socialized medicine - we don't want that!". It wasn't until I was an adult that I looked back on this and thought, what on earth do they know about public health care, what was their source of information? They weren't policy wonks by any stretch of the imagination. My conclusion is that someone did a real propaganda number on their generation, and I believe this had such a strong impact as to filter down to my parents and my own generation. Someone should research that and write an article - ah, in fact they have: https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/October-2012/How-the-AMA-Scared-Us-Away-From-Socialized-Medicine-and-Prepared-Us-For-Obamacare/

  285. @Diane I'm not sure we ever really had that aspect of society here. Maybe for a couple of decades after WWII, when government felt the need to do right by the generation that came of age in the Great Depression and fought WWII. But when the West sank into crisis in the 1970s, the response of the U.S. government was a new version of the 1920s-style limited government--basically a shredding of the postwar social compact. "Lawlessness" is a good for it--to a certain extent at least.

  286. Yes the AMA had scared people away from universal health care. But now there is an organization called: "Physicians for a National Health Program - PNHP" They say: "The answer to our health care crisis is clear. We propose a publicly financed, non-profit single-payer national health program that would fully cover medical care for all Americans." Where's the publicity on them? I've never seen them mentioned on cable TV news, or in NYTimes columns or articles. I don't know if our 2020 candidates have used this group as support for Medicare for All. If not, why not? You would think this group would be an important news item in US media---in the only world democracy without HC for all, even under ACA. There's also a group called "Patriotic Millionaires" who favor higher taxes on the rich. See multi millionaire Nick Hanauer. He gave a Ted Talk on this. Hey, US media---where's the coverage on these groups?? Not newsworthy enough? Or does it look too 'left wing' per the definitions laid down by the mega donors to our elections? Who pay for the high cost political ads that bring profit to our media. Per Wiki-- Many countries don't even allow paid campaign ads on their media. These are the same countries with HC for all, who also don't allow pharma ads on TV either. Imagine that. It all works together---a different planet.

  287. From someone who has experienced middle-class life in both the US and a country with strong social insurance programs, a welcome, informed answer to recent columns by David Brooks and Bret Stephens, whose experience is that of privileged, affluent Americans.

  288. The best flattery is mimicry. We should study this closely and try to absorb what has brought such success to the Nordic countries. I am sad for our country-we do not understand the value of providing a safe home, food, a high quality education, and great health care. I am starting to believe that there must a benefit to some portion of our society in keeping these things from us. Someone is gaining by most of us being forever stuck trying to survive financially-working more and more and making less and less progress.