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Thread: Are Norway and Sweden the exception?

  1. #1

    Are Norway and Sweden the exception?

    We're all in agreement here that government-run social programs like education, healthcare, social security, and welfare programs all achieve two things:

    1) Run up costs (for a number of reasons, one of them being the absence of competition)
    2) Subpar quality

    This seems to be the universal case for government-run programs in the United States and in many countries around the world.

    But my question is this: why do these programs achieve overwhelming success in the Scandinavian countries? Norway and Sweden provide education and healthcare completely free to all its citizens while maintaining superb quality. Yes, taxes in these countries are extremely high, but the net result is that two nations consistently rank among having the world's highest standards for living.

    How do they pull it off? Does this potentially create the only exception to our philosophic argument that government-run anything necessarily yields the above two negatives?



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  3. #2
    Norway pumps a lot of oil from offshore oil rigs. That is a lot of wealth to ply with. Another country that even provides more wealth to its citizens is Kuwait. Kuwait citizens are all very wealthy and most of them don't even have to work. Foreigners do nearly all the work in kuwait.

  4. #3
    I'd rather live in a tent than live in the mundane-ness of the Norway collective.

    And I trust the UN ratings system about as much as I do internet polls.

    I don't know about Sweden but Norway makes a ton of money off of selling oil. We're essentially not allowed to drill for oil here.

    Here's a thing about Sweden: http://www.lewrockwell.com/dieteman/dieteman33.html

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by freshjiva View Post
    We're all in agreement here that government-run social programs like education, healthcare, social security, and welfare programs all achieve two things:

    1) Run up costs (for a number of reasons, one of them being the absence of competition)
    2) Subpar quality

    This seems to be the universal case for government-run programs in the United States and in many countries around the world.

    But my question is this: why do these programs achieve overwhelming success in the Scandinavian countries? Norway and Sweden provide education and healthcare completely free to all its citizens while maintaining superb quality. Yes, taxes in these countries are extremely high, but the net result is that two nations consistently rank among having the world's highest standards for living.

    How do they pull it off? Does this potentially create the only exception to our philosophic argument that government-run anything necessarily yields the above two negatives?
    The quality in terms of math/science/reading etc may be "superb"....but I'm willing to bet that statist ideas are also drilled into their heads and that criical thinking skills are squashed.

    As far as cost goes, the costs would be lower to the average citizen if services were market based....

    a final point....these are small, homogenous nations of very civil people....

    I doubt they could pull off the same level of service if they had 300 million population ...so many of them riff raff...like we do in USA

  6. #5
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  7. #6
    A lot of people have covered good points so far, but I would add that it's a small group that generally like the way things are run. It "works" for them based on the level of wealth, their geography, and many other factors. Some things work for some people some of the time. As long as they are localized, and generally voluntary (trust me; Norway doesn't care much if you leave), I can disagree but I can't even call it "wrong."
    Genuine, willful, aggressive ignorance is the one sure way to tick me off. I wish I could say you were trolling. I know better, and it's just sad.

  8. #7
    Standard of living is relative.
    I wouldn't consider it high with the insane taxes they have.

    I have no doubt that the programs CAN work.
    The question is whether they should be in existence or not. I think if the people all want it, fine. But it should be a choice, not something were forced into.

  9. #8
    On the Swedish Healthcare System:


    Examining Healthcare


    The New American
    02 September 2008



    ...

    Another country worth examining is Sweden. Sweden, commonly called the cradle of the welfare state, has been experiencing the same difficulties that other socialized countries have. A personal anecdote illustrates some of the problems. This writer was recently in Stockholm and was having some trouble sleeping. In the United States, melatonin, a natural sleep aid, is available for less than five dollars at the local GNC. But despite my pleas, pharmacy after pharmacy informed me that I would need a prescription to obtain the product. Okay, just call the doctor and set up an appointment - right? Wrong. Come to find out, most appointments take weeks to get, so I would have to go to the emergency room. Hmmm. After a few days, I just gave up.

    Problems such as I experienced are endemic throughout the Swedish medical system. David Hogberg, Ph.D. discusses the reasons for market-based reforms taking place in Sweden in an article entitled "Sweden's Single-Payer Health System Provides a Warning to Other Nations": "Waiting lists for surgery and other procedures had long been a problem in Sweden. Like most government-run systems, the Swedish health care system was already plagued by declining productivity - a consequence of which included delays in care." The article continues, concerning the changes that Sweden has made: "Stockholm County encouraged doctors, nurses and private companies to take over the operation of primary health care centers. Over 60 percent of primary care centers were run privately by 2002. Costs declined, particularly for laboratory services, which dropped by 30 percent. Stockholm also privatized one of its seven hospitals, St. George's. St. George's Hospital began running a profit in 1994, and 90 percent of patients were satisfied with the care they received there."

    After watching Michael Moore's documentary Sicko, some viewers were left with the impression that France has a utopian medical system. Again, the facts state otherwise. "France's health care system is typical of those of most European countries: It is a state-oriented system that operates with little concern for the economic dynamic of supply and demand or efficient management," wrote Philippe Manière, the editor in chief for economic and scientific affairs at Le Point and a member of the Centre for the New Europe, a European think-tank. "As the client base of the system increases, without innovative policies to augment finances, curtail waste, and more effectively target services, a crisis is increasingly more imminent." France's system does have some similarities with the American system in that the government pays a large portion of medical bills, which is supplemented by private insurance companies if necessary. The French government is more involved in healthcare than the U.S. government is here, but as in America, patients still have a choice regarding which doctors they will visit. The system has been running a deficit for more than a decade and according to a 2004 report by the High Council for the Future of Health Insurance, an advisory body established by the French government, failure to make sweeping changes will result in an added deficit of 66 billion euros per year by 2020.

    Absent actions to move toward more privatization of medical care, drastic measures are being taken by socialist countries to control costs. A 2001 article in the Belgian magazine Knack quoted a nurse as saying that due to budget cuts that resulted in fewer beds, "We drastically augment the level of morphine that we give to the very sick, or we inject them with pentothal." That is, they kill the patients, a practice known as "euthanasia." The nurse continued: "It is not good for the patient whose life is being terminated ... nor for the new patient who now lies in the free bed and who puts his trust in us."

    ...
    ----

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  11. #9
    Fact is that in Norway, the health care system is not excellent at all, more and more people is buying private health care insurance to bypass the overburdened public system.

    Also as mentioned before Norway has a huge income from their oil and gas exports, without this income their national budget deficits would be around $25 billion.

  12. #10
    The left using that argument should support the constitution and states rights. Small localized populations in the US can adopt such a system if they choose. However, I would vote with my feet and not participate.

    Hawaii and Oregon are two places that would probably do this.

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by libertythor View Post
    The left using that argument should support the constitution and states rights. Small localized populations in the US can adopt such a system if they choose. However, I would vote with my feet and not participate.

    Hawaii and Oregon are two places that would probably do this.
    Yeah I don't get what their obsession is with centralization when centralization is pretty bad no matter what you're talking about.

  14. #12
    Small population,

    Large surplus of natural resources,

    Homogenous ethnicity, essentially one large family.

    Socialism can work in such circumstances, and will be less wasteful of humanity, though it will still be far more wasteful of resources than capitalism.
    CPT Jack. R. T.
    US Army Resigned - Iraq Vet.
    Level III MACP instructor, USYKA/WYKKO sensei
    Professional Hunter/Trapper/Country living survivalist.

  15. #13
    Having lived in a scandinavian country all my life (Denmark) let me tell you, the supposedly high quality of healthcare and education is a joke. In Denmark you can be forced to wait up to two years to have a hip replaced for instance, and well the education... it might be free but that is also about how much it is worth.

    Besides, it has only been able to sustain itself for this long because of outragious taxes and favorable demographics, it is all crumbling now however.
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  16. #14
    It is also important to note that typically the most expensive cost for government is military and defense. Because we have bases all over Europe, and are the policemen of the world, this allows Western Europe to get away with avoiding the high cost of funding their own military and defense. This means that they have a lot more money to spend on social programs. If America followed a non-interventionist foreign policy, then Europe would be forced to pay for their own defense. There is no way that Europe could fund all these social programs and a defense. I've been making this point for years as I argue with liberals. Unfortunately, I never see any leaders of our movement make this point so nobody ever thinks about it.

  17. #15
    In Denmark right now the state is expanding massively (bailout) while pretending to be scaling back and actually trying to cut benifits. Since announcing the plan to cut benifits polls show that the social democrats (the opposition) would win in a massive landslide if there was an election tomorrow, and people have actually begun to march in protest in the streets. It's not going to be pretty...
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  18. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by LibertyBrews View Post
    Fact is that in Norway, the health care system is not excellent at all, more and more people is buying private health care insurance to bypass the overburdened public system.
    The few families I know over there all rag on their health care claiming it takes forever. The ones who can buy private insurance.



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  20. #17
    A big part as to why Sweden seems to be able to afford this is that we dont waste money on militarism. This country hasnt been at war for almost 200 years. We have like 200 "peace keeping" soldiers in afghanistan now and had some in kosovo, but thats all they do.
    But as many have noted, this cant be sustained. It works better in a small country than in a big, but ultimatly there is fraud and waste. Sweden got a good start after WW2 as pointed out cause the country wasnt bombed and is rich on natural resources. It has been declining since the 70s though and ultimatly this system will not last. Even though we dont have the euro, we do have a flaud monitary policy like the rest. The ppl here are amoung the most indebted on a personal level in europe.

    As for health care, it needs to be reformed. You can only make doctor appointment within a 3 hour period in the morning on weekdays. Phone service is only open then. Havent had much dealins with health care since i broke my arm when i was 8, so cant give a fair analasys.
    Last edited by Corto_Maltese; 05-28-2010 at 06:28 PM.

  21. #18
    It should also be pointed out that the Danish economy has benifitted greatly from massive farm-subsidies because of our membership in the European Union... thus prolonging our eventual decline even further.

    If they stopped basically every single farmer in Denmark would be bankrupt.

    We have been smart about getting higher education though, and that at least still has some standards, and for that reason the average dane has had a somewhat higher income than might otherwise be the case.

    Right now we are running huge deficits though, and we have huge unfunded liabilities with regards to the myriad of social programs that have been passed over the years.
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  22. #19
    Did you know we actually pay people not to work?

    It's true.

    The state pays you a generous income and all that is required of you is that you TRY to get work...

    If you are unlucky and actually get a job you just make sure to get yourself fired of course. In most cases the job would pay less then what you get from the government anyway, so it is the "smart" thing to do.
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  23. #20
    Also, if you get bored with having to apply for jobs all the time hoping you don't get one all you have to do is convince your doctor that you are too depressed to work, or that your back hurts, and the state will set you up for life.

    They will even buy you a house!
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  24. #21
    I f'in kid you not.
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  25. #22
    Recently there was a story in the danish media about a family that had been moved 3 times to new apartments provided by the local government because they kept bothering their neighbours. They would leave their trash all over the place, their dog would bark all of the time and on one occation they even broke in to a neighbours apartment and started a fight...

    So what do you think the local government did? Kick them out and say "screw you scum"? Nah... They bought them a $#@!ing mansion. a million dollar f'in mansion so they wouldn't have any neighbours to bother...

    yea...

    I payed for that.
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

  26. #23
    iono, But does Sweden or Norway have 800 military bases in 130 countries? When was the last time they went to war? or into nation buildings?
    The finest virtue of a great thinker is the magnanimity with which, as a man of knowledge, he intrepidly, often with embarrassment, often with sublime mockery – offers himself and his life as a supreme sacrifice.

  27. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Che View Post
    iono, But does Sweden or Norway have 800 military bases in 130 countries? When was the last time they went to war? or into nation buildings?
    I don't know about Norway, but both Denmark and Sweden have troops in Afghanistan. Denmark had troops in Iraq too untill it was exposed that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

    We also have troops in Kosovo, and in several other UN operations.
    "This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." -Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953



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  29. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Baptist View Post
    It is also important to note that typically the most expensive cost for government is military and defense. Because we have bases all over Europe, and are the policemen of the world, this allows Western Europe to get away with avoiding the high cost of funding their own military and defense. This means that they have a lot more money to spend on social programs. If America followed a non-interventionist foreign policy, then Europe would be forced to pay for their own defense. There is no way that Europe could fund all these social programs and a defense. I've been making this point for years as I argue with liberals. Unfortunately, I never see any leaders of our movement make this point so nobody ever thinks about it.
    I have thought the same as you. This is an excellent point Baptist.

  30. #26
    Funny thing--I just visited Sweden. Met a nice guy who went to college for 5 years (for free of course) and became a doctor. He told me there is actually a shortage of doctors in Sweden and they have to bring in foreigners to fill the gaps. Regardless of that, he is now finishing music school to become an opera singer, which is how I met him in the first place. I guess being a doctor isn't a very lucrative career choice.

    I also visited France and Switzerland. From what I observed, seems like the most "successful" Socialist programs are when the government funds private business, much like the US Post Office, rather than controlling them directly. For instance, the government subsidizes certain cafes (I think), so you see the same freakin' bakery on every corner. Europe definitely lacks the entrepreneurial spirit of America though, and it shows not only in the prices and quality of services, but in the people. Since no one tips and servers get a normal wage, food service kinda sucks wherever you go. Multiple times I saw guards carrying large automatic weapons at the big tourist attractions, like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. It was sort of unnerving as my heart skipped a beat, but no one else seemed to notice or care. And I swear the Parisians on the subway were like zombies. Our bed & breakfast host in Switzerland required a lot of personal information, since the police could show up at any minute and "inspect" his guest list. Apparently they do random searches like that. I guess that's Socialism at work.

    Sorry to go off topic but I wanted an excuse to share a few of my observations.

  31. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by BlackTerrel View Post
    I have thought the same as you. This is an excellent point Baptist.
    Been saying the same thing. after WWII the US took over the defence of Europe so they could spend their GDP's on rebuilding. Once the countries were rebuilt they turned the windfall into social programs.

  32. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Baptist View Post
    It is also important to note that typically the most expensive cost for government is military and defense. Because we have bases all over Europe, and are the policemen of the world, this allows Western Europe to get away with avoiding the high cost of funding their own military and defense. This means that they have a lot more money to spend on social programs. If America followed a non-interventionist foreign policy, then Europe would be forced to pay for their own defense. There is no way that Europe could fund all these social programs and a defense. I've been making this point for years as I argue with liberals. Unfortunately, I never see any leaders of our movement make this point so nobody ever thinks about it.
    Europe, or more specifically the EU, spends more on the military than China and Russia combined.

  33. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Baptist View Post
    It is also important to note that typically the most expensive cost for government is military and defense. Because we have bases all over Europe, and are the policemen of the world, this allows Western Europe to get away with avoiding the high cost of funding their own military and defense. This means that they have a lot more money to spend on social programs. If America followed a non-interventionist foreign policy, then Europe would be forced to pay for their own defense. There is no way that Europe could fund all these social programs and a defense. I've been making this point for years as I argue with liberals. Unfortunately, I never see any leaders of our movement make this point so nobody ever thinks about it.
    I've tried to get this point across to liberals, but get the usual denial and avoidance. Now that the European welfare state is collapsing, we should remove ourselves and let them deal with the Russians face to face.

    On a related anecdote: I remember as a child when some Swedes came to visit neighbors in the community. I was probably 6 or 7 at the time, but remember the old Swede bragging about his pretty mouthful of teeth. He said everyone gets a new set of teeth because of free government health care. At the time, something didn't seem right to me about it, but I was only a kid so I didn't understand the issues until much later.
    --------------------------------------------
    First step to ending the income tax: end payroll tax withholding.
    Require each American to write a check to their state and federal governments every month.

  34. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by amonasro View Post
    Funny thing--I just visited Sweden. Met a nice guy who went to college for 5 years (for free of course) and became a doctor. He told me there is actually a shortage of doctors in Sweden and they have to bring in foreigners to fill the gaps. Regardless of that, he is now finishing music school to become an opera singer, which is how I met him in the first place. I guess being a doctor isn't a very lucrative career choice.

    I also visited France and Switzerland. From what I observed, seems like the most "successful" Socialist programs are when the government funds private business, much like the US Post Office, rather than controlling them directly. For instance, the government subsidizes certain cafes (I think), so you see the same freakin' bakery on every corner. Europe definitely lacks the entrepreneurial spirit of America though, and it shows not only in the prices and quality of services, but in the people. Since no one tips and servers get a normal wage, food service kinda sucks wherever you go. Multiple times I saw guards carrying large automatic weapons at the big tourist attractions, like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. It was sort of unnerving as my heart skipped a beat, but no one else seemed to notice or care. And I swear the Parisians on the subway were like zombies. Our bed & breakfast host in Switzerland required a lot of personal information, since the police could show up at any minute and "inspect" his guest list. Apparently they do random searches like that. I guess that's Socialism at work.

    Sorry to go off topic but I wanted an excuse to share a few of my observations.
    Good comments, thanks.

    One clarification. The US Postal Service isn't subsidized by the government, it has been self-funding since the 1970's. It is given a monopoly status for first class mail, for whatever that is worth. Right now it is losing billions of dollars a year and may eventually get bailouts by the federal government, we will see.
    --------------------------------------------
    First step to ending the income tax: end payroll tax withholding.
    Require each American to write a check to their state and federal governments every month.

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