Again, Nordic social democracies are the happiest countries

“Finland has once again been named the happiest country in the world…. This is the fourth year in a row in which Finland came in first, and as usual fellow Nordic social democracies Denmark, Norway, and Sweden were also in the top 10.” — The Week, April 9.

Finland was the world’s happiest country again last year despite Covid-19’s impact

In a Lamentable Year, Finland Again is the Happiest Country in the World reports the list as:

  1. Finland 🇫🇮
  2. Denmark 🇩🇰
  3. Switzerland 🇨🇭
  4. Iceland 🇮🇸
  5. Netherlands 🇳🇱
  6. Norway 🇳🇴
  7. Sweden 🇸🇪
  8. Luxembourg 🇱🇺
  9. New Zealand 🇳🇿
  10. Austria 🇦🇹

Notice that the U.S. is nowhere to be found in that list.

Notice, too, that none of those countries are socialist — in the sense of workers owning the means of production. Many, though, are social democracies. They all have various forms of free market economies, with strong governments.

My friend from Finland says, “We’ve always had people who are true socialists and communists. And they tend to dislike social democracy, because they see it as a band-aid prolonging the existence of the capitalist system.”

Indeed, as pointed out in Bernie, please stop calling yourself a socialist. You’re a social democrat!, despite Bernie Sanders’ calling himself a “democratic socialist” and despite lots of social media memes from DSA extolling the benefits of democratic socialism, neither Bernie nor the Nordic countries are socialist. Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Paul Klugman, and other scholars insist that Bernie is a social democrat, not a socialist. So it’s sad and perplexing that Bernie handed political ammunition to the Republicans who like to call any policy to the left of Genghis Khan “socialist.”

Nor, I think, should the progressive left in America be calling for socialism. We want New Deal Liberalism, or social democracy: a mixed economy with a vibrant private sector balanced by an ample safety net, strong regulations, and progressive taxation

I suspect Bernie’s calling himself a socialist, along with the unfortunate slogan “Defund the Police,” are two main reasons why Republicans gained seats in the House of Representatives and in state legislatures.

The main point is: government social programs and taxation can work.  And avoid the unfortunate name “socialism” — or at least be aware that it’s optional.  Some people think we can convince the public that socialism is beneficial. I say: why bother when we know that social democracy works.

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