Came across this article and thought of sharing it here.
Is the U.S. Ready to Become Scandinavia? - Bernie
Sanders and Jeb Bush look abroad for inspiration, heralding the end of American exceptionalism.
This election cycle, two candidates have dared to touch a third rail in American politics.
Not Social Security reform. Not Medicare. Not ethanol subsidies. The shibboleth that politicians are suddenly willing to discuss is the idea that
America might have something to learn from other countries.
The most notable example is Bernie Sanders, who renewed his praise for Western Europe in a recent interview with Ezra Klein. “Where is the UK? Where
is France? Germany is the economic powerhouse in Europe,” Sanders said. “They provide health care to all of their people, they provide free
college education to their kids.”
On ABC’s This Week in May, George Stephanopoulos asked Sanders about this sort of rhetoric. “I can hear the Republican attack ad right now: ‘He
wants American to look more like Scandinavia,’” the host said. Sanders didn’t flinch:
That's right. That's right. And what's wrong with that? What's wrong when you have more income and wealth equality? What's wrong when they have a
stronger middle class in many ways than we do, higher minimum wage than we do, and they are stronger on the environment than we do? Look, the fact of
the matter is, we do a lot in our country, which is good, but we can learn from other countries.
Personally, I have always wondered why Americans have decided for somewhat of a backwards system where in the end the main losers are the poorer class
and middle class, while there are systems out there proven to work for the majority far better. It is as if there is some blind hatred towards the
label "socialism" without actually knowing what social democracy actually is (considering how often it is labelled as socialism/communism).
When I first started taking more interest in the US political and social system, I wondered how is such thing even possible in the largest economy of
the world, which is described as so exceptional, yet for weaker members of the society it is possibly the hardest first world nation to survive at.
To be honest, when I first about average American working over 50 hours a week, while having to pay extreme amounts for healthcare and education + the
fact that minimum wage was under living wage in addition to very minimal employee rights I thought it was a joke, considering how exceptionalised
America as a nation is.
Personally, I have never even worked a 40 hour work week, I just would not imagine such life, where all my life would consist of is working at some
job for survival. Even at current work rate, I have not enough personal time - trainings every day, cooking, social life, family time, hobbies,
personal development. Even the 2-3 month vacation, I take every year, is not enough, as it mostly goes to professional trainings and travelling. I
could not imagine, how people with a family would manage like that - there just would not be enough time for family or the spouse.
Healthcare and education are another matter. Per capita US already pays more for these than any other modern nation, yet the difference lies in other
nations people receiving free (or very low-cost) higher education and fully-funded healthcare, while for average these are the main reasons for
bankruptcy or just paying back whole life-time...
I do not even start with the infrastructure and environmental issues.
Please do not brings arguments from Greece or pretty much any Southern Europe nation being near-bankrupt. There are so many other reasons behind the
economic failure of these nations. Rather lok at nations, who have successfully implemented this without extreme debt (especially Nordic nations, who
are possibly the most social democratic nations, while having some of the lowest national debts among OECD nations)
Also I do not understand arguments which imply as if people become dependent and lazy. Despite the strong social benefits system, at least round here,
generally the amount of people is pretty low due to the fact that basically everyone who has a full-time job earns enough to live in, some a more
luxorious life, some less, but survival or making ends meet is generally not a question, unless big family.
Of course the salaries are generally flatter, as the difference of salary between high-achievers and low-performers is lower, yet it does not mean
there is no difference. In my company for example, the difference between them is around 2 times and CEO makes less per month than highest
specialists. So far, there have been no problem, as the salary of specialist is more than enough to survive on and can afford a lot. In Norway even
burger flippers make around 20 an hour. This does not mean for most that there is no drive to become better. You can survive on such salary, you cant
afford lots of luxuries, travelling etc. In the end, ambition and drive for self-development not should not be based on financial merits. Personally,
I have never learnt something or aquired a new skill just because it would make more money. In the end, I do it for myself, for personal reasons, from
the want to become a better person, stronger at what I do.
My main question lies in why there is such a hate towards such social benefits, taking a look at nations who enjoy higher life quality? Why is
America "exceptional" that such a system would not work there or is US ready for it?
PS. This thread is not meant to be some US-bashing. I just am interested in how a system where so many people have to suffer, is considered normal and
anything that is considered normalcy in other nations is seen as some "socialist" plot to overtake American freedoms (which every person in modern
nations has... )