Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Trouble in (LIberal) Paradise

While the nations of southern Europe are racked by the financial and economic effects of creating a socialist nanny-state, one of their neighbors to the north is dealing with the cultural effect of Government taking care of your every need.  The New York Times has published an article on the growing trend of "welfare queens (and kings)" in Denmark.

Denmark is the liberal utopia of Europe.  Here are some of the government benefits afforded to its citizens:
  • Free health care
  • Free child care
  • Free education through six years of college
  • Four years of unemployment benefits
  • Free maid service for the elderly
  • Lifetime diasbility benefits
  • Government retirement pensions starting in your 50's
  • A minimum wage of $20 an hour--with short work weeks and extended vacations
By the way, these benefits are provided to everyone--regardless of their need for government assistance or their ability to pay on their own.  And of course, all of this is funded by the highest personal and corporate tax rates in all of Europe.

But now all of that is threatened not by the global recession but by the growing attitude among the populace that it no longer "pays to work".  The article describes how a single mother of two makes 47-thousand dollars in government benefits--without having to think about looking for a job.  The poster child of the new Danish attitude has become "Lazy Robert" Oleson--who is quoted in the article as boasting about having lived on welfare programs exclusively since 2001--and is pictured sitting in a curbside lounge chair, with his feet up, along the curb on a bright sunny day.  Lazy Robert says most available jobs are "demeaning".

Add to that, the graying of of the Danish population and you run into the same problem every other nanny state reaches--too many on the dole, and not enough working to foot the bill.

So Denmark is making some changes to "encourage" people to actually get back to work and contribute to their society.  I love this quote from the nation's Minister of Social Affairs who oversees the welfare state:

"They think of these benefits as their rights.  The rights have just expanded and expanded.  But now we have to go back to the rights and the duties.  We all need to contribute."

Doesn't that sound eerily familiar to the arguments that were used for the Affordable Care Act and increased spending for colleges and universtities?  "Every American has a right to cheap health care" and "Everyone has a right to a low-cost college education."  You never seem to hear that "Everyone has an obligation to pay for that" too.

The most ironic thing in how the nanny states are collapsing under their own weight, is that we here in America are being told all the time how we need to be "more like Europe"--when Europe is finding out they needed to be "more like us".

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