Even Scandinavia Has Figured It Out, Why Can't We?


Scandinavia: land of socialist utopia. Right? Well, not lately.

Conservative Erna Solberg just swept the Norwegian elections this week, campaigning on a platform of cutting taxes, privatizing hospitals and other free market policies. This is in addition to conservative Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen coming to power two years ago when the center-right National Coalition Party had its biggest turnout in Finnish history and conservative Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt becoming the first center-right incumbent to win re-election in Sweden since the 1930s after the Socialists suffered their worst defeat since before WWI.

Surprised? Well, the mainstream media sure hasn’t been talking about it much. In fact, all every major news outlet could say about Norway’s swing to the right is that it came “just two years after a far-right, anti-immigrant militant killed 77 people, many of them teenagers.” (Had to get that in there.)

But the Scandinavians can’t seem to get enough of free market solutions as of late. Reinfeldt has been proposing bold-minded reforms since taking over in Sweden — from slashing the corporate tax rate down to 22% to raising the retirement age all the way to 75. As a result, the economy has been growing, unemployment has been declining, and the budget is now balanced.

Katainen has been doing the same in Finland, scaling back Finland’s extremely generous welfare state — cutting financial benefits for students to encourage them to look for work earlier, changing childcare leave policies to encourage mothers to return to work sooner, and making other budget cuts in waste and unnecessary spending.

This phenomenon isn’t limited to Scandinavia, either. After decades of nanny state policies, high debt-to-GDP ratios and unsustainable public sector growth blew up the troubled eurozone economies and brought them at the mercy of their foreign creditors for bailouts, conservatives finally swept power in those countries as well — including Greece’s Antonis Samaras, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, Portugal’s Pedro Passos Coelho, Ireland’s Enda Kenny, and Cyprus’ Nicos Anastasiades. That’s in addition to other conservative leaders such as Britain’s David Cameron, Canada’s Stephen Harper, and Germany’s Angela Merkel who is poised to win a third term in just two weeks.

And over the weekend, Australia also swung back to the right after voting for Tony Abbott and his anti-tax, pro-business platform. Abbott has proposed everything from steep public sector spending cuts to getting rid of the carbon tax.

Of course, there have been a few exceptions to this trend. Socialist François Hollande ousted conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy in last year’s election — a decision French voters have immediately regretted with his popularity dropping to a record low of just a 26% approval rating after seeing spikes in unemployment and wealth disappearing due to his lame brain 75% tax idea. A scandal-plagued Silvio Berlusconi cost him his premiership in Italy after three terms in office. And the Socialists took back power in Denmark two years ago after the conservatives held power there for 10 uninterrupted years.

Of course, also, while the rest of the world is slowly waking up to sound economic policies, fiscal responsibility and less government intrusion in the wake of the global recession, the U.S. has been slowly bucking the trend as it drifts more leftward with higher taxes, out-of-control public sector spending levels and aggressive regulations from the SEC to the EPA.

Personally, I believe the recent presidential elections have had to do way more with the cult of personality than with any objective criteria of results or math. Midterm elections have been another matter altogether.

But maybe the majority of Americans will soon realize what the rest of the world has already figured out: The nanny state just doesn’t work. It's too expensive and if you’re too late to reverse it, it will bankrupt you. Promoting economic freedom and personal responsibility does more to grow the middle class and alleviate those in poverty than keeping a permanent underclass dependent on government sustenance indefinitely.

Follow @policymic

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

John Giokaris

John Giokaris has been contributing to PolicyMic since February 2011. Born and raised in Chicago, John graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a double major in Journalism and Political Science and is currently earning his J.D. at The John Marshall Law School. John believes in free market principles, private sector solutions, transparency, school choice, constitutionally limited government, and being a good steward of taxpayer dollars. His goals are to empower/create opportunity for citizens to use the tools at their disposal to succeed in America, which does more to grow the middle class and alleviate those in poverty than keeping a permanent underclass dependent on government sustenance indefinitely. Sitting on the Board of Directors for both the center-right Chicago Young Republicans and libertarian America's Future Foundation-Chicago, he is also a member of the free market think tank Illinois Policy Institute's Leadership Coalition team along with other leaders of the Illinois business, political, and media communities. John has seven years experience working in writing/publishing, having previously worked at Law Bulletin Publishing, the Tribune Company, and Reboot Illinois. His works have been published in the Chicago Tribune, U.S. News & World Report, Crain's Chicago Business, Reboot Illinois, Townhall, the Law Bulletin, and the RedEye. He's also made appearances on CBS News, PBS, and Al Jazeera America.

MORE FROM

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.

Hillary Clinton says Republicans will be the "death party" if they pass health care bill

Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Republican's proposed bill on Twitter.

It's time to redefine the clitoris, according to sex education experts

"Words matter. They shape and mold our ideas and beliefs about our purpose, our bodies, our self-worth and our place in the world around us."

Al-Jazeera becomes a target amid Qatar diplomatic crisis

Gulf states are demanding the broadcaster be shut down.

5 blocks of London apartments to be evacuated over potentially flammable cladding

800 North London apartments will be evacuated following a fire inspection that turned up evidence that the buildings could be unsafe.

Tomi Lahren wants to rally women to her side after criticizing feminists and "pro-choicers"

"My view on abortion is not black-and-white," Lahren said.

These 5 states are drafting laws to limit protests on college campuses

The legislation is intended to protect free speech on campus.