This issue – of how propaganda messaging has created a fantasized Scandinavian utopia – has been covered extensively on this blog. What people think they know about Scandinavian countries, and what U.S. politician’s routinely promote, is not true:
Sanders’s vision of Scandinavian countries, as with much of his ideology, seems to be stuck in the 1960s and 1970s, a period when these countries were indeed pioneers in creating a social market economy. In Sweden, government spending as a percentage of gross domestic product doubled from 1960 to 1980, going from approximately 30 percent to 60 percent. But as Swedish commentator Johan Norberg points out, this experiment in Sanders-style democratic socialism tanked the Swedish economy. Between 1970 and 1995, he notes, Sweden did not create a single net new job in the private sector. In 1991, a free-market prime minister, Carl Bildt, initiated a series of reforms to kick-start the economy. By the mid-2000s, Sweden had cut the size of its government by a third and emerged from its long economic slump.
Sanders repeatedly refers to countries, such as Denmark, as successful examples of socialism, yet even the Danish prime minister says Denmark is not a socialist country or economy
Proponents of hypothesized “Scandinavian socialism” leave out the taxes detail – if the U.S. had Denmark level taxation then:
In the United States, this would mean that any income above $65,000 would be taxed at the rate of 55.9 percent.
Because few fact check these claims, false assertions made by politicians have established themselves as facts and conventional wisdom.
In other words, bringing the economic system of Denmark, Sweden and Norway to the United States would mean embracing more flexible labor markets, light regulations and a deeper commitment to free trade. It would mean a more generous set of social benefits — to be paid for by taxes on the middle class and poor. If Sanders embraced all that, it would be radical indeed.