Tuesday, May 27, 2014
What About Scandinavia?
The truth is really neither one. The Scandinavian countries are not as wonderful as some people think but nor are they as bad as others seem to think. It is true that they are big believers in wealth redistribution so that there is very little income inequality in the Scandinavian countries. Some think that is good, others think that is bad. Society is not so divided by class in these places but that does go with limits to individual rights because it places limitations on success. It is true that crime is very low in these countries, at least compared to some other parts of the world but it is also true that many crimes go unreported because they are concentrated amongst the immigrant community and the authorities prefer to ignore it for fear of being accused of racism if they arrest someone who is not light complexioned. It is true that the monarchies in these countries are totally or effectively ceremonial, however, it is also true that they are widely popular still and are considered by most to be an integral part of the culture and framework of the country. Their populations are, on the whole, quite conformist in that they do tend to hold the same values and opinions on most things but this is not too different from most of the rest of Europe these days and differing points of view do exist. So, let us take them one at a time:
Now, like the United States, the level of promises made to the people by the government in terms of entitlements is simply not sustainable because these types of socialistic programs depend on an ever increasing number of young workers to pay the tax burden for the sick, the old and the unemployed and the numbers just don’t exist even with Sweden opening its borders to a huge influx of foreigners. These policies cannot carry on indefinitely, the numbers just don’t add up and that will be a big problem in the future. Sweden has never had a huge population, it is simply a country that cannot support one and the native population is practically stagnant while the immigrant population is growing. It’s still not enough to save the future of the welfare state but it does not take a math genius to see that it will ultimately mean that the Swedish population is simply going to be replaced by an ethnically non-Swedish one in the not-too-distant future. It is also true that it is one of the most irreligious countries in the world. However, it is still an officially Christian country, with the Lutheran church as the official state church of Sweden and, of course, it is still a monarchy. The monarch is officially ceremonial with no role in government at all but he does chair the Council of State, opens parliament, appoints the prime minister and all the usual duties so he is at least still able to inform, be informed and give his advice on government matters. He is not totally inconsequential and the majority of the people support the monarchy.
On the social front, Norway has a higher birth rate than many European countries, but it still is not good, it just is not quite as bad as others. Statistically, Norwegians are still going extinct but they will probably be around to see other European peoples go extinct first. Like Sweden, they are a predominately irreligious country but, again, also still an officially Christian one with the King of Norway titled as the “High Protector of the Church of Norway” which is, of course, Lutheran. However, before one thinks of blaming social ills in Norway on the King because of this, remember that it is not dissimilar from the situation with the Church of England. The King is not a cleric and many of the Lutheran bishops, like so many others in so many other churches, have at times seemed more interested in being relevant and popular than being doctrinally traditional. About 20% of the population are immigrants but their natural growth rate is much higher than that of the native population so, again, it is not difficult to see what those numbers mean for the future of Norway, long-term. Conformity is high but not total and what seems like a population united in shared liberal values can be misleading. The refusal to give a legitimate voice to dissenting views leads to frustration and then violence such as was seen in the mass-shooting of 2011. Many other festering problems are simply being ignored because it would be “politically incorrect” to address them. However, in Norway the King does play a part in government, not being purely ceremonial but more like Britain for example, and Norway has a much greater “independent” streak than many realize. Norway, for example, is a member of the European Economic Area but did not and has not become a member of the European Union and is not a part of the Eurozone which is very much to their credit. So, problems exist, but compared to others, Norway is in a better position to reject bad policies and get back on the right track.