How many Scandinavians does it take to make Bernie Sanders stop claiming that they live in socialist countries? During the latest Democratic debate, the Senator from Vermont tried to avoid “acknowledging the misery inflicted by socialist governments by once again pretending that Nordic economies are built on his Sandernista model,” as the James Freeman puts it in the WSJ.
Mr. Sanders described areas he views as needing heavy government intervention. But as Mr. Freeman notes, Canada and Scandinavia are hardly following the Sanders agenda.
Mr. Sanders rails against the Trump cuts in business tax rates, but the Canadians and Scandinavians have gone even further. Even after the 2017 Trump reforms, the combined state and federal corporate income tax rate in the United States is still higher than the rates in Canada, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom ranks Canada as the eighth freest economy in the world—with more economic liberty than the United States, which ranks twelfth. The Scandinavian countries are all in the top 30.
Whatever social services they are able to provide are possible because they rejected the Sanders anti-market agenda and allowed businesses to grow.
American leftists, even those who shy away from the “socialist” label, generally call for higher taxes on “the rich” to support an expanded welfare and entitlement state. That, too, misapprehends the Swedish example.
Misconstruing the Swedish Example
“We have much higher taxes on the poor and the middle classes than you do,” Swedish historian Johan Norberg told the WSJ.
“And this is the dirty little secret that no one in the American left wants to talk about. Nonprogressive taxes on consumption, social security and payroll are 27% of Swedish gross domestic product, 16 points higher than in the U.S.”