Bernie Sanders and his economic vision for a new America has just gained a crucial endorsement. Famed economist Paul Krugman recently published a New York Times column in which used Denmark as an example of how Sanders’ style economics could work for the US. The article proves that the way conservatives view economic policy is shortsighted and misguided—socialism is not evil or counter-intuitive. Denmark is a democratic socialist country; Danish people have the highest quality of life in the world, and Forbes has rated Denmark as the best economy for business in the entire world – for the third time in five years.
Krugman particularly addresses Republicans who think of debt-ridden Greece when they think of a European economic model, instead of focusing on a country with numerous benefits and a prosperous economy. “The Danes get a lot of things right, and in so doing refute just about everything U.S. conservatives say about economics,” Krugman noted. Denmark sounds like a fiscal dream world compared to the US; Danes have a high-functioning welfare state in which the government provides a safety net for its people. This means each individual is guaranteed economic security and therefore freedom from poverty—everyone benefits from this type of system, not just the 1%.
To put this expression of democratic socialism into context, everyone in Denmark receives a free college education and universal health care, students are given a stipend and child day-care is subsidized heavily. Working-age families in Denmark are given three times as much aid as those in the US as a share of G.D.P.
This does not hurt the employment rates or the economy; in fact, adults in Denmark are more likely to be employed than their US counterparts. Labor productivity is the same as in the US, G.D.P per capita is lower, but that is because Danes take more time off (something many overworked Americans, afraid to take vacation, could also learn from). “It’s hard to imagine a better refutation of anti-tax, anti-government economic doctrine, which insists that a system like Denmark’s would be completely unworkable” says Krugman.
Denmark is a working economic model for democratic socialism. We just need to look to our Danish neighbors to see that even with high taxes, an economy can prosper, employment will be high, and the state can afford to give back to the people—doling out benefits that Europeans see as rights instead of a privilege extended to those who can afford to pay for it. We pay into the system each time taxes are taken out, but Americans see barely anything in return while multinational corporations dodge their taxes and are rewarded with subsidies. It is far beyond time we demand more; there is no reason we shouldn’t have free college and universal healthcare—among other things. Our nation can more than afford it, if we reassess our priorities and start investing in our people instead of in Wall Street. Luckily there’s a candidate like Sanders who recognizes this, with the aid of an esteemed economist like Krugman to help articulate that a move away from hypercapitalist privatization would benefit all Americans.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.