Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias

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There are lots of things that I like about Scandinavia and Scandinavians.

I like their furniture. I like their meatballs. I think vikings are interesting. They have great hockey teams. Iceland told the London banks to stuff it in 2009 which was fantastic. Cod and herring are tasty fish. Saabs were really cool (before they were bought by GM). Lego is awesome. Noma in Copenhagen, considered the best restaurant in the world by some, (almost in spite of being in Denmark) is on my life list.

But I hate Scandinavian politics.* Wedged between the West and the old Soviet Union the far northern Europeans came to embrace a non Bolshevik socialism much to the glee of many closeted socialists in this country. Indeed a certain slice of the American electorate continues to fantasize about how wonderful it would be if only America could be more like the blondes of the Arctic.

These Americans are nuts.

Scandinavia, as the author explains in the attached article, is a land of sameness. As white (for the most part) as the snow which covers the land for much of the year. Antidepressants are gobbled up at high rates even while booze is guzzled down at equally high rates. Excellence is derided. Conformity is strongly imposed by societal norms. Scandinavia, the author argues is a great place to live if one is average.

Not a place I’d want to live long term. But I’d love to visit – in the summer.

(From The New York Post)

Those sky-high happiness surveys, it turns out, are mostly bunk. Asking people “Are you happy?” means different things in different cultures. In Japan, for instance, answering “Yes” seems like boasting, Booth points out. Whereas in Denmark, it’s considered “shameful to be unhappy,” newspaper editor Anne Knudsen says in the book.

Moreover, there is a group of people that believes the Danes are lying when they say they’re the happiest people on the planet. This group is known as “Danes.”

“Over the years I have asked many Danes about these happiness surveys — whether they really believe that they are the global happiness champions — and I have yet to meet a single one of them who seriously believes it’s true,” Booth writes. “They tend to approach the subject of their much-vaunted happiness like the victims of a practical joke waiting to discover who the perpetrator is.”

Click here for the article.

*Sweden’s economics have gotten a bit better as of late. There have been broad pro-market reforms over the last decade.