Letter to the editor: We have much to learn from the Nordic countries | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: We have much to learn from the Nordic countries

Phil Calvin

Columnist Paul Olson is partially correct: Denmark’s success is aided by free markets, private property rights and a strong justice system. It is also successful due to the democratic socialization of certain parts of the economy, with a focus on the health of the citizenry, not just corporate profits.

Denmark has a relatively high income-tax rate, and in return, all citizens enjoy universal, equal and free high-quality health care services. Their socialized and tax-funded health care consumes only 10% of gross domestic product compared to the profit-laden system in the U.S., which takes 17% of our income each year and covers only a portion of the citizenry.

Paid sick leave is given by law, and the social safety net even provides Danish senior citizens who are unable to live independently with free in-home care. Danes live longer, have much lower infant mortality and only one-fifth the maternal mortality rates.

Nearly two-thirds of the Danish workforce is unionized, with very high wages set through collective bargaining. Though there is no official minimum wage, the workweek is generally 37 hours, and even McDonald’s workers enjoy $22 per hour with six weeks of vacation. People don’t have to work multiple jobs to make a living. And yet, as if by some magic, companies in Denmark are still profitable and pay their executives well, if not as extravagantly as we do. The workforce flexibility and health care security protect the society and keep the workforce agile.

Perhaps an even better comparison for Summit County would be mountainous Norway, where ski areas similarly suffer from climate change but do not struggle to find workers. Even ski patrollers and lifties enjoy a livable wage (with health care). Breckenridge is thankful for Sigurd Rockne and Trygve Berge, but we have much to learn from the Nordic countries.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.