News Release

Understanding Scandinavian Socialism


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.02.11 AMANN JONES, annjonesonline at
Jones went to Norway in 2011 as a Fulbright Fellow and recently returned to the U.S. Her books include, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — the Untold Story.

She just wrote the piece “American Democracy Down for the Count: Or What Is It the Scandinavians Have That We Don’t?” for TomDispatch and The Nation. The piece states: “One night I tuned in to the Democrats’ presidential debate to see if they had any plans to restore the America I used to know. To my amazement, I heard the name of my peaceful mountain hideaway: Norway. Bernie Sanders was denouncing America’s crooked version of ‘casino capitalism’ that floats the already rich ever higher and flushes the working class. He said that we ought to ‘look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.’ He believes, he added, in ‘a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.’ That certainly sounds like Norway. …

“In the U.S., full-time salaried workers supposedly laboring 40 hours a week actually average 49, with almost 20 percent clocking more than 60. These people, on the other hand, worked only about 37 hours a week, when they weren’t away on long paid vacations. At the end of the work day, about four in the afternoon (perhaps three in the summer), they had time to enjoy a hike in the forest or a swim with the kids or a beer with friends — which helps explain why, unlike so many Americans, they are pleased with their jobs. …

“In the U.S., oligarchs maximize their wealth and keep it, using the ‘democratically elected’ government to shape policies and laws favorable to the interests of their foxy class. They bamboozle the people by insisting, as Hillary Clinton did at that debate, that all of us have the ‘freedom’ to create a business in the ‘free’ marketplace, which implies that being hard up is our own fault.

“In the Nordic countries, on the other hand, democratically elected governments give their populations freedom from the market by using capitalism as a tool to benefit everyone. That liberates their people from the tyranny of the mighty profit motive that warps so many American lives, leaving them freer to follow their own dreams — to become poets or philosophers, bartenders or business owners, as they please. …

“In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, obliterating six decades of federal social welfare policy ‘as we know it,’ ending federal cash payments to the nation’s poor, and consigning millions of female heads of household and their children to poverty, where many still dwell 20 years later. Today, nearly half a century after Nixon trashed national child care, even privileged women, torn between their underpaid work and their kids, are overwhelmed. Things happened very differently in Norway. …”