Socialism In The Nordic Countries

On Monday The Washington Post posted an article about how the economies of the Nordic countries work.

These are some of the things noted:

Undoubtedly, the Nordic nations, with their high incomes, low inequality, free politics and strong rule of law, represent success stories. What this has to do with socialism, though, is another question.

And the answer, according to a highly clarifying new report from analysts at JPMorgan Chase, is “not much.”

Drawing on data from the World Bank, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development and other reputable sources, the report shows that five nations — Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands — protect property rights somewhat more aggressively than the United States, on average; exercise less control over private enterprise; permit greater concentration in the banking sector; and distribute a smaller share of their total income to workers.

“Copy the Nordic model if you like, but understand that it entails a lot of capitalism and pro-business policies, a lot of taxation on middle class spending and wages, minimal reliance on corporate taxation and plenty of co-pays and deductibles in its healthcare system,” the report notes.

This really does not sound like the utopia that Bernie Sanders is pushing–particularly the co-pays and deductions.

The article continues:

Sanders and other left-leaning Democrats promise to pay for tuition-free college and Medicare-for-all with higher taxes on the top 1 percent of earners. Most Nordic countries, by contrast, have zero estate tax. They fund generous programs with the help of value-added taxes that heavily affect middle-class consumers.

In Sweden, for example, consumption, social security and payroll taxes total 27 percent of gross domestic product, as compared with 10.6 percent in the United States, according to the JPMorgan Chase report. The Nordic countries tried direct wealth taxes such as the one that figures prominently in the plans of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.); all but Norway abandoned them because of widespread implementation problems.

The Nordic countries’ use of co-pays and deductibles in health care may be especially eye-opening to anyone considering Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan, which the presidential candidate pitches as an effort to bring the United States into line with European standards.

His plan offers an all-encompassing, government-funded zero-co-pay, zero-deductible suite of benefits, from dental checkups to major surgery — which no Nordic nation provides.

The Netherlands’ health insurance system centers on an Obamacare-like mandate to buy a private plan; individuals face an annual deductible of $465 (as of 2016), according to the Boston-based Commonwealth Fund.

Dutch consumers’ out-of-pocket spending on health care represented 11 percent of total health expenditures in 2016, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker — the same percentage as in the United States. In Sweden, meanwhile, out-of-pocket spending accounted for 15 percent of health expenditures. Who knew?

The article concludes by noting that the burden for these programs falls on the middle class–the rich will always have tax accountants to limit the amount of taxes they pay–the middle class has no such luxury. Bernie Sanders’ proposals will essentially rob the poor to pay the rich. I really don’t think that is what most Americans have in mind.

The Lesson Of History

The Daily Signal posted an article today about the legislative battle currently waging regarding abortion.

The article reports:

A Democratic senator blocked on Monday night the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act,” which would have ensured children who survived abortions were given medical care.

Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be a complete shock. In the years since Roe v. Wade, our culture has continued its downward trend to supporting death, not life.

The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was sponsored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and came on the heels of comments last week from Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia insinuating that he supports infanticide in some instances.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., objected to the bill, arguing that the legislation is unnecessary, and thus preventing the bill from receiving unanimous consent.

The article cites an interesting contrast:

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., pointed out that the Senate unanimously confirmed legislation congratulating New England Patriots on winning the Super Bowl but, sadly, couldn’t unify on behalf of a resolution condemning infanticide.

Freshman Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., called upon American citizens to speak out against infanticide and added that he was surprised to encounter pro-infanticide sentiment so soon in his tenure.

Braun is right to be horrified by the situation and he is right to ask citizens to speak out.

That is a sad commentary on the relevancy of the Senate.

The article continues:

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion by implicitly categorizing an unborn baby as the “personalty” (a legal term referring to one’s private property). Thus, ironically, merely a few years after America’s affirmation of the Civil Rights movement, the Supreme Court majority in Roe declared that there was, after all, an entire class of human beings—unborn babies—for whom there would be no guarantee of justice and equality.

Regrettably, left-leaning jurists such as Justice John Paul Stevens supported the perverse logic of Roe by arguing that an unborn baby does not become a human being until the moment of birth.

But such an argument is deeply incoherent; a being’s nature is not determined by its location.

Furthermore, as Valparaiso University law professor Richard Stith argued 20 years ago, the incoherence of this progressive argument—that the moment of birth is a “bright line” at which an infant becomes a human being—may very well lead to the embrace of infanticide.

In other words, since medical science makes clear that there is very little difference between a baby the day before birth and the day after birth, Stith speculated that progressive thought leaders would increasingly argue for the legalization of post-birth abortion.

And that is exactly what has happened in ensuing years.

The article concludes:

Since the Netherlands legalized euthanasia nearly 20 years ago, doctors have taken the lives of thousands of elderly citizens annually. In the Netherlands’ culture of death, it is therefore not surprising that thousands of citizens carry cards prohibiting doctors from euthanizing them, and some elderly citizens express fear about going in for basic medical care because of the possibility of euthanasia.

Recently, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that a Dutch family had to hold down their mother, as she fought against being euthanized by her doctor. The patient, who was not named in the reports, suffered from dementia and had reportedly told medical officials that she wished to be euthanized when “the time was right.”

And yet, even though she reportedly said “I don’t want to die” several times in the days leading up to the killing, the doctor, who was also not named, determined that the time was right, slipped a sedative into her coffee to relax her, and then tried to administer the lethal injection. The patient awoke and resisted the doctor, causing the physician to ask the family for help in holding down the patient down while he finished her off, per the reports.

Northam’s support for infanticide and Murray’s objection to anti-infanticide legislation should not be viewed as insignificant. However, they should likewise not be seen as entirely surprising.

Anti-life legislation is arguably the most consistent consequence of the culture of death enshrined in our legal code since Roe v. Wade. Northam and Murray represent a powerful movement to stay true to the ethic undergirding pro-abortion activism, and they are gaining support day by day.

This unashamed movement to undermine the sanctity of human life must be resisted, not only by Congress but by the citizens of our great nation. If the United States Congress can unify to support a football team, then surely they can unify to defeat any movement that threatens the sanctity of human life.

The generation that first made it legal to kill their children will be the first generation to be killed by their children.

This Is Really Sad

The Daily Signal is reporting today that the United Nations Human Rights Committee drafted a memo saying that abortion and physician-assisted suicide should be universal human rights.

The article reports:

The United Nations Human Rights Committee drafted a memo saying that abortion and physician-assisted suicide should be universal human rights.

The memo, or “general comment” on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, calls for abortion to be decriminalized everywhere. Nations and states should “not introduce new barriers and should remove existing barriers [to abortion] … including barriers caused as a result of the exercise of conscientious objection by individual medical providers,” it said, Crux Now reported Thursday.

To see where this is headed, we need only to look at a New York Times article from October 2016. The headline reads, “Dutch Law Would Allow Assisted Suicide for Healthy Older People.”

The New York Times reports:

In the Netherlands, a country vaunted for its liberalism, a proposal to legalize assisted suicide for older people who are generally healthy but feel they have led a full life has stirred up an ethical storm in some quarters.

In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia for patients who were suffering unbearable pain and had no prospects of a cure.

Now, some critics say the country has gone too far with a proposed law that would allow people who are not suffering from a medical condition to seek assisted suicide if they feel they have “completed life.” Proponents of the law counter that limiting assisted death to patients with terminal illnesses is no longer enough, and that older people have the right to end their lives with dignity, and when they so choose.

Edith Schippers, the health minister, read a letter to the Dutch Parliament on Tuesday defending the measure. It is needed, she said, to address the needs of “older people who do not have the possibility to continue life in a meaningful way, who are struggling with the loss of independence and reduced mobility, and who have a sense of loneliness, partly because of the loss of loved ones, and who are burdened by general fatigue, deterioration and loss of personal dignity.”

We are in danger of creating a world where life has no value in itself–it only has value in how useful or convenient it is to the people around it.

To add to the picture of what is happening, The Daily Signal also reported today:

Get ready to watch one of the most heart-wrenching pro-life ad campaigns you’ve ever seen.

It’s called “Endangered Syndrome,” and in it, children with Down syndrome dress up as endangered species—pandas, polar bears, and lions.

Why?

Because like endangered animals, in many parts of the world, children with Down syndrome are becoming critically endangered, if not extinct. The point is simple—if we care so much about endangered animals, shouldn’t we also care about endangered humans, too?

This is the video:

Are you comfortable with where we are headed?

Securing Our Elections

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted a story about voting in the Netherlands.

The article reports:

Mickey Kaus notes that the Netherlands is going to go back to conducting its elections with paper ballots. “Dutch go old school against Russian hacking,” he notes, linking to a Politico Europe story. Kaus adds an appropriate shout-out to Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, who has been calling for paper ballots for years.

Going back to paper ballots may strike many people, as it used to strike me, as retrograde. Isn’t it a lot faster to count electronic votes? Isn’t there a danger that paper ballots can be altered, defaced, and burned? Isn’t electronic voting cooler and more up to date?

As I have stated before, technical things mystify me. However, it does seem to me that having a paper record to verify voting totals is a good idea. It may not be necessary to go back to counting paper ballots by hand if we can scan them by machine and have the physical ballots to verify the totals.

The article concludes:

The fact is that sacrificing a bit of speed for reliability is probably a good trade. The strongest argument for paper ballots is that they can’t be hacked. The second strongest is that there is an independent record of each ballot cast, which some computerized systems lack.

It may take a long time to count ballots in some states where they include many offices and ballot propositions, but people can wait. And recounts of paper ballots can result in disputes over hanging chads and the like, but these are difficulties our republic has been handling for over 200 years. My vote is for paper ballots.

Good idea.

The Story The Media Is Not Telling About The Netherlands

Narrative Collapse posted an article about the Netherlands‘ election today. As usual, they cut through the mainstream media spin to the actual facts.

The article reports:

The following is the number of seats in parliament each party will get.

VVD 33 (center-right)
PVV 20 (right-wing)
CDA 19 (center-right)
D66 19 (center-left)
SP 14 (left-wing)
GL 14 (left-wing)
PvdA 9 (center-left)
CU 5 (center-right)
PvdD 5 (left-wing)
50+ 4 (pensioner advocacy)
DENK 3 (left-wing)
SGP 3 (right-wing)
FvD 2 (right-wing)

Divided into four categories you have:
Center-right: 57/61 Right-wing: 25
Center-left: 28/32 Left-wing: 36

So, you basically have 54.5%-57.3% of parliament on the right and 42.7%-45.3% on the left.

What the English language media is telling people is that this is a humiliating defeat for conservatives because Geert Wilders party on got 13% of the vote. This is only disappointing if you look at polls from weeks ago that showed the PVV almost neck and neck with VVD.

The article reports that the election illustrates increased polarization of the voters in the Netherlands. It also notes the following:

What is actually demoralizing is reports that VVD intends to pick D66 as a coalition partner instead of PVV. This is the exact behavior associated with “RHINO” and “neo-con” Republicans in the United States. They run to the right during election season and then run back left the day after.

Geert Wilders is not a radical (as the media has tried to convince us). He is a man who loves his country and wants to see his country preserved. Unfortunately it may take many of his fellow countrymen some time to realize this. Hopefully, that realization will come before the Netherlands is destroyed.

Assisted Suicide

California has just passed and Governor Brown signed a law that allows doctor-assisted suicide. I have a problem with that. I don’t want people to suffer, but I am opposed to actually taking someone’s life because they are suffering. I believe that medicine can alleviate the suffering and allow the patient to die peacefully on their own. I see no advantage to simply killing a patient before their body is ready to die.

Assisted suicide has been legal in the Netherlands since 2001. We might take a look at their experience with the practice of euthanasia to see how it works.

According to a Daily Beast article from February of last year:

Their law, which went into effect in 2002, allowed doctors to end the lives of their patients in the context of a state health care system that emphasized close consultation with family physicians over many years. The termination of life was supposed to be limited to those with “unbearable and hopeless suffering” whose mental faculties were not impaired and who had no other hope of relief.

But recent revelations about the way euthanasia is practiced by one group in The Netherlands, especially for those suffering from psychiatric illnesses, is making even the Dutch feel uncomfortable. The new debate raises questions about the way appointed commissions judge these life-ending practices, and echoes the kinds of ‘slippery-slope’ criticisms often made by right-wing and religious parties in the United States.

…But where does one draw the line? Because these patients are not physically ill, the evaluations of independent psychiatrists are under scrutiny. Does this mean any person suffering from serious depression can shop around until he or she finds someone willing to help with suicide? And euthanasia is not only for old people. How young can you be and still get legal help if you want to die? How far should society go to overcome the biologically inbuilt threshold that makes it hard to take one’s own life by aiding someone to do so?

The controversy surrounding the Life-Ending Clinic’s activities has caused the Dutch press to look at some of the other cases from recent years. In one particularly disturbing case a 35-year-old woman, the youngest to die since the Dutch law was introduced, got help killing herself in 2012. Excerpts of her file were published by Dutch national newspaper Trouw and read like a sad story of clinical depression. But the file also shows an extended period of hopefulness. Not enough apparently. A team of doctors decided there was no cause to wait, and ended her life.

I have heard reports of elderly patients in the Netherlands going into the hospital for a minor matter and being euthanized in the interest of saving money for their families. I cannot personally attest to these stories, but because of the sources, I am inclined to believe them.

It would be ironic if in America the first generation to kill their children in abortion because those children were inconvenient were also the first generation to be euthanized by their children because having an elderly parent was inconvenient.

Ignoring The Value Of Life

CBN News is reporting today that Belgium’s parliament has passed a law to legalize euthanasia for children of any age. This is frightening. I know how traumatic it has been in the past for my husband and I to euthanize a pet–I can’t imaging putting a parent in a position where euthanizing a child is an option. I am sure that there will be pressure exerted on parents with extremely sick or disabled children to opt for euthanasia rather than use extensive medical resources to treat the child.

The article reports:

Under the new law, if both parents agree their child should be killed, three doctors and a psychologist would then have to certify that the child was aware of the consequences of his or her decision. The child would have to be under medical care.

“We are talking about children that are really at the end of their life, and it’s not that they have months or years to go. They will, their life will end anyway,” Dr. Gerlant Van Berlaer, chief of clinic for pediatric critical care at the University Hospital of Brussels, explained.

“And the question they ask us is, ‘Well, don’t make me go in a terrible, horrifying way. Let me go now while I’m still a human being and while I’m still, while I still have my dignity,'” he said.

But critics asked how anyone could gauge a child’s capacity for discernment in such a situation.

How long will it be before children with minor disabilities will be candidates for euthanasia?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Need To Learn From Mistakes Made By Other Countries

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today stating that the Netherlands is changing the rules of its welfare state.

The article states:

The Netherlands has been known for its generous welfare system. Three decades ago, when the U.S. was spending about 22% of its GDP on entitlement programs, the Dutch were spending more than 40%. The Financial Times named the Dutch system a “comprehensive egalitarian social model” built in the 1960s and 1970s.

…Three months ago, newly coronated Dutch King Willem-Alexander told his country that the “classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century” was over. It would be replaced by a “participation society” because the “arrangements” the nation was operating under “are unsustainable in their current form.”

Among the changes is a requirement that welfare applicants must prove they have actively looked for a job for at least four weeks before they can receive benefits.

“And once they begin to receive benefits they will either have to work or perform volunteer community service,” says the Cato Institute‘s Michael Tanner.

Other savings will be found when youth services, care for the elderly and job retraining are kicked down to the local level, which is better equipped to be more efficient with other people’s money.

The Dutch have learned that those who work cannot support those who do not work indefinitely. Eventually those who work get very tired and decide to join the non-workers. If we do not learn the lesson the Dutch have learned, we can also expect to have to make drastic changes in the near future.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Problem With Green Energy

A wind turbine at Greenpark, Reading, England,...

Image via Wikipedia

Green energy is a great idea. Unfortunately, we haven’t reached the point where it makes economic sense. I suspect we will get there in the near future, but we are not there yet. When the United States or other governments try to force the issue, they run into problems. (See rightwinggranny.com from March 8, 2011, which explains what has happened with green energy in Spain). Now it’s the Netherlands’ turn.

On Wednesday, November 16, Reuters reported that the Dutch government is preparing to end its subsidies of offshore wind power. There are 36 turbines in the North Sea that produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000 households each year. Because of the need to cut its budget deficit, the Dutch government says it can no longer afford to subsidize the entire cost of offshore wind power (18 cents per kilowatt hour–4.5 billion euros last year).

The article reports:

The government now plans to transfer the financial burden to households and industrial consumers in order to secure the funds for wind power and try to attract private sector investment.

It will start billing consumers and companies in January 2013 and simultaneously launch a system under which investors will be able to apply to participate in renewable energy projects.

But the new billing system will reap only a third of what was previously available to the industry in subsidies — the government forecasts 1.5 billion euros every year — while the pricing scale of the investment plan makes it more likely that interested parties will choose less expensive technologies than wind.

The outlook for Dutch wind projects seems bleak.

There will come a day when green energy is practical. Today is not it. When the government interferes with the free market, bad things happen.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta