Denmark starting to walk back some areas of their entitlement state

posted at 9:21 pm on April 22, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Many of the wildly debt crisis-laden EU countries are currently railing against the oh-so-draconian, unacceptably harsh, and practically inhumane “austerity” budgets toward which their years of state-sponsored profligate living are now herding them, but up in Scandinavia, things are taking a slightly less dire turn. A couple of months back, Mary Katharine highlighted the steps that Sweden has been taking to contain their own major debt and entitlement problems, and Denmark has relatively quietly been doing some of the same without much political commotion.

Like Sweden and neighboring Norway, Denmark’s is a state of hearty subsidization and lavishly extensive entitlement benefits — including free university education, free health care, and other payouts to even the wealthiest citizens — of which the Danes are generally pretty proud, routinely touting theirs as one of the happiest and most compassionate societies in the world. Although they have much higher marginal income-tax rates than Americans (their top tax bracket of 56.5 percent kicks in at about $80,000/year), they worker fewer total hours and enjoy longer vacations and more perks.

Denmark still has their AAA bond rating, but the general economic downturn and the competitive slowdown has them taking look at what the future will bring if they don’t manage some of the unsustainably opulent generosities of their statist system. Sounds like a whole lot of baby steps to me, buy hey, it’s at least some kind of movement in the right direction, and it’s been happening sans the usual collective freakout from the many beneficiaries, via the NYT:

But Denmark’s long-term outlook is troubling. The population is aging, and in many regions of the country people without jobs now outnumber those with them.

Some of that is a result of a depressed economy. But many experts say a more basic problem is the proportion of Danes who are not participating in the work force at all — be they dawdling university students, young pensioners or welfare recipients like Carina who lean on hefty government support. …

But few experts here believe that Denmark can long afford the current perks. So Denmark is retooling itself, tinkering with corporate tax rates, considering new public sector investments and, for the long term, trying to wean more people — the young and the old — off government benefits. …

“The welfare state here has spiraled out of control,” Mr. Olsen said. “It has done a lot of good, but we have been unwilling to talk about the negative side. For a very long time it has been taboo to talk about the Carinas.”

Already the government has reduced various early-retirement plans. The unemployed used to be able to collect benefits for up to four years. Now it is two.

Officials have also begun to question the large number of people who are receiving lifetime disability checks. About 240,000 people — roughly 9 percent of the potential work force — have lifetime disability status; about 33,500 of them are under 40. The government has proposed ending that status for those under 40, unless they have a mental or physical condition that is so severe that it keeps them from working. …

I don’t know that I’d call it an “overhaul” or anything, but it is fairly encouraging that even a welfare state as advanced as Denmark’s can voluntarily concede that they’re headed in an impossible direction and need to take it down a notch, which in the long run will create a more competitive economy with much more robust prosperity than an otherwise floundering entitlement state ever could.


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Denmark still has their AAA bond rating,

WTF??

Must be the population..

Hey Denmark..
Take a look at your future…

*pointing the Trillion Dollar coin*

Electrongod on April 22, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Bishop!

unclesmrgol on April 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Bishop!

unclesmrgol on April 22, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Okay…
:)

Electrongod on April 22, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Aging population mixed with a younger population who doesn’t want to work or support their own children when they do have children equal no one actually supporting ANYONE..

This is for everyone who think that government money comes from the money fairies..

melle1228 on April 22, 2013 at 9:31 PM

But it does Melle!!

Money TREE Fairies!
Golden egg laying geese
Skittle poopin’ Unicorns
And Taxing Rain Fall!!

Scrumpy on April 22, 2013 at 9:36 PM

America too: When Work is Punished: The Tragedy of America’s Welfare State

slickwillie2001 on April 22, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Too little, too late.

Even if they completely demolish their welfare system and revert to a free market entrepreneurial model, the seed corn of human capital destroyed by their Enlightenment ideas can’t be replenished in time.

Canary in the coal mine?

Cleombrotus on April 22, 2013 at 9:41 PM

I’m just amazed they can talk about “entitlement” reform without the riots and whining.

Cindy Munford on April 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

All Denmark needs to do is click its heels and wish for a Bernanke.

Everything is sunny when you have a Dr. Bernanke’s Own Magic Money Making Machine! Just fill with ink, paper, MSM disinformation and before you say “Ben’s not your uncle” you’ve got cold, hard cash!

It’s so easy even a Zimbabwean can do it!

Punchenko on April 22, 2013 at 9:48 PM

and entitlement problems,
=========================

MeanWhile,back at the North Carolina Senate Ranch:

North Carolina Senate passes bill requiring drug testing for welfare applicants; measure goes to state House – @wral

29 mins ago from http://www.wral.com by editor
===========================================

http://www.wral.com/drug-testing-for-benefits-bill-passes-senate/12369158/

canopfor on April 22, 2013 at 9:52 PM

11 or bust..

:)

Electrongod on April 22, 2013 at 9:56 PM

OT –

Senior MPs called on David Cameron to consider stripping the boss of Google from his role as a government adviser tonight after he suggested that his company’s contribution to the British economy was more important than paying its fair share of tax

Brayam’s heroes.

CW on April 22, 2013 at 9:57 PM

I’m just amazed they can talk about “entitlement” reform without the riots and whining.

Cindy Munford on April 22, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Cindy Munford:

And,Drum Circles!:–O

canopfor on April 22, 2013 at 9:58 PM

There are 4 times as many people on food stamps here than there are Swedes. In Sweden.

Let that swirl around the synapses for awhile.

BobMbx on April 22, 2013 at 9:58 PM

There are 4 times as many people on food stamps here than there are Swedes. In Sweden.
Let that swirl around the synapses for awhile.

BobMbx on April 22, 2013 at 9:58 PM

“Then the work isn’t finished” – Denmark Libs

Electrongod on April 22, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Okay, wrong Nordic country.

Let me try again.

There are nearly 10 times as many people on food stamps here than there are Danes. In Denmark.

Let that swirl around the synapses for awhile.

Oh….and here’s the killer trivia about Denmark. If you’re born a Dane, you are automatically enrolled in the Church of Denmark, and you will forever be paying taxes to the church. No apostates….you still owe the tax.

Very progressive, eh?

BobMbx on April 22, 2013 at 10:02 PM

I don’t know that I’d call it an “overhaul” or anything, but it is fairly encouraging that even a welfare state as advanced as Denmark’s can voluntarily concede that they’re headed in an impossible direction and need to take it down a notch, which in the long run will create a more competitive economy with much more robust prosperity than an otherwise floundering entitlement state ever could.

I don’t think they believe that for a minute, though. They are just concerned about balancing the checkbook. Even the ephemeral concerns dont seem to reach belief that increasing freedom would provide a “much more robust prosperity than an otherwise floundering entitlement state ever could.”

Axe on April 22, 2013 at 10:03 PM

“The welfare state here has spiraled out of control,” Mr. Olsen said. “It has done a lot of good, but we have been unwilling to talk about the negative side. For a very long time it has been taboo to talk about the Carinas.”

.
I can plainly see the “spiraling out of control”, and the “negative side, you’ve been unwilling to talk about”.

But you’re going to have to get me a bigger magnifying-glass to see this alleged “lot of good” … Or a microscope, maybe ?

listens2glenn on April 22, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Danes are also forced learn Danish which is a very difficult language.

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM

OT –

Senior MPs called on David Cameron to consider stripping the boss of Google from his role as a government adviser tonight after he suggested that his company’s contribution to the British economy was more important than paying its fair share of tax

Brayam’s heroes.

CW on April 22, 2013 at 9:57 PM

.
Sure, your comment is not specifically about Denmark, but the subject matter certainly applies.

listens2glenn on April 22, 2013 at 10:08 PM

11 or bust..

:)

Electrongod on April 22, 2013 at 9:56 PM

I find your lack of faith . . . disturbing. :)

– Hey, smell that? I think that’s open registration. No, wait, that’s Squatch. This area is perfect Squatch country . . . No, now it smells like open registration again . . .

Axe on April 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Robert Nielsen, 45, made headlines last September when he was interviewed on television, admitting that he had basically been on welfare since 2001.

Mr. Nielsen said he was able-bodied but had no intention of taking a demeaning job, like working at a fast-food restaurant. He made do quite well on welfare, he said. He even owns his own co-op apartment.

We have an entire nation of such people.

Yay, America!

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Well the Dane’s are obviously RACIST!

Oh, wait. Never mind.

GarandFan on April 22, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Screw Denmark. I prefer brunettes. *winks*

wolly4321 on April 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Screw Denmark. I prefer brunettes. *winks*

wolly4321 on April 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM

*winks back*

-Mooch

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 10:19 PM

Must be all those muslims milking the system.

jake49 on April 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM

And just think…had the two boys that have made national history this week been raised by two loving parents, instead of by a village…

Relying on the teat does not make for good character or strong nations.

ndanielson on April 22, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Screw Denmark. I prefer brunettes. *winks*

wolly4321 on April 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Get real. Those actually blonde blondes are astonishing. Their babes are transcendent. Sort of like Colombian babes, where their babes knock the whole previous idea of babe into a cocked hat . . . of course the Colombian babes are brunettes . . . so I guess this comment was pointless from end to end.

Well, there’s five seconds you’ll never get back.

^ Feminists should consider that parody so I don’t have to listen to your sandwich-inept crap.

Axe on April 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Since the nordic countries tend to be more homogeneous than the US, there may be a greater tendancy to not look at some kind of cosmic justice as the be all/end all for their country. Hence, they can take a long hard look at what is happening and make reasonable adjustments (aside from the fact that they are relatively small countries so the changes are not so huge).

In the US, we have lots of cultures and minorities, and a point of view that wants these cultures and minorities to be distinct and separate which would also means they would resist the kinds of adjustments that Denmark and Sweden can make with a homogeneous population.

After all, it is probably impossible to convince every group that what is being taken from it (in the form of reduced benefits) is being done in a fair and reasonable fashion. This is especially true with the fostering of grievances about society and “discrimination”.

It is easier to give smaller portions of an expanding economic pie, but much harder when the pie is shrinking.

Russ808 on April 22, 2013 at 10:58 PM

“The welfare state name your “favorite” government department or program here has spiraled out of control,” Mr. Olsen said. “It has done a lot of good, but we have been unwilling to talk about the negative side.

Emphasis added.

AesopFan on April 22, 2013 at 11:02 PM

Well, there’s five seconds you’ll never get back.

Axe on April 22, 2013 at 10:27 PM

Don’t sell yourself short, my mind whirled for a good couple of minutes… Blonde blondes….Colombians…

If I’m not back in a few, just proceed without me…

socalcon on April 23, 2013 at 12:40 AM

Danes are also forced learn Danish which is a very difficult language.

Bishop on April 22, 2013 at 10:06 PM

But it is a tasty breakfast.

fossten on April 23, 2013 at 7:32 AM

I’m starting to lose track of how much of my existence is currently under threat from the government. Let’s see… my second amendment rights are clearly on the table. After this week, it looks like my fourth and fifth amendment rights can be suspended by the police when, in their largely unfettered discretion, the police think that’s necessary. To top it all off, notwithstanding the clear evidence of everywhere else in the world, my country seems bound and determined to spend itself (further and further) into bankruptcy. I reckon I can console myself with the notion that, sooner or later, they won’t be able to pay enough policemen to maintain a police state.

morganfrost on April 23, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Sounds like a whole lot of baby steps to me, buy hey, it’s at least some kind of movement in the right direction, and it’s been happening sans the usual collective freakout from the many beneficiaries

If you decide to address the problem when it first shows up, instead of repeatedly kicking the can down the road, you only need to take baby steps to correct it. It’s by putting off dealing with a growing problem, and letting it grow to monstrous proportions, that brings our stark choices of drastic slashing measures vs. just letting it crash.

Back in 2003 it was apparent that the Social Security fixes of the 1980s weren’t adequate. If Congress had done something as simple as providing that benefits would be delayed by one month per year for the next 24 years, we would have already raised the retirement age by nearly a year, and folks would have had 10 years to adjust to the circumstance. And us old folks are already working longer anyway.

ss396 on April 23, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Back in 2003 it was apparent that the Social Security fixes of the 1980s weren’t adequate. If Congress had done something as simple as providing that benefits would be delayed by one month per year for the next 24 years, we would have already raised the retirement age by nearly a year, and folks would have had 10 years to adjust to the circumstance. And us old folks are already working longer anyway.

ss396 on April 23, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Once a Ponzi scheme, always a Ponzi scheme. While re-arranging the deck chairs on Titanic made the deck space more efficient, the efficiency was short-lived…IIRC. But that didn’t stop the Deck Chair Arrangement Committee from doing the vital work that committees do in times of crisis.

BobMbx on April 23, 2013 at 9:53 AM

As a proud member of the ‘sen tribe, I am glad to hear this, but it may be too little too late. Danes and Scandinavians in general may be socialistic, but they have always understood exactly how the system worked and why it worked. i.e. Smallish countries with very little system abuse. That all changed with the influx of immigrants over the last 20 years and now they see the writing on the wall. Love Demnark, but they let political correction put a wrench in their well oiled machine. Hope they follow (the dreaded) Sweden’s lead on this.

AmeriCuda on April 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM