In the 2014 paper, “How can Scandinavians tax so much?” Henrik Jacobsen Kleven, an economist at the London School of Economics, cautions American policymakers from mechanically mimicking the Nordic nations: “They are small and homogenous, racial and religious diversity is limited, human capital is high, and they have been largely unaffected by violent conflict. It is not clear to what degree lessons learned from Scandinavia carry policy implications for large, diverse, and unequal countries such as the United States … replicating the Scandinavian policies and institutions in societies that are fundamentally different is unlikely to be achievable or perhaps even desirable.”
Indeed, we are not Denmark. Or Sweden or Germany. Focusing so much on what other countries appear to be doing right and what America appears to be doing wrong can leave us blind to our many successes. Or even to view successes as failures. Sure, America has lots of billionaires, just like other advanced economies. Some even have more of the superrich per capita than the U.S., including Sweden and Norway. (Though no large economy produces superrich people who get that way through entrepreneurship like America does.) So, too, Big Tech might be getting too big, but Europe would prefer to be regulating its own currently non-existent tech titans than America’s. And the idea that U.S. real worker wages have been stagnant for decades is a sketchy economic conclusion that requires questionable assumptions about inflation to be true. The most competitive economy in the world? There’s a good case to be made that it’s America’s.