The Nordic countries are gaining the attention of Democratic Socialists in America with their high tax rates, strong welfare states, and supposedly strict corporate regulation.
The final indicator, however, is not entirely true: All Nordic countries except Finland rank in the top ten on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and they maintain high positions on the tax competitiveness index.
But if progressives argue that Scandinavia is indeed a socialist region, then they must admit that the following countries are equally, and if not, After socialist: Italy, France and Greece.
None of these three countries is the one to which they refer to demonstrate the advantages of their economic agenda.
In fact, thanks to their low standard of living, high unemployment and stagnant incomes, ultra-nationalist and illiberal far-right movements have flourished in each of these countries. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Taxes represent 42% of Italy’s GDP, more than Finland and Norway, and significantly more than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.
Social spending is 28 percent, virtually identical to Nordic levels. The country ranks in the hopeless 58th place on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, far below that of all Scandinavian countries.
In addition, Italy has the least competitive tax system in the OECD, according to the Tax Foundation.
Italy’s taxes and social spending are Nordic in style, and businesses are much more regulated. If the Nordic countries are socialist, so is Italy.
Yet is Italy considered more prosperous than the United States, or the poster child of a successful socialist system? Far from there.
The Pew Research Center gives us the following statistics: if Italy became part of the United States and thus adhered to the American income indicators, 53% of Italians would live in the “low income category”, compared to 26% in the United States. United. ; and since 1990, the median disposable income of Italian households has fallen by a fifth.
Aside from the Pew Research Center, data from the OECD shows that Italy’s standard of living is significantly lower than that of the United States.
The United States ranks tenth on their Better Life Index, Italy twenty-fourth. And the data of The Economist magazine that tries to apply the Better Life Index in countries by socio-economic category finds that a person in the top 10 percent of the Italian income spectrum does not have a higher standard of living than someone one in the low 10 percent of the income spectrum in the United States.
In addition, in 2019, before the pandemic, their unemployment rate stood at 10%. Clearly, the economic recovery from the 2008 crisis was not easy.
Taxes represent 45% of the French economy, the second highest in the OECD, just below Denmark. Social spending is 31%, higher than Each Nordic country, and the the highest in the OECD. The country occupies the thirty-second place on both the Ease of Doing Business Index and the Tax Competitiveness Index. If the Nordic countries are socialist, France is even After therefore.
But do we often hear progressives praising the welfarism and bureaucracy of the French system? Not at all. By American standards, a third of French people live in the low-income category, lower than Italy, but still above the American average.
Unemployment in France has fluctuated wildly over the years – perhaps a sign of fiscal instability. It reached a rate of 12 percent in the 1990s, but fell to 7 percent in 2008, as the global economy collapsed.
After reaching 10% in 2015, it fell to 8% in 2019, lower than in Italy, but still terribly high.
What is the situation of France in the Better Life Index? Not good. Ranked in eighteenth place, it behaves better than Italy, but nevertheless clearly below the United States. The EconomistThe latter’s statistics back it up, pointing out that a Frenchman in the top 10% of their country’s socio-economic pyramid is not particularly better off than someone in the bottom 10% of the United States.
Greece is attracting special attention for a special reason. This demonstrates the danger that excessive debt and spending can pose to the economy as a whole. As other countries in Europe and North America emerged from recession, the Greek economy continued to deteriorate.
Between 2008 and 2013, the unemployment rate fell from 7% to 27%.
Since then it has fallen to 15%, but the fact is that Greek workers have suffered far too much because of fiscal recklessness: in 2008 Greece’s deficit was 10% of its GDP, bondholders did not were therefore more willing to lend more money to the government for them to fund large stimulus packages.
Thus, the Greek economy was emptied of its capital and experienced a prolonged depression. Its fiscal infrastructure collapsed further: debt represented 100% of GDP in 2008; in 2011 it was 172%.
At the same time, the UK, another country plagued by a high deficit, has chosen to cut spending, which, though unpopular, has allowed the economy to recover and avert a debt disaster.
That aside, the Greek economy is undoubtedly over-regulated and overtaxed, while social spending is indeed very high: social spending accounts for 24% of GDP, as in most Nordic countries; taxes represent 38.7% of GDP, which, although the lowest rate among the countries examined here and lower than that of the other Nordic countries, remains well above the OECD average.
In terms of the ease of doing business index, however, Greece ranks by far the lowest of these three countries, at seventy-ninth place; there seems to be more paperwork in Greece than in Vietnam, a former communist country.
But at least they rank twenty-ninth on the tax competitiveness index, which is higher than the other two countries examined.
Unfortunately, the Pew Research Center didn’t focus much on Greece – nor The Economist. However, other institutions have done so.
As always, on the Better Life Index, Greece ranks thirty-sixth out of forty countries. The median disposable income of Greek households is a paltry $ 17,700 per year, well below US $ 45,000.
Essentially, progressive politicians and economists are guilty of choosing countries: while wanting to emulate the Nordic countries, which they claim to be socialists – the same countries in which it is just as easy to do business as the states – United – they ignore these three countries, Italy, France and Greece, which are, by most indicators, After socialist than the Nordic countries.
Because their standard of living is incomparable with that of the United States and, in some cases, close to the Third World, they are rarely used as examples of socialist triumph.
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