Economics

Surprise, Bernie Sanders. Norway’s Prosperity Isn’t Because of Socialism

Is the Nordic model based on classical liberalism?

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By Larry Arnhart 

“Evonomics” is the term adopted by David Sloan Wilson and his colleagues for what they call “the Next Evolution of Economics,” which they see as economics founded on evolution and complexity science.  Two months ago, they started this website to promote their ideas.  A recent lecture by Wilson summarizing his position.

The term “Evonomics” was first coined by Michael Shermer in an article in Scientific American (January, 2008), which Shermer applied to the expanding evolution of trade to explain the economic evolution from hunting-gatherer societies to modern commercial societies.

In one of his first posts at the website, Wilson identified the evolutionists who think about economics as belonging to three groups.  The “Right-leaning evolutionists” include me, Shermer, and Matt Ridley.  The “Left-leaning evolutionists” include Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, and Peter Singer.  Those holding the center in the political spectrum include Jonathan Haidt and Robert Frank.  (Although Haidt has said he’s a “centrist,” I have claimed his moral psychology actually supports classical liberalism.)

I have argued that Darwinian evolutionary science has shown that Adam Smith was right about almost everything.  In his defense of what he called “the natural system of liberty,” Smith was right to see that the social orders of morality, markets, law, and politics can arise as largely spontaneous orders, which emerge as unintended outcomes from the actions of individuals pursuing the satisfaction of their individual desires.  The Darwinian science of evolutionary order has confirmed this central idea of Smithian classical liberalism.

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Wilson’s rejection of the “Right-leaning evolutionists” and of what he calls their “free market fundamentalism” suggests that he thinks I’m all wrong about evolution supporting classical liberalism.  But from my reading of some of the essays posted at his website, it seems that much of what he and his colleagues are saying supports the classical liberal idea that social order emerges best through the largely spontaneous orders of free markets and limited government.

Wilson scorns the Homo economicus model of human nature–the idea that human beings are narrowly selfish in their rational maximization of their utility.  But here Wilson is in agreement with Adam Smith.  Although Smith saw the self-interest side of human nature, especially in The Wealth of Nations, he also saw the natural morality of human beings that arises from their natural desire for a mutual sympathy of sentiments, which he explained in his Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith’s account of how morality evolves from kinship, reciprocity, and social norms enforced through praise and blame has been confirmed by Darwin (in The Descent of Man) and by recent studies of the evolutionary psychology of morality.  In support of Smith’s insight about the mutual dependence of morals and markets, the cross-cultural economic game experiments conducted by Joe Henrich and his colleagues have shown that people tend to have a deeper sense of fairness when their societies show extensive experience with markets.

Wilson might seem to reject classical liberalism when he endorses Bernie Sanders’s argument that the United States should adopt the socialist policies of Norway and the other Nordic social democracies.  But in fact the success of the Nordic countries over the past thirty years has come from their moving away from socialist central planning and towards classical liberalism.  The recent history of the Nordic countries has shown a reduction in public social spending, taxation, and government regulation of society and business, beginning in the 1980s.  In doing that, they adopted some of the policies proposed by Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and other classical liberals for reducing governmental intrusion into social and economic life and for reforming the welfare state in ways that make it compatible with the classical liberal principles of individual liberty and free markets.

In Sweden, for example, public spending as a share of GDP had reached 67% by 1993, but now it’s down to 49%.  Public debt as a share of GDP fell from 70% in 1993 to 37% in 2010.  Sweden has cut the marginal tax rate by 27% since 1983 to 57%, and it has cut the corporate tax rate to 22%, much lower than in the United States.  Unemployment compensation was reduced.

Friedman helped the Fraser Institute–a classical liberal think tank in Canada–to develop a method for measuring and ranking “economic freedom” in countries around the world.  They now have ratings for 152 nations.  All of the Nordic countries have high rankings.  Finland is #7, and Denmark is #14.  Thus, they rank higher than the United States, which is #17.  Sweden is #29.  Norway is #31.  Iceland is #41.

The Heritage Foundation–another classical liberal think tank–has a similar “Index of Economic Freedom.”  Denmark ranks at #10, ahead of the United States at #12.  The other Nordic countries rank high once again–Finland at #19, Sweden at #20, Iceland at #23, and Norway at #32.

Thus, these Nordic capitalist welfare states survive and flourish only because of their high levels of economic freedom and capitalist institutions.  This is all part of that most momentous turn in human evolution that began in the 17th century and accelerated in the 19th century, first in Holland and then in England and North America–that massive increase in prosperity and population that was made possible by classical liberal institutions and the morality of the bourgeois virtues.

I also see support for classical liberalism in the essay by David Colander and Roland Kupers–“I, Pencil Revisited: Beyond Market Fundamentalism”–that is posted on the Evonomics website.  This essay is an excerpt from their book–Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Problems from the Bottom Up.

Leonard Read’s “I, Pencil” is a famous essay among classical liberals, which presents the ordinary wooden pencil as the product of thousands of people working around the world being coordinated by global markets without any central planning by a single mind or group of minds.  Colander and Kupers agree that this does illustrate how markets create complex order from the bottom up without central planning and control.

But they also criticize Read as a “free-market fundamentalist,” because he does not mention the role of government in providing the “institutional structure” that makes markets possible.  They have the pencil explain:

“Someone had to protect the property rights upon which the market is based, someone had to guarantee that the contracts between individuals would be enforced, and someone had to be on the lookout for lead, for the safety of machines, and similar problems, which is not addressed might well lead a society to undermine the institutional structure that produced me.  Government is one of the important organizations that creative people have set up through which rules are established and maintained.  It is both the referee, and the rules committee.  This means that in our country it is government that is ultimately responsible for enforcing property rights, establishing standards which society believes are acceptable, and providing a court system to adjudicate differences of opinion, as there inevitably will be.”

This is a restatement of the classical liberal argument for the coevolution of free markets and limited government.  From Locke and Smith to Hayek and Friedman, classical liberals have emphasized the need for liberal governments that secure the rights to life, liberty, and property, and thus provide the legal framework within which free market can coordinate social order.  Liberal governments must be limited to these ends, so that they do not attempt to centrally plan social order from the top down, and thus leave markets to coordinate life through an evolutionary bottom-up process.

Colander and Kupers agree with this.  They explain: “There are two ways to coordinate–from the top-down, with an established institution such as government doing the coordination, and from the bottom-up, letting new organizations develop to solve collective problems that develop as multiple people interact.  The problem with having the government solve coordination problems is that it often does so in ways that undermine the creative energies of individuals.  Instead of seeing people as having the ability to solve problems on their own, established institutions, such as government may try to solve the problems for them and in the process often create barriers to creativity.”

I agree with this.  But I would point out that while they recognize that coordination arises best “from the bottom-up, letting new organizations develop to solve collective problems that develop as multiple people interact,” they don’t recognize that this applies to the governance of property rights and contracts.  They seem to assume that only a public government acting through a coercive legal system can secure property and contracts,

On the contrary, as I have indicated in my previous post, private governance is often better in enforcing property and contracts than is a public government.  Most of those contracts in international commerce that make possible the production of pencils probably contain clauses that commit the parties to the contract to private arbitration to settle any disputes.  The governmental court systems are simply too costly and inefficient to solve the problems of international commerce, and consequently business people must solve their own problems through systems of private governance, which include private profit-making arbitration firms.

Moreover, while Colander and Kupers recognize that governments trying to solve social problems often create “barriers to creativity,” they don’t recognize how people get around those barriers by entering the illegal economy and generating a spontaneous order of social norms of property and contract outside the legal system.

What I have here called “the illegal economy” is also called “the informal economy,” “the shadow economy,” or “the underground economy.”  These are the terms for the economic activity of people who are not legally registered with or regulated by a government, who conduct their business in cash, and who don’t pay taxes on their income.  These people are often forced to do this because the burdens of onerous government regulations and taxes make it impossible for them to make a living within the legal rules.  For example, taxes in Brazil can make up 90% of the price of some goods; and consequently, many goods are smuggled into Brazil from Paraguay, where taxes are much lower. (One of the best studies of the illegal economy around the world is Robert Neuwith’s Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy [Anchor Books, 2012].)

In 2009, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concluded that over half of all the workers in the world are in the illegal underground economy.  The OECD also predicted that by 2020 over two-thirds of the workers of the world will be working underground.  Economist Friedrich Schneider studies shadow economies, and he has estimated that the total economic value of the activity in shadow economies is over $10 trillion a year.  If this were the economy of an independent nation, this would be second only to the GDP of the United States, which is $14 trillion a year.

Most of the economic development in the developing world–particularly in Latin America, Africa, and many parts of Asia–is through the economic self-development of the illegal economy.  In Lagos, Nigeria, the largest city in Africa, over 80% of the working people are in the underground economy.

Much of the global trade between the developed and developing countries is through the illegal economy.  For example, poor people in Nigeria working in illegal markets can save enough money to travel to China, where they buy Chinese goods illegally and then have them smuggled back into Nigeria for sale, avoiding restrictive trade laws and huge import duties.  There are some estimates that as many as 300,000 Africans are living in Guangzhou, the south China trading city formerly known as Canton.

This confirms Adam Smith’s insight that the evolved human propensity “to truck, barter, and exchange” is so strong that it can be expressed in a complex economic life even without the support of a legal system, because people can solve their own economic problems for themselves through self-organizing social orders.

For example, Neuwith describes how street merchants in Lagos have set up their own private courts for settling disputes between dealers and customers.  One arbitrator explained: “Arbitration is our work.  Most often we arrive at a peaceful solution.  This is how we have harmonized the market.”  This is what one should expect from human beings who have evolved natural instincts for cooperation.

Smith thought illegal economic activity could be seen as an expression of the “system of natural liberty” or “natural justice.”  So he suggested that we should identify a smuggler as “a person who, though no doubt highly blamable for violating the laws of his country, is frequently incapable of violating those of natural justice, and would have been, in every respect, an excellent citizen, had not the laws of his country made that a crime which nature never meant to be so” (Wealth of Nations, Liberty Fund edition, p. 898). 

Smugglers are part of the greatest evolutionary story of humanity, which is the progressive improvement in human life that comes from human beings asserting their freedom to trade.

6 December 2015


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  • David Colander

    I am in large part in agreement with Arnhart, For me the issue is how to meld the spontaneous developing organizations with the organization provided by an existing government. He seems to see this as a bit easier than I see it. Otherwise I see little difference in our positions. I also see myself as advocating a return to a Millian approach to Classical liberalism. Political scientists have dealt with the issues much more so that economists have.

    Smith’s defense of capitalism is worth noting:

    The laws of property have never yet conformed to the principles
    on which the justification of private property rests. They have made property of
    things which never ought to be property, and absolute property where only a qualified
    property ought to exist. They have not held the balance fairly between human beings,
    but have heaped impediments upon some, to give advantage to others; they have purposely
    fostered inequalities, and prevented all from starting fair in the race. That all
    should indeed start on perfectly equal terms, is inconsistent with any law of private
    property; but if as much pains as has been taken to aggravate the inequality of
    chances arising from the natural working of the principle had been taken to temper
    that inequality by every means not subversive of the principle itself; if the tendency
    of legislation had been to favor the diffusion, instead of the concentration of
    wealth—to encourage the subdivision of the large masses, instead of striving to
    keep them together—the principle of individual property would have been found to
    have no necessary connection with the physical and social evils which almost all
    Socialist writers assume to be inseparable from it.

  • I definitely class myself as a classical liberal. My highest values are life and liberty.

    I live in the country listed 3rd in the world in the Fraser Institute list of economic freedom.

    I started from poverty, got the benefits of an education funded by the state, and built two businesses from starting small. I was never a big time money maker, my best day was a little under a quarter of a million (though it took me several years of work to get to that opportunity, and I have twice lost a hundred thousand when things didn’t go to plan). I have friends who have made well over ten million in a day.

    I am definitely no advocate of central control, though group ownership can work – as we see in corporations, and in many stable commons property regimes such as those studies by Elinor Ostrom and colleagues.

    I note that Smith clearly recognised the dangers of the tendencies towards aggregation of resource control that are inherent in markets systems, and the need to actively counter them to achieve some sort of stability.

    What Smith did not address is what we face today, the role of automation, and exponential technological development. I started working with computers 42 years ago, and have that length of experience of the exponential effects of digital technology. The first hard drive I got to touch was 2MB and cost as much as 6 new houses. Today I can buy one 4 million times the storage capacity for one thousandth the cost of a new house. A 20 billion fold change.

    The value of exchange is becoming marginal.

    We are still thinking that the outputs traditionally associated with human labour (intellectual or physical) are something scarce.

    They are not.

    We now have the technical ability to develop and deliver total automation of manufacturing, and to distribute that capacity.

    The problem is, that doing so would break the need for exchange, break the whole basis of our economic system of exchange values.

    We are very close to the point that using mechanisms based upon exchange values actually become the single greatest threat to both life and liberty, as people start to wake up to the reality that the only reason they are experiencing scarcity is the need to keep the exchange based system operating (because things need to be scarce for some for it to work at all).

    Not very many people are operating at that level of abstraction yet, and a lot of people are experiencing extreme insecurity, at a time when the only real reason for them to experience such insecurity is the need to keep the economic system going.

    The psychology of stress, and its effect of causing people to focus on basic needs, and to reduce the group they consider as human (like them) is well understood (thus creating risk for anyone existing outside that group – this is a fundamental driver of radicalism at all levels).

    Delivering material security is actually a precursor to building higher levels of understanding and relationship.

    We have the technical capacity to deliver such security, yet our focus on the values of exchange, which are fundamentally based in scarcity, work against the delivery of universal abundance.

    Our Intellectual Property laws restrict our progress, not enhance it. A standard limit on IP of 2 years, with a maximum of 5 years under exceptional circumstances would be more appropriate at present. And I own and run a software company, and understand the cost to me, and weigh that against the security benefits to myself and the community as a whole.

    When we have the ability to produce almost any material good, or any service, in universal abundance, the exchange value of all such goods and services must drop to zero (like oxygen in the air, arguably the single most valuable thing to any of us, yet of no monetary {exchange} value due to universal abundance).

    Markets are nearing the end of their social utility.

    Automation does deliver us the ability to deliver universal abundance of a large and growing set of goods and services.

    The big question of our age, is how do we manage the transition from a system based on exchange values to a system that values life and liberty first and foremost. How do we change to a system where we do actually, in practice, and universally, value individual life and individual liberty universally. Surely, the manufacture and used of weapons that indiscriminately kill people, or even kill people on a very targeted basis, is contrary to the universal value of individual life!

    As a classical liberal, who values life and liberty, I see that our continued reliance on the values of the market now poses the greatest danger to both my life and my liberty, in the medium to long term (30 to 100 year) time frame.

    We can now realistically deliver (on a 10 year timescale) the two servants to everyone referred to in the 1978 conversation between Milton Friedman and Edward Lupinski (fully automated robotic servants).

    It is clear to me in logic that we will develop the ability to extend lifespans indefinitely, that much has been obvious to me since completing my undergrad biochemistry studies 41 years ago. So a 100 year time-frame is very definitely in my personal self interest, as is a 1,000 (or one million) year time-frame (the discount rate on future returns is more than offset by current trends of exponential technological development – and the reduction in risk profiles such things make possible).

    It is the conceptual field of our awareness that constrains what we see as possible, not reality itself.

    I agree completely with Smith that markets were an effective organising principle in times of genuine scarcity, however, he did not envisage our ability to automate the manufacture and delivery of goods and services. He certainly did not live in a time where key technological factors were doubling in under a year. In his time, exponential growth meant 2% per year, with 3 doublings per century, not 120% per year (a factor of 10 every 3 years).

    In his day, molecular level manufacturing was the preserve of living systems, now we are bringing our automated systems into that domain (certainly today they are tentative steps, and they are steps).

    Our economic thought has to start to catch up to our technological reality, if it wants to retain any relevance.

    • slomoim

      Thank you.

    • Tim Shanahan

      Great ideas. I’m in complete agreement that not enough people are talking about the current and potential effects of automation.

  • “Smith was right to see that the social orders of morality, markets, law, and politics can arise as largely spontaneous orders, which emerge as unintended outcomes from the actions of individuals pursuing the satisfaction of their individual desires. The Darwinian science of evolutionary order has confirmed this central idea of Smithian classical liberalism.”

    This is a completely insane reading of the immorality and inefficiency of nature, let alone a gross misrepresentation of Smith’s entire works.

  • Tim Shanahan

    Well written and knowledgeable, but given that the article seems to be more interested in selling the alleged superiority of classical liberalism than thinking of impartial ways to create economic prosperity, it seems that Arnhart misses the points made by Sanders and Wilson.

    I’d also say that Arnhart further tarnishes his argument by citing statistics from purely right-wing think tanks like Heritage and Fraser. “Economic Freedom” is not the be all, end all indicator of societal health. There seems to be no acknowledgment that it could’ve been the Scandinavian-style welfare system in addition to the recent market liberalization that made Sweden and Norway such successes, not the other way around.

    As usual with me, I’m not sure why it’s so important to define ourselves ideologically instead of just working through statistics and any relevant precedent. It seems so unhelpful and eighteenth century to me.

    Bravo to Evonomics Magazine for publishing opposing view points

    • RogerSweeny

      I don’t think Arnhart was “citing statistics from purely right-wing think tanks like Heritage and Fraser” to show that “Economic Freedom” is “the be all, end all indicator of societal health.” He was directing his argument to people who ALREADY think the Nordic countries are great–but erroneously assume that they can’t have a lot of “economic freedom” (because that would be right-wing and bad). Yet they do, says Arnhart. So economic freedom is not a bad thing at all.

      • Tim Shanahan

        Yes, and at no point in my response did I say that economic freedom is a “bad thing.” I said that economic freedom is, as you yourself quoted me, “not the be all, end all indicator” of societal health. My argument is that mixed economies, at this point in history, are most probably the best ways for societies to organize themselves.

        And, in considering that argument, it’s ridiculous to assume that the relative success of the Scandinavian countries is in any way a result of the sort of ideology one hears from institutions like Heritage or Fraser.

        • RogerSweeny

          Well, to the extent that Heritage or Frasier talk about rule of law, secure property, enforceable contracts, honest and limited government, I feel pretty sure that Arnhart would argue that the relative success of the Scandinavian countries is very much a result of that.

    • “Economic Freedom” is not an indicator. The factors chosen to rate countries in economic freedom are indicators. Economic freedom is a state of being. A problem arise from refacing freedom with economic. Economic freedom is just a part of human freedom. When economic freedom is constrained, then human freedom is constrained.
      BTW, it is a mistake to think of markets and economics in terms of corporations. Markets refers to the category of human activity pertaining to production, trade, and consumption.
      Corporations are products of corporate law and so their existence is not necessary to the existence of markets.

      “I’m not sure why it’s so important to define ourselves ideologically
      instead of just working through statistics and any relevant precedent.”

      Because people act from the ideas/beliefs they hold and statistics are subject to interpretation, and the manner in which statistics are collected and which are deemed relevant is a product of ideology. We cannot escape that.

  • slomoim

    I am perplexed by the use of the terms “people”, “government”, “private governance” and “public governance” and when and how they are framed as separate and distinctive entities. Isn’t any form of government a creation and result of the actions and decisions of “people”, and therefore by extension, a function of “people” in arranging the social order? Any form of governance and social organization is the outcome of cooperative action and “pro sociality” which Wilson explains. This applies to the creation and formation of markets, as well. In fact, our own Supreme Court has ruled that, in very critical ways, the pro-social creation we call a “corporation”, in fact carries the rights of personhood.

    The distinction between “Private governance” and “public governance”, for example, is confusing to me in the context of Arnhart’s argument. Both are instances of groups self organizing and acting in a manner described as pro-social. So how are they really substantively different?

    My point can be illustrated, as well, in relation to the following quotation from Arhart:

    “This confirms Adam Smith’s insight that the evolved human propensity “to truck, barter, and exchange” is so strong that it can be expressed in a complex economic life even without the support of a legal system, because people can solve their own economic problems for themselves through self-organizing social orders.”

    This statement draws a distinction between two different types of self organizing called a “legal system” and “self-organizing social orders”. Isn’t a “legal system”, fundamentally, a “self organizing social order” and essentially one and the same? So the argument is very blurred and confusing to me.

    • ” Isn’t any form of government a creation and result of the actions and decisions of “people”…”

      I think not. Political governments are products of conquest, an order imposed by conquerors, outsiders, which is by nature, hierarchical and arbitrary. That people put up with imposed order speaks of their devotion to life and not to the order imposed upon them. Hierarchical orders always tend to serve those at the top at the expense of those toward the bottom of the hierarchy. To this day, it requires years of indoctrination and the threat of fines, imprisonment, er even death, to get people to conform to this order.
      That people are reluctant to change this order speaks more to their conservatism (reluctance to take unknown risks) than to any natural devotion to hierarchy. They have largely been persuaded that order must be imposed and guaranteed by a monopoly state else they will live in chaos. This is made it very difficult for them to see the spontaneous order that exists along with the imposed order and so they conflate the two.

      People largely see the need to have limits preclude violation of their own rights in property, but it seems to me that the imposed order has failed to solve that issue, an even exacerbates the problem of criminality by obstructing job creation and policies that actually reward criminality (prohibition).

    • Tim Shanahan

      Slomoim, thank you. You’re addressing another one of the pet peeves I have with the “All Government is Evil, All of the Time” libertarians of the world (you’d almost think they’d forgotten what they read about the lovelier parts of history, namely the Roman Empire, Tsarist Russia, Medieval Europe, the entire history of the Middle East and, most notably, the British Empire.)

      If a democracy functions as advertised, people are the deciding factors and determinants of power. They will actually live in a system that allows them at least a modicum of political self-determination. We know this not because of some sort of ideological bent for democracy, but because an unbiased, historical precedent shows us that democracies always fair better than the glut of autocracies the world has had to put up with.

      Funny how we’re getting arguments against democracy from people who’ve never lived in – and seemingly never learned about – a genuine autocratic system.

  • Pingback: Evonomics – Bernie Sanders and Adam Smith | Ted Howard NZ's Blog()

  • Let’s try to be rational

    Makes sense. It should also be noted that the Scandanavian countries are also highly homogeneous, and populated with a hyperactive northern-European culture with a highly-developed protestant work ethic. Given how spectacularly socialism has failed everywhere else, it appears the Scandanavian success is in spite of their more socialist tendencies, not because of them.

    • Oscarthegrouch

      Indeed– I suspect Scandinavians would do pretty well anywhere on earth, under any modern system. Climate, natural resources, and education/legal/economic systems are secondary to the people’s own internal characteristics. The Protestant work ethic is a curious thing though– it’s really just another way of saying NW Euros tend to work harder than S Euros…which I suspect would be the case with or without the Reformation.

  • Jan de Jonge

    In his article about the Nordic model, which is meant to be a criticism of Bernie
    Sanders, Larry Arnhart writes: “But in fact the success of the Nordic countries
    over the past thirty years has come from their moving away from socialist
    central planning and towards classical liberalism.” The Nordic countries never experienced (socialist) central planning! Here you have a professor in Political Science who doesn’t know
    what a first year student in comparative political systems should know, the
    distinction between a social-democratic state, a socialist state (like former
    Tanzania) and a communist state (the former Sovjet Union) (maybe it is an excuse
    that Hayek did not make this distinction either).
    All Nordic states are welfare states of the Rhineland variety as are most West-European
    countries. The Rhineland welfare state is more generous than the Anglo-Saxon
    welfare state. Whereas the public expenditures have decreased between 1993 and
    2002 the social expenditures have increased (OECD statistics).
    It is not true to think that the Nordic countries enjoy their welfare since they have
    chosen a more neo-liberal economic policy. In 1950 the ranking of the Nordic
    countries by the GDP per capita was 7 (Sweden), 8 (Denmark), 13 (Norway) and 15
    (Finland). In 1973 these countries had the following ranking: 4, 5, 17 and 14.
    (source Angus Madison, Nation Master). The Nordic countries were always among
    the more prosperous countries since WOII.
    It is strange that Arnhart uses ‘an index of economic freedom’ without explaining how this
    index is constructed. I think my guess that is made up of such indicators as
    size of public sector, level of taxes and degree of regulatory measures is not
    far from reality. As such it is an ideological construct, not fitting the
    attitude of a scientist. To start with studying the welfare state, among them
    the Nordic states, I recommend the book of the Danish scientist Esping-Andersen
    “The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism.
    Finally, it would be a blessing when citizens from the USA stopped being so obsessed with freedom, the market and the state. Visit Europe and experience what it is to live in
    countries where the public sector has some prestige. And remember economic science,
    is and always has been, political economy.

  • pluviosilla

    Strongly agree. In fact, in huge polities of millions of people like the U.S., free-market liberalism is the only genuinely social philosophy. All the rest, especially so-called “socialism”, are counterfeits.

  • Mauricio de Freitas Bento

    Straw man after straw man. Sad.

    Even worse is that it looks, for someone that has never studied Smith, Friedman and Hayek, that the speaker is right.

  • Phillip Malac II

    Surprise, Bernie Sanders doesn’t advocate Socialism, nor does he advocate that Socialism is credited with the success of the Northern European countries. He advocates for social democracy which isn’t mutually exclusive from Capitalism. Some of their success can be attributed to less interference in the markets but it does not in any way what-so-ever validate Milton Friedman’s half-witted delusions of trickle-down grandeur. Less restricted markets doesn’t necessarily drive a market. Progressive tax-policy has been the primary driver of the success of Northern European markets (not by collecting more taxes but by driving re-investment and higher wages/benefits/better working conditions etc) This is why Northern Europeans have a high standard of living. Couple that with moves to make the market less restricted (as Arnhart discussed classical liberalism) and you have a recipe for success. Combine this with social democracy to allow the people themselves to have a direct say in how their resources (taxes) are being spent and there you have Northern Europe in a nutshell.

  • WierdHarold

    “Heritage Foundation–another classical liberal think tank” Really? Somebody must have moved the goal posts while I wasn’t paying attention…