Senator Bernie Sanders and his supporters love to use the Nordic model as a means of justifying their collectivist views. They claim, that if socialism works so well for the Nordic countries, America would be foolish not to follow in the footsteps of our European friends.
Aside from the typical arguments made against this claim, population and demographic differences for example, there are a plethora of reasons to avoid turning America into a socialist nation. Perhaps the most revealing reason, is the fact that several socialist countries are now looking for a way out of socialism.
Just two weeks ago, a Finland native and current American citizen wrote an open letter to the American people, telling them what they do not understand about socialism in Nordic countries. The letter proceeded to explain that the Nordic model was effective because it was fueled by self-interest.
Since the social programs instituted in Finland were programs that the author used personally, she came to the conclusion that the Finnish people were happy to give up a portion of their paychecks as long as they saw these programs as beneficial to their personal lives.
The letter proceeded to describe the top-notch schools, hospitals, and day care services offered in Finland. It all sounded great, maybe even too good to be true.
As socialist advocates continue to convince the country that socialism is the route America should take, Finland is now in the midst of moving away from socialism altogether.
Taking a page out of economist Milton Friedman’s book, Finland has decided to implement a new negative income tax policy, sometimes referred to as universal basic income.
Currently, large portions of Finnish paychecks are redistributed to the dozens of state-sponsored welfare programs. Once Finland implements the negative income tax policy, many of its social programs will be done away with.
Instead, each Finnish citizen will be given the equivalent of about 900 U.S dollars per month. How this money is spent is completely up to individual, but once the money is gone, it’s gone. If a Finnish citizen chooses to spend the money on drugs or alcohol, that is their decision to make, but they must find another way to pay for the services once offered by the Finnish government. This places the responsibility on the individual rather than on the government.
The money that was once used to fund the country’s social programs would instead be divided and given out automatically to each citizen once a month. Those on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum would be allowed to keep the entire amount. Higher-income earners would be given the full amount but would be required to repay a portion of this money at a later time.
By implementing this new policy, Finland stands to drastically reduce the bureaucracy needed to run socialist country. Which social programs will be cut is still unknown. However, the plan is to greatly reduce this number of government services, so we can expect many social programs to be done away with when the new tax policy goes into effect.
True, this plan still involves redistribution of wealth, but it is a step in the right direction, especially for a country that has practiced top-down socialism for the last century. Finland believes that the money it saves by cutting a great deal of its social programs can then be used to fund this new initiative. Finland also believes this will have a positive effect on its employment rates. Since citizens will have monthly payments to rely on, some will be more open to accepting entry-level jobs that pay less.
Even more surprising than this unprecedented move by the Finnish government is the fact that both sides of the political spectrum seem to be in favor of the new plan. Those on the right side of the aisle see this as a major decrease in government bureaucracy and the control it currently has over the Finnish people. Additionally, those on left side of the political spectrum are satisfied with the idea of monthly payments replacing the social programs currently in place.
Though this concept of a universal basic income seems like a great compromise between two competing economic ideologies, no other country has ever attempted this particular kind of a system before. If Finland is successful, this could potentially create a domino effect in Nordic and Scandinavian countries who have relied on socialism for so long.