Ain’t No Way Norway Is a Model for Democratic Socialism

Here’s the lede for the above-titled article by Daniel J. Mitchell:

If America is “capitalism run wild,” then so is Norway. If Norway is “socialism,” then so is the United States.

For a lot more on this topic, visit this page of links.

Here is the opening of Mitchell’s article:

Earlier this year, I explained why Nordic nations are not socialist. Or, to be more precise, I wrote that if they are socialist, then so is the United States.

My slam dunk evidence was this chart from the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World, which shows there is almost no difference in overall economic liberty when comparing the United States with Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.

This doesn’t mean, incidentally, that we have identical policies. I pointed out that the United States gets a better (or at least less bad) score on fiscal policy but also reiterated that Nordic nations are more market-oriented than America when looking at other variables (especially rule of law).

The net effect, though, is that we wind up with nearly identical scores.

The False Promise of “Democratic Socialism”

I’m rehashing this old data because there’s a column in The Week that celebrates Norway as an example of “democratic socialism”:

The spectacular upset victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her recent New York congressional primary election has catapulted the topic of democratic socialism to the top of America’s political discussion. …we have a country that very closely approximates the democratic socialist ideal. It’s a place that is…considerably more successful than the United States on virtually every social metric one can name. I’m talking about Norway. …Norwegian workers are heavily protected, with 70 percent of workers covered by union contracts, and over a third directly employed by the government. The Norwegian state operates a gigantic sovereign wealth fund, and its financial assets total 331 percent of its GDP… Meanwhile, its state-owned enterprises are worth 87 percent of GDP. Of all the domestic wealth in Norway, the government owns 59 percent, and fully three-quarters of the non-home wealth.

I don’t know if those specific statistics are true, but I certainly don’t disagree with the assertion that Norway has a large public sector.

Read more: Foundation for Economic Education

Image credit: by Dan Darolti of the skyline of Trondheim, Norway.