Those who say that the United States is on a course toward European-type socialist democracies could be right. Let’s take a look at Denmark…

In the past eight years I’ve made two business trips to Denmark and spent four weeks there. I helped install a Danish publishing system at the San Francisco Chronicle, so I worked closely with a Danish company, and lots of Danes, for several years. This publishing system, by the way, is the system that’s also used at the New York Times and the Washington Post. The Danes are fantastic engineers and smart, honest businesspeople.

Most of these factoids about the Danish economy come from the Wikipedia article on Denmark:

— Denmark has a free market economy.

— Denmark has a large welfare state.

— Denmark has one of the world’s highest levels of income equality.

— Danes are very productive, and Denmark’s GDP per capita is 15 to 20 percent higher than the United States.

— Denmark holds the world record for income tax rates.

— All college education in Denmark is free.

— 80% of employees belong to unions.

— Denmark spends about 1.3 percent of GDP on defense, compared with about 4 percent in the United States.

— The national health service is financed by an 8 percent tax. This is a local tax on income and property.

— According to Statistics Denmark, the unemployment rate in Denmark in January 2009 was 2.3 percent.

— In some surveys, Denmark is ranked the happiest place on earth.

— Denmark was ranked the least corrupt country in the world in the Corruption Perception Index.

— According to the World Economic Forum, Denmark has one of the most competitive economies in the world.

I realize that Denmark’s model probably would not scale up in a workable way for the United States. Still, in my opinion, we should be studying some of the European models and not let ourselves be scared by them. They work.

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