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Learning from success and mistakes of others

The U.S. used to be the model of economic freedom, but as you can see from the nearby chart, we are losing our edge as others catch up. The “Economist” runs an interesting survey of the Nordic countries. They are not what we recall. Sweden, for example, has school voucher program that would make Milton Freidman proud.

Economic freedom in the U.S. peaked around the year 2000, right about the time of our great prosperity and declines after. Meanwhile, the Nordic improved their results and we are now at about the same level. Please read the articles starting at this link.

In many ways, the Nordics got to the future first. The Nordics have not given up on their welfare model, but they have harnessed the power of the market to help pull it. They have vouchers for schools; private firms running public hospitals and vastly liberalized labor markets. BTW, we are using that word liberal in the original sense, meaning that employers have more freedom to fire workers. But they protect workers with retraining.

Countries like Norway, Sweden & Denmark can never provide a complete example for a big and diverse country like the U.S.  Denmark, Norway and Finland are comparable in population to Wisconsin or Minnesota and even the most populous of them, Sweden, has very people than North Carolina. One reason they can do so much is that they are not very diverse and so avoid both many of the challenges and benefits of a variety of different people. In fact, they have significant trouble integrating immigrants. But just as the states are laboratories of democracy, small countries can provide ideas that we can see tested.

Our Scandinavian friends have tried the routes and driven it to dead ends but have done other things that have achieved success. They have not given up on social justice, but they are learning to use freedom and market mechanisms to achieve success.

Anyway, I suggest you read the survey at the links above and ask what we can learn.


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