Why Norwegian-Style Socialism Will Never Work in the US

If you have ever been in a debate about socialism, you are bound to hear an argument somewhere along these lines: “Socialism works in Norway. So socialism can work here.” I’m sick of hearing it for a number of reasons.

Most of the American leftists who make the “look-at-Norway-see-socialism-works” argument have major problems with the statement: “The Constitution worked well as a political instrument when we followed it, so we should probably just stick to its original intent in our day.”

They think that’s ridiculous. “The circumstances are totally different,” they say. “Changing measures for changing times,” they say. Yet these people have no problem thinking that comparing Norway to the United States is comparing apples to apples. Let’s put that to rest.

Norway is a very socialistic country, that’s true. It has universal healthcare, “free” higher education, cushy prisons with no life sentences, a very high progressive tax rate, and nearly all of the other things you would expect from a socialist country.

But it has some significant points of departure from socialism as well. For instance, it has no minimum wage. And this little difference opens up some of the major reasons why socialism works very differently in Norway than it would here.

The reasoning for having no minimum wage in Norway is simple—most employees think that instituting a minimum wage would create a universally low standard that all businesses would latch on to. They believe this would actually and effectively turn the minimum wage into a maximum wage.

As it is, companies in Norway must compete to acquire workers in the relatively homogenous workforce. There has heretofore been comparatively little immigration to Norway, so the job opportunities have tended to be greater than the available workers. This means that companies have a great incentive to make their employment packages a little sweeter.

But now, an influx of immigration from neighboring countries in the faultering European Union has made Norwegian politicians seriously consider instituting a minimum wage. Apparently, many immigrant workers are willing to work for much lower wages than the entrenched citizens of Norway want to afford. And the rise in immigration has also soured Norway’s poverty line numbers, especially in the capital city of Oslo. What will Norway do? It’s hard to say. But this new “problem” indicates just how vastly different Norway’s current situation is from ours.

The United States has been dealing with huge legal and illegal immigration numbers for years. We’re not called a melting pot for nothing. Norway, on the other hand, has a hugely predominant ethnic Norwegian population. 86.2% of the population has at least one parent born in Norway, and of the 660,000 immigrants, 51% are from Western Europe. In other words, Norway is not diverse. ((Take a look at these and other Norwegian demographic statistics.)) At all. And as it grows in diversity, it will find, and is finding, that its system will be severely strained.

If you are a tiny country with 3.5% unemployment, almost no immigration, an extremely tiny population of people under the poverty line, little to no diversity of opinion and lifestyle, and a publicly-held oil trust that makes each of your citizens millionaires… Well, I think socialism might just be able to work for you. The system itself is not really working. Because systems are measured by the problems they can overcome, not by the favorable conditions over which they are able to preside. In Norway, there is almost no system that wouldn’t work.

But the United States is not in that situation. Our population is around 316 million. Our real unemployment hovers around thirteen and fourteen percent. That’s about 44 million people, or about nine times the entire population of Norway. We also have a huge immigrant population, millions of whom have come here illegally. In fact, we have almost twelve million illegal immigrants. That’s more than twice the entire population of Norway.

We are religiously, ethnically, politically, socially, and economically diverse. This should not be under-emphasized. There are many political parties in Norway, but they generally agree on the big things. There are not huge swings in policy from one administration to the next. We are talking about parties that self-designate themselves as “center-left” and “center-right.” There is not embattled bipartisan “debate” and socio-political rifts that ravage community solidarity and break out occasionally in riots. Have you ever heard of a race riot in Norway. No? That’s because they basically don’t have races there. As far as I can tell, their population is one of the most homogenous populations in the world. And that means that policy decisions are pretty simple. Norway is more of a single commonwealth with common interests rather than a conglomerate of states with multi-varied interests—like we have here.

And speaking of common wealth… They also have a steady stream of money pouring in from oil profits. These oil profits are held by the state and each citizen has a share in the public trust. As of now, each Norwegian citizen possesses over a million Crowns in his stake. That’s a lot. It means the country has almost no debt, and the budget has a surplus.

But would that work in the States? Something like that actually does happen in Alaska for Alaska state citizens. It’s called the Permanent Fund. And many states are very upset about it. They don’t think that the oil reserves of Alaska belong only to Alaskans. They think that, since Alaska is part of the Union, it should be sharing that wealth with all the rest of us.

Let’s look into that. The Permanent Fund Dividend in 2013 was $900, which was distributed to, at most, 670,865 applicants. Let’s say they all get it. That’s a maximum of $603,778,500 in total. Okay. Now let’s distribute that to all of America. Hmmmm. It comes out to less than two dollars per person. No thanks.

The fact is that the free market and federalism (not Federalism) are the very best ways to deal with economic and political diversity. The United States is beautifully diverse—unlike Norway. And that is the main reason socialism will not and does not work here.

If you try to force socialism onto a diverse community, you will of necessity resort to Procrustean measures. You will cut off the heads and feet of overachievers and stretch out and break the spines of the underachievers, filling them with crippling envy and debilitating entitlement. In your drive to unite all of your citizens, you will outlaw dissent and assassinate “trouble-makers.” You will destroy the rights of local populations and force central over-arching edicts onto all the people no matter how many individuals are harmed along the way. You will emphasize the collective good until the only people left in your country agree with the collective will or have been cowed into resigning to it.

And you may finally achieve the monolithic solidarity that is necessary to make socialism work, but at what cost? Look at China or North Korea. Do they have a more homogenous population now? Perhaps in some ways. But was it worth it? Norway happened to be an already more homogenous, very “local” population. And good for them, I guess. That means that the individual will and the collective will are generally not at odds there, so the socialistic means and methods need not be so drastic.

Homogenous Norwegians themselves are generally the ones who benefit from the services their taxes pay for. They might be paying a little bit for someone else, but not at all to the same degree as we do here. Norwegians pay. But most of them feel that they receive services for the taxes they spend. They aren’t paying for a huge international military force or to bail out multi-national banks and corporations or for a huge population of criminals or for people who are paid to not work. Here in the States, a few people pay a lot for a bunch of people who don’t pay at all. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Am I simplifying things? Probably. But this is certainly a more nuanced look at it than you will get from left-leaning liberals here at home. The bottom line is that people need to stop looking longingly to Norway as a model for socialist transformation. It won’t work the same way here. In fact, it just won’t work here at all. If you need any more evidence of this, you haven’t been paying attention much lately.

31 responses

  1. Socialism works in racially homogenous Nations
    The USA used to be ethnically and racially homogenous, and worked beautifully. Now the USA is almost kaput. Diversity = DESTRUCTION.

    • So when exactly was it when we were “homogenous”?
      I take it that you are talking of the time after we wiped out the Indians!
      Was that before or after slavery with 40,000,000 blacks living here?
      It worked for the whites.
      Norwegians like Garrison Keillor are Lutheran and they are not Evangelical “Christians” like you who are trying like the Muslims, to purify the world for themselves. Grow up and smell the Bull sh1t…

        • 4,000,000 not 30,000 in 1860, really? Where did they all come from? Thin air?
          The war for southern independence? To own and control people,
          slavery which the Bible looks down on don’cha know.
          ——————————— article————–

          Slavery in America began when the first African slaves were brought to
          the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, to aid in the
          production of such lucrative crops as tobacco.
          Slavery was practiced throughout the American colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries,
          and African-American slaves helped build the economic foundations of the new nation.

          The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 solidified the central importance of slavery to the South’s economy.

          By the mid-19th century, America’s westward expansion, along with a growing abolition movement in
          the North, would provoke a great debate over slavery that would tear the nation apart in the bloody American Civil War (1861-65).

          Though the Union victory freed the nation’s 4 million slaves, (4,000,000) the legacy of slavery
          continued to influence American history, from the tumultuous years of
          Reconstruction (1865-77) to the civil rights movement that emerged in
          the 1960s, a century after emancipation.

          • You forgot to mention that the biggest slave market in the U.S was New York City, and that there were as many slaves in the northern states as the south, also, the south never had slave ship, these were owned and by the northern business men, and the Captains and sailed under the U.S. flag, The only American ever tried and convicted for slaving was a Northerner; Captain Nathaniel Gordon of New York and was executed, April 21, 1861, so you can get off your soap box about the south and slavery, in fact slavery was banned in the Confederacy’s Constitution in 1861
            The City of Boston Mass. began importing African slaves the Captain of the first slave ship was named William Pierce and his ship was named the “Desire” out of Salem in 1638. By 1676 Boston slavers were routinely bringing shiploads back to that area, so Jamestown was not the first city to sell slaves, I could go on but if your really interested then do your own research, the Yankee states were first not the south. but i will give you one point as the 30,000 i mentioned were bond slaves, and the count in the south was near 500,000.
            the official name of of Rhode Island is “Rhode Island and Providence Plantations” a carryover from the when this slavery colony was first named.

      • Actually we have been homogeneous throughout our history.
        It’s called the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.
        Homogeneous does not mean everyone is exactly the same.
        It means they are alike.
        Quite a few of the Indians joined the US civilization, and we didn’t “wipe out” the rest. There were never
        40,000,000 slave.
        Our homogeneousness is exactly why we had the Civil War.
        Please stop with the hysterics … It makes you look stupid.

        • The D of C, one of the most magnificent documents ever written was only the beginning.
          Politically it meant more than it did in reality.

          Millions of Indians died for their land.

          Remember old Andy Jackson’s Trail of Tears?
          G. A. Custer’s wonderful demise, where his enemy, the Indians, would have been his in to the White House.
          Ya, a few entered, but most did not. Most every treaty that was ever signed was broken!

          Americans took their kids away from their homes and sent them to “Christian” schools.

          There were 40,000,000 slave during the 400 years it was in existence.

          They were the greatest economic resource in America before the Civil War.

          I’m a Jew and we didn’t have the easiest time either.

          Our people were kept from entering America during WWII even though there was a great deal of evidence that the was a Holocaust going on that also killed Christians.

          Synonyms for homogeneousness and you will notice they don’t all fit your idea of it.

          noun
          wholeness

          agreement

          consensus

          harmony

          identity

          integrity

          peace

          solidarity

          unanimity

          unification

          consent
          star

          consonance

          entity

          federation

          homogeneity

          individuality

          • “millions of Indians died for their land”

            Strawman – Totally unprovable. Indians don’t keep genealogical records.

            Millions of Indians MAY (totally unprovable) have died from white man diseases,

            but that is not the same thing.

            Millions of Indians were killed by other Indians for their land, so what.

            All civilizations conquered the ones before, including the Indians.

            “There were 40,000,000 slaves during their 400 years it was in existence”

            Strawman – totally unprovable. Slaves don’t keep genealogical records.

            Slaves have existed as long as mankind has existed, and it still continues today.

            What Christian England, and Christian United States did was end it within our influence.

            “Jews were kept from entering America during WWII.”
            False.
            There were restrictions of ALL immigration, but thousands of Jews immigrated to the US during WWII.

          • One example of the destruction of the native culture…
            Yes they killed each other but they did not have an army with heavy weaponry coming after them.

            They also didn’t have alcohol that made their people crazy or the lust of gold that made it easy to find an excuse to kill them…

            As for the slave, their owners kept records of their “property”

            http://www.history.com/topics/trail-of-tears

            At the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on millions of acres of land in Georgia,Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida–land their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations. By the end of the decade, very few natives remained anywhere in the southeastern United States. Working on behalf of white settlers who wanted to grow cotton on the Indians’ land, the federal government forced them to leave their homelands and walk thousands of miles to a specially designated “Indian territory” across the Mississippi River. This difficult and sometimes deadly journey is known as the Trail of Tears.

            The Trail of Tears

            The Indian-removal process continued. In 1836, the federal government drove the Creeks from their land for the last time: 3,500 of the 15,000 Creeks who set out for
            Oklahoma did not survive the trip.

            The Cherokee people were divided: What was the best way to handle the government’s determination to get its hands on their territory? Some wanted to stay and fight.
            Others thought it was more pragmatic to agree to leave in exchange for money and other concessions. In 1835, a few self-appointed representatives of the Cherokee nation negotiated the Treaty of New Echota, which traded all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi for $5 million, relocation assistance and compensation for lost property. To the federal government, the treaty was a done deal, but many of the Cherokee felt betrayed: After all, the negotiators did not represent the tribal government or anyone else. “The instrument in question is not the act of our nation,” wrote the nation’s principal chief, John Ross,
            in a letter to the U.S. Senate protesting the treaty. “We are not parties to its covenants; it has not received the sanction of our people.” Nearly 16,000 Cherokees signed Ross’s petition, but Congress approved the treaty anyway.

            By 1838, only about 2,000 Cherokees had left their Georgia homeland for Indian territory. President Martin
            Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott and 7,000 soldiers to expedite the removal process. Scott and his troops forced the Cherokee into stockades at bayonet point while whites looted their homes and belongings. Then, they marched the Indians more than 1,200 miles to
            Indian territory. Whooping cough, typhus, dysentery, cholera and starvation were epidemic along the way, and historians estimate that more than 5,000 Cherokee died as a result of the journey.

            By 1840, tens of thousands of Native Americans had been driven off of their land in the southeastern states and forced to move across the Mississippi to Indian territory. The federal government promised that their new land would remain unmolested forever, but as the line of white settlement pushed westward, “Indian country” shrank and shrank. In 1907, Oklahoma became a state and Indian territory was gone for good.

          • Nice history, thank you, a little bit closer to the truth.
            Better than your first silly exaggerated post of “million” of indians slaughtered by the white man.
            However, the “white” man did not have an army with heavy weaponry chasing after the Indians.
            Also not mentioned, the thousands of Indians assimilated into “white” culture. For example the “five civilized tribes”.
            Quite a few indians saw that “white” culture was better than theirs and joined that culture, just like all cultures throughout history.
            Simply look at the Roman empire.
            Also not mentioned the Indians who joined forces with the whites to fight and slaughter their traditional enemies. For example the “French and Indian War”.
            Also not mentioned the Indians who died because of white man diseases, which the white man had no control over.

          • Zag, if you want to read an unflinching allegory depicting the LIFE of the American “Indian” that contains not an ounce of sentimentality as it captures the pre-white man native American, read, “Hanta Yo,” by Ruth Beebe Hill. “Free” was an English word (Libertarians make a huge fuss over) that had no translation in the Teton Wan Lakota tribe’s language,(Sioux), probably because in the world of the original Lakota, there was nothing to free themselves from…
            Taken from a scrolled up “winter count,” (scrolled up buffalo hide recording the year’s events spanning the better part of a century (births, deaths, floods, celebrations, wars, and other noteworthy events), preserved in the US archives, Hill, attempts to bring life to these events. Ignorant of the meaning of many of the recorded excerpts, she seeks out the disappearing natives and agrees to live with a remnant of the Lakota tribe, who were displaced from their original home on the planes of the Midwest and long ago, moved to Canada. They agree to help her with her book only if she LIVES their WAYS! She succeeds in becoming a member of the tribe and they help her understand the songs, ceremonies, dances, and the medicine of the Teton Wan “Sioux.”

    • Unfortunately I agree. Our children are being fed this everyday at their PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Fire the Unions bring back real education. Insist on ENGLISH to be spoken every where. No interpreters allowed at the voting booths. Can’t speak or comprehend the language then you have no rights!!

  2. We probably have closer to 25 million illegal aliens, as the government has fixed the number at 12 million for more than ten years, despite the border patrol’s reports that nearly one million arrive annually. Any “comprehensive immigration reform” will only legitimize and allow all 25 million to out vote Americans in major areas in one generation. By then, democracy will have failed in the U.S. and we’ll have the government we deserve.

  3. Number 1… Socialism does not work in Norway or anywhere else for that matter. Even Norway is broken.
    Number 2… There are too many foriegners in America who do not wish to participate in hard work.
    Number 3… There are too many lazy deadbeats who have grown used to others taking care of them and those are not willing to work period. (Do not feed the bears.)
    Number 4… There are too many narcisstic government people in America who are drunk with power… and frankly, do not show evidence of caring about anyone else inspite of the shallow rhetoric about gaining that power and money “for others.” They never help and are full of excuses.
    Number 5… The liberal mantra of hate and envy from the left is sincere… they both hate and are envious of success.

  4. The Norwegians are one of the most highly educated nations on the planet with a population that has a STRONG respect for their Nation’s laws and each other. They have a nominal, beneficial Monarchy that is highly respected and honored universally among the population. They genuinely care about their neighbors and proactively do things to take care of them. It is a Nation with an extremely high literacy rate and virtually every single person there speaks and reads Norwegian fluently because there is no multi-language support in its community structure.

    That is why they get along with each other well and have very little problems with a Socialistic style Government. The USA is a MONGREL Nation where few people can communicate clearly in our own national language which is basically English. No one in our Country respects the Government or our laws because we don’t enforce them at all. We also have an extremely corrupt Government that sells out to lobbyists and does more to support those who don’t work or respect our own laws.

    • 100 years ago America was this way. He helped our neighbors, cared for our children and elderly, we were WELL educated. Then we needed to become “progressive”.

      This article was perfectly pointed! In less than 20 years, Norway will be in a he** of a lot of trouble. Socialism doesn’t and NEVER HAS worked.

  5. Norwegians are also incredibly STUPID people , How do I know that ? Simple , they gave peace prizes to the likes of Arafat and Obamass . Now if that isn’t the absolute height of stupidity , nothing is .

  6. Norway is a homogeneous White nation; America is mottled madness. The common origin and shared destiny that suppress any desires Norwegians might have to plunder each other are not present on these shores.

  7. My husband has over 150 cousins in Norway, we spent time with them there and learned a lot about Norway and their socialism. Their socialism is a people based socialism, what is best for the people?
    One cousin took us to a metal fabrication plant where he worked. The plant was highly mechanized, and used “joystick” controls to run and monitor the process. We were walking through the plant when he pointed out one employee and told us that employee was on the board of directors. By law 40% of the BOD must be employees. At BOD meetings, the company’s business is shared by employees, management and the CEOs. If there are problems on the working level, they are discussed and worked on. Another law states that CEOs are limited to a certain multiple of the income of the lowest paid people in the company. If the CEO wants a raise, he or she must raise the pay level of the lowest paid employees to get a raise himself. Those two factors go a huge way to prevent the huge “income equality” and corporate financial greed that the US has.

  8. Agree with your conclusion, however…frankly I suspect that the real unemployment rate is over 25% and that our illegal alien population is at least double what you say it is. Other than that all I can say is…what a mess! (“Have an exit plan.” – Matt Drudge)

  9. Norway lacks the “blessings” of a diverse population. Nothing wrong with different nationalities of course if they are wiling to assimilate and become AMERICANS but that’s not gonna happen here, not anymore. I believe also that Norway is very largely Protestant (Lutheran perhaps) and there is not all this righteous indignation about people being offended by others’ religions.

  10. The first failing in socialism is that it cannot scale up. On a small scale it can be made to work through the tight control of a limited homogenous population. Norway’s population of just over 5 million people is a bit different from the U.S.’s 308 million person population of conflicting and competing priorities and values.

  11. You “Low information” idiots BITCH about “Socialism” & then pass a farm bill that creates EVEN more crop insurance and shallow loss programs that would virtually guarantee farmers profits every year regardless of farm income, crop prices, or other factors.Farm payments and unlimited crop insurance subsidies reduce producers’ business risks, increase returns to scale, increase agribusiness income, encourage farm sizes to increase, and consolidate production in fewer hands. They also encourage excessive risk-taking by insulating agribusinesses and passing the risks to taxpayers!

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