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Ann Jones: Social Democracy for Dummies
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Water drips from a leaky roof. The heat brings on a “moldy, rancid odor.” A child volunteer is tasked with killing giant roaches. Welcome to the Detroit public school system, which,according to a recent New York Times report, is “run down after years of neglect” and “teetering on the edge of financial collapse.” And yet, last Thursday, this was the closest thing to a “good news” story about Michigan on the front page of that newspaper. A companion piece covered the even more dismal “water crisis in the poverty-stricken, black-majority city of Flint,” a penny-pinching state “austerity” measure turned public health emergency that has left children there with elevated levels of lead in their blood, putting them at risk of lifelong adverse health effects.

How did it come to this? An America dotted with feral cities left to decay into ruin? Man-made catastrophes spawned by harebrained austerity schemes? A country of crumbling roads,unsafe bridges, failing schools, a woefully neglected mental health system whose ample slack has been taken up by a disastrous criminal justice system? Take your pick when it comes to rotten institutions and rotting infrastructure, since the list goes on and on. Presidentialcandidates are vowing to “make America great again” or talking about “reigniting” its “promise,” but perhaps a counterfeit, sepia-tinged trip to the beginning of the road that got us here isn’t really the solution to twenty-first-century America’s problems. TomDispatchregular Ann Jones has a different idea. In her latest piece, a joint TomDispatch/Nation article which will appear in print in the new issue of that magazine, Jones takes a welcome detour to a place where welfare isn’t a dirty word, the social safety net isn’t the preferred place for budget cuts, and axe-wielding children are — believe it or not — fostered, not feared: Scandinavia.

A world citizen who has journeyed across Africa, spent years living in the Afghan war zone, and was most recently a Fulbright Fellow in Norway, Jones examines how a couple of Nixon-era decisions led the U.S. down the road to ruin, while Scandinavian nations charted a different course, embracing principles of uplift, equality, and humanity. Yes, some American-esque values seem to be seeping into the Scandinavian scene of late, from the rise of anti-immigration sentiment in Sweden to a Danish town attempting to stick it to Muslims by way of pork meatballs in school lunches. But even far-right parties in these Nordic nations champion a robust welfare state and a generous social safety net. So let Jones, an intrepid journalist whose latest book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars — The Untold Story, is already a classic of Iraq and Afghan War reporting, help explain why Norway, Denmark, and Sweden invariably top global indexes when it comes to affordable housing, education, health, life expectancy, and overall citizen satisfaction, while the United States has ended up with failing cities, crumbling schools, and poisoned water.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology 
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  1. Rehmat says:

    Thanks G-d, the Zionist Muslim hating and White supremacy have not reached in tiny country of Iceland that has offered to take-in 5,000 Syrian refuges.

  2. OutWest says:

    The Scandinavian social success was largely –not solely- fueled by substantial government oil income. This avoided the usual robbing Peter to pay Paul scheme. The industrial base in these countries has been slipping, i.e. phones, cars etc. The prime vocal complain is lack of opportunity for the young as in only modestly socialist countries.

  3. Discard says:

    Scandinavia didn’t have a bunch of Blacks and Mexicans when they started their welfare paradise. Let’s see if their uplift works for Africans and Arabs.

  4. As noted by Hoppe, history is consistent with multiple contradictory theories so anyone who wants to prove his or her point is largely able to cite precedents.

    That said, the disaster of Detroit isn’t about welfare…particularly. It’s about the fact that the city was run by a succession of open criminals who were, shall we say, less particular or low-time-preference oriented than say the crooks who run Chicago.

    It is logically impossible to have a heterogeneous polity where race, class or ethnicity are deemed legitimate rationales for political faction.

    Welfare (including affirmative action) simply weakens its recipients. It lowers the bar for life, and anyone who has raised kids or goats or dogs knows that the less you ask of them, the lower their capabilities.

    If I had to design in advance a system intended to utterly destroy those at whom it is aimed, I could never imagine a more effective one than welfare and racial preferences.

  5. @Discard

    Laughing out loud.

    In 10 years Scandinavia won’t even exist. Their precious systems are experiencing a metaphor of a wealthy man opening his house to any and all who show up on his door.

    First, the “guests” eat everything in his refrigerator and then complain about the food. Then they take a crap in his shower, grope his teenager daughters, almost rape his wife and, when enough of them have shown up, they throw him bodily from his own home.

    There has NEVER been a clearer illustration of just how befuddled is leftist thinking than watching the utter catastrophe Europeans have made for themselves.

    • Agree: Realist
    • Replies: @pyrrhus
    , @KA
  6. Yeah, what they said !

    Where did the $$$ for schools go ?
    DON’T pretend they didn’t get “their fair share”.
    Does the principal show up once a month driving a Bently ?

  7. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Pre-1900 America didn’t have most of these problems either. It was a well ordered, vigorous society with widespread voluntary charity that covered most of the need. It was also predominately angle-saxon protestant. Just as Scandinavia has been almost completely nordic protestant until just recently. Funny how that always seems to get left out of the discussion when it is well proven that homogeneous societies have higher levels of trust, better development of social capital and less violence.

    Given that the recent wave of immigrants has managed to bring a good chunk of northern Europe to its knees, I highly doubt the Scandinavian myth will withstand the test of time.

    – ws1835

  8. Stogumber says:

    Just wondering. “Nixon-era decisions” have set Detroit to an irrevertible path to destruction? And Democratic presidents, congressmen, mayors etc. fell victim to this “Nixon-era decisions”? And all the money spent for Detroit after Nixon doesn’t count as “welfare” and so couldn’t help to save Detroit?
    Okay, Mr. Engelhardt is here writing for “Tom Dispatch”, i.e. for the believers, not for a bunch of sceptics whch expect to be convinced by arguments. But from the way he describes Ms. Jones’ book, this book seems to have no relevant arguments. And the Tom Dispatchers still feel obliged to support the Party – this is not even a book pro Bernie Sanders, but a book pro Hillary as well, and a book which doesn’t really try to appeal to the welfare state voters outside of the Party (e.g. the Trump voters). (This is a flaw of the Tom Dispatchers, but may be a good thing, all in all.)

  9. pyrrhus says:

    Yes, I initially thought that this was an Onion piece….Scandinavia’s suicidal altruism toward “refugees” from the 3d world (in a formerly homogeneous white area, therefore very well behaved) is already wreaking havoc on the culture and safety of her people…..In a generation or less, it will be a 3d world area…

  10. KA [AKA "Carthage"] says:

    It is high time to sail gain. Can the Italian,Spanish,French and Dutch plant the flags again on US ,Australia and Bahamas?
    Until WW2 hey have been fighting against each other in Europe using the flags of different varieties ,colors,creeds,and scriptures . They can reinvigorate themselves drinking some of the left over from the same bottle . They instead of fighting Spanish or English or Dutch will be fighting American and Australian or Mexican.

  11. @Discard

    The forager morality of liberals is worse than the pharaonic morality of the conservatives only in that it destroys civilization faster.

    They should offer guided tours of Detroit to show how well government can destroy without using war.

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