Wednesday, November 04, 2015

The Washington Post just might be wrong to disagree with Bernie Sanders about Denmark

It seems that the mainstream press is finally starting to take notice of Bernie Sanders. I guess his announcement of having more than 750,000 distinct donors got their attention. But something else got their attention: Denmark.

As some of you may know, Bernie is a big fan of Denmark and rightly so. They have created a more equal society and provide generous benefits for the people who live there. So it would seem fair that the Washington Post has found someone they deem qualified to break that positive spin that Bernie Sanders has given to Denmark in Michael Booth.

WaPo interviewed Mr. Booth and have published their piece here. It is especially critical of their cultural problems even though we all have cultural problems. It is also very critical of Denmark's economics, particularly their trade in oil. The point of the WaPo hit piece then, is that Denmark is not so happy now that oil prices are falling as there are fewer oil profits to distribute to the people of that fair land. Apparently their debt is rising and that worries more than a few people.

Booth talks about Denmark's appetite for anti-depressants as if that is an indicator of happiness, or the lack thereof. Well call the kettle black, America! CBS News found a study that shows that 70% of Americans use prescription drugs. The New York Times says that 1 in 10 Americans use anti-depressants. So what percentage of Danes are taking anti-depressants? The best tally I've found is about 8%. Seems a bit lower than in America, but still high.

In the end, the WaPo article lands the punchline, "The sad take-away from that is, money does, in fact, make you happy," according to Michael Booth. Sorry, Michael. I disagree. No matter how much money you have or make, you still have to make a choice to be happy. Your following comment belies that point, "[The Danes] are good at appreciating the small things in life and making the most of what they have..."

Its an interesting piece that makes a point of focusing on the negatives rather than to keep Denmark in balance. Fortunately, we have the internet and we can do some fact checking. The first place I go for fact-checking on economics is The Center for Economic Policy Research. I'm a big fan of Beat The Press (cue up image of dog after making mess in living room with rolled up newspaper in hand in foreground view).

Economist Dean Baker sheds some light on the so-called economic problems that Denmark is experiencing now. Suffice it to say that on nearly every point, Booth proves he's not an economist, nor is he up on stats. As Baker notes, we get it that Booth doesn't like Denmark.

Denmark doesn't have a debt problem like the US has. Denmark's net debt to GDP ratio is about 6.3% which, for a socialist country, compares very favorably to the United States with 94% in 2012. Our debt to GDP ratio is probably better now that Obama has laid down the law to those frisky Tea Party guys in Congress who don't give a fart about defense spending, but howl in protest about food stamps.

As some may say, consider the source. The Washington Post might still be a liberal paper in some respects, but it's owned by Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.com. Isn't Amazon.com the same company that's been fighting tooth and nail to avoid paying sales taxes like every other brick and mortar company just for competitive advantage? Isn't Amazon fighting a class action wage theft lawsuit against them by not paying for the time employees spent being searched every day after work?

Yeah, I'd consider the source in the WaPo hit piece.
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