Political Revolution

Social Welfare Supports Your Own Self-Interest

In the interest of progress, it’s time more people understand something about social welfare. It is in your own self-interest. This article explains why, from a Nordic point-of-view, and is a “must-read” for all Progressives.

What Americans Don’t Get About Nordic Countries (Link)

When U.S. politicians talk about Scandinavian-style social welfare, they fail to explain the most important aspect of such policies: selfishness.

A Nordic person myself, I left my native Finland seven years ago and moved to the U.S. Although I’m now a U.S. citizen, I hear these kinds of comments from Americans all the time—at cocktail parties and at panel discussions, in town hall meetings and on the opinion pages. Nordic countries are the way they are, I’m told, because they are small, homogeneous “nanny states” where everyone looks alike, thinks alike, and belongs to a big extended family. This, in turn, makes Nordic citizens willing to sacrifice their own interests to help their neighbors. Americans don’t feel a similar kinship with other Americans, I’m told, and thus will never sacrifice their own interests for the common good. What this is mostly taken to mean is that Americans will never, ever agree to pay higher taxes to provide universal social services, as the Nordics do. Thus Bernie Sanders, and anyone else in the U.S. who brings up Nordic countries as an example for America, is living in la-la land.

But this vision of homogenous, altruistic Nordic lands is mostly a fantasy. The choices Nordic countries have made have little to do with altruism or kinship. Rather, Nordic people have made their decisions out of self-interest. Nordic nations offer their citizens—all of their citizens, but especially the middle class—high-quality services that save people a lot of money, time, and trouble. This is what Americans fail to understand: My taxes in Finland were used to pay for top-notch services for me.

Anu Partanen, The Atlantic

Social Welfare Supports Your Own Self-Interest was originally published on Aware & Fair

About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • Reblogged this on The Secular Jurist and commented:
    “Nordics are not only just as selfish as everyone else on this earth but they can—and do—dislike many of their fellow citizens just as much as people with different political views dislike each other in other countries. As for homogeneity, Sweden already has a bigger share of foreign-born residents than the U.S. The reason Nordics stick with the system is because they can see that on the whole, they come out ahead—not just as a group, but as individuals.”

    The article also makes a very salient point refuting the typically American notion (recently echoed by Hillary Clinton in a presidential debate) that social democracies stifle business entrepreneurship and innovation.

  • Good point. They are toying with the idea of a guaranteed annual income for everyone in Canada. It will be interesting to see how it works out.

      • They will do a trial in a certain local first to see how it works out. It could be revenue neutral or positive, because they will eliminate other social programs such as welfare, unemployment insurance and other social assistance programs. It will be taxed back from people with incomes over a certain amount.

%d bloggers like this: