Opinion

Five things

Truth and consequences of Denmark’s ‘socialism’

Mount Rushmore built out of Legos at Legoland Resort in Billund, Denmark.
Shutterstock
Mount Rushmore built out of Legos at Legoland Resort in Billund, Denmark.

When Bernie Sanders heaped praise on Denmark during Tuesday’s presidential debate, he wasn’t venturing into new territory. The Vermont senator has long been a champion of the tiny country’s health care system, tuition-free colleges, and decent wages. Just last month on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” Sanders applauded the country’s progressive social policies, prompting the host to lament, “Again, here we go. Denmark?” But this Scandinavian hotbed of socialism doesn’t completely eschew capitalism — and its generous welfare state has consequences.

For example:

1 At one local landmark, the original Legoland, adult admission is not cheap — 329 Danish Krone, or about $50. Maybe Americans are to blame: In 2005, the US private equity firm Blackstone Group LP bought a 70 percent stake in Legoland.

2 Consumers crave designer products and are encouraged to spend lavishly on everything from clothing to furniture. VisitDenmark, the country’s official tourism website, advises: “Pack your shopping bags and don’t forget your wallet!” Copenhagen, it says, “will satisfy your wildest shopping desires!”

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3 Venture capital firms thrive. SEED Capital, for instance, specializes in startups and early stage investments. The company targets firms that “as a minimum will provide an opportunity for a 10x return on investment.”

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4 The government imposes a stunning tax of up to 180 percent on the purchase of new automobiles. Electric cars are excluded, but that exemption is set to be phased out. “Many regular Danes have a hard time understanding why they should pay the full registration tax for their regular cars while those who can afford an electric car have gotten off completely free,” said Tax Minister Karsten Lauritzen.

5 Not only is college free, but students receive a monthly stipend of about $1,000 while they’re in school. Which is probably why they take an average of 6.1 years to complete degree work the government says should be finished in 5 years, according to The Atlantic. It’s a huge expense for the government. Good thing there’s a car tax.