Is Norway better off with socialism that the U.S. is with capitalism?

The numbers show that the U.S. has wealth, but that wealth is collected in only a few hands. Norway has wealth, but it is spread more evenly.

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You might want to examine the poster below.  It mixes economic with social results. Naturally, it is somewhat picky.  For example, it doesn’t mention that the U.S. enjoys baseball and football (sports of its own invention) and Norway does not.  On the other hand, Norway was dominated by Denmark for 400 years, was signed over to Sweden by France in 1814, and finally gained its full independence in 1905 – without a fight.   Norway did not have a revolutionary war or a civil war. Compare that to the U.S.

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What about firearms?  Notice that the murder rate in Norway is far lower than in the U.S.  A license is required to own a gun, and the owner must provide a written statement saying why he or she wants one. Many categories of guns, including automatics and some powerful handguns, are banned from sale altogether.

Hunting and outdoor sports are popular in Norway. But the laws are strict in these areas, too. Shotguns and rifles must be stored in a secure place, typically a specially designed gun safe, as must ammunition. Police have the right to inspect an owner’s home to ensure the law is being followed.

Transporting a weapon to a public place is also covered by legislation. The owner must have a good reason for carrying a weapon, must ensure it is unloaded and concealed from view, but not worn on the body, and must keep the weapon under constant supervision.

Under the Firearm Weapons Act, only “sober and responsible” persons over the age of 18 may obtain a gun license. For handguns, the age requirement is 21. In 2009, additional legislation was introduced, further tightening Norway’s gun laws.

Perhaps because the laws are already so strict and gun crime is relatively rare, gun control is not generally considered a political issue in Norway, unlike countries such as the US where a citizen’s right to bear arms is guaranteed by the constitution and fiercely defended.  

Is socialism the root cause of Norway’s peaceable use of firearms?  Let’s look at the view of left-wing politicians in the U.S. “Today, this socialist support for gun rights is present in the form of the erstwhile Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. Senator Sanders came under considerable criticism from opponent Hillary Clinton for his gun-control stance. In the 1980s, this self-declared Democratic Socialist voted against the Brady Bill, which required federal background checks for firearms purchases. Sanders also voted to prevent lawsuits against gun manufacturers, to allow guns to be transported in checked baggage on Amtrak trains, and to prohibit foreign aid from going to any international efforts to restrict gun ownership. In response to the Sandy Hook shootings, Sanders stated: “If you passed the strongest gun control legislation tomorrow, I don’t think it will have a profound effect on the tragedies we have seen.”

“As one can see from the rarely mentioned history of gun support on the Left, the same concern that the NRA expresses today, of a weaponless citizenry being tyrannized by a weapons-confiscating federal government, was shared by a variety of people on the Left. Black civil rights leaders, black separatists, and black revolutionary groups believed their only protection and liberation from racist whites was gun ownership. Socialists feared that a weaponless working class would usher in a dictatorship by capitalists.”

I think what this demonstrates is that how one views gun rights is not necessarily controlled by one’s views on other matters.   And it is true that the lack of gun regulation in the U.S. is not the only reason for all the gun violence. The U.S. is poor on providing mental health coverage, and it has a notorious history of love for guns and celebration of violence. (Just look at its motion pictures and television). So far as Bernie Sander’s views are concerned, he started as an advocate for gun control, shifted because Vermont was against gun regulation, then shifted back with the views of his constituency.  He was a socialist every step of the way.

So far as incarcerations are concerned, we know that the U.S. is notorious for that.  Racism and private jails, among other things, boosts its numbers. So socialism and lack of racism keeps Norway’s numbers down.

The poster shows that the average personal tax rates for the two countries as being nearly equal.  However, these rates do not include such things as sales taxes and property taxes, just income taxes.  Sales tax is 25% in Norway, much higher than in the U.S.   But the property tax is lower.  “Municipalities in Norway are entitled to impose a tax on real estate property located in their jurisdiction. The tax is levied at the assessed value of the property, which is about 20% to 50% of the property´s market value. Property tax rates range from 0.2% to 0.7%, depending on the municipality.”  Property tax varies from place to place in the U.S. but it can be much higher than in Norway. (New Jersey’s rate is 1.89%, while Lousiana’s is 0.18%).  But it’s hard to make an accurate comparison because of the differences in state taxes in the U.S.

Where Norway wins out is in the government-provided rights: free medical care, free higher education, a living wage as a minimum, 8 weeks paid vacation, 35 weeks paid parental leave, and real financial security for seniors.  And probably the biggest indicator is that 83% of Norwegians own their own homes while only 63% of Americans do. You can’t own a home if you can’t afford it. But in a country where so many of the costs of living are provided collectively, there would naturally be enough income left over to purchase a residence (assuming that it was not already provided).  “Housing allowance is a government-financed support scheme for partial coverage of housing expenses for households with low income.” 

Looking over the entire society and economy, it would appear that there is a reason why Norway is rated the second happiest country in the world while the U.S. is number 14 (according to the poster).  Other sources show different results. In 2019, Norway came in third.  In 2018, it was second and the U.S. was 18th, losing out to Costa Rica (13) and Canada (7), among others

The poster says that the U.S. has “unfettered capitalism,” but this isn’t true.  The problem is that it is become more unfettered, and greed and crony capitalism are becoming endemic.  Meanwhile, Norway is far happier, and its people collectively are being taken care of. The numbers show that the U.S. has wealth, but that wealth is collected in only a few hands.  Norway has wealth, but it is spread more evenly (that’s how so many of its people own homes).

If Americans had the same rights as Norwegians, and if those rights were paid for by lopping excess wealth off the 1%, we would basically have the results of a socialist country.  And I doubt that the 1% would stop working.

(The basic net wealth of the entire U.S. is at least 100 trillion.  There are 127.59 million households. The top 1% (1.2759 million households) holds 40% of the wealth, or 40 trillion.  That amounts to $31,350,419 per household. So if we taxed each household a sufficient amount to leave them with an average of  $10,000,000 per household, we would have $27.241 trillion. Surely that would enough to convert us over to the Norwegian model).

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