How the Left Ruined Denmark's Welfare System

Siegfried is a frequent commenter and an occasional contributor to Fellowship of the Minds.
A citizen of Brazil, she’s been living in Denmark for the past year, learning its language, customs and culture. These are her thoughts on the Left’s impact on the country, based on her observations and conversations she’s had with its residents.
See also her op-ed of August 24, “Brazil Under the Left Foreshadows America’s Future“!

Satellite image of Denmark

The Left’s Impact on Denmark

Danes are the happiest people on earth!
Doubt it? Research has proven it over and over that Danes are a jolly happy people.
Why is that, you may ask? I believe it is because of the Danish welfare system. Danes have learned to relax, because they know that if anything bad happens, such as losing their job, the government will help them. If they get sick, they will receive a great and free (well, not completely free when you think about taxes, but let’s move on) healthcare. When they get old, they know the government will be there to help them. Education is also free and students can count on government help in the form of  Statens Uddanelsestøtte (SU) financial aid, for students in their last years of high school and all through their university education.
So Danes have learnt how to relax because they know that, in any bad situation, they won’t be alone. And the Danes like the Nanny State so much that they willingly pay its high cost — taxes that reach up to 62%.
I would say that the Danes have almost nailed this socialism thing. They almost made it work like a well-oiled machine. Almost!!!
To understand this better it is important to have a little knowledge about Christianity in Denmark because Christianity has everything to do with why Denmark has almost perfected socialism.
Denmark became a Christian country in 960, when King Harald Bluetooth (yes, the same one that gave his name to the Bluetooth wireless specification designed by Ericsson to enable cable free connections between different machines) erected the Jelling stones — massive carved runestones — to honor his parents, celebrate his conquest of Denmark and Norway, and his conversion of the Danes to Christianity. That is known as Denmark’s baptism certificate.

Image from Wikipedia

In 1536, Denmark officially became Protestant, and with Protestantism came Puritanism and the unwritten but nevertheless socially enforced Jante Law: a pattern of group behavior towards individuals within Scandinavian communities, which negatively portrays and criticizes individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate. Put another way, the law means “don’t think you are anyone special or that you are better than us”.
By Puritan standards, having money was a very positive thing (in opposition to what many socialists may think today) because it was a mark of the individual being in God’s favor. However, wealth did not mean a man could stop working because hard work is a fundamental part of the Protestant Ethic, which the great sociologist Max Weber credited with the rise of capitalism in West Europe. The good Christian was the person who prayed to God and worked hard during his/her entire life. And so the Protestant Ethic became a natural part of the Danish mentality.
Because of the Protestantism’s work ethos, I believe the socialist welfare society in Denmark had worked almost perfectly. To support a welfare system is extremely expensive, and for it to work, every single member of society must contribute. So there is nothing better to support a welfare system than a hard working people, as long as they are willing to pay its high cost.
Indeed, during the 1950s and ’60s, it was a mark of shame in Denmark to have to depend on government welfare. Those who were needy would use it to the very minimum, while trying as hard as they could to get back on their feet as soon as possible. Few relied on welfare as a permanent way of life.
So what happened that changed everything? Well, I believe two things happened:
To begin with, the 60s generation, raised under the Jante Law, decided to change their ways and raise their children in a different way. Their children, for the first time in Danish history, were planned. They were special kids, better than the others and very much loved. In this manner, a generation grew up in Denmark with a sense of entitlement. Many of them and their descendants are the ones who now live by sucking on the government’s engorged welfare breasts. The morally debasing nature of welfare and all things of the Left was very well explained by Dennis Prager.
The second thing that happened which deformed Denmark’s welfare system are immigrants.
In the 1960s, Denmark opened its borders to immigrants, including many from poor countries with very little to no education. Transported to affluent Denmark from their poor native countries, the immigrants did/do not have the Protestant Ethic. Ok, so the weather in Denmark is dreadful and the language is nearly impossible to learn, but the government helps…and helps…and helps.
And so the immigrants stayed. With government ever ready to provide assistance, life is easy. Why should they undertake the trouble of learning to speak a language that sounded like an alien conversation under water? But not being fluent in Danish meant it was nearly impossible to get a job. Ah, but why work at all? The government helps, doesn’t it?
Life is good. The immigrants then sent for their brothers, and sisters, and uncles, and aunts, and friends, and friends of their friends…. You get the idea, right?
Oh, wait! You lousy racist! The politically-correct socialist cries. It is not true that all immigrants exploit the system! And those who do get welfare don’t choose to be dependent. They were deprived — having been born and grew up in an impoverished country! Yada yada yada.…
Yes, it is partially true that many of the immigrants are integrated, have jobs, and pay taxes. But, the only way the welfare system could work is by having most people work, with only the truly needy receiving welfare. Alas, real life doesn’t work that way because we cannot force people to abide by that rule. That is why socialism has failed everywhere it’s been instituted. Socialism is a utopian dream and should remain a dream.
In Denmark today, nearly 40% of welfare funds go to immigrants. The drain on the Danish treasury, in turn, means schools are no longer as good as they were, Danes must now wait a long time to get a hip replacement, those who work may need to work a bit longer before retirement, and the halcyon days of 62% of income going to taxes are rapidly disappearing as well….
Which would explain why Danish conservatives are creating more and more restricting laws against immigration.
Yes, Virginia, there are conservatives in Denmark! Yes, we have them here as well, although the most conservative party you may find in this side of the world, the Dansk Folkepartei (Danish People’s Party), are still socialists. It’s just that they are socialists who dislike immigrants. It is Denmark, after all.  😉

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Clifton Lee West

I wonder what a Liberal thinks when he or she reads this article? It is as plain as the nose on one’s face, that entitlement just breeds more entitlement until the benefactor runs dry and it will happen in the United States very shortly. Barack Obama, in an effort to buy votes with taxpayer dollars, wants to extend food stamps, unemployment, welfare and any other free program available, so long as he gets the credit. Boiling it down, our nation can go down the tube, economically, so long as Barack Obama gets re-elected. Once that occurs, he’ll have four more… Read more »


Welcome to Kanada! We’re busy undermining what previous generations worked and died to create: Heaven on Earth, where everyone had a kick at the can, often more than once [such as myself, thank God for the grace!], but where multiculturalism gradually saps these virtues. There’s a debate on whether we should restrict our open immigration policies, and I support this: we MUST choose quality over quantity. The pie is not infinite, in spite of what economic morons such as Professor Samuelson assert in his magnum opus, still read in far too many schools.