Bernie Sanders painted a very attractive picture of the benefit side of Denmark's social network in his recent op-ed piece in your paper. What he did not explain was the cost. There are no free lunches in the world; someone always pays, and in Denmark the citizen pays and pays. Personal income tax rates are high, starting at 37.48 percent and going to 59 percent. Value Added Taxes, or sales tax, are very high, on the order of 25 percent and as a result, price levels are much higher than what the average Vermonter encounters.
Two car families are rare, RVs are even scarcer, the square footage of the average family dwelling is much more modest than what we are accustomed to, and a cup of coffee and danish roll are not casually purcased. Clothing is much cheaper in Manchester and Danes find us to be a consumer paradise for purchases. The recent forecast of Danish GDP growth is 0.5 percent; ours is running closer to 2. 5 percent real growth. Interestingly enough, business taxes are relatively low, which encourages investment.
There are indeed different social and economic models in the world out there, some of which have very attractive attributes viewed in isolation. I like Denmark; Copenhagen is a beautiful and fun city in the summer months, but I doubt that this Scandinavian model, with its small, homogenous and slow growing population, would truly be an idyllic universe for most Americans - unless you want to trade your pick up for a bicycle in the summer months and the bus or train for winter. Before we embrace this as a model, consider whether you would rather drive your car from Manchester to Bennington, or ride a train from station to station, and then either walk or ride a bus to do your shopping as one would do in moving between Copenhagen and Goge, a near suburb. We are bigger consumers and live larger. Whether that makes one happier or not is open for debate, but that is who we are as a people.
Now let's talk about the blustery Baltic weather and rain.