The American left regularly points to the social democracies of northern Europe as templates for a better United States. If only our economic policies were more like those in Sweden, Finland, or The Netherlands, there would be no limit to our success. What they haven’t noticed are the ample flaws of those systems in shown in social stagnation, capital flight, and reduced freedom.
But the most important development our progressives miss is that these famously liberal states are rolling back their safety nets. Over the past decade a center-right coalition in Stockholm has eliminated the worst excesses of Sweden’s welfare state, angry Finns are trying to cut up Greece’s credit cards, and the Dutch monarch has now declared the welfare state of the 20th century dead.
King Willem-Alexander, two years into his reign following the abdication of Queen Beatrix, has called for a “participation society” to replace the outdated system of government handouts. In a televised speech Monday, he asked citizens to take an increasing amount of responsibility for their social and financial health as The Hague slowly retracts taxpayer-funded welfare programs.
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