Denmark is one of those countries that saw glory several hundred years ago, lost its power, and then reinvented itself into a mostly pacifist nanny state. Thanks to its participation in the NATO alliance, Denmark has reasonably low military expenditures that—with its high tax rates—allow it to divert funds into social programs, in which it ranks among the best in the world.
The Danish welfare state is admirable: every citizen receives fully covered cradle-to-grave services. A Danish person has no idea what it feels like to not have medical care or free access to university education. They have no fear of becoming homeless or permanently jobless. The government’s soothing hand will catch everyone as they fall. To an American like myself, brainwashed to believe that you need to earn things like basic health care or education by working your ass off, it was quite a shock.
The biggest surprise was that the Danish government pays people to attend university for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. In addition to having health care costs covered and access to cheap rent, all students receive at least a $1,000 a month stipend to attend class. Along with part-time jobs that pay high wages, the average Danish twenty-something lives a pretty comfortable life getting educated to eventually follow a straightforward career path in a country where nearly full employment seems to be the rule.
Even if you don’t get a job, the government will pay you each month until you do. Do you feel like taking a little hiatus to a foreign country? As long as you can show you’re taking part-time classes, the government will keep the cash flowing. For a lower-class American, becoming a Danish citizen is almost like winning the lottery.
How is Denmark able to afford this? Two ways: they spend a third less of their GDP on the military than we do, and they tax the hell out of their citizens. Tax rates start at 40% and tilt above 50% for the top classes. My effective tax rate last year as an American resident was 20%, so the question I’ve asked myself is if I’d want to double my tax for not having to worry about being homeless or getting a serious disease. I’m leaning towards no, since of course one day I’m going to be a billionaire like every other American and don’t want half of it taken away. I would actually save money by being taxed at 20% and getting private health insurance, but then again I’m middle-class and can afford it. America is great if you have money, but Denmark is great for everyone.
What surprised me most about Denmark is their healthy job market. It’s almost guaranteed that a job will await every Dane after graduation, and I’m not talking about crappy jobs at McDonald’s or Walmart, but well-paying career positions. After taxes and the exorbitant high prices for basic goods, Danish people still live comfortably. No one is starving and you’ll have to look hard to find homeless people.
It’s no accident that the American media isn’t eager to discuss the many citizen benefits that countries like Denmark have. They are quick to do profiles on poor countries in the third-world, but they rarely write about the extensive services Scandinavian countries provide for all of their citizens, regardless of race or class. When they do talk about these countries, it’s usually about how budget cuts are looming for their “ailing” social models, as if the average American citizen is doing far better.
Unfortunately, there is a cost to providing your citizens everything they possibly need: you make them averse to taking risks. Why bother when you got it made in the shade? There is little incentive for entrepreneurship and striking it rich, even though the Ease of Doing Business Index ranks Denmark as number six, only one behind America. Danes would rather work for the man and do the minimum required of them to coast through the system than take a gamble. Being aggressive and taking risks may cost them some serious benefits, so they do what they need to in order to maintain a decent middle-class existence. While I don’t blame them, this mildly offends the entrepreneurial spirit within my American core.
The Government’s Role As Mother And Father
Thanks to its extensive services, the Danish government has replaced parents as the primary caregiver. The Danes decided that there was too much inequality in the system with the rich having access to all the benefits, so they constructed an egalitarian society. The government’s utopian visionaries told parents, “You don’t have to do anything but love your children. We’ll take care of the rest. Oh, and when you get old, we’ll take care of you, too.”
Since family is pushed out of the picture, one consequence is that Danish people very seldom talk about their families. I never saw a 20- or 30-something Danish adult with an elderly person, whereas in Poland I saw it a dozen times a day. The old people are pushed aside to be taken care of by the system, not by the kids, the opposite of what I saw in South America where the elders are cherished, often living in the same household as the younger generations. I’d bet that the average Danish person interacts with the government more than with their parents.
Another consequence of the Danish system is that women no longer need men. For hundreds of thousands of years, women have sought to marry powerful men with strong financial means in order to live a comfortable life (or to merely survive), but in Denmark this is not at all necessary. Danish women don’t need to find a man, because the government will take care of her and her cats, whether she is successful at dating or not. Her quality of life won’t be negatively affected if she happens to remain single until death, whereupon her cats will inherit her possessions according to Danish law.
Since a Danish woman is in no rush to find someone, she wants to hold out for her top choice instead of having to “settle” for any particular man while she’s still in her physical prime. The result is that Danish women like to sample men and play the field, thinking they have all the time in the world. They’re also less willing to change their behavior by adopting a pleasing figure or style that’s more likely to attract men. It’s no surprise that there’s a flood of sloppy 30-something women on dating sites, making Denmark one of the most popular countries where the Internet is used to find a mate.
In spite of the negatives, I think the Danish economic and welfare system is superior to the American system for one simple reason: it’s fair. They have achieved a near utopia of human equality, where everyone can educate themselves and seek employment without fear of possible bankruptcy from illness. Even the mentally decrepit and drug addicted are treated like human beings, meaning that everyone has an opportunity to rise up above their station. In the United States we have a bad habit of kicking people when they’re down. Watching people fall, especially the famous, is almost a national sport, but in Denmark, they put out a strong hand to help you back onto your feet.
I liken the United States to a jungle where everyone must fend for themselves. A lot of people don’t make it, but the ones that do can roam the land freely and suck on its glorious fruit. On the other hand, Denmark is like a pleasant zoo with scheduled feeding times and twenty-four-hour veterinarian care. While I’d prefer the American system if I was on top of the food chain, the average human being would be better served by the Danish system.
The above article was adapted from my newest release, Don't Bang Denmark, a 72-page hater travel guide that teaches you how to sleep with Danish women while simultaneously convincing you not to go. It contains tourist tips, game advice, sex stories, and hate. It gives you all the information you need to dislike Denmark with extra details not released on the blog. It's available in both paperback and ebook. Read sample pages or learn more about the book.