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July 08, 2009 – Comments (9)

 George Lakey: (Activist)

I just returned from a research trip to Norway where the people I interviewed often brought up the topic of our new President. The first was Kristin Clemet, the director of a conservative think tank. "This spring on a delegation to Washington I was struck again," she said, "by how different the political spectrum is in Norway from your country. Here, Obama would be on the right wing." I checked her view with others -- academics, politicians, activists all over the Norwegian spectrum -- and all but one agreed. In Norwegian terms, our President's positions are very conservative...

...Half a century ago Norway already had a universal health care system that is simplicity itself. There's a single payer (the government) and minimum red tape, something like Medicare but for everyone and better. The entire political spectrum supports this. By contrast, Obama says he backs the failed U.S. private insurance scheme and his team is wobbling on his own modest proposal to add a public option. So I would have to say to thoughtful Republicans: even if you don't like the Nordic blend of capitalism and socialism, with its virtual abolition of poverty, free university education, and enlightened environmentalism, you're only confusing the issue when you try to label the President with the "S"-word. You may think his policies are wrong, but in Norway even conservatives would say the Democrats and Obama don't go nearly far enough.

9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 08, 2009 at 11:35 PM, Imperial1964 (97.77) wrote:

Fair enough, but Norway also has a good stream of oil revenue with which to pay for their social services.  It is the world's fifth largest oil producer, with the oil sector providing 30% of the country's tax revenues.

I think even we could have a balanced budget most years and provide free education and health care if we discovered oil fields that would increase Federal revenues by almost 50%.

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#2) On July 09, 2009 at 1:23 AM, blake303 (29.17) wrote:

I think even we could have a balanced budget most years and provide free education and health care if we discovered oil fields that would increase Federal revenues by almost 50%

Or we could end illegitimate wars and dramatically reduce the defense budget. 

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#3) On July 09, 2009 at 1:41 AM, ati2ud (34.71) wrote:

I got to visit Norway for some training a few years ago.  Studied in Kongsberg and then we partied in Oslo every night.  I was truly amazed at the lack of homeless and really poverty in general as it was explained to me.  (of course this is just what I saw with my own eyes, and I realize they are quite small.  but it was still impressive to me)

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#4) On July 09, 2009 at 7:10 AM, dickseacup (66.28) wrote:

The population of Norway: 4.7 million

The population of the US: 306 million

GDP of Norway (US$): $387.4 billion/yr

GDP of the US: $13.78 trillion/yr

GDP per capita in Norway (US$): $63,690

GDP per capita in the US: $41,770

National debt of Norway (US$): $148.1 billion

National debt of the US: $8.059 trillion (and growing by the second)

 (all numbers courtesy of Wolfram Alpha)

 

Where will the money come from to provide single-payer health care to the masses? Higher taxes that reduce productivity (GDP, by extension) even further? Higher debt? Maybe we could take the world-class care provided by the VA health system, combine it with the sound fiscal management of the Medicare program, fund it with Social Security dollars and call it the National Health Authority.

 

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#5) On July 09, 2009 at 7:21 AM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

"This spring on a delegation to Washington I was struck again," she said, "by how different the political spectrum is in Norway from your country. Here, Obama would be on the right wing."

I very much agree. Some things that are mainstream in the U.S. are ultra right wing over here (Germany). 

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#1) On May 21, 2009 at 5:04 AM, portefeuille (99.97) wrote:
wow, we are truly building hype (see this post written a few hours ago)!!!
I get the feeling that the attitude of "us" Europeans towards the U.S. has somewhat evolved from disgust (towards Bush(ies)) to pity.
I get the feeling that very few (western) Europeans would want to live in the U.S. even if they were offered a 100% raise, a villa and a nanny (for your newborn)). And if they really had to, then they would certainly prefer the blue states ...

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(from here)

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#6) On July 09, 2009 at 7:34 AM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

Does anyone know of Norway's immigration policies?  I wonder how much of their federal resources are spent towards "new" residents.

Also, I wonder now that the world is in a recession and oil prices have fallen how long can the "free" health care exist before it consumes an ever increasing size compared to GDP?

I have no idea.  I just was curious.

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#7) On July 09, 2009 at 8:55 AM, dickseacup (66.28) wrote:

According to this website, total accrued tax revenue in Norway in 2005 amounted to NOK 803 billion. At present exchange rates, that equates to about US$123 billion. From the linked page:

Total taxes as a percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) (figure 2) can give a rough im­pres­sion of the general tax level. Total accrued taxes as a percentage of GDP is estimated to 44.9 for 2004. Adjusted for the petroleum activity, the tax level is estimated to 42.0 per cent. 1cf. the National Budget 2002, box 4.1 for a documentation of the calculation method (in Norwegian).

The taxes as percent of GDP listed there is in line with what is reported on Wiki. If we believe Wiki's numbers, then the US total tax as percent of GDP is  roughly 28.2%.

For the American's who are calling for expansion of the stellar VA and Medicare programs to cover all citizens, are you willing to pay 80% more in taxes to pay for this health care utopia? What effect do you think nearly doubling the tax burden on already cash-strapped workers will have on our consumption based economy?

 

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#8) On July 09, 2009 at 12:17 PM, devoish (98.56) wrote:

Dickseacup,

Our healthcare spending is double the next closest model. Your point about not having the money without being an oil exporter would be a bigger concern if we weren't already finding double the money the Norwegians need.

Lets imagine your 80% tax increase figure works.

In New Jersey, the median family income is $65,933. Half the familys earn less than that figure. They are in the 15% tax bracket. $65,933 x .15 = $9890. they currently pay in Fed taxes.  $9890. x .80 = $7912.00 they would be paying in increased taxes for their families care.

According to the Kaiser Institute the average family healthcare premium is $12,937.00.

So half of New Jersey would better off with that not so scary anymore 80% tax increase and without the health insurance bill.

New Jersey has the highest median family income of any state in the Nation, so in every other state more than half of American families would benefit. Mississippi has a median family income of $36,000 and more than half the states are below $50k.

In an effort to be honest with the numbers let's try it with total tax of 28.2%, under the assumption that you pay a percentage in tax equal to every American who out-earns you (In Dickseacup parlance the "not-masses").

If your family has taxable income of $57,000 x .28.2% x .80% = $12,859 congratulations, you broke even (and you are probably not visiting an investing website with your extra cash). 40 states have a lower than $57k median income 10 higher.

What effect do you think nearly doubling the tax burden on already cash-strapped workers will have on our consumption based economy?

I think for substantially more than half of Americans it would offer them better quality healthcare, and give them more discretionary money.

Where will the money come from to provide single-payer health care to the masses?

From not wasting money on health insurance companies. 

By "the masses" do you mean the "cash strapped workers"? Because when you say "masses" I think "neighbors".

202 244 3121 call and support H.R.676.

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#9) On July 09, 2009 at 12:24 PM, portefeuille (99.66) wrote:

Germany by the way probably has as much income from oil as New Jersey.

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