6 Rebuttals to the “But Socialism Works in Scandinavia” Argument

Have you been in a debate with a Cult of Sanders member recently? Pretty easy to win that argument, right? You cite the Constitution, the horrific death and despair socialism has caused in Russia, China, Germany, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Cuba over the course of the past century, the supreme moral values of Human Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that Socialism fails to acknowledge, and the fact that LBJ’s War on Poverty has been a completely futile effort among other overwhelming arguments. But just as your socialist counterpart is teetering on the brink of beginning his metamorphosis into a full-grown Libertarian adult, he pulls out his trump card: Socialism works in Scandinavia.

It’s a devastating blow. I mean how can you argue with that? The Nordic nations are considered Socialist, and they are comprised of some of the happiest, healthiest, and most successful people in the world! It seems like it’s time to put away Old Glory, and get in line with the collectivist horde.

Snap out of it, friend! The debate is not over!

In the following entry, I will list and elaborate on six powerful arguments that will critique the effectiveness of the Nordic Model and teach Bernie Sanders and his followers why they should never use Scandinavia to support their agenda ever again.

Much of what I am going to report is taken from Nima Sanandaji’s revealing book called Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism which can be read for free here. You can also hear Sanandaji in a discussion about his findings here.

Here are the arguments. Enjoy!

  1. The US and Scandinavian Populations are Incomparable

This point proves that the discussion is irrelevant from the get-go. It’s a logical fallacy to compare apples to oranges. But when talking to Socialists, reason and logic may not matter, so you better have some statistics to persuade them.

To make this easy, I’ll break down some demographic factors that make any comparison between The Land of the Free and Scandinavia erroneous:


Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland)

  • 26 million people (average of under 7 million per country)


  • 300 million people (California alone has almost 39 million residents)

If the Scandinavian countries were US states, Sweden would be the 11th biggest, Denmark, Finland, and Norway would be 22nd, 23rd, and 24th respectively, and Iceland would be the smallest behind Wyoming.

In other words, the USA is, um, substantially larger than Scandinavia, and none of the Scandinavian states have the burden of an intrusive and distant federal government like ours. Can you imagine the outrage that would ensue if Stockholm announced it was going to take over the education and health insurance systems of the other Nordic nations? If anything, the stability and success of Scandinavia could serve as justification for the 10th Amendment and State’s Rights.

Do you remember when Mitt Romney was called in idiot for suggesting that his Obamacare-like policy, which was so successful in Massachusetts, would not have worked at a federal level? It looks like he may have been right.



  • 90% of Denmark’s population is ethnically Danish.
  • 94% of Norway’s population is ethnically Norwegian.
  • 94% of Iceland’s population is ethnically Icelandic.
  • Only 3.4% of Finnish citizens are foreign-born.
  • Sweden, peculiarly, does not keep these kinds of records, but we can all take a wild guess as to where the vast majority of their population hails from.


  • 37 different ancestry groups are represented by a population of over a million people in the US.
  • The immigrant population of the USA is twice the size of Scandinavia as a whole.
  • The US’s illegal immigrant population alone is made up of at least 11 million individuals, a greater population than that of any entire Scandinavian nation.

When cultural and ethnic backgrounds are homogenous, management isn’t very difficult. If you’re on a road trip with your friends to go to an AC/DC concert, picking a radio station is not too hard to do. But when you’re with your coworkers who all have different musical tastes, it might not be a bad idea to turn the radio off altogether.

Multiculturalism is not something the Scandinavians are forced to deal with. This is a uniquely American challenge, as far as Western Civilization goes. One-size-fits-all policies may work in less diverse regions of the world, but America is a land of rugged individualism and liberty. Considering our varied religions, customs, and values, Socialism is not plausible here.

  1. Scandinavia was Kicking Ass before Socialism

In today’s victimhood culture, people tend to start stories in the middle. Instead of being honest and exposing the choices they have made in the past, they conceal everything but their current state of affairs. It’s a great way to bypass responsibility, incur sympathy, and legitimize excuses.

This same immaturity is used by worshippers of Socialism. They see the Scandinavian nations ranking near or at the top in many positively-regarded qualities (like life expectancy and poverty rates) and declare Socialism the champion of political practices.

But by taking a quick glance at the history of these countries, something striking is revealed: they were already outperforming the rest of the world when Socialism was implemented:

  • Sweden had the highest growth rate in the industrialized world from 1870-1936 (when it was decidedly Capitalist).
  • Sweden fell from being the 4th wealthiest nation in the world to the 13th between 1975 and the 1990s (coinciding with the peak of its Socialist policies).
  • In 1960 (before Socialism hit Scandinavia), Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark ranked 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in life expectancy respectively. They are currently 7th, 9th, 11th, and 25th in the world. The US is 26th.
  • Wealth equality existed in Scandinavia nearly a century before Socialism.

All of this can be found in Sanandaji’s book.

To argue that Socialism has improved Scandinavian life on a global scale is like saying Brad Pitt became more handsome when he married Angelina Jolie; Brad has always been a beautiful, beautiful man.

  1. Business Creation and Employment have been Stagnant in Socialist Sweden

Of the 100 biggest employers currently in Sweden, zero were founded after the Socialist takeover around 1970. Six of America’s top-twenty employers (Yum! Brands, The Home Depot, Sears Holdings, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and FedEx) have been founded since then.

Since 1950, net job creation in Sweden has been relatively zero while the population has increased by nearly a third from 7 million to 9 million. The US has increased the amount of available jobs through every presidential term since 1950 and earlier.

Our system is beating Sweden’s when it comes to jobs.

  1. No Scandinavian Countries Have a Federal Minimum Wage

Raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour! No, $15 an hour! No, $4,562 an hour!

On this subject, I think I’d actually like to take the Scandinavian’s lead. There are zero federal minimum wage standards in Scandinavia. That’s right, zero. That’s roughly the same as the amount of years Bernie Sanders has spent doing something other than being a politician for the past 40 years.

Would it be a good or bad idea to remove minimum wage standards in the US altogether? It’s a good debate to be had. But raising the minimum wage at the federal level has nothing to do with the Nordics.

  1. No Scandinavian Countries Allow Birthright Citizenship

Birthright citizenship is a policy which grants citizenship to anyone born inside the granting country’s jurisdiction. Though there are strong arguments against this actually being legal in the US, America and Canada are the only two developed nations in world which permit birthright citizenship. This is according to the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. Most of Central and South America also allow birthright citizenship, but that’s basically it throughout the world.

In a free society, immigration is a good thing. More people means more producers, more consumers, and more ideas and innovation. A nation’s economy grows as its population does, so birthright citizenship should not only be welcomed but encouraged when people are free from government programs and coercion.

In a Socialist society, increasing the population is a nightmare. A large central government produces nothing. It only consumes salaries for bureaucrats and funding for federal programs and facilities, and redistributes the wealth which already exists. More people means more hands in the pot, and a consequently smaller share for everyone. While it may be morally deplorable, disallowing birthright citizenship in Scandinavia follows a smart Socialist model. If Bernie Sanders is elected and decides to turn us into Sweden, he better take their and Ann Coulter’s advice on immigration.

In Scandinavia, as well as other parts of Europe, right-wing political parties are rising as a response to the Syrian refugee crisis (as well as the economic disaster that is the EU). Unlike the US, European nations do not assimilate with their foreign born populations very well, so no American should pay attention to accusations of racism or xenophobia from any European. We are by far the most generous nation to immigrants in the world.

  1. Poor Scandinavians=Poor Americans, Rich Americans>Rich Scandinavians

As Margaret Thatcher brilliantly demonstrates in this video, Socialism is not about improving the economic situation, but balancing it. Rather than finding a way to make everyone in society richer, Socialism threatens to bring down both the rich and the poor for the sake of equality.

The figure displayed in this article illustrates these results fairly well. The poorest 10% of people in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the US all earn about 38% of their nation’s average income. Since the US has the highest average income of all those nations by a substantial margin, poor Americans may actually earn more than poor Scandinavians, and probably don’t pay taxes. Conversely, some of this may be offset by superior welfare programs in the Nordic nations (I admit that much of this is just conjecture). Additionally, the poor in Norway are a bit better off than the previously mentioned nations in terms of average income, but that may be due to Norway’s wealth in oil.

As far as the wealthy go, the richest 10% of Americans earn a whopping 210% more than the average American wage of $45k per year. As for Scandinavians? The richest 10% earn a little more than double their respective national averages with Norway again being a bit better off.

Is this what Bernie Sanders wants for America? Does he want the richest people in our country to be less well-off simply because their earnings are more unequal? Is he willing to risk making the poor even poorer for the sake of equality?

And just for kicks, shouldn’t the oversensitive people worried about macroaggressions be a little offended by Bernie Sanders wanting us to be more like the whitest, blondest, bluest-eyed people in the world?

I’m just joking about that last bit. You see how silly some of you sound?

You should definitely skim through Nima Sanandaji’s Scandinavian Unexceptionalism: Culture, Markets and the Failure of Third-Way Socialism before you take any of this stuff from me. He also touches upon the deterioration of work ethic in Scandinavia, the fact that Scandinavian emigrants are more successful than average Scandinavians, and that the Nordic nations with the least Socialistic tendencies tend to avoid the negative effects of Socialist policies.

It’s important that those of us who prefer Capitalism to Socialism to not only claim the moral and legal high ground (which is easy), but to be prepared with the practical superiority of a free society too.

6 Rebuttals to the “But Socialism Works in Scandinavia” Argument

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