Monday, 1 October 2007

Praise the social democracy

What kind of a professor is this? I think these things we talk about here have more to do with historical development and political priorities as a result of systems or paradigms or something, than human evolvment.

The debate about using taxes for social programmes is intense and will (according to Peter H. Lindert´s ”Growing Public”) continue to be so. He states that ”The future debate seems to follow naturally form the flow of history, the logic of self-interest, and the inevitable help-vesus-incentives quandary.” In the classic economies of Adam Smith and Malthus there wasn't much room for the public sector, the role of the state should be minimal not to mess with the competition of the market. But since 1850 or something like that, the public sector, especially in western Europe, has just kept expanding bit by bit, and than radically after the first and second world war. And it is still on increase. So at least in Norway the role of the state is big, and it keeps getting bigger, and the state is thus dependent on the tax payers (and the oil fund).

The case in norway is that after World War two there was a general wish to ”rebuild the country”, especially encouraged by the labour party wich was in power at the with Einar Gerhardsen as the prime minister. The governance was led by modern social dempcratic thought, with ideals such as welfarism, redistribution and social justice. The father of the social democracy, it is said, is Keynes which developed an idea of social democracy that on a general basis came to be widely accepted after the second world war. There was a desire the ´humanize´capitalism through state interevention.

2. I think then, following on what has previously been said, that the taxing is justified by this genereal celebration of the social democracy. Of course there is a debate, as Sofie says, about how much taxes people should pay and so on, but the most left wing and the most right wing opinions on the matter only vary by a few percentages. There is a general awareness the the system pays you back, and people are willing to invest in that.

3. When in comes to the incentives to work, that is one of the major criticisms from Adam Smith and such, that you have the ”free riders” which will benefit from the welfare system without contributing. But the system is quite good, and even though a few people do it, and it is hard to get economic support if you don't qualify for it.

4. The social differences in his country are in fact not big at all. Poverty, though it does exist, is not prominent. You do have an elite of people who earn lots more than others, but generally we’re just a bunch of middleclass people.

5. The government gives us free education, and yeah.. things I can’t remember right now. I am falling a sleep here. Yes, Sofie mentioned subsidizing on lots of things. And most public services are staterun (was that a pleonasm?), though not entirely free but a lot cheaper than what they would be if they were private. It is true that we send old people to Mediterranean countries for rehabilitation!

6. Yes, I also heard that the northern regions have relatively high suicide rates (not the whole country perhaps, but the region). And I suppose it has to do with the darkness, but probably many other factors as well. On Saturday, when we had a big party, I talked to one guy who lives in my flat, and he was doing research on ‘traumatic deaths’, which are deaths cased by an external factor, in the northernmost province in Norway. Suicide was a big issue but it can be due to the fact that the region has different social problems. There are very few people living there (to tempt people to live there you get to pay less tax if you live in the northern regions, and you get higher vages!!), and a lot of discontent since opportunities in terms of work are few. Okay, I am babbleing on with little grounds for what I am saying, so I think I should say good night. This was a horrible post.

I don’t have one of those lamps by the way. It is not very dark here yet. I think I should get a lamp when it starts being dark 24/7. But they are expensive!!


Shane said...

You're right, it's not about human evolution, but at the same time you can't isolate historical development & political priorities from society: society is what creates them. & society is made up of individuals, so I guess you could argue that a more progressive or enlightened social policy is indicative of a higher moral evolution of the society as a whole and the individuals who form it. Hehe. I can't get enough of sociology these days. Or the internet!!!

Shane said...

ps: what's a pleonasm?

Else said...

From Wikipedia:

"Pleonasm is the use of more words (or even word-parts) than necessary to express an idea clearly. The word comes originally from Greek πλεονασμός ("excess"). A closely related, narrower concept (some would say a subset of pleonasm) is rhetorical tautology, in which essentially the same thing is said more than once in different words (e.g "black darkness", "cold ice", "burning fire"). Regardless, both are a form of redundancy. Pleonasm and tautology each refer to different forms of redundancy in speech and the written word."

--> Public, state run

Shane said...

i'm all about pleonasms!! awesome!

Sofie said...

thank you else for posting a way more informed answer than me. i guess i took care of the more hands on examples and you explained theories and concepts. good team effort!

i am also all for pleonasms. wee!

Shane said... is ALL ABOUT team effort!

Sofie said...

Else, are your lectures in norwegian or english?