Nordic legend portrays Valhalla as heaven, the great reward for all good, blond, beserkers. It would appear that our government and the media have adopted the Norse country as the poster children for their campaign to strip us of our rights and to justify taxing the working class out of existence. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are all portrayed as utopian societies, more civilized, progressive, tolerant, and prosperous. In other words, these nations represent the epitome of what the US should become. We are to envy their free health care and education, but common sense says that nothing is free, and nothing is coming in the mail. Norwegians pay 50% in income tax as well as 25% sales taxes, along with gasoline prices of over $9 per gallon. We are to believe that they have achieved Valhalla. Well, after some research, I have concluded that the description of paradise is merely clever real estate marketing. It would be like listing an outhouse as an eco-friendly, rustic, once room efficiency apartment constructed of reclaimed lumber and recycled materials.
Yes, Denmark has free health care and education, but their citizens give up as much as 40% of their earnings to taxes. They have that other great panacea called Value Added Tax,(VAT), which means that items are taxed at every single phase of the production process. The grain is taxed as a harvested crop, and again when it becomes flour. In fact all the raw materials are taxed, and then taxed again as they are combined into a final product. While you might not see a sales tax on the end product, the components of that product have been taxed individually and combined multiple times before the loaf of bread ever reaches a local market, thereby increasing the costs of the final product. The easiest example found involves purchasing an automobile. Ironically, few in Denmark own new cars. Five dollars and more per gallon of gasoline is probably a big contributing factor as in each step of the refining process, value is added and taxed until the final product hits the pumps. But in real numbers, a car, which in the United States would cost $25-30,000, costs the average citizen of Denmark $50,000. Now imagine having half as much money coming home in the pay envelope and paying inflated pricing for everything. There really wouldn't be sufficient money left over for health care and education expenses.
As for their education being superior, perhaps there is some truth, but we are comparing apples to oranges. Our children are not in school year round. Every year, our kids go through an extended summer break which effectively means that teachers spend a goodly portion of the school year reviewing what was forgotten from the previous year. If you don't use it, you lose it. The grading and progression of students through the various levels, up to, and including college is on a totally different time schedule. And not all students gain entrance to college as we know it in this country. Many are routed into apprenticeship programs and trade specific schools. Europe has no problem with stating a child is not university material, nor that students should be considering alternate career options. This is not perceived as discrimination, but rather honesty as to the unique skills and abilities that every human being has, but that no two individuals have in exactly the same combination. Private schools in Denmark are supported by a voucher system up until age 15 or 16. Approximately half continue on to vocational training and 50% continue schooling, but there are different types of schooling devoted to business, or technology, or agriculture, along with the academic university system. As the government pays for this, the schools are closely monitored and must meet performance standards. (I fear that our educators would consider that as indoctrination rather than education and "teaching to the test".) Schools not only have to meet specific goals and standards of achievements, but they must be competitive with one another. A voucher system means that families have full range of choice as to where their children attend school.
Our country discusses year round education, particularly as the extended summer breaks have no meaning in a society where children are not needed as farm hands, but I am thinking that unions might well be the driving force behind not using a full year calendar. No teacher's union in Denmark means that the school calendar and the length of the school day is determined on a universal basis by the government. I would hazard a guess that would be considered union busting in this country. And while Denmark sat atop the world in educational rankings for many years, it would appear that in recent years, there has been quite a decline from the top three down to ranking in the top ten to fifteen. The system is based upon strict accountability from teachers and students alike, and full participation by students and their families. Education in Denmark may be experiencing more in common with the US than they would care to imagine.
Moving on to Sweden, which is tauted as the home of tolerance and inclusiveness, my readings uncovered the fact that since the era of open immigration, Sweden has sustained a 300% increase in violent crime overall. The most frightening statistic is that the incidence of rape in Sweden has escalated by almost 1500% during that same time frame. In fact, a story recently came to light in which a Muslim refugee raped a three year old girl. As the police in Sweden are spread so thinly, a private security service detained the offender. Of course, the housing community in which he lived demanded that he leave. The police instructed the private security to let the man go, because they didn't have the resources to process him. There was a quick damage control and cover up of the incident to suppress it from media attention by the Swedish Migration Board.
Private security is big business in Sweden with household alarm systems being primary, but a goodly number of Swedes electing for personal body guard services. Swedes complain that response time to requests for police intervention are excessively long. This trend is escalating with the onslaught of refugees from the Middle East, which are housed in group home settings to acclimate to their new home environment. Except they are not acclimating, but rather demanding that the Swedes change their traditions and institutions. Sound familiar? In some parts of Sweden, fear is so high, that citizens are setting fire to these group homes when they are opened in a new neighborhood. In one instance, the fire was actually started by a refugee, but the actual reasons were unclear.
Sales of firearms in Sweden are also escalating in proportion to the crime statistics. One half million registered, licensed gun owners represent two million actual weapons. The demands for firearms seems to increase by 10% per year. In order to own a firearm in Sweden you must be 18, have no criminal record, and be a licensed hunter or registered to a public gun club. Interestingly enough, the greatest increase in the issuance of hunting licenses comes from women who now hold one in every five permits.
And while the press focuses on the bombings of ISIS targets by the French, the French government, in light of the past weekend's tragedy, is moving towards making firearms more accessible to their citizens. It would seem that they see a need for a populace that can, and will, be equipped to protect itself from potential terrorism threats. Ironic when our government tells us that the only way to be safe is to give up our right to bear arms. It would seem that all their examples are literally going up in flames.
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