Posts Tagged ‘ truthout ’

Norway=model; exception

In addition to already having country profile pages for Germany and Japan, we have recently just added Denmark and Norway (also accessible from our home index page under the “countries covered” listing). While putting together the Norway page, we realized even more how exemplary Norway truly is.

Norway is not a member of the European Union. Also a factor in escaping the eurozone crisis is their oil and gas industry which has them benefiting from the largest budget surplus among all advanced democracies. Norway has an unemployment rate below 3%, no net national debt, and around $640 billion dollars stored away in a sovereign wealth account, mostly from its oil and gas industry. In 2009 Norway earned the highest per capita income.

Deserving much credit for its success is Norway’s fearlessness to tax. Their prosperous oil and gas industry receives a 28% corporate tax and a 50% industry surtax. Overall tax as a share of GDP is among the highest in the OECD. Corporate taxes are four times as high as U.S. rates. Their highest income tax bracket kicks in at $124,000 at 47.8%. Yet businesses aren’t saddling up to head to places where they might save on looser tax breaks, an argument from those in the U.S. representing a vast majority who refuse to consider any tax increase. In fact, start up activity not only in Norway, but also Denmark, Switzerland, and Canada is higher than that of the U.S. From 2006-2009, the U.S. economy treaded at a practically stagnant .1% growth rate compared to Norway’s exponentially faster rate of 3%. Norway also boasts more entrepreneurs per capita than the U.S.

Part of the reason why business owners are so keen to comply without raising a stir at Norwegian taxes is the sense of appreciation they have for the system. Norwegians benefit from free education from preschool to graduate school (often including universities outside of Norway); free healthcare; generous unemployment benefits due to a competitive, employee-friendly job market; forty-six weeks of maternity leave paid in full, 10 weeks for paternal leave. Education, retirement, and medical expenses are three paramount concerns for the average U.S. citizen, but all of which are provided in Norway. There’s a sense of giving back to the system in Norway for the ways one has benefited previously from the system.

 

Adapted from“US fiscal debate could learn from Norway” by Mark Provost from Progressive Press and  “In Norway, start ups say Ja to socialism” by Max Chafkin in Inc. Magazine.

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Awareness precedes change…

And we’re not the only ones talking about it. The US continues its fall from its potential and precedent as noted keenly by Arthur Goldwag in his Truthout.org article, seemingly regardless of who’s running for the White House. If we’re striving for true change, where should we turn? Goldwag’s insightful review of Howard Steven Friedman’s latest book, The Measure of a Nation, offers a blunt and empirical wake up call for the awareness that is needed if significant change is going to take place in order to turn America back from just a great idea and into execution. Noting from Friedman, Goldwag focuses on the lack of attention given to the poor, minority communities citing our negligence towards them as the reason why we’re so far behind in quality of life indicators such as education, voter participation, life expectancy, incarcerating, amenable deaths, health care, and other areas. To paraphrase Goldwag, incarcerating the minority is ignoring the problem when we should be more attentive to the community if we are to make a priority of making the US the best country it once was.

Rania Khalek on racist mass incarceration

“The US has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, more than any other nation. and has five percent of the world’s population. The costs fall predominately on racial minorities. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population and 40 percent of US prisoners.”

Activists rallied outside the Justice Department in Washington DC reminding us of our propensity for mass incarceration. Reporting for Truth-out.org, Rania Khalek links the US’s incarceration rates to racial injustices throughout the system in his article.