In Praise Of the Nordic Model

Most importantly, the Nordic model itself contributes to resilience. The comprehensive safety net, one of the attributes of the Nordic model, has proved to be robust also in times of crisis. The entitlements are not tied to the fate of individual companies or particular markets, and risks are widely shared in the society. While forest plants are shutting down in Finland and car manufacturing is sharply contracting in Sweden, the governments are firmly rejecting requests for support of ailing industries. Still, there are no crowds protesting in the streets, largely because flexible work arrangements, based both on general and company-specific agreements between businesses and labour, alleviate a rise in unemployment. Structural change is enhanced by the employment protection legislation, which is more liberal than in most other EU countries. A well-educated labour force, another of the attributes of the Nordic model, facilitates adjustment by making it easier to upgrade skills through additional training.

We are strong but not strong enough. Our political system is not equipped to deal with sound policy; it’s set up to create mediocre policy. For as bold as we Americans want to believe we are, we shy away from sound policy like a bad habit. We cry more about an estranged principal that never existed in our republic than about the fact our government and country is broken—fixable but broken. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s to blame. The answer to that may be “everything.”

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