Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dave's descent into Danish darkness

Fate (and an invitation to talk about some research on the health of workers in different occupations) has brought me to Denmark, a verdant land of wind turbines, excellent rail service, universal health care, tradable carbon permits, labor protections, restricted store hours, and one of the highest tax burdens on the planet -- in other words the nightmare vision of the Republicans/Tea Party.

According to their fevered prognostications, this country should be a hollowed-out, post-apocalyptic wasteland. Then again, according to some other fevered prognostications, yesterday was the day to cash in those Groupons for the Rapture.

A job-killing, death-panel-induced, government-hands-all-over-my-Medicare, theft-posing-as-taxation calamity may yet befall the Danish economy. For now, however, there's little that's rotten here. Despite the recent global recession, the country remains prosperous with an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent and a per-capita gross national income that is only slightly less than that of the US on a PPI-adjusted basis (and 25% higher than that of the US on an exchange-rate basis).

Aside from a couple of cranky infants in a coffee shop, the Danes that I have encountered have been happy and smiling. Maybe they're just getting the last laugh.