Denmark, one of the scandinavian countries, is often applauded for its financially equal society and work life balance. Mostly that equality is caused by an agressive progressive taxation of income and strong unions who negotiate for fewer working hours. The taxes support a state which employees more than 50% of the working population. The private sector is in decline and is under ever more scrutiny.
The most extreme capitalist politicians are proposing to reduce the 55% tax on income above $80’000, and the 180% tax on vehicles, but only slightly, some other politicians are arguing for a status quo at best.
Because of the high rate of taxes citizens pay, and since many workers are in a government system of fixed salaries, compensation take other forms. Mostly freedom in terms of leisure time.
Status symbols in Denmark take the form of home cooking, fit bodies, paternity leave and home grown organic food. Driving a luxury car is not cool. If you want to be cool, you build your own fixed gear bicycle from vintage parts.
The common denominator for status, is time. Denmark is now a country where flashing symbols of spare time, is more potent than flashing money, because money is linked to dodging taxes and exploiting the employed.
The ambitious, hard working citizen is out of fashion. Portrayed as narcisistic and soulless, the citizens who produce most of the financial value are taxed the hardest and always suspected the most.
The entrepreneur is haralded as a saviour, but not because of his genius, the technology he creates or the businesses he builds, but rather because he creates jobs which in turn fuels employment and thus the state.
The popular business are in wind power, fitness and healty food, there is little recognition of the entrepreneur who is making sure that the roads are paved, that tools are machined or that technology moves forward.
I moved out of Denmark, and lived in the UK for 5 years, to escape this atmosphere of suspicion of the ambitious, the people who take pride in their jobs, who work hard and expect to get paid accordingly. I am now back in Denmark, and nothing has changed.
The public debate is still suspicious of anyone but the middle class. People with businesses are mostly questioned about what expenses they can deduct and how much they are sacrificing their family. They should be admired for following their passion and producing wealth for their employees and the society that hosts them, regardless of the businessnes they are in.
I hope that one day, the debate will focus on how to saviour and celebrate those in business. They provide a great service to society, they provide the jobs that allow the modern worker to come in at 9 am and leave at 2 pm to pick up his kids, grow his organic vegetables and brew his own beer. They allow the majority of the workers in Denmark to be employed by the government where profit is not the prime target, and the worker can focus on other goals in his professional life.
Denmark needs to realise who is creating the money for footing the bill.