In America, many Democrats invoke Scandinavia as a promised land of equality, while most Republicans fear it as a hotbed of liberty-threatening socialism. But the left and right can usually agree on one thing: that the Nordic system is impossible to replicate here at home. The US is too big, or too individualistic, or too puritan, or too … something. Whatever the reason, it’s impossible, and we shouldn’t bother to try.
Enter George Lakey. A longtime activist and academic, Lakey has spent decades studying the economies of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, and in Viking Economics, he reveals that Scandinavia’s deep commitment to the welfare state is much more recent than we think. Not long ago, Scandinavia was a far more unequal place, with a much weaker commitment to the social welfare of its citizens. There’s nothing inherently Scandinavian about greater equality … so why not try it here?
Viking Economics is more fun and entertaining than any economics book you’ve ever read. And, very possibly, more convincing! As he ranges from twentieth-century Norwegian history to the details of Swedish childcare policies, Lakey never loses his sense of humor or his expansive, generous vision of a better, more equal future. By explaining that even Scandinavia’s grandest experiments in social equality are rooted in recent political struggles, Lakey explains shows how we can do it, too-conventional wisdom be damned.