Earlier this year Dave and I spent 16 days in Norway. We expected to be awed by the beautiful coastline, spectacular mountains and dramatic fiords. What we didn’t expect was how much we would come to appreciate the Norwegian people and to be so impressed with their government.
As you know if you’ve read my last few columns, I am convinced that inequality is the most serious problem we face in this world. What I didn’t know before I went to Norway is that it is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world and its people are considered among the happiest on earth. Make no mistake about it. Those two facts are related.
Norway hasn’t always been a happy nation. It was occupied by the Nazis for five years during World War II. That was a time of subjugation, a time of want, a time of active resistance. When the war ended Norway, like many occupied nations, had to rebuild itself. The nation’s fortunes were dramatically changed when oil was discovered there in the 1960’s. When you add to that the fact their King is a frugal sovereign who does not squander his country’s resources, and their parliament has by and large governed wisely, you have the basic ingredients for a stable economy and a roadmap for providing a good life for all the nation’s residents.
How different our country would be if the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania and the members of our Congress could learn from Norway’s example.
Our tour included a number of excellent lectures and we were repeatedly told: “There are no poor people in Norway.” So what have they done to create an egalitarian nation where the people by and large do not complain about paying their 40% income tax? The two things we heard over and over again were:
- Our health care is free from birth to death
- Education is free for all including university tuition
At this point I invite you to pause a moment and think about your own income and expenditures.
- What impact would it have on your financial status if you didn’t have to buy medical insurance and pay doctor and hospital bills?
- If you are parents or grandparents, what impact would free university tuition for your children or grandchildren have on your stress level and theirs’?
We need a moral budget that will level the playing field for all our residents. We need to increase our nations’ tax levels on the wealthy and stop favoring them at the expense of the poor and the middle class. It’s past time for all of us to tell our Congress to connect the dots so they can see the big picture, pass legislation to end inequality and act on our behalf instead of listening to the lobbyists who are protecting the 1%.
How do you plan to do that?
Blessings on your efforts,