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Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians Got It Right-and How We Can, Too Hardcover – July 12, 2016
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“Here, Lakey combines historical analysis, economic data and interview-based opinion to produce something that delivers much more than each of those could do in isolation. As a result, Viking Economics tells a story of economic change and the foundations on which it was built at a time when it is so obvious that such narratives are desperately needed in modern political discourse.”—Richard Murphy, Times Higher Education magazine
“Viking Economics shows us there's no reason we couldn't be making far more progress across a wide range of problems. George Lakey is great at explaining why.” —Bill McKibben, environmentalist and author, Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, founder of 350.org
“Carrying student debt? Working longer hours with no vacation? Do you wonder if it is possible for the U.S. to reverse a generation of extreme inequality? It doesn’t have to be this way. Viking Economics helps us envision a different way of organizing our economy to put people and planet first. ” —Chuck Collins, Senior Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies, author of Wealthy, Come Home
“The Nordic model has proven extraordinarily successful in ensuring a decent standard of living for all the citizens of these countries, while at the same time keeping them open to international trade and at the forefront of technology. This short book is a great starting point for those looking for insights into the origins and structure of this model.” —Dean Baker is Co-Director of Center for Economic and Policy Research and author of Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People
“Brilliant, fun to read, and most timely--just what Americans need right now! Lakey busts key myths that keep us believing we can’t have the society we want. Bravo for this great source of evidence-grounded hope!”—Frances Moore Lappé, author of Diet for a Small Planet and Getting a Grip: Clarity, Creativity and Courage for the World We Want
About the Author
GEORGE LAKEY is Visiting Professor at Swarthmore College. He is the author of many books and articles and has written for Waging Nonviolence and Common Dreams, among other publications.
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The Nordic model that Lakey describes is not against markets, or capitalists, or profits. It does suggest that they should not be the ultimate concern in a society and should serve the needs of the members of the society, and not the other way around.
I do wish he had spent more time describing how we might adapt this model to current conditions in the United States. The description of how the Scandinavians developed the consensus they currently have relied pretty heavily on an organized labor movement that has largely been eviscerated in the US.
I do highly recommend it though. It is very approachable for book on this subject, and while I wouldn’t call it a page turner, it is a very enjoyable and enlightening read.
Growing inequality is the root cause of our malaise. The symptoms are elite and corporate dominance and our inability to moderate them at the ballot box. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark provide the vision for our progressive movement. They struggled with elite dominance and authoritarianism and by dint of non-violent action overcame it to achieve meaningful democracy. Voting was not enough. Violence was not the answer. Boycotts, strikes, unionization, dogged demonstrations and other non-violent movements ultimately prevailed. Eventually the elite caved and strangely enough the economy prospered to the advantage of rich and poor alike. The goals that these tactics achieved were high taxes to support universal health care, free education, massive job training along with generous unemployment compensation. Bailouts for investors, including investment banks were prohibited. But coops and savings banks were protected. It turns out that most of the wealthy realized that high taxes were worth the cost because they lead to a stable and high growth economy with a population that trusts government. Crime and corruption were lowered to the lowest among developed nations. Only a few CEOs left the country. Startups and small business flourished as did small farms. Rural-Urban conflicts evaporated. Science, including environmental protection, global warming offsets, carbon taxes, electric cars, bikes and public transportation happened because of increased awareness and realism. Immigration and its consequent racism is and was a problem, but it was successfully mitigated and for the most part held to a minimum because of strong popular opinion and election results to the contrary. Lakey opines that Trump is a symptom not a cause. And he notes that Trump only got the votes of a quarter of the US population while the other three quarters failed to realize their majority and did not recognize the need to organize, demonstrate, start moving for things they favor: unions, taxes, health care, education, infrastructure, living wages, and jobs for everyone. Take heart friends. If the Vikings can do it so can the Yanks. Inequality is not our ultimate fate as long as we level the playing field for labor and make investors take the full risk of their investments without the protection of bailouts or tax loopholes.