Denmark – a happy Paradise
I have noticed a lot of well-meaning Americans praising Denmark for our happiness and our welfare system. We’re praised for our free education, free healthcare, free childcare, short workweek and all the other things that the goodness-industry is proclaiming to define us Danes.
Well, think again, please. We are no more happy than Germans, Turks, Americans or any other country in the world. We might just be a little more complacent and have probably fallen prey to the comfort of our concept of ‘Hygge’. We’re not happy; we’re comfortable in our complacency.
Unlike the United States, which is a very young country with a very short history, Denmark is one of the oldest existing nations in the world. You would think the young nation would be full of great, new ideas, but no; some americans look to an old, stagnant nation such as Denmark for guidance.
Nothing is free
“Child- and healthcare is free and students are paid to study in Denmark!”. That’s a line I’ve heard a lot. It’s a truth that needs a lot of modification. A lot!
If by ‘free’ you mean ‘paid for by someone else’ you are right in the assumption that healthcare, childcare and education are almost free of charge.
In order to pay for all this ‘goodness’ the Danes pay a lot of taxes. Not just income tax but tax on everything! In some cases even tax on the taxes, and we have what we call a ‘Nanny-state’. Indeed, the very reason we danes are so happy is because we are constantly under the watchful eye of Mother State. I’ll get back to that later.
You need to understand something about Danes. We were Vikings once. We spend our sparetime seeing the world, making our mark on it and inviting people to come home and live with us. Yeah, we sailed forth, ravaged the world and brought back slaves, but the first version sounds better.
We became rich. Filthy rich. Which is the base of the wealth we have today. We were never conquered by other nations – except for 5 years of World War II – and therefore have had about a thousand years to amass wealth and become complacent in our ways of life.
The people of the United States have a very different history. You are from a lot of different places and your nation of little more than 200 years old. You had a massive Civil War and you act as if you are the “police of the world”. You are constantly at war somewhere in the world – never at home – but you spend an awful lot of money on ‘defending’ yourselves.
Also, there is a lot more Americans in the world than there are Danes. Danes are few in number and the kingdom is very small compared to the United States (if we subtract the vast emptiness of Greenland).
You, as americans, can never be like us Danes; mainly because you’re not even one people. You identify as African-American, Hispanic-American, German-American, Native-American and all sorts of blank-American. In order to have a welfare state, you need to be one people and identify as such.
And you shouldn’t have the welfare state to begin with…
What money can buy
If you want free healthcare, free childcare and free education someone else needs to pay for it. Nothing in the world is free and these things are very expensive. Free stuff never comes cheap and least of all when it comes from the state.
Imagine being an ordinary working class Dane with a monthly salary of 25,000 DKK. That’s about 4,000 USD, but there is a vast difference between our two nations and it is impossible to compare USD as used in Denmark.
First you pay your income tax. This is done automatically because in Denmark we have SKAT (TAX) which handles these things for us. The company you work for registers you with SKAT and by magic this huge part of danish government handles your tax-payment.
Arbejdsmarkedsbidrag – which is impossible for me to translate – is set at 8% – and it’s the first tax you have to pay. 8% of 25,000 DKK is 2,000 DKK, which means you have 23,000 left of your income, and still have taxes to pay. But first, some good news!
We all have our ‘bundfradrag’, which translates into ‘bottom deduction’. It’s a deduction of non-taxed money! You simply don’t pay taxes of this amount! Yay, free money!
In 2015 this Bundfradrag is 41,400 annually. Divided by 12 to get a monthly Bundfradrag makes it 3,433 DKK. Take that away from the amount we had left after the statetax makes it 23,000 minus 3,433.
19.567 DKK left and now we move on to the big taxes. Kommuneskat, or county tax – is different from county to county. In this example I will use the average county-tax which is 24.9%.
So, we’re left with 14,694.81. No rounding up! We still have taxes to pay!
If we in this example made more than 37,000 DKK per month there would be ‘Topskat’ now. Yes, indeed, the more money you make the more taxes you have to pay. Not just percentage-wise, but all the money you make more than 449,100 annually is taxed with yet another 15%!
Luckily we don’t make that much money in this example.
We have yet another tax to pay and they named it Sundhedsskat – or Health-tax! It’s an odd little tax that is lowered by 1% each year while Bottom Tax is raised 1% per year. This year Sundhedsskat is at 4%. We need to pay that too.
We take our income of 19,567 and take 4% off that. Say goodbye to another 782.68. We take that amount from what we are left with which make our entire income of the 25,000 DKK new 13,784.32.
We have paid 11,215.68 or about 44% in income taxes but are we done yet? By no means!
Taxes, taxes, taxes everywhere!
Let’s take our 13,784.32 DKK out of the bank. Let’s pay some bills, shall we?
Every time we pay a bill we must pay the government sales tax. It’s at a staggering 25%! Yes, indeed, everytime you buy anything from your local vendor 20% goes to the government. If something would have cost 20 DKK, like an ice cream or a soda, the government puts on an extra 5 (25% of the price) and takes that money from the vendor, who is nice enough to price it at 25 DKK for us.
He has the hassle of collecting the sales tax on the behalf of the government. He gives it to them quarterly and subtracts what he has paid for things that are sales tax-deductible for companies. Companies are given back the money they spend on stuff they need to run their business once every quarter.
This is of course very confusing, but all the sales taxes end up with the government. So, we pay yet another 25% of our income in indirect sales taxes!
Taxation on Tax
Let’s give that money to the government from our disposable income. That makes our money 10.338 (now we can round up)
There are much more expensive bills to pay, and ‘Afgift’, which is just another word for tax, is used instead of Skat, which means the same.
When you pay your utility bill, you pay a lot in Afgift. I have my most recent eletrical bill on hand. Let’s use that one. It’s says 994.64 DKK for a three month period. Eletricity-Afgift – yes, there is such a thing – is where you pay for the privilege of being able to use electricity in your home.
The Electricity-company charges 111.06 for my use of 358 kiloWatt/Hour and 30 DKK for membership. With sales tax imposed on this it comes to 176.33 dkk.
The eletricity-company charges 0.37 DKK per KiloWatt/Hour, and the state imposes an ‘electricity transportation Afgift’ of 0.21 DKK. According to the eletricity-company I used 358 kWh last period which makes this Afgift 80.89 DKK for the period.
No, we’re not done with the taxation yet. Calm yourself down.
EL-Afgift is the main portion of taxation here. It’s a staggering 0.88 DKK per kWh! That makes it 331.88 DKK in EL-Afgift!
All combined the state takes 412.77, but hey, those numbers don’t add up, now do they? Of course not. There’s more!
When all combined the company gets 241.88 from me every quarter, but this still doesn’t add up. 241.88 plus 412.77 only makes 654.65 DKK and even with the company’s charges (with sales tax) of 176.33 it still only makes 830.98 DKK, doesn’t it?
It would if the government didn’t have the gall to tax the Afgift. The Afgift-ridden amount of 654.65 of course needs a sales tax! Sales tax is different from Afgift and of course no money can change hands unless the state get’s it 20%!
The final bill for three months of electricity lookes like this:
Company charges 141.06 DKK and with sales tax that’s 176.33. The state gets 35.27 DKK from this part of the process.
Now Afgift on transport and use of the state-owned network, Afgift on electricity because it is something we need and want comes to 654.65 and slam! Here comes sales tax on the Afgifts which comes to 163.66.
Confused? Well, I am, so here comes everything a little more simplfied. Out of the 994.64 I paid for electricity the company get’s 141.06 DKK – and the rest, a staggering 853.58 goes to the government. Some of it is Afgift and some of it is even sales tax on Afgift!
I can’t afford to watch TV
Wanna buy a TV in Denmark? Maybe a phone? Maybe a computer for internet access? Want to own a radio? You can, and buying it will, of course, cost you 20% extra in sales tax, but that’s not all.
If you own any device that can pick up a TV- or radio signal or have internet access you have to pay for ‘Licens’! Yes sir, you have to pay a license-fee to own one such device because you have the opportunity to watch or listen to something aired by Danmarks Radio, or DR as it is known.
I know you’re confused here, but DR is a huge government mediacompany that doesn’t operate on market-terms. If you own anything that can pick up DR you have to pay.
As a matter of fact, a representative of Licens-kontoret – The License Office – will come to your door if you’re not registered with them because everyone owns something that can pick up that damn TV-channel, go on the internet or pick up a radiosignal.
The cost for such a license is 205 DKK per month. Yeah, that’s right, you own something and have to pay a fee for it. That’s state logic for you.
I have personally chosen not to own a TV or a radio. My computer actually belongs to my mother and my phone belongs to a close friend of mine. Therefore I do not own anything that needs to be licensed, because I fully reject the notion that I have to pay this license-fee.
When all is said and paid for
Tell me again how everything is free in Denmark? Tell me again, that we are so lucky to have free education, free healthcare, free childcare and free whatnot.
We are paying for it. We pay a lot for it. More than you can ever imagine as an American. I have no idea how much you pay in taxes or what you can deduct from them, but in Denmark – where the people are happy and comfortable – we pay dearly for that.
Not only do you pay in terms of money but also as individuals. The state has taken over our lives by making us believe that we are so well off, that we are free and that we are ever so happy.
This is my advice to Americans who wants ‘free’ this and that, and who are willing to raise taxes to such an extent as we have in Denmark.
Stop. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you that much better than everyone else? Are you so self-centered that you think taking from others to give to others and yourself is right? Are you the kind of person who is willing to make someone else pay for your life?
If so, I suggest you create a community of your own. It doesn’t have to be somewhere but someone. Find likeminded people who are willing to give up their freedom for this community. Make your own government and impose taxation on that membership.
Just don’t use force to make others pay for your ideal society. You don’t have that right. You don’t have the right to impose your moral values upon others for ‘the greater good’. You, as a people born of the desire for freedom, should understand this.
Your ancestors left their homes to find freedom. Your ancestors fought the War of Indepence to assure that freedom. You had a civil war that was all about freedom. You helped, albeit reluctantly, when freedom was threatened in Europe and Asia during World War II. You still fight for freedom, but rather perversely I might add, but some of you still believe it’s about freedom.
Why would you go back on the very essence of America by taking away freedom from others and forcing them to pay for ‘free’ things? You are going in the direction of Denmark and as shown above that is an expensive route to take. You should go back to freedom, not away from it!
I see The United States as sort of a grandchild of older nations, such as Denmark, who have ‘been there, done that and made the mistakes’. This is of course my very personal view, which is not shared by many danes, but as a true Viking I can only give you one advice.
Don’t give up your freedom for ‘free stuff’. There is no such thing as ‘free’ when it comes to governments. Everything comes at a price and you should never be willing to pay a price that includes your fellow man paying the same price against his will.