Tag Archives: Denmark

Having no expertise in epidemiology nor politics…

…I still feel qualified to express opinions regarding COVID-19

Here’s a chart from the excellent 91-divoc site:

(The country you can’t see, overwritten by Switzerland, is Canada.)  What I make of this is that maybe the Swedish approach, relatively unrestricted, works about as well as the Illinois approach, pretty locked down except for big demonstrations. Otoh, if the Danes are similar to Swedes, then the former nation’s lockdown might have been quite helpful in reducing deaths.  To a level almost as low as Texas, tho we’ll see how that works out in the coming month or so.

Go play with the site, recently enhanced to allow comparisons between U S states and nations.  It’s great fun.

Why are Danes happy?

Danish Georgist Ole Lefmann recently circulated a paper looking at this question from, of course, a Georgist viewpoint.  There’s a lot about Georgist theory (I guess Georgists can skip that part) and a lot about Danish history (likewise for Danes, I suppose).  Lefmann notes the Danish traditions of political and legal equality, absence of an empire and no “resource curse.”  Historically Denmark had a considerable land tax, but in more recent times this has declined to, he says, less than 2% of value.  (Not trivial, I say, even 1% is a significant cost to the speculator.)

But Danes pay high taxes, and these are largely taxes on labor, so how can the Danes be happy? The answer, he says, is all taxes reduce rent, so part of any tax on labor is really a tax on rent. And the proceeds are used to provide social services, so Danes are happy.

It would of course be less complicated and much cheaper for the Government and the taxpayers to collect the rent of land directly from the landowners than by collecting the same amount indirectly via many other sources. The major problem in that matter is that so many of the Danish voters have got the idea that they don’t like land-value taxation and prefer many other taxes

I claim no knowledge of the Danish tax system, but I would guess that higher-income folks do pay a somewhat greater percentage of their incomes than lower-income ones, and the former are more likely collecting rent than the latter.  If so, then on that basis I would conclude that Denmark is collecting some of the rent.  Then we might also assume that, in Denmark, public expenditures are primarily for the benefit of the public.  Under those circumstances, I could see high taxes primarily on labor income as an awkward but not entirely ineffective way to aid happiness.  It would only look stupid if compared to a more intelligent tax regime elsewhere.  Where might that be?