Field of Science

O'Reilly on Oprah on Denmark

In this Culture Warriors segment Bill O'reilly and his warriors talk about Oprah's visit to my home town Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Oprah is told that the government does not pay 90 percent of your salary for four years when you become unemployed. That is FALSE.
  • O'Reilly suggest the average income tax is 75 percent if you earn good money. That is FALSE. No one pays that much, and it is rare that anyone pays over 50 percent.
The reason for O'Reilly's and his co-hosts' annoyance is that the Danes are touted, as has been shown, as being the the happiest people on Earth (PDF). While I personally would take that finding with a grain of salt, it is clear that the relatively high taxes that the Danes pay do afford them a lot of good services:
  • Free health care for everyone (without exception).
  • Free education.
You can graduate from high school, and go to university without ever paying for tuition and fees. You do have to pay for your books, but if your parents earn below a certain limit, you are also eligible for a small stipend while you study. I got this, as most students I know did, and it was enough for me to live on (I did pay very low rent, and ate little else than beer).

But that isn't to say that there aren't lots and lots of problems in Denmark. We do have poor people, homeless people, gang-wars, crime, suicides, etc.

Their argument against raising taxes to provide health care is that Denmark is a country of 5.5 million people, while there are over 300 million in the US, and therefore it can't work the same way. But why not? If everyone's taxes are raised, surely there would be enough money to pay for it. I know Americans don't like the idea of raising taxes, but I posit that's because they don't know how much it would benefit them personally, as well as the country as a whole*. I strongly suspect that everything in America would be improved in the long run if American's (and the legal aliens like myself) didn't have to worry whether they can get the health-care they need. It would have repercussions far beyond the health benefits alone.

Anyway, the level of seriousness drops below some low threshold when O'Reilly says that he isn't so sure if the Danes were perpetuating happiness when the Vikings were raping and beheading his ancestors in Ireland.

* That isn't to say that the Danes don't complain about paying taxes. They do. Constantly. Of course, the more so the more conservative their political views are.


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