McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Pity Us – Denmark isn’t a socialist country. It’s just one that works. Nicholas Kristof has a scathing comparison of Denmark with the US, at the New York Times:
President Trump thunders that Democrats are trying to drag America toward “socialism,” Vice President Mike Pence warns that Democrats aim to “impose socialism on the American people,” and even some Democrats warn against becoming, as one put it, “[expletive] Denmark.”
So, before the coronavirus pandemic, I crept behind [expletive] Danish lines to explore: How scary is Denmark? How horrifying would it be if the United States took a step or two in the direction of Denmark? Would America lose its edge, productivity and innovation, or would it gain well-being, fairness and happiness?
So, here, grab a Danish, and we’ll chat about how a [expletive] progressive country performs under stress. The pandemic interrupted my reporting, but I’d be safer if I still were in Denmark: It has had almost twice as much testing per capita as the United States and fewer than half as many deaths per capita….
Denmark lowered new infections so successfully that last month it reopened elementary schools and day care centers as well as barber shops and physical therapy centers. Malls and shops will be allowed to reopen on Monday, and restaurants and cafes a week later.
Moreover, Danes kept their jobs. The trauma of massive numbers of people losing jobs and health insurance, of long lines at food banks — that is the American experience, but it’s not what’s happening in Denmark. America’s unemployment rate last month was 14.7 percent, but Denmark’s is hovering in the range of 4 percent to 5 percent.
Denmark’s goal was to keep workers employed, paying companies to keep employees on the payroll, reimbursing up to 90% of wages fo workers who otherwise would have been laid off.
Denmark also helped hard-hit companies pay fixed costs like rent — on the condition that they suspend dividends, don’t buy back stock and don’t use foreign havens to evade taxes.
With all this, Denmark is spending slightly less of its GDP than the US on coronavirus, and Denmark’s spending has been more effective.
The upshot is that Denmark staggered through the pandemic with employees still on the payroll and still paying rent. As the economy sputters back to life, Danish companies are in a position to bounce back quickly without the cost of having to rehire workers.
“We can be up and running in a week, back where we were,” explained Peter Lykke Nielsen, a negotiator for unionized workers at hamburger chains.
Danes pay higher taxes than Americans, but also have about the same take-home pay. They get government healthcare, education and a high minimum wage.
Even a McDonald’s worker in Denmark has a decent life, and feels sorry for his American counterparts.