Thomas Sowell vs. Norway: Why Failed Liberal Policies in the United States work in Scandinavia

Failed liberal polices in the US work in Norway. Why is that Mr. Sowell?

Reading a recent Thomas Sowell column bemoaning liberalism, the nanny-state mentality, and the welfare-state in the United States for some reason jogged our memory of a piece published in Inc. magazine. That latter article discussed how socialism works in the Scandinavian nation of Norway, a country that has some of the highest rates of entrepreneurship in the world. Sowell’s article discussed how Black people are now fleeing cities and states that their ancestors once fled to during “the great migration” of the early 20th century.

Sowell wrote this:

The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.

When you break it down by race and ethnicity, it is all too painfully clear what is happening. Both whites and blacks are leaving California, the poster state for the liberal, welfare-state and nanny-state philosophy.

Whites are also fleeing the big northeastern liberal, welfare states like Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the same kinds of states in the midwest, such as Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.

In more recent decades, blacks have been moving back to the South, however. While the overall black population of the northeastern and midwestern states has not declined in the past ten years, except in Michigan and Illinois, the net increase of the black population nationwide has increasingly been in the South. About half of the national growth of the black population took place in the South in the 1970s, two-thirds in the 1990s and three-quarters in the past 10 years.

While the mass migrations of blacks out of the South in the early 20th century was to places where there were already established black communities, such as New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, much of the current movement of blacks is away from existing concentrations of black populations.

Blacks are moving to suburbs, and even to cities like Minneapolis. Overall, the racial residential segregation patterns are declining in the great majority of the largest major metropolitan areas.

 Are we the only people who caught that slippage of truth? White people with the monetary means are fleeing cities and states that have created vast nanny-states and welfare-states to take care of Black populations that fled the South. Those policies — enacted by liberals — are forcing whites to leave, because the costs associated with taking care of a Black population disproportionately reliant on the state have become too great to defend.

Sowell then went on to lament the fate of Detroit:

Detroit is perhaps the most striking example of a once thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies. Before the ghetto riot of 1967, Detroit’s black population had the highest rate of home-ownership of any black urban population in the country, and their unemployment rate was just 3.4 percent.

It was not despair that fueled the riot. It was the riot which marked the beginning of the decline of Detroit to its current state of despair. Detroit’s population today is only half of what it once was, and its most productive people have been the ones who fled.

Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run– and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.

As whites were the first to start leaving Detroit, its then mayor Coleman Young saw this only as an exodus of people who were likely to vote against him, enhancing his re-election prospects.

But what was good for Mayor Young was disastrous for Detroit.

There is a lesson here somewhere, but it is very doubtful if either the intelligentsia or the politicians will learn it.

Detroit didn’t collapse because of liberal policies. Vermont (with a Black population of .5 percent) is an incredibly liberal state with a generous welfare and nanny-state, and unlike Detroit, it isn’t on the verge of completely failure (this New York Times article on how the city of Detroit is abandoning blighted neighborhoods is incredible). Detroit collapsed because white flight transferred ownership of the city (meaning control of the government, city council, school board, police, etc.) over to Black people.

If liberal policies, as Sowell contests, are the reasons behind the monumental collapse of Detroit, then what is the reason for Norway’s success. Why do entrepreneurs there have an easier time starting up businesses in a land with much higher taxation then in the United States? The liberal policies enacted in Norway benefit that homogeneous population, whereas the liberal policies passed in Detroit (and in Oakland, which was recently profiled in Townhall magazine — April 2011 issue, page 42 — as yet another city where liberal ideas doomed that city and not its majority population) seem to bring about only ruin.

Why is that? The Inc. article reports:

Norway, population five million, is a very small, very rich country. It is a cold country and, for half the year, a dark country. (The sun sets in late November in Mo i Rana. It doesn’t rise again until the end of January.) This is a place where entire cities smell of drying fish—an odor not unlike the smell of rotting fish—and where, in the most remote parts, one must be careful to avoid polar bears. The food isn’t great.

Bear strikes, darkness, and whale meat notwithstanding, Norway is also an exceedingly pleasant place to make a home. It ranked third in Gallup’s latest global happiness survey. The unemployment rate, just 3.5 percent, is the lowest in Europe and one of the lowest in the world. Thanks to a generous social welfare system, poverty is almost nonexistent.

Norway is also full of entrepreneurs like Wiggo Dalmo. Rates of start-up creation here are among the highest in the developed world, and Norway has more entrepreneurs per capita than the United States, according to the latest report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a Boston-based research consortium. A 2010 study released by the U.S. Small Business Administration reported a similar result: Although America remains near the top of the world in terms of entrepreneurial aspirations — that is, the percentage of people who want to start new things—in terms of actual start-up activity, our country has fallen behind not just Norway but also Canada, Denmark, and Switzerland.

Yes, people do start companies in the United States and comparing a diverse nation of 312 ( not counting illegal immigrants ) million people to a tiny, all-white nation of 5 million people isn’t exactly fair. But it is intriguing to juxtapose the two articles, and realize the truths that are so obviously inescapable.

A good friend told us over dinner recently that a nation can have a Black population or it can have a space program. The costs of both, however, no honest accountant can sign off on.

The United States is scrapping its space program for a reason; it does have something to do with the fact that NASA can’t find a Black engineer, but more to do with the rising costs of caring for a population of 36 million that disproportionately receive Federal aid to exist and subsist.

Prince George’s County in Maryland is considered to be the greatest place for upper-class Black people in the nation. Largely a creation of the out-of-control Federal government growth in Washington D.C., that county boasts an artificially-created Black middle-class. It is also home to Black people who are being displaced from Washington D.C. in that cities conversion to a white majority, which is having the unintended consequence of exploding the crime rate there.

Starting a small business in the United States is still a great idea, but eventually you must adhere to an incredible gauntlet of labor laws and be compliant with the EEOC. That is a problem the Norwegians no longer face. The costs of doing business in a diverse United States city (such as Detroit) are exponentially higher then in Norway’s worst city.

Sowell also pointed out that the Black population is exploding in Minneapolis. Situated in a state renowned for its liberal policies and generous welfare, one particular group of people took advantage of this benevolence without any shame:

Minnesota long has waved a welcome mat for war refugees — first Koreans, then Hmong, Vietnamese and Ethiopians. Minneapolis provided subsidized housing and generous benefits. The newcomers found low-wage jobs at chicken-processing factories where English was not required.

The first wave of Somalis arrived here after 1991, when the country descended into a fierce clan-based civil war that still rages. More Somalis came each year, and family members soon followed, as was mandated under U.S. law. Others moved here from other U.S. cities.

Many in the community started families, opened businesses and achieved financial stability. They wired money to relatives back home, followed Somali news in ethnic papers and websites, and in some cases invested in Somali businesses even as their children became American doctors and lawyers.

Others became mired in brutal poverty. Many of the women were illiterate, and old men who had herded goats struggled in the rugged winters. Unemployment and school dropout rates soared. So did incidents of intolerance.

“We’re an obvious minority here, and have a different religion and culture,” said Abdiaziz Warsame, 37, an interpreter and youth counselor who has worked with local gangs such as the Somali Hard Boys and RPG’s. “So people feel a high level of racism.”

A 2007 tally counted 35,000 Somalis in Minnesota, the vast majority of whom live in Little Mogadishu, the gritty Minneapolis zone between two highways and the Mississippi River.

A city; a state; a nation is but a reflection of its citizens. Detroit once thrived when it was a majority white city. under majority Black-rule it is the laughing-stock of the world. Liberal policies seem to be working fine in Vermont; strangely they fail — and conservatives point this out with glee — when Black people are in charge, as this is an easy way to blame Black failure on liberalism.

Strange that Norway can succeed and prosper under the same conditions.  Vermont too. But a sizable Black population that relies on that same nanny-state and welfare system is a lethal combination.

A nation can have a space program or a Black population, but it can’t have both. The costs to the state requires far too much capital, so one must go. The United States axed the former.

A better metaphor for 21st century America cannot be found. Sowell can blame liberal policies for wrecking Northeastern states and cities, but he shows in his column that “the great migration” by Blacks from the South to these places might have put too much stress on the nanny-state and welfare-state in these areas.

Norway, meanwhile, has high rates of taxation, high rates of employment and high rates of success.

This article is not an endorsement of socialism by any means. However, it is an endorsement of this question: Would you rather live in socialist Norway or Black-run Detroit (a city that Black people run away from and proud Black families still try and defend)?



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