Socialist Paradises? More Scandinavians Migrate to America Than Vice-Versa Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 09 2016
Socialism, even of the Scandinavian variety, does not create the utopias that the political left pretends.

Beyond the intrinsic merit of human freedom itself, free market economies bring greater prosperity and well-being to mankind than their alternatives. 

Socialism's history, in contrast, remains one of comparative misery, material deprivation and brute oppression under the force of government. 

That record isn't coincidental or statistically insignificant, given the sheer number of times socialism has been attempted in all corners of the world, in nations of all sizes and in a wide variety of circumstances.  Comparative failure and deprivation are simply inherent in socialism itself. 

As proof, one need only admit that from Berlin to Cuba to North Korea, socialist nations literally kill people to keep them from fleeing, not from entering. 

One can alternatively browse the annual Index of Economic Freedom, which year after year shows a nearly straight-line correlation between a nation's economic freedom and its citizens' well-being:  

Economies rated 'free' or 'mostly free' enjoy incomes that are over twice the average levels in all other countries and more than four times higher than the incomes of 'repressed' economies.  Nations with higher degrees of economic freedom prosper because they capitalize more fully on the ability of the free-market system to generate and reinforce dynamic growth through efficient resource allocation, value creation, and innovation.   

In addition to enjoying higher levels of prosperity, people in economically free societies live longer.  They have better health.  They are able to be better stewards of the environment, and they push forward the frontiers of human achievement in science and technology through innovation. 

Despite what should be obvious to any sensible person, a disturbing degree of "socialist chic" currently infects the American electorate.  Whether cause or effect, the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders reflects that socialist fad among kids too young to remember socialism and older voters who should know better. 

Of course, a wealth of history and current examples exist to disabuse those recreational socialists of their illusions.  In Venezuela as we speak, citizens cannot find toilet paper, let alone baby formula, eggs, milk or meat.  North Korea's sociopathic regime provides another vivid illustration, as do the killing fields of Pol Pot's Cambodia, Mao's China or Stalin's Soviet Union. 

When confronted with examples of socialism's failure, however, Sanders supporters and advocates of "democratic socialism" generally retreat to a familiar but counterexample:  Scandinavia. 

There's just one problem:  In the real world, Scandinavians choose to migrate to the U.S. far more often than Americans choose to move there. 

That is the most interesting takeaway from a new interactive map from the left-leaning Pew Research Center entitled "Origins and Destinations of the World's Migrants, from 1990 - 2015.” 

It's worth reviewing at length, but take particular note of the number of Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and Danes who choose to live in America versus the number of Americans who choose to live there.  Some 30,000 Norwegians have migrated to the U.S., compared to 20,000 Americans who've moved to Norway.  Similarly, 20,000 Americans migrated to Sweden, but 50,000 Swedes migrated here.  While 30,000 Danes live in the U.S., just 10,000 Americans live there.  And 20,000 Finns live in the U.S., compared to under 10,000 Americans living there. 

Those disparities are even more pronounced when measured per capita, since the U.S. population dwarfs those nations.

Which raises the obvious question:  If those countries are such great places to live, according to Bernie Sanders and his adoring crowds, then why do so many more of them leave for America's supposedly cruel shores than vice-versa? 

Although these revealing numbers don't by themselves permanently settle the debate, at the very least they shift a heavy burden of persuasion to proponents of socialist policies. 

Socialism, even of the Scandinavian variety, does not create the utopias that the political left pretends. 

More importantly, they also reveal that in a nation inclined toward change rather than the status quo, improvement will come from moving toward greater economic and legal freedom, not toward even more government control and bureaucratic power. 

Specifically, America under Barack Obama has now endured a decade without a single year of economic growth equal to the post-World War II average of 3.3%.  That has never happened before.  Under Obama, annual economic growth has been closer to 1.7%, which explains our ongoing malaise. 

During Obama's tenure, the federal government has spent more than it ever has.  Deficits under Obama dwarf anything witnessed before his administration, and he has accumulated more debt than all previous presidents combined.  Federal regulations have reached an all-time high and encroached upon almost every aspect of our lives, from telecommunications to health care to energy to religious practice. 

Accordingly, if more socialistic policies worked, economic growth under Obama would've reached record highs, not record lows.  Conversely, if free market policies didn't work, the economy under Ronald Reagan would've suffered rather than soared. 

It's a straightforward lesson, but we must put it into practice if we hope for better results.