At a recent Lincoln Day event in Jasper County, one of my advisers had an interesting experience. One, I am sure, well-intended young attendee asked him why Republicans were not more in favor of higher education. Whey he pressed him for what he meant, he cited that New York had just passed a bill authorizing free college education for any New York resident making an annual income of $ 100,000.00 or less. The young attendee thought that might be a good platform plank to attract young people to the Republican side.
They had a good conversation. My friend reminded him that the socialist Bernie Sanders had the same idea in the last Presidential race and that Hillary Clinton was close that same view – both embracing more and more the socialist approach to problem solving – spend other people’s money. He recalled for him that the country Sanders cited as a prime example of what New York was trying to do now was Norway. A paradise, if you believe United Nations’ reports on the best countries in which to live. Yes, in Norway there is universal free education through the university and universal free medical care. Sounds great, even assuming incorrectly that the care they receive is on par with hospitals in the USA.
“I never thought about that and our professors do not mention it.”
Any downsides he asked him? None the college junior could think of.
Here are a couple downsides. The lowest federal income rate in Norway is 40% and no deductions are allowed. If you make more than $ 78,000 per year, the income tax rate jumps to 68%. Also, there is a 25% national sales tax (what Europeans refer to as a VAT – a Value Added Tax) and a 100% tax on new vehicles, yes 100%! A Honda, for example costing $20,000 in the USA would then be just under $40,000 in Norway. Furthermore, gas is perpetually at least $ 10.00 per gallon. That is why most Norwegians do not own cars and fewer still own homes, and Norwegians have the highest personal debt in the world.
A socialist paradise? Not quite, just in theory. My colleague asked the young Lincoln Day attendee how those numbers fitted into his expected $23,000 per year salary upon graduation from IUPUI. He was floored. As the student put it, “I never thought about that and our professors do not mention it.” As the famous business guru, Dr. W. Edward Deming used to say, “In God we trust, all others bring data.”