Tim Worstall, Scandinavian Policies, and Crowd-funding

by Don Boudreaux on August 7, 2012

in Books, Complexity & Emergence, Inequality, Myths and Fallacies, Taxes

Tim Worstall has a crowd-funding project running over at Kickstarter.  His aim is to raise the equivalent of a book advance so that he can research and write… well, a book.  Tim will try to detail why it is that Scandinavian economies work so well.

According to the standard stories of both left and right they shouldn’t work.  But they clearly do.  They’re rather nice places to live in fact.  From the right the high tax levels and subsequent redistribution should mean that all possibility of economic growth is choked off.  From the left the tax system itself should also mean they don’t work.  Capital and corporate taxation is low by European or US standards.  Scandinavia is quite decentralised for such small countries.

Scott Sumner has a paper pointing out that by 8 out of 10 measures of economic freedom Denmark is the most economically free country in the world.  (See also here.)

Lane Kenworthy has a series of papers showing that the Nordic tax systems are more regressive (yes, regressive) than the UK or US ones.  Kenworthy argues that this is the only way that you can raise the amount necessary to run such an inclusive welfare state.

There are other sources of course, plus more to be found.

The basic aim of Tim’s book is to try to both puzzle out and also to describe the policies that make these societies work.  Then he wants to point out how those policies that do contribute to their success differ from the policies suggested by those who would create such a ‘social democracy’ in the U.K. or the U.S.

Or to put it another way: If you really want to create a Nordic social democracy, what policies would you have to put in place?  Just raising taxes and handing the money out would not be enough, for that isn’t how they work.  In fact, underneath that tax and redistribution, part of Tim’s thesis is that Scandinavia is probably more classically liberal than either the US or UK are at present.

A contribution of $10 will gain an e-copy of Tim’s book when written, of $25 a physical one.

Tim’s effort is also an interesting experiment in whether crowd-funding can disintermediate away the power of publishers, power that they have through their distribution of book advances.

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