A different kind of capitalism

By:  Gayle Hanson
MONTEPLIER — Sen. Bernard Sanders has been introducing Denmark’s U.S. Ambassador Peter Teksoe-Jensen around the state for the past few days at a series of town hall meetings designed to provoke a reset in thinking about the words “welfare state.” 

Sure, says Sanders, the Danes pay the highest income taxes in the world, but they are also recognized as some of the happiest people on the globe. Sunday the senator and his guest challenged the packed audience at Montpelier High School to think beyond our national boundaries, and examine how one country has achieved the “good life” for the vast majority of its residents.

“One of the things that we don’t talk about as a nation is the degree to which our people are stressed out,” said Sanders. “The debate needs to take place. What kind of society do we want to live in.”

If you listen to the ambassador extoll the virtues of the Danish social welfare state, it sounds almost Utopian. “No one is allowed to be poor,” said the ambassador,adding that one would actually have to struggle to avoid the safety net built into the Danish system.

“There are two sides of the coin,” he said. “What is the cost of having a welfare state? We are the country in the world that has the highest taxes. We have an income tax of 40 percent but if you are wealthy it is 63 percent. We have a value added tax of 25 percent. We pay $8 at the pump for gas.”

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