Daily Archives: January 3, 2007

Scale Down To Rather Than Up From Denmark

Matthew Yglesias wonders about scaling up Denmark’s welfare state model to larger countries:

The thing to say in response to this is that the Scandinavian countries are really little and it might not work as well in a big country, but I don’t understand what the causal mechanism for non-scalability is supposed to be. I’ll happily grant that it’s politically easier to put a Scandinavian-style system together in a small, homogeneous country, but that’s different from saying it wouldn’t work on the merits.

Tyler Cowan responds by noting a number of factors that might facilitate implementing Denmark scale programs that may not apply in larger countries, e.g.,

Perhaps the ability to dispense with federalism helps government efficiency in small countries. I favor federalism for larger units, such as the United States, but I think of it as a necessary evil. Singapore and New Zealand don’t have much federalism, nor should they.

This factor points us in the right direction.
Leaving aside the question of whether we really want the Denmark like social welfare programs implemented in the US, the very first step toward making this a possibility is to dispense with federalism in the US. No, not by centralizing all government function into the federal governement. Rather, by completely eliminating the federal goverment.

Yep, break the US up: into the current states, into 54 Denmarks by population, or into 223 Denmarks by land mass. Pick your method but break up the country. Not only will you get many opportunities to recreate Denmark’s social structure but you will also eliminate the many ills that result from the massive centralization of power and wealth in the current federal government.