The thing about the favorite political talking points of leftists is that one never knows if they are repeated out of ignorance of the facts or if those facts are deliberately being withheld. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently tweeted how “utterly embarrassing” it is that the subject of raising the federal minimum wage is even being debated. To make her point, the former bartender who now fancies herself the champion of socialism pointed to Danish employees of McDonald’s, who earn the equivalent of about $22 an hour. The realities of life, economics, and taxes in Denmark are just not on the congresswoman’s side.
As several of Ocasio-Cortez’s critics were quick to point out, there is no minimum wage law in Denmark. As is the case in many Western and Northern European countries, unions wield far more power than they do in the United States. In Denmark, the fast-food chain’s employees enjoy their apparently handsome hourly wage because of collective bargaining – not because the government imposes a minimum wage.
There’s No Such Thing as “Free”
It is not clear whether the New York Democrat was unaware of this or whether she simply chose not to mention it. Still, the fact that the Danish government has not enacted a law setting a minimum hourly wage for private-sector employees is almost beside the point.
Perhaps Ocasio-Cortez should ask McDonald’s employees here in the United States how they would feel about being paid $22 an hour but then taking home less than half of that amount after taxes. Danes fork over more than 50% of their earnings. But it gets even worse for these Scandinavians, who are among the highest-taxed nations on earth. Denmark also has a value-added tax of 25% on most goods. As The New York Times points out: “[A] beer in Denmark will cost you 75 percent more than in the U.S., a coffee a third more, a dozen eggs 40 percent more. Housing in Denmark is also more expensive than in the U.S.” A gallon of gas costs almost six dollars in Denmark.
Many Europeans are happy to be taxed up to the eyeballs in exchange for certain services being provided by the government, such as health care and education. Leftists here in the U.S. would say that these nations enjoy “free” health care and “free” education, but that is simply not true. What part of “taxed up to the eyeballs” do they not understand?
Would the majority of Americans really be happy with the same system? Would most Americans gladly pay income tax at the rate of 55% – and pay an additional 25% consumption tax on everything they buy – in exchange for education and health care?
Kicking Out Asylum Seekers
Another inconvenient fact about the Danes is their understanding that they cannot afford to provide services to an unlimited number of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers, as Ocasio-Cortez and her leftist friends would like the U.S. to do. In fact, Denmark recently rescinded the residency permits of some Syrian refugees and will be sending them back to their home country. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen says her government is working toward zero asylum applications, RT reports.
Is this the country, then, that America should aspire to emulate? Exorbitant taxes and a prohibitively high cost of living – but a strict immigration policy? That is not what Ocasio-Cortez wants, surely. But does she honestly believe that the U.S. government can afford to provide “free” services to all Americans and to whoever else chooses to come here – and do so indefinitely? If that really is her vision of America’s future, then there will come a time, before too long, when the people of this country look upon Danish taxpayers with envy.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.