Sunday, December 6, 2009

Danish Taxes

According to Wikipedia, "Denmark, with a mixed market capitalist economy and a large welfare state, ranks according to one measure, as having the world's highest level of income equality. Denmark has the best business climate in the world, according to the US business magazine Forbes. From 2006 to 2008, surveys ranked Denmark as "the happiest place in the world," based on standards of health, welfare, and education." The country is also pretty high in the GDP per capita and employment rankings. It pays generous unemployment benefits, and has free universal health care.

How is this utopia paid for? What a shocker - taxes. As of 2010, the top marginal rate of 42%, and the VAT is 25% (source). What's going on here? Something's gotta give, and sure enough, something does. Young Danes are leaving in droves - leaving, that is, after getting free education, which also includes English proficiency. From the article:

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is based in Paris, projects that Denmark’s growth rate will fall to an annual rate of slightly more than 1 percent for the five years beginning in 2009, reflecting a dwindling supply of a vital input for any economy: labor... studies suggest that about 1,000 people leave the country each year, a figure that masks an outflow of qualified Danes and an inflow of less skilled foreign workers who help, at least partially, to offset the losses."

Who would have thought that when you tax something, you get less of it? So when you tax productive people heavily, and pay others generously not to work... Gee, this is getting complicated. This is the point at which most politicians would stick their fingers up to their elbows in their ears, yell "La-la-la-la, I cannot hear you!", and hope you buy all the BS about the joys of equality and security - which are guaranteed if you only (re-)elect them, and doubly guaranteed if you only let them tax and spend more.

As a parting note, consider that 67% is not the total tax burden you pay in Denmark. The tax rate on non-electric vehicles is 200%, as noted by Dr. Perry at Carpe Diem. There is tax on income from securities, corporate tax, and property tax.

As some poet with economic literacy (or economist with poetic talent) wrote:

Tax his land, tax his wage,
Tax his bed in which he lays.
Tax his tractor, tax his mule,
Teach him taxes is the rule.

Tax his cow, tax his goat,
Tax his pants, tax his coat.
Tax his ties, tax his shirts,
Tax his work, tax his dirt.

Tax his chew, tax his smoke,
Teach him taxes are no joke.
Tax his car, tax his grass,
Tax the roads he must pass.

Tax his food, tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his sodas, tax his beers,
If he cries, tax his tears.

Tax his bills, tax his gas,
Tax his notes, tax his cash.
Tax him good and let him know
That after taxes, he has no dough.

If he hollers, tax him more,
Tax him until he's good and sore.
Tax his coffin, tax his grave,
Tax the sod in which he lays.

Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom!"
And when he's gone, we won't relax,
We'll still be after the inheritance tax.

However, if something cannot go on forever, it will stop (Stein's Law), and socialists always run out of other people's money.

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