The rise and fall of the formerly superior Danish social security system

I have to apologize for blogging so frequently in Danish. This blog was first and foremost intended to be an English-speaking blog but lately (well over the last year at least) my priorities have swerved more towards an active political interest in Denmark, my native country.

Did you know that Denmark was voted the happiest country in the world? Yes really. Number one of all. To be honest my jaw dropped, then my doubting nature set in and I am now convinced, they  must have spoken to only the upper class segment of Denmark.

This is not the country I know.

I do think however that Danes generally are fairly social, upbeat and have a tendency to underplay their/others misfortunes. I know there is a tendency among Danes to think we have the best country in the world. Which off course heightens your sense of happiness as supposed to over-dramatizing your problems and knowing your country sucks.

Denmark also has a low crime rate compared to other similar countries and we have public healthcare and public education.

This is where I have to stop the “love-train”.

I know it is a common misconception that our public healthcare and education is free.

Danish social security, healthcare and education is NOT free.

We did however choose to implement a public insurance-system, which equalized access to these benefits by them being paid via our taxes. In general Danes pay approximately (and at least) 25% more tax than most comparative countries. That means our health, unemployment, and educational fees are paid with 1/4 of our paycheck every month.

It is simple insurance law. Only we have chosen to let our government administer this insurance – and here enters the socialist bit – because it would guarantee everybody equal access and most importantly let the more fortunate pay for the lesser fortunate.

The benefits of this system has been great. It is the single most important factor in our low crime rates. It has allowed farmers to become kings and the grocery boy to reach the top of the world. Because everybody has equal access to education and healthcare, and because you can live reasonably even if you are unemployed. And there is quite a few unemployed Danes. In a small country it is impossible to provide enough jobs for everybody so by providing benefits for the unemployed we not only avoid severe poverty and child labor, poverty related crimes and violence, we actively keep our society going because the beneficiaries pay their taxes still, they pay their housing, food and transport. Everything that is needed to keep our society running.

What we gave out, we got back so to speak.

Until now.

The whole reason for my political awakening is here.

We are no longer aware of the fantastic system we had. And the politicians of today have actively hollowed out our insurance to the point of collapsing. Remember that we have paid to be insured. For a normal-income Dane approximately $1000 a month. For some a lot more.

And now our insurance is gone. We can no longer get disability pension, special aid for our handicapped children, our hospitals are stretched to their absolute limit and we are most certainly no longer number one as far as our educational system. The mentally ill no longer get hospital care and rarely have support in everyday life. Without disability pensions, they have to live on an income which does not even allow for 3 meals a day. We have absurd waiting lists for even serious ailments in hospitals and a limitation on tests and expensive medicine. We are shutting down special schools, special kindergartens and parental cheques for those who care for their handicapped children at home. We no longer have enough institutions for the youngsters who have difficulties, mental problems or just walked down the wrong path. Either they get no help or they go to prison.

This is why I am becoming politically active. Because how long do you think it will be before crime rates soar? Before we have mass shootings at schools? How long before everything our elders worked for is destroyed? Exactly how long will it take to forget the good intentions we had for each other and start slaughtering your neighbour to stay above the sewer?

And we are still paying 25% extra tax than the British for example. What exactly is our government using our money on? I can assure you it is not our insurance.

And this insurance is the center of the whole discussion. Contrary to what politicians would like us all to believe and contrary to what is said about Denmark globally, our benefits are not free. We pay our whole life to be insured when disaster strikes. We do not chance it and hope for the best while others insure themselves from day one. Everyone is insured by law and required by law to pay 25% extra tax than other countries.

Our politicians try to avert the public eye from the fact that they have mismanaged our insurance to the brink of collapse. They do so by dragging themselves and everybody else to the lowest common denominator and engage in name calling and ostracism of the ones who by every paid right ask for their insurance to pay out.

Someone has to speak up. And I have never been one to just sit and complain in a corner.

That is why I am blogging so often in Danish. I am stepping up, picking up the mantle and shouting from the rooftops.

Open your eyes, Denmark. We are being cheated big time.



About Astrid Lequime

Founder of the Noah Lequime Foundation. Our goal is to brighten the lives of underprivileged special needs children around the world. Social worker, philanthropist and mother of three children. Two are special needs children.
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