Posted 2 years ago on March 16, 2012, 4:24 p.m. EST by struggleforfreedom80
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
As some of you may know, I live in Norway. Now, as a libertarian socialist there are of course lots of things about Norway that I’d like to see changed. But at the same time, Norway has one of the highest standards of living in the world, and are one of the most democratic, civilized and humane societies in the world. Norwegians have achieved lots of rights that many people in other countries are still struggling for.
I now want to tell you a little bit about the system we have in Norway.
Norway is what’s called a welfare state, meaning that there are elements of private enterprise and marked, but with a democratically run public and state sector, playing a huge role in society. This public sector subsidizes and offers many welfare services; the most important ones are:
free or almost free health care (there might occur some affordable fees here and there)
free education, whether it’s elementary school, high school, college, university, vocational school etc.
guaranteed social security and decent pay for all retired, disabled, unemployed, and sick etc. You also get help from your local community finding work if you’re unemployed, free of charge.
Compared to many other countries we also have strong unions and lots of organized workers. That way working people and their representatives can have more influence on the issues regarding working conditions, pay etc. The organizing that the workers and unions have done in society thru the years has contributed substantially to current rights such as:
Right to a decent pay for all workers.
Good bargaining rights.
Right to decent working conditions, including strict rules associated to safety etc.
A certain amount of workers’ representative arrangements in the workplace.
Right to full pay if you get sick, and almost full pay if you become unemployed.
But doesn’t all this welfare and rights mean lots of taxation? Well, yes, but in Norway we have a relatively good progressive tax system (although I would like it to be better), which means that the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes. So in other words, a rich guy contributes more to this welfare than a worker. So taxes for the "average Joe" aren’t that high as many might think. Income tax for an average pay (for a teacher or carpenter let’s say) is about 30%. There are of course other kinds of taxes, like property taxes f.ex, but the same principles apply here. The more you own, the more you pay. This progressive tax system of course also creates a less economically unequal society.
Norway has of course also oil revenues, so we have a little more to use than Sweden f.ex, but we only use a certain amount on each national budget. Most of what funds the welfare comes from taxes. In fact we had established most of these rights and welfare before we found oil.
Norway has a representative democracy. We have local elections every fourth year and national elections every forth year (so we vote every second year). There are several parties in parliament you can vote for, all the way from The Socialist Left Party to more conservative parties. The conservatives want to weaken some of these rights mentioned, but even they agree (at least that’s what they say) that most of this welfare is a good thing and worth keeping to a large extent.
The Norwegian Labor Party, being the biggest party, are now running government together with The Socialist Left Party and the Center Party since they got the majority of votes combined in the last national election. This coalition is continuing to maintain the welfare model including the services I’ve mentioned.
Now, Norway is not at all the perfect utopia. We have f.ex, like most other countries, been affected by the so-called “neoliberal” policies, with some privatization and tax cuts for the rich, but it is a fact that ordinary people have, compared to many other countries, achieved a lot of rights and privileges.
The reason why I’ve written this is to show that ideas such as decent workers’ rights, free health care and education etc, are not unattainable like many right-wingers want us to believe. They are rights, not in some mythical utopia, but in a real existing country in Scandinavia (in fact, all the Scandinavian countries have established similar rights like the ones I’ve mentioned here)
All these rights and many more can be achieved. Just hang in there and keep on organizing and growing.
Solidarity from Norway.