Should you move to Denmark?

This “meme” has been running around the internet.

What is up with this hot

What is up with this hot “meme”?

I had thought before i started researching for this article that McDonald’s workers in the US were paid below the minimum wage, using legislative tricks that McDonald’s who advanced, pretending their food service workers got tips.  Turns out this is completely wrong.

US McDonald’s workers make somewhere between $8/hour and $9.15/hour, the latter number is for workers with 5 to 8 years experience.  But if the age of our Danish worker is correct, she has not been working at McDonald’s since she was 13, so the lower hourly rate of $8/hour is likely a better comparison number.

McDonalds workers do better than other fast food places

McDonald’s workers do better than other fast food places

So should low wage workers pick up and move to Denmark?  Perhaps.  It would be foolish to move some place principally because of the disposable income rates, especially if you are working a low end job.  And as our libertarian friends are quick to point out, costs are different in Denmark, so our fast food worker is not seeing a real income increase of  260%.

One of the better pro-business critiques points out that consumer prices are 38% higher in Denmark.  But even with these higher living costs, it would seem that Denmark has something figured out that the US does not.  And as several reviews of this “meme” point out the key difference is labor unions.  Denmark has them and the US does not (for fast food workers at least).

Republicans and Libertarians have all manner of bad things to say about labor unions. They stagnate economic growth, the slow business hiring, they increase product prices. But really, unions are one of the very few brakes on the unfettered exploitation by capitalists who nearly universally prefer taking care of shareholders over company workers.  And if they don’t, their stock will get dumped and they will go out of business (and yes i know about the miracle of CostCo).

workers crashing economy

But there are all kind of reasons that one might want to live in the 4 Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway) over the US, including that they are better fulfilling of the “American Dream”.  These countries score well above the US in entrepreneurship (including government incubation support), education and happiness (with the Nordic countries taking the top 3 happiest spots and all scoring better than the US according to pro-business Forbes magazine).

But for me part of what made living in the Netherlands so desirable (which is similar to the Nordic countries in it’s deep social welfare net, free education, greater tolerance and fairer income distribution) was not feeling like i was supporting the US war machine.  What Republicans and Democrats don’t want to talk about (though, to their credit, the Libertarians do) is the incredible economic drag the US military places on the economy.

The Iraq and Afghan wars have cost the US $6 trillion.  That works out to $75K per US household.  Perhaps you would have spent that money a different way.

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

8 responses to “Should you move to Denmark?”

  1. paxus says :

    How much do US taxpayers pay for corporate bailouts?

  2. paxus says :

    Paxus, you totally left your wordpress account open on the office computer. -Kristen

    • paxus says :

      And i got a great question from doing so in my name, so i get to take credit for having clever responses to my own posts.

  3. Red River says :

    At 21 she’s happy to be making $21 an hour at McDonalds. But the sad thing is that, she’s likely to still have that same job 10 even 20 years later. Unions are great at protecting existing workers by making the entire labor market more stagnant. So you can make a career at McDonalds in Denmark. Great. In the States, most McDonald’s employees are either teenagers earning extra spending cash, or rock-bottom entry level adults who will move onto better work after mastering the basic life skills needed for McDonandls employment.

    Be careful what you wish for…

    Meanwhile, it looks like these liberal darling Scandanavian countries have some highly entrenched elites, who tend to go on from generation to generation. See here: http://super-economy.blogspot.ca/2013/04/the-upper-class-and-wealth-inequality.html?m=1

    There’s something to be said for American dynamism, even if it is “harsh” for a fast food worker.

    • paxus says :

      Will she? I’ve been to Denmark several times, i have not noticed an abundance of middle aged fast food workers. Nominal median income is higher (this eliminates the pesky 1%ers throwing averages off). Your shiny scenario of people moving on from McDonalds ignores that the US has a 50% higher unemploment rate than Denmark (a number which is artificially depressed by many US job seekers simply having given up looking and thus been dropped by the unemployment trackers).

      Given that even Princeton University is calling the US an oligarchy rather than a democracy, it is a bit hard to swallow your concern for the Scandinavian countries having entrenched elites. These countries are far from perfect, but they are more fair and more just than the US. I hear you like the harshness of the US, perhaps this is because you dont have to experience it directly.

      • Shawn L Pavlik says :

        I know this is an old post, but I thought I would still reply. What taxes does she pay on her $42000/year working at McDonalds? Our $7.25 hour worker likely gets money back from the govt. in an EITC, while the $42000/year person in Denmark is likely paying close to half of her salary in taxes. Simple income isn’t the only way to measure.

  4. Logan says :

    The USA isn’t even the best at its own game,nowadays: equal opportunity, separation of church and state, education, ease of starting a business. Maybe Joe McCarthy should have pointed to religious conservatives and organized business interests as the real SUBVERSIVES! Ha.

  5. Geneva Terry says :

    Fantastic article. It is really interesting. I have been in Denmark several times but I have never payed attention to McDonald’s prices. Moving to Denmark sound like something really strange, though. But that’s just me. I am kind of afraid of moving in a new country. Greetings! http://richmondmanandvan.org.uk/

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