Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Freedom and flourishing - the Nordic model

Flying out of London Luton this morning for Copenhagen, the papers were full of UK Home Secretary Theresa May's speech on immigration. My heart sank as I read the reports and indeed some of the other reports on the Conservative Party conference. In fairness, the UK Conservative Party appears to be a broader church than the Australian Liberal Party equivalent, but there are still some depressing equivalences.

Over at his place, Winton Bates continues his pursuit of the factors determining human happiness. I thought of Winton as I walked down Edinburgh's Royal Mile past the statue of Adam Smith. I thought of him too because I have been reading Michael Booth's The Almost Perfect People: the truth about the Nordic Miracle.

I started reading the book as an introduction to the culture of the Nordic countries. The reference came from the young expatriates I have met who are working in Denmark. Then, as I read, I saw the linkages to Winton's thoughts. You see, the Nordic countries constantly score high on the happiness and fulfilment measures Winton presents, and yet they seem to have few of the attributes Winton really likes - they are communitarian, equalitarian, have high taxes, welfare state structures. They do have strong legal frameworks (Winton likes that), but I think that Winton might find some of the analysis as presented by Booth a little challenging. Then again, there is evidence there that he could use!

Personally, I like a little bit of chaos, of disorder. That may not make for maximum happiness now, but it does tend to make for longer term advancement.

One of the interesting features in Booth's work is his analysis of the famed Finnish education system. I found this very interesting because it has been so featured in the Australian press and I knew little about it. I will look at this further in a later post.   


Winton Bates said...

Hi Jim
Michael Booth's book is on my reading list.

Actually, the Nordic countries must have quite a few attributes that I like. They perform surprisingly well in measures of overall individual freedom, as I noted in this post:

My problem, which I share with many others, is in accepting that these days people in the Nordic countries are in many respects freer than people in the "land of the free".

Winton Bates said...

Regarding your walk down the Royal Mile, JIm, some of your readers might be interested in taking a look at the photo I took of the statue of Adam Smith's statue a couple of years ago:

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Winton. I remembered the AS photo. That's why I thought of you as soon as I passed the statue! People in Nordic countries are not necessarily freer in the way that you might normally define it. That's why I think you will find the book interesting.

Rummuser said...

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Ramana. Recorded for later use.