A recent e-mail regarding my apparently incendiary suggestion that US farmers might benefit from professional accreditation brought this response (one of the more polite ones, I might add):
I appreciate your articles very much, and generally enjoy them for your perspectives and insights, but you are far too enamoured of the Danish experience in constructing a society, and in dealing with life. I was once too. My grandfather & uncles were all Danish farmers, and I have maintained active ties with all my cousins, who visit Maryland annually at Thanksgiving to go deer hunting. My son spends several weeks each year in Denmark, in association with his professional demands. I can speak Danish, which also gives me an advantage. Long ago, my romance with Denmark began in graduate school, when I wrote my Master’s Thesis for an Economics MA on “A History of The Labor Movement in Denmark.” I have many relatives in business and farming in Denmark, with whom I communicate more or less regularly. I say these things to establish my credibility in what I’m going to say next. Denmark is a land of minimal opportunity, in terms of upward mobility, financial success, and creation of personal wealth. The taxation structure is designed to produce an egalitarian society, in which most of the population lives a reasonably affluent life, but there is little opportunity for individuals to accumulate capital, or provide for inheritances. It provides very adequately for the disabled and sick in society, and could teach us a lot there. It is highly bureaucratic-for example getting a hunting license is a really formidable task, as is acquiring Danish citizenship. It furthermore can do many of the things it accomplishes because it has a homogeneous population-or did until very recently when Islamic & Turkish workers were imported. Garrison Keillor fell in love with Denmark once-but it didn’t last long.
I have pondered long and deep ponderings after this thoughtful reply. The author could be right. But after studying the Viking Age and visiting both Denmark and England, I fear I may be predisposed (perhaps genetically) to the Danish lifestyle.
It is true, DK is a tiny nation of similar people, and they are just now beginning to cope with diversity. But take a look at this:
Is it any wonder a geezer like me thinks DK could teach the US a few things?