Denmark is no longer the country I used to love

Soren Kenner

Denmark is changing and not for the better. But if you complain or criticise, you can be sure someone will promptly tell you that it is still the world’s happiest society.

So here is what is really happening in Denmark these days:

One out of 11 Danes are on antidepressants, the suicide rate is alarmingly high and tension and uncertainty is everywhere.

Competent immigrants are routinely expelled while violent gangsters like Gimi Levacovic receive millions in welfare benefits.

In our nursing homes, the elderly lie around in diapers because we can’t afford the needed staffing, yet politicians manage to spend several billion each year subsidising media (which in turn provide a stage for the politicians).

We are in the midst of a mass migration from south to north that we are powerless to do anything about. There is talk, talk, talk and talk but very little action. We offer help to refugees that can afford to pay traffickers to smuggle them to Scandinavia, yet do virtually nothing to help the hardest hit that are left behind in the war-torn areas.

The left wing is mad about the prospect of families in rural areas maybe being able to afford a car large enough for the whole family.

Growth in Denmark is as dead as a doornail. We do everything in our power to destroy our own competitiveness yet still act amazed when we succeed.

Some 100,000 Eastern Europeans take care of tasks that the Danes can’t be bothered to do. At the same time, there are 800,000 Danes of working age (between 18 and 65) that live off public benefits.

There are 800,000 employees in the public sector. The same number of people live off of the system. There are 1.2 million retirees. And only 1.6 million people employed in the private sector to pay for it all.

Our publicly funded job activation programs cost somewhere between 15 and 30 billion kroner (€2-4 billion) a year, but create no jobs.

Meanwhile, in the hospitals, doctors and nurses use up to half of their time recording and reporting mostly useless information demanded by government. And, at the same time, there are massive waiting lists for treatment and patients sleeping in the hallways.

The City of Copenhagen has a communications staff of several hundred, while there are waiting lists for day care institutions and a shortage of teachers.

The border with Sweden is closed and we are paying for the border controls. The border with Germany must also be checked, and we pay for that as well. Call it the heralded Danish business acumen in full swing.

Parliament has just passed the most expensive budget of all time. It will be paid by the world’s highest tax burden. Still, we have to borrow 60 billion kroner (€8 billion) from abroad and dip into retirees’ pension savings in order to get the budget to work.

If you complain, you will immediately be told that Denmark is the world’s happiest and best country, even though 12% of the adult population pops prescription pills and the suicide rate is one of the world’s highest.

Winter can be bitingly cold in Scandinavia. And your energy bills do nothing to lighten your mood. A nearly unanimous parliament recently adopted an “energy reform” that costs residents an additional 8 billion kroner (€1 million) in taxes each year. It doesn’t create any real CO2 reduction, but all those windmills sure do look nice.

The labour union, 3F, protects something or somebody (it’s a little unclear what or whom) by blockading businesses and restaurants with the result that jobs disappear abroad. Many praise their exemplary effort.

Parliament approves a “freedom from information law”, so residents can no longer have full insight into the political process. Agencies and ministries use the law to cover up their mistakes and blunders.

The internal revenue service, SKAT, wastes 4 billion kroner (€500 million) on an electronic collection system, which is incredibly poorly planned and purchased. A smart businessman scams them for another 9 billion kroner (€1.2 billion) with a bunch of photocopies. No one is held accountable and, in the meantime, the agency spends most of its time going after the self-employed and small businesses.

The National Rail Company, DSB, wastes countless millions on the IC4 train, the Rejsekort, operating in Sweden and more. Despite the massive government subsidies, it is now more expensive to take the train than to fly. And the trains don’t even run on time.

Out in the countryside, a man is fined for cleaning his gutter. Another is fined because the rocks around his campfire aren’t facing the right direction. A third is made to tear down his shed because it is one square meter too big.

Meanwhile SKAT and the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) admit that they have illegally exchanged sensitive information for more than ten years. The justice minister refuses to do anything about it and uses the “freedom from information law” to sweep the whole mess under the rug.

Property taxes have exploded. SKAT admits that upwards of 85% of its property evaluations are too high and that they have overcharged thousands of homeowners. But they refuse to pay the money back. Parliament approves a special law so that property owners can neither complain nor take SKAT to court for compensation.

The Roskilde Festival succeeded in expropriating a local farmer’s land because festival-goers need it to camp. The man is given compensation amounting to roughly one-fourth of the land’s market value.

The local rag, Ekstra Bladet, tells us that Prince Henrik’s car was parked outside of a swinger’s club while he was at the movies, yet the Danish press waited five days to bring the story of the systematic rapes and assaults in Cologne.

Speed cameras are systematically placed where they will give the best payout to the public purse instead of where they would best strengthen road safety.

Police tell the media that they no longer bother investigating break-ins in which less than 100,000 kroner (€14,000) worth of goods are stolen. That Denmark is at the very top of the EU when it comes to burglaries doesn’t seem to worry them.

Meanwhile, for nearly the tenth year running, Copenhagen is under construction and dug up from end to end.

In the many immigrant communities in our larger cities, violence and social control are a part of daily life. We talk about it. But we don’t do anything about it.

Police say that they cannot respond to all reports they receive but also warn that if you take matters into your own hands, then you will go to prison. (I guess they can respond to that.)

Not long ago, a bunch of immigrant boys beat a young couple beyond recognition with bicycle chains. Their punishment of two months in jail was finished before the couple had healed and there was no compensation.

Somewhere else in the country, a foreigner throws his girlfriend from a balcony and gets a job on TV with celebrity chef Claus Meyer. The girlfriend survives but is disfigured and has severe psychological trauma. She gets no help.

And I could continue to go on and on and on.

Why can’t we help each other to get things to work?

I grieve. Denmark is no longer the country I loved when I was a young man.

Søren Kenner has a home in Fayence, and has lived in Denmark, Malta, the US and now Cambridge, UK (with long stretches in Australia, Thailand, New Zealand). Kenner’s an entrepreneur and contributor to “Folkets Avis”, where this was originally published. It has been translated by Justin Cremer/The Local Denmark (www.thelocal.dk), and republished with the author’s permission. Follow him on Twitter at @sorenkenner

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