Bernie Sanders vision for america
Dear Senator Bernie Sanders,

First and foremost, thank you for your life of public service and work in the US Senate and elsewhere. More than anything, perhaps, my wish is for the intelligence and humanitarian vision you express to realize itself in the Oval Office.

There is one problem with your campaign which I would like to respectfully address with you.

As a someone who has worked with the Copenhagen department of social services, as a mental health counselor and educator, can I please ask that you stop lauding the Danish welfare model? Unfortunately it is inadvertantly hurting Denmark's most vulnerably disempowered groups of people by empowering the most inhumane forces of greed in our small but relatively wealthy country. Since 2003, the Danish government has intensified the diverting of tax resources from our elderly, disabled, poor, sick, education... and given it to our wealthiest citizens and multinationals via, among several issues, tax cuts to that "1% demographic".

In fact, "[t]he Top 10% of Danes saw their incomes grow by 29% over the decade ending in 2013, while middle-income folks experienced only a 12.3% bump, according to the Economic Council of the Labour Movement...The poorest Danes suffered a nearly 1% loss in income, a rare occurrence in a country where everyone's income usually rises.

Collective workers' bargaining and education has also taken hits.  During the center-left 2011-2015 administration under our first female Prime Minister, Social-democrat Helle Thorning-Schmidt with the nickname *Gucci* Helle, the oligarchic agenda in Denmark flourished, and we experienced an intense, mutually rewarding interaction towards deep domestic inhumanity.  Especially intense for our poorest, ill, unemployed and handicapped. And this is because of the pressure of living in a very wealthy country, where the cost of living is growing very fast but where social security, unemployment and disability benefits not only haven't kept up with that but have actually been severely slashed. It is also intense because she represented the social-democratic ideals that our nation had fostered for decades, much of which echoed with the world view Dr. Albert Einstein expressed in 1949.   Denmark experienced "the largest increase in inequality in Europe -- rising 12% in each country between 2008 and 2012, according to Eurostat."  Just this past month, the Social-democrats in parliament went along with our center-right's 2016 budget proposals to further cut every sector of our social safety net.

I understand that my words here may sound counter-intuitive, as it goes against the fairy-tale veneer of our government's PR machine. And I can understand the persistence of anecdotal ideas about Scandinavia which may have flourished several decades ago, at least on paper

The most rapid decline in recent history perhaps began with our 2001-2011 center-right's governments decision -- first under Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasumussen (later NATO Gen Sec) -- to goose-step with the President GW Bush administration's predatory agenda in Iraq and elsewhere, and led to "the first aggression warfare Denmark has participated in for 139 years." Thus multinationals in both the US and Denmark seized an opportunity. In tangent with this, from top down our public welfare system is slowly growing for-profit privatized.  Studies into the impacts of this are sketchy at best, but from everything I know about your work and writing this is an issue you understand well.  It is devastating to profit on human suffering.   And on all human scales.  Those who are trapped in a deep struggle to survive day to day, such as in nursing homes, homelessness, or palliative care facilities have little voice, and the suffering grows increasingly complex with each passing day and each year's national budget of reducing services and benefits to our most vulnerable and weak.  For me, the most tragic in all this is the fact that I have helplessly watched people die prematurely, or take their lives.

My work was mostly in a Copenhagen ghetto called Tingbjerg, which has a significant population density of our poorest, and is also represented by higher than average sets of Middle Eastern, Persian and African refugees and immigrants and their children, many of whom are struggling post-traumatically to understand, in our growing xenophobic atmosphere, to what culture they belong. In our June 18, 2015 national election, Denmark's far-right nationalistic Danish People's Party (DF) gained the 2nd highest number of mandates (elected representatives) to our parliament (Folketinget). This has further deepened and widened our socioeconomic status achievement gap, with a xenophobic... no... racist agenda, and which has resulted in scapegoating a host of socioeconomic problems on refugees and immigrants, as described here

This development is not endemic to Denmark. It is occurring throughout Scandinavia. In fact, Norway is looking to the "Danish model" to undermine its own history of evoking social justice and equality. 

In the scale of issues threatening our world, this problem of your lauding the Danish system is insignificant.  All things considered, you perhaps represent the most important voice approaching the White House in several decades.  In my opinion, an administration under your presidency would not only serve to strengthen all which might be judged as *good* under the presidency of Obama, but launch America -- and the world -- towards places most humans could only imagine as possible.


Here is how Jørn Henrik Petersen, professor of social-political science at the University of Southern Denmark, puts it in an interview.  I will be happy to translate anything which the online translator cannot correctly grasp.

»Vores samfund er ved at falde fra hinanden (Our Society is Collapsing)«
Professor i socialpolitik: »Vores samfund er ved at falde fra hinanden«

Thank you and as we say in Denmark, glædelig jul og godt nytår to you, you family and loved ones.

Sincerely,

Bent Lorentzen
Copenhagen, Denmark
December 24, 2015

PS: To help deepen an understanding of the problem, here is further reading. Since this is also in Danish, it will be my priviledge to translate anything you wish. One thing to keep in mind is that contrary the rumor mill, Denmark does not have a minimum wage. Collective bargaining between the employer and among the trade unions arrives at any hourly wage, salaries and benefits. In recent years our trade unions have been disempowered. This has resulted in ever more Danes being paid at perhaps half the hourly salary that they may have earned only a decade ago, largely due, according to statistics, to the government holding a blind eye to an eastern European workforce being paid by Danish companies outside the protections of any trade unions. This is also exploited by companies that are sent unemployed and handicapped by government-installed Jobcenters, through flex- and training-jobs. Here the employee may get the lowest wage possible, with the employer receiving a kickback incentive from our tax-resources. All this serves to further deepen the suffering of Denmark's most vulnerable population groups.


***


Cutbacks and reforms have made our nursing homes increasingly dangerous for both residents and staff.

Dårlig bemanding på plejehjem farlig for borgere og ansatte
Dårlig bemanding på plejehjem farlig for borgere og ansatte

 
Massive nedskæringer på plejehjem: En lang række af landets kommuner skal i 2007 spare store så millionbeløb på ældreområdet, at det giver kraftige forringelser af serviceniveauet.
Massive nedskæringer på plejehjem



Afslørede ældres forfærdelige forhold

Afslørede ældres forfærdelige forhold

 

Et plejehjem er et fængsel for uskyldige