March 1st, 2014

Danish welfare: supporting them in the style to which they’ve grown accustomed

Societies make decisions, and those decisions can have unforeseen consequences. If “income inequality” is so bad, whether or not the lowest income people are actually starving and destitute, then you get countries such as Denmark—if you’re lucky and haven’t yet run out of other people’s money:

Robert Nielsen, 45, made headlines last September when he was interviewed on television, admitting that he had basically been on welfare since 2001.

Mr. Nielsen said he was able-bodied but had no intention of taking a demeaning job, like working at a fast-food restaurant. He made do quite well on welfare, he said. He even owns his own co-op apartment.

Unlike Carina, who will no longer give interviews, Mr. Nielsen, called “Lazy Robert” by the news media, seems to be enjoying the attention. He says that he is greeted warmly on the street all the time. “Luckily, I am born and live in Denmark, where the government is willing to support my life,” he said.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that this can go on indefinitely, and the till never runs out (that’s not likely, but let’s stipulate it anyway). Would that be desirable? Isn’t this sort of like what economists would call a moral hazard?

Ah, but it’s social and economic justice, isn’t it?

[Hat tip: Maetenloch at Ace’s.]

20 Responses to “Danish welfare: supporting them in the style to which they’ve grown accustomed”

  1. Ymarsakar Says:

    The difference between a human and someone that abdicates their free will to become the government’s pet, is stark.

    Yet this system will continue on, so long as people receive the benefits of humanity and none of the duties.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Well, it will continue on for another few generations.

    Lazy Robert is living off of those who still work or have plentiful resources. But if one lazy Robert can do it, why not another? It’s a virtual certainty that he’s not the only one in Denmark doing so, he’s simply morally bankrupt and thus feels no shame.

    That can continue until the moochers so outnumber the producers that the socialistic system has to transition to a communistic one (which will probably occur incrementally).

    But at some point the ‘lazy Roberts’ will discover that the new commissars do not tolerate the unproductive and they will be told where to report to work so that they may now and for the rest of their lives support the new nomenklatura. Those lazy Roberts that refuse to do so will be sent to the new reeducation camps and, the truly resistant to the new gulags.

  3. Charles Says:

    Perhaps it is wrong to judge him this way; but, looking at the picture of lazy Robert, he does indeed look lazy, even in his personal appearance (a unkempt beard for starters). So, my guess is that a few screws are loose or outright missing upstairs. He, for now, is most likely enjoying all the “attention.”

    But, that doesn’t mean he should NOT be working or at least contributing to his own welfare in some way.

  4. Sam L. Says:

    When the trickles join to form creeks and the creeks into rivers, Denmark goes down the drain.

  5. parker Says:

    It used to be that a vast majority of people were embarrassed when they had to rely upon charity because of some misfortune. Now its a way of life for millions all across the western world and they feel entitled to be a lazy Robert. Perhaps the West is doomed.

  6. rickl Says:

    Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” has almost become a cliche on the right side of the blogosphere.

    In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
    By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
    But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
    And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

    I wonder how many others are familiar with it?

  7. blert Says:

    He’s the living counter-point to income tax rebels.

    He’s an income rebel, albeit a pampered ‘neo-economic’ monk.

    In sum, the ultimate in tax avoidance.

    In neo-economics, the dependent are to be exalted…

    Eloi in our time.

  8. KLSmith Says:

    No, yes, and no.

  9. Wm. Lawrence Says:

    “social and economic justice”: one of my favorite hobby horses the concept of justice is an absolute, complete and perfect in itself. It is incompatible with any modifier. Adding an adjective can only degrade the concept. Social justice for some is necessarily unjust for others. Economic justice for some amounts to theft of property for others.

    Also in my opinion there is no word that benefits in any way from the use of the word “social” as an adjective.

  10. rickl Says:

    “Social justice” means “revenge”.

    Period. That’s all there is to it.

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    Revenge used to be a duty or virtue. When revenge is wielded as a weapon by only one side, predictable things happen.

    The Nomenklatura will be few in number, but the system for them will keep on going. It won’t collapse any time soon.

  12. IGotBupkis, "Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses." Says:

    }}} Let’s say for the sake of argument that this can go on indefinitely, and the till never runs out (that’s not likely, but let’s stipulate it anyway).

    I believe it is still premature to find a society like this, where all basic needs are met, and no one needs to actually “work” to produce them. With Agriculture able to produce all the food we need with only 2-5% of the population, and with industrial capabilities able to produce all the GOODS we need, if not yet, then certainly in the near future, with only another 2-5% of the population, perhaps it is much more foreseeable a time when no one needs to “work” to “make a living”.

    Mind you, the whiners for economic and social justice will still argue these same people as being “impoverished” with their relative metrics which ignore the reality of things (sorry: If you’re not lacking in basic needs, you are NOT “impoverished” by any rational standard).

    But despite this, the time is, if not yet, potentially possible, when there is no need to “work” in order to survive in relative comfort. This is a simple measure of the wealth of a society. Once the society gets rich enough — and we either are or will be before long — it’s clear that it’s possible to provide this to the citizenry.

    As you note, however, there’s the moral question. And, to be truthful, that’s where the answer lies, though the postModern Left would never accept it:

    We have to produce social pressure to not just sit on your ass.

    While it is possible to be a layabout with no positive influence on your society, it should be something derided and openly discouraged: The flaw with “Lazy Robert” got defined in the quote — “Mr. Nielsen, called “Lazy Robert” by the news media, seems to be enjoying the attention. He says that he is greeted warmly on the street all the time. “

    He should be greeted with sneers and scowls and other social rejections, because he is so unwilling to contribute back to the society which enables him to live in comfort and a fair degree of ease.

    The pML would NEVER condone looking down on Mr. Neilsen for his willingness to be nothing but a bloodsucking tick on society. But face it — that IS what he is, nothing more. And we should not hesitate to recognize them for what they are.

    There, lies the true moral hazard.

    Not unsurprisingly, SF tackled this question over 30 years ago — in 1982, James P. Hogan, back when he wrote actually good Science Fiction, wrote a book called Voyage From Yesteryear.

    He postulates a situation, wherein Earth, fearing an Apocalyptic war, sends off an interstellar craft with frozen embryos and AI-Robots to raise them, along with the tech needed to produce a fully third-economy upon landing and raising the embryos. The children, of course, eventually take the developmental process over and ignore some of the original instructions about how to form a society.

    In the meantime, the Earth, while suffering a significant war, does not get blown back into the stone age, and about 50, 60 years later, send a ship to investigate what happened to the colony.

    What they find is a libertarian’s dream, and one which is not particularly responsive to the notion that Earth is the one that should call the shots.

    The described society is one in which the coin is no longer a real one based on materials, but one of respect and social approval.

    I think there are unanswered questions and contentious issues with the society Hogan postulates, but he does answer the issue raised by this thread — what do we do if we have a society of sufficient wealth that no one needs to work?

    I’d also note that, while it’s not clear from the series or the movies, that this is the underlying system working in the Star Trek universe, too.

    No one there MUST work, but there are things driving people to accomplish more despite that.

  13. Don Carlos Says:

    Your basic premise is grossly oversimplified, preposterously so. Tune back in to the facts and figures of America in 2014, and remember, science fiction is fiction, not Cassandra.

  14. blert Says:

    Is he not an example of the “undeserving poor?”

  15. Ray Says:

    The socialist state doesn’t work very well once the workers discover they are being screwed and that work is for fools.

  16. neo-neocon Says:


    I have a draft for a post on that very topic.

  17. n.n Says:

    Progressive corruption. It is a problem with a homogenous population. It is exacerbated by a diverse population. The general public will regret normalizing dissociation of risk, and tolerating large scale, unassimilated immigration.

  18. Gary Says:

    Geoffrey Britain wrote:

    Well, it will continue on for another few generations.

    That can continue until the moochers so outnumber the producers that the socialistic system has to transition to a communistic one (which will probably occur incrementally).

    With all due respect, I believe you’re far too optimistic about how long this sort of nonsense can go on:

    1) Very soon, Denmark will be flooded with Lazy Roberts. Given that there’s evidently little shame in doing this, I’d bet that right now lots of Danes are contemplating or actually transitioning to the more “relaxed lifestyle” of Lazy Robert rather than troubling themselves with work. And with this example for the kids, I’d predict the fraction to double or quadruple as the youngsters reach their 20s.

    2) It’s not necessary for “moochers so outnumber the producers” before everything collapses. All that’s required is for the moochers to put too much of a burden on the producers. And given the high cost of Denmark’s lavish moocher-lifestyle, I’d guess that 10% – 20% (or less) would be enough to break the camel’s back. Each Lazy Robert probably needs at least 4 – 10 hardworking Danes to sustain him. Imagine paying 20% of the annual moocher-cost on top of Denmark’s already high taxes.

    If the good folks of Denmark endorse and tolerate this sort of crap, they’ll deserve the sh*t-storm that’s coming their way–and real soon.

  19. Q Says:

    And he is different from millions of american’s in what way?

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    Americans think they have earned the moolah by being rich, hard working, and respectful.

    The slaves think they are free.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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