That lower G.D.P. number conceals two important points. First, by any measure people in the lower part of the income distribution are much better off in Nordic societies than their U.S. counterparts. That is, there is a lot less misery in Scandinavia — and because everyone has some chance of falling into low income, this reduces the risk of misery for a much larger share of the population
Second, much of the gap in real G.D.P. represents a choice, not a cost. Nordic workers have much more vacation, much more time for family and leisure, than their counterparts in our “no vacation nation.”
.. They aren’t “socialist,” if that means government control of the means of production. They are, however, quite strongly social-democratic: as Exhibit 1 shows, they have high taxes, which finance much more generous social benefits than we have here. They also have policies on wages, working hours, and more that tilt the balance toward workers in a number of dimensions.
.. Clearly, the Nordic economies are better for lower-income families — roughly the bottom 30 percent of the population.
.. But this understates the case, because these data don’t include “in kind” benefits like health care and education. All of the Nordic countries have universal health care — not just single-payer, but for the most part direct government provision (a.k.a. “socialized medicine.”)
Nordic education also lacks the glaring inequality in quality all too characteristic of the U.S. system.
.. Once you take these benefits into account, it’s likely that at least half the Nordic population are better off materially than their U.S. counterparts. But what about the upper half?
.. a large part of the difference — in the case of Denmark, more than all of it — comes from a lower number of hours worked annually per worker. This does not reflect mass underemployment. Instead, it reflects policy: all of the Nordic countries require that employers give workers a minimum of 25 days of paid vacation every year, while the U.S. has no leave policy at all.
.. Once you take vacations into account, Denmark and Sweden basically look comparable in performance to the U.S.
.. The point for welfare comparisons is that while Nordic families at, say, the 60th percentile of the income distribution have lower purchasing power than their American counterparts, they also have much more free time and an arguably better work-life balance. Are they really worse off? You can make a good case that taking all of this into account, the majority of Nordic citizens are actually better off than Americans.
.. The O.E.C.D. publishes measures of self-reported “life satisfaction”; all of the Nordic nations rank above the U.S. Objective measures like life expectancy and mortality rates are also much better in Scandinavia.
Philip Roth, seminal author of comical and simmering discontents, dies at 85
Roth, whose sexually scandalous comic novel “Portnoy’s Complaint” brought him literary celebrity after its publication in 1969 and who was eventually hailed as one of America’s greatest living authors for the blunt force and controlled fury of his dozens of later works
.. His lifelong themes included sex and desire, health and mortality, and Jewishness and its obligations — arguably his most definitive subject
.. He could write about these international issues because he was truly cosmopolitan, a global citizen who was grounded by American culture.”
.. A 2006 survey by the New York Times Book Review of the best books since 1981 found an astonishing six of Mr. Roth’s novels among the top 22.
.. “Going wild in public is the last thing in the world that a Jew is expected to do.”
.. In 1962, Mr. Roth shared a panel with “Invisible Man” author Ralph Ellison and Italian novelist Pietro di Donato during a symposium at Yeshiva University. Again he was denounced by questioners who thought he was undermining Jews. Mr. Roth later recycled the incident in “The Ghost Writer,”
.. it also won praise from prominent reviewers for being playful and moving, a masterpiece on guilt.
.. “Nathan Zuckerman is an act. Making fake biography, false history, concocting a half-imaginary existence out of the actual drama of my life is my life. There has to be some pleasure in this job, and that’s it. To go around in disguise. To act a character. To pass oneself off as what one is not. To pretend. The sly and cunning masquerade.”
.. In her book, Bloom draws herself as caged by an often wrathful Mr. Roth, describing his emotional gamesmanship as “Machiavellian.”
“Philip’s novels provided all one needed to know about his relationships with women,” Bloom wrote, “most of which had been just short of catastrophic.”
.. Mr. Roth’s powerful, probing, mocking literary voice largely failed to translate in Hollywood
.. “He goes on and on about the same subject in almost every single book,” Callil said. “It’s as though he’s sitting on your face and you can’t breathe.”
.. Yet when Mr. Roth announced his retirement in 2012, it was soon revealed that the author was cooperating with biographer Blake Bailey.
If I Die Before You Wake…
This has been a year. It started with angry Trump supporters showing up at our home and at my office. It continued with angry people harassing my advertisers and station. And while the professional toll has been something to behold, it is nothing compared to the personal struggles my wife and I have had to deal with this year and will now continue to deal with.
.. I am no leader. I am just blessed with a platform where I say what I think is right and true and make sure those who agree know they are not alone.