Editorial | A little common sense please

Denmark is about to become a victim of its own prosperity. Fixing that requires us to come up with some different ways of addressing our problems

Ever since Denmark became a member of the EU more than 40 years ago, and with the fall of the Iron Curtain 25 years ago, the country’s political landscape has been one dominated by small compromises intended to ensure political stability. The left leaned to the right, and the right leaned to the left, and policies put forward by both sides were simply a rehashing of yesterday’s ideas. But hey, we were – in a global perspective – rich. What could go wrong?

What went wrong was that we rested on our laurels and we lost our competitive edge. Before long this will send us to the global underclass.

Denmark succeeded by being an open, democratic country that made money exporting finished goods and providing services. Denmark is not blessed with raw materials, and in order for the economy to develop, people had to become skilled at making the most of what they had. Everyone went to school. And people learned about foreign languages (and not just English) and cultures.

Because of this, everyone became relatively prosperous and generally equal. Few had too much and fewer too little.

All this stands to change if we don’t come up with common sense solutions to some of the biggest problems facing us. What are those problems?

1.    We’re losing our competitive edge because we don’t work hard enough in school.
2.    We’re losing our competitive edge because too few can speak foreign languages.(with the exception of English).
3.    We’ve lost our sense of reality when we try to fight drug-related crime that cannot be eliminated.
4.    Our senior citizens are forced to endure eldercare that just doesn’t work.
5.    We are uncomfortable with immigrants, even though they can help solve our demographic imbalances.
6.    Our oil is almost gone, and we’ll need to find some way to reverse the productivity loss it led to.

What do we need to do?
1.    Have children work harder in school rather than slow the pace down so that everyone can keep up.
2.    Make English an official second language. As it is now, Danes already study in English at universities and go to work at companies that have English as their official language. It’s better to get Danes to improve their English than it is to force foreigners to speak a language they’re not interested in anyway.
3.    Treat drugs the same way we treat alcohol.
4.    Build nursing homes in Malta or Pudang. The labour is better, cheaper and you’ll be more likely to get the family to come visit. They can Skype when they want to ‘drop in’ for a chat.
5.    Assume a less arrogant attitude towards foreign labour. Our companies need them.
6.    Make employees more motivated by giving them a say in the performance of their own companies.

Denmark’s problems are piling up. Let’s get our heads out of the sand and take a common sense approach to them before it’s too late.