This Week’s Editorial: It’s the policy, stupid!
Ejvind Sandal

June 11th, 2017

This article is more than 6 years old.

Different avenues produce different outcomes (photo: K. Kendall – Flickr)

The headline of this piece is the conclusion reached in an editorial in the Danish daily Politiken on June 6 relating to the economic co-operation and development organisation OECD’s volte-face regarding the recommended future behaviour of modern governments.

Protectionism is not the answer. It will inevitably lead to less equality, less welfare and greater global problems.

It doesn’t work for me
Untamed liberalism is also a mistake. The world is full of angry people who lament over inequality. They do not feel that the system works for them, and it is unjust. They seem to be right. Free trade is a cause of unemployment and injustice.

Their anger is founded on real problems. But free trade is better than protectionism. The world has long since lost the innocence of splendid isolation.

A new third way
The OECD is now recommending a third way. The governments and supra-national institutions such as the EU should redistribute the wealth created from free trade via the tax system (not tax evasion) and invest in education, health and infrastructure.

Middle-class welfare is the answer.  The super nationalists are EU-sceptical and call for border controls, customs walls and general protectionism. The super liberals are almost religious in their zeal for deregulation and unfettered market forces. These are both dead-ends.

OECD recommends a political global structure that will allow the advantages of the free movement of labour and capital to be distributed more evenly, as well as not leaving big groups of frustrated middle-class people who are now looking at the disruption with horror instead of optimism.

A sensible Danish plan
The Danish government has launched the 25 plan – a revised plan for the future – along these lines. It is recommending a redistribution policy and a basically responsible economic policy.

The overall perspective is a global policy without big divisive differences among people. The pendulum is swinging back from the migration of manufacturing to the cheapest and most miserable people to local production by robots and global competition – in other words: into services instead. That means zeroes and ones – and that is brain-related more than anything else.

World consumption is becoming smarter and waste will be a less pressing problem with proper global controls to face climate change. That needs smart governments who do not sub-optimise.

Thank you OECD for your volte-face.  It is the right policy, stupid!


Ejvind Sandal

Copenhagen Post editor-in-chief Ejvind Sandal has never been afraid to voice his opinion. In 1997 he was fired after a ten-year stint as the chief executive of Politiken for daring to suggest the newspaper merged with Jyllands-Posten. He then joined the J-P board in 2001, finally departing in 2003, the very year it merged with Politiken. He is also a former chairman of the football club Brøndby IF (2000-05) where he memorably refused to give Michael Laudrup a new contract prior to his hasty departure. A practising lawyer until 2014, Sandal is also the former chairman of Vestas Wind Systems and Axcel Industriinvestor. He has been the owner of the Copenhagen Post since 2000.


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