For decades, U.S. lawmakers have dismissed the possibility of bringing Nordic-style social democracy, with its robust and diverse welfare programs, to America. Conservatives say it goes against our bootstrapping ideals, while liberals lament that it’s too progressive to catch on. But in his new book Viking Economics, George Lakey argues that both objections are flimsy. While it’s true that many Americans balk at the idea of socialism, polling reveals strong bipartisan support for socialist-style programs like Medicare, and more than two-thirds of Americans believe the government should help the needy get food and shelter. (Among the under-30 set, support for socialism and capitalism is roughly equal.) Of course, fully embracing Nordic-style policies–and in turn upping access to health care, education and more–would require something Americans are categorically allergic to: tax hikes. Then again, Lakey concludes, you get what you pay for.
This appears in the July 25, 2016 issue of TIME.
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