We have seen that while the Scandinavian countries have extremely high amounts of what Rothbard called binary intervention, i.e., taxation, their saving grace is their relatively lower amount of triangular intervention, i.e., regulation. This puts the Scandinavian countries on a level playing field with other developed countries and helps explain why they are able to have equal or higher living standards. The misconception that the other Western countries are a lot more free-market oriented than Scandinavia is very unfortunate; it feeds the notion that more government expansion would bring joy and happiness to all, when in fact it would make things worse.
However, the real point of all this is that the world at large is so unfree that even the massive Scandinavian welfare states can be considered among the "most free" countries in the world. While things have generally moved in the right direction in Scandinavia in terms of increased economic freedom, the very opposite trend seems to be taking place in several other countries, particularly the United States. Seeing as the United States has already descended to the level of Denmark in terms of economic freedom, one can only wonder how long it will be before it finds itself approaching Finland, Norway, and Sweden.
1. Americans enjoy higher average disposable (after tax) AND gross (before tax) income than Norwegians do.
2. Americans enjoy a significantly lower cost of living than do Norwegians (1.00 vs. 1.487).
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