Things work here!

Sep 4, 2006 • Karen

While we rode to our folkehøjskole for the first time, our intern Rachel warned us that our commute could be a bit crazy for the first week. Apparently, the A train track had been under construction, requiring passengers from Hillerød to get off at Holte or so and board a completely different train to Copenhagen. The construction had been scheduled to be finished on the 26th, that very day. However, Rachel had no idea if it had actually been completed or not. She gave us her cell phone number in case we got lost.

Whaddaya know. We got up early that morning, got on the A train...and had no problems whatsoever. A public transportation construction project, done on time!

I'm no expert, but the other construction projects I've seen seem to be proceeding equally efficiently. Every day I pass a building under construction in Hillerød on the bus, and every day they make visible progress. The sidewalk on Skindergade needed replacing, so crews arrived two days ago to dutifully dig out the old cobblestones and put in new ones. I think they finished today. Clearly there is no Danish mafia, or at least they don't use construction companies as fronts. I mean, when's the last time you heard of an American construction project finishing on time?

And it's not just construction. Denmark has universal health care. One of the other DIS students at the folkehøjskole had to take advantage of it this weekend when he had a nasty fall and had to get stitches on his chin. He thought it might be a problem that he hadn't registered yet for his CPR number (like a Social Security number), but nope--they just took him in, asked his name, and sewed him up. Done. No mountains of paperwork.

Denmark is a welfare state, and a pretty generous one, too. I guess anyone unemployed gets something like $1000 a month from the state--the same amount the interns at DIS make! You'd think that would be a drain on the Denmark economy. And there are people in Denmark who make their living as professional bums. But--astoundingly--hundreds of thousands of people in Denmark have jobs that pay *less* than how much they would get if they quit and went on welfare. And yet they work!

Might I mention that Denmark has effectively no national debt?

And then I read about the way things are run in America (i.e. this or this) and I cry inside.

What a breath of fresh air it is to be living in a country that has a respectable level of competency...