With Norway’s high tax burden comes a 36 hour work week (with a mandatory month of paid vacation), free health care, and a public pension system that is likely to actually exist when Sven gets older. Time for more math. According to my pay stub, I pay $140/month to Social Security and $200/month to a state-run pension system. Then I pay $130/month (single) for lousy HMO health insurance, $49/month for Medicare, and another $50 to a Health Savings Account that I use every month for prescription co-pays. That adds up to $569 every month to provide myself with health insurance and retirement benefits that Norwegians don’t have to buy. I’m not so sure that Sven is jealous of the $180/month I save thanks to low American gas prices.
The point is that today the apparatus to which the individual is to adjust and adapt himself is so rational that individual protest and liberation appear not only as hopeless but as utterly irrational. The system of life created by modern industry is one of the highest expediency, convenience, and efficiency. Reason, once defined in these terms, becomes equivalent to an activity which perpetuates this world. Rational behavior becomes identical with a matter-of-factness which teaches reasonable submissiveness and thus guarantees getting along in the prevailing order.
— herbert marcuse, “some social implications of modern technology” (1941)
“Oh, sure, your average conservative will insist his belief system is based upon a passion for the free market and limited government, but that’s mostly a cover story. Instead, the vast team-building exercise that has driven the broadcasts of people like Rush and Hannity and the talking heads on Fox (“News”) for decades now has really been a kind of ongoing Quest for Orthodoxy, in which the team members congregate in front of the TV and the radio and share in the warm feeling of pointing the finger at people who aren’t as American as they are, who lack their family values, who don’t share their All-American work ethic.”