News Anchor: “Good evening. From our National News Desk…
We start tonight’s broadcast with a report. Chip Block has our report from Denmark.”
Video w/reporter voiceover: “At a recent presidential debate hosted by CNN, presidential candidate Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders brought up Denmark and the surrounding Scandinavian states when asked to describe what “democratic socialism” means to him.
Sanders: “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway and learn what they have accomplished for their working people. In Denmark, there is a very different understanding of what ‘freedom’ means.”
Video w/reporter voiceover: “The senator’s affinity for the Danish society has stretched back years. In 2013, after hosting the Danish Prime Minister on a tour of his home state of Vermont, Sanders wrote an essay praising their model of government.
Sanders wrote, arguing the U.S. could learn from the way the Danes have “gone a long way to ending the enormous anxieties that comes with economic insecurity.”
Sanders: “Instead of promoting a system which allows a few to have enormous wealth, they have developed a system which guarantees a strong minimal standard of living to all — including the children, the elderly and the disabled.”
Video w/reporter voiceover: “But Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen took strong exception to Sander’s statements recently in a speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.”
Danish Prime Minister: “I would like to make one thing clear, Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”
Video w/reporter voiceover: “But it is a market with many differences from the United States. All Danish citizens have access to child care, state-guaranteed medical and parental leave from work, free college tuition in which students receive a paycheck from the government during enrollment, free health care and a generous pension, all of which Sanders supports.
But “free” is actually the wrong word to describe these services. Danes pay some of the highest taxes in the world, including a 25% tax on all goods and services, a top marginal tax rate hovering near 60%. The top tax rate in the U.S., by comparison, is less than 40%.
But there are aspects to the Danish model that you would never see on Sanders’ policy platform. As a small country heavily reliant on trade, Denmark imposes minimal tariffs on foreign goods. Businesses here are only lightly regulated. The corporate tax rate is much lower than in the United States, which has one of the highest in the world. There’s not even a minimum wage in Denmark, although most workers are paid high salaries in large part due to the strength of labor unions. And in the past few years, Danish voters elected a right-of-center government, which has been instituting reforms that have put tighter restrictions on access to the long-held safety net. And here’s what Lars Christensen, a Danish economist known here as an outspoken critic of his homeland’s model has to say:”
Lars Christensen: “When I hear Bernie Sanders talk about himself as a democratic socialist, it’s a little bit 1970s, the major political parties on the center-left and the center-right would oppose many of the proposals of Bernie Sanders on the regulatory side as being too leftist.”
Video w/reporter voiceover: “Few experts here believe that Denmark can long afford the current perks. So Denmark is retooling itself, tinkering with corporate tax rates, considering new public sector investments and, for the long term, trying to wean more people — the young and the old — off government benefits. One critic of the current system is Karen Haekkerup, the Danish Minister of Social Affairs and Integration:
Karen Haekkerup: “In the past, people never asked for help unless they needed it but now people do not have that mentality. They think of these benefits as their rights. The rights have just expanded and expanded. And it has brought us a good quality of life. But now we need to go back to the rights and the duties. We all have to contribute.”
Video w/reporter voiceover: “In 2012, a little over 2.6 million people between the ages of 15 and 64 were working in Denmark. This represents 47 percent of the total population and 73 percent of the 15- to 64-year-olds.
Yes, you’ve heard correctly. In Denmark, only half of the total population work. Maybe that’s why Danes are so upset with Bernie. While he’s praising a system that has enabled entitlements for an aging and unwilling to work population, Denmark has been hard at work overhauling entitlements, trying to prod Danes into working more or longer or both. Back to you, Todd.”
News Anchor: “Thanks Chip. After the break we’ll take a look at today’s financial headline. Up next: an interview with Sycamore Tree Funds CEO Zacchaeus Pure.”
Financial News Anchor: “Welcome back. After markets closed today, the Juxtaposed! ™ News team learned that Sycamore Tree Funds has contracted with Mustard Seed Growth Funds, whose Chief Investment Officer is Jesus.
Now word on the street has it that Sycamore Tree Funds CEO Zacchaeus Pure has, over the years, allegedly skimmed and embezzled thousands of Roman denarius from the fees paid to Sycamore Tree Funds. It should be noted that each denarius is about the equivalent of a day’s wage. If these accusations are true, Sycamore Tree Funds’ clients have much to be angry about.
Our sources also tell us that Sycamore Tree Funds’ board was having second thoughts about having its CEO Zacchaeus Pure solely managing its vast resources, even though the fund’s holdings had grown seven-fold during his tenure as CEO.
Zacchaeus, a well-known and many would say hated member of the financial community had grown Sycamore Tree’s enormous holdings by collecting exorbitant fees from his clients, fees that were well beyond the mandated charges. Sycamore’s clients are forced to pay Zacchaeus due to strict government regulations imposed upon them “to maintain their security.”
Here’s Lacy Hedge with her interview of Sycamore Tree Funds CEO Zacchaeus Pure.”
Lacy: “Zacchaeus, how is it that you contracted with Jesus? When did you first become aware of Jesus?”
Zacchaeus: “I became aware of Jesus when many of my clients began talking about the new money manager in town. Thousands of my clients had attended his seminars. I began seeing my clients carrying “It is More Blessed to Give than Receive” tote bags.
Like many in town I had heard about the just-in-time dinner meal served at two of Jesus’s life management seminars. As I mentioned, thousands of my clients had attended these seminars, so, I decided to get my own take on Jesus. And, as you can see I am a short man. But that has never kept me from going out on a limb and taking a risk. I take pride in my ability to be in the right place at the right time.
So…it happened one day that Jesus saw me in a crowd. He, in fact, called me by name. I was flattered, of course. Jesus requested that we have a power lunch at my home. I accepted. Why not? The rest is, shall we say, history.”
Lacy: But there is more to the story, isn’t there? Were your clients happy about your meeting with Jesus?
Zacchaeus: “At first no. They were not happy! They protested outside my home with signs and shouting, ‘This man is a crony of the Roman Government!’ and ‘Jesus, have no dealings with this man!'”
Lacy: What happened at your lunch with Jesus?
Zacchaeus: “I listened mostly. The face to face meeting made all the difference for me. The secondhand knowledge from my clients gave me only a hint of this man’s character. In my world trust is key. And from that one-on-one meeting I learned that I could trust Jesus implicitly. I felt completely secure with turning over Sycamore Tree Funds’ money management to Jesus.
So I contracted with Mustard Seed Growth Funds and made Jesus my Fiduciary for life. I decided to seal the deal with a toast. I announced that I would redeem half my holdings and make a donation to the poor. And, I would refund to all my clients at least half the fees imposed upon them. Of course, when my clients heard this they were relieved. Their protest signs went away. I had regained their trust.”
Lacy: What did Jesus say about your agreement?
Zacchaeus: “Well, he said that he was very happy to get my commitment and to see me begin to recover the trust I had lost. He said Sycamore Tree Funds’ turnaround had already begun. He also stated Mustard Seed’s mission statement: “to seek and to save lost coins.” I’m all in.”
Lacy: Back to you, Todd.
Financial News Anchor: “Thanks Lacy. Stay tuned. After the commercial break, today’s winning lottery numbers.”
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