As we all know, the youths these days think that socialism is just peachy. At least that’s what we’re told, as the Democratic Socialists of America manages to rise up to tens of thousands of members — 0.01 percent of the population, which we’ll agree is well ahead of the number abducted by aliens. As I’ve noted before, what they actually applaud isn’t socialism, it’s social democracy. There’s absolutely nothing in their plans which would scare a traditional big government liberal. Actually, there's little in it that didn’t fail last time around we tried big government liberalism.

But they are right that a sort of high-tax, high government spending socio-economy does work in other places. The Nordics manage to make it tick along quite nicely. Not to my taste, perhaps not to yours, but we must agree that it does actually work. What we need to grasp is, well, why does it work?

Various ideas have been put forward. That sort of redistribution works in a homogenous society and won’t in our multi-hued one. PJ O’Rourke interviewed one of their politicians who just pointed out the window at the snow and insisted that the "not working, I’ll take advantage" gene died out millennia ago. My own insistence is that the Nordics aren’t, as many think, under that taxation — they’re more vibrantly free-market and capitalist places than we are, something which has the useful merit of actually being true.

I have some more bad news for the self-declared socialists, though. Another reason it all works is because the Nordics trust their governments. Partly, this is because they end up with people in government rather unlike the failures who gain power in our own countries. No one really does look at Congress or a state legislature and think they’d like to entrust their entire lives to these people, do they?

An interesting example of which is a new technology.

Sweden is seeing substantial numbers of people implanting a chip into their hands. This carries such things as the code for their door lock, their contact details, their phone password. They’re also used to carry digital train tickets and the like, and that’s where the difference is. These people really trust government, to the point that they’ll put their most personal information through a government chip reader.

We have vast areas of the law, even our top court and the Constitution, to keep the legislatures’ hands off these sorts of things, so high is our distrust for those who get elected.

And yet that’s the sort of thing we can’t be thinking if we’re to have that desired social democracy, isn’t it?

Only if we really do trust government, so much so that we’ll reveal all to it, would we trust government to be running healthcare, all education, the economy, and the rest. America’s not a society where we do that.

That Nordic socialism does work where substantial numbers are willing to have the digital equivalent of a barcode stamped on their foreheads. Here, with our native suspicion of government, it’s unlikely to. We’re left with the thought that different societies desire different forms of government — which seems reasonable enough, really.

Tim Worstall (@worstall) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute. You can read all his pieces at The Continental Telegraph.