After a few days in Copenhagen, my observations echo those of many, many US folks before me. So many cyclists commuting, taking their kids places, just getting around. Three bus lines (at least) within eight minutes of our apartment in a neighborhood north of town. A river running through the middle of town that has been so cleaned up that now there are large public swimming areas in it. We were in a metro stop and saw some rainbows on the ground. Above us, we discovered prisms as part of an art installation. Margaret’s comment: “If you pay lots of taxes you get rainbows everywhere!” (We’re not indoctrinating her, I swear…)

 

 

Friendly alley in the Østerbro neighborhood of Copenhagen.

At the same time, not all is perfect in the socialist paradise. A law banning burquas and niqabs just came into effect (with the fig leaf that wearing facemasks and false beards is also disallowed). Lots of debate about this decision. Reading the papers, both sides speak to the concept of Danish values, with one saying that aggressive covering violates women’s rights, and the other speaking to freedom of religious expression.

I’ve also read online a little bit about the idea of poverty in Denmark. The government publishes the “ghetto“ list – neighborhoods targeted for special help and services. These tend to be dominated by older people with limited education or recent immigrants. I also read one person saying in a chat forum that the Danish healthcare system does not cover dentistry for adults, so you can sometimes see people (again elderly or immigrants) missing teeth.

But back to the benefits we saw and heard ourselves. The quality of the museums and of public building upkeep is impressive, with great signage and creative things for kids to do. A Danish family who hosted us for dinner spoke about their support for the public school system, free through university, and for the European Union. Overall, my first impression is one of a strong commitment to the general welfare and the common good.

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