National Geographic : 1974 Feb
that item dear to Danish hearts, a bottle of aquavit, or Scandinavian schnapps, a cus tomer pays the equivalent of only 35 U. S. cents for the spirits and glass, and $5.50-a staggering 1,600 percent-in taxes. Coffee brings $2.50 a pound, the best beef nearly three times as much, and even such Danish essentials as bacon and butter come high by U. S. standards. Appetite Overcomes High Costs Despite the cost, the Danes continue to eat at a phenomenal rate. In terms of calories Denmark's per capita consumption ranks high in the world, along with the heroic per formances of the Irish, the New Zealanders, and the Americans. "During the 1972 Olympics," calculates my journalist friend Hans Bischoff, "the people of Denmark gained a total of 2,000 tons in weight, just from munching snacks before their television sets." Such extravagance is hardly encouraged by Denmark's notably high income tax. Un der their essentially socialist system the Danes forgo cash in hand in return for such welfare services as free medical care, education through university level, unemployment compensation up to 90 percent of former sal ary, and old-age pensions. Yet the price is high for those who remain at work: Out of a secretary's pay of $6,000 a year, the govern ment takes nearly half, and the figure for , higher salaries reaches 65 percent.