Reason.tv: Sweden - A Supermodel for America?

To the American mind there may be nothing more quintessentially Swedish than the leggy, blond supermodel.

But there's another Swedish model that inspires almost as much admiration—the Swedish economic model. With a generous welfare state and high living standards, Sweden seems to prove that socialism works. Much of the hope that swept Barack Obama into the White House rests on the belief that America could reach new heights under a regime of enlightened progressivism, that we could be more like the Swedes.

Not so fast, warns Stockholm University sociologist Charlotta Stern: "If an American told me that the US should be more like Sweden I would say I don't think it's possible." The United States can centralize its health care system and pass other laws that mimic Sweden's welfare state polices, says Stern, but it's impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible. Swedish bureaucracies inspire trust, but their American counterparts (DMV, TSA, IRS) inspire punch lines, if not outrage.

But America could emulate some of the Swedish policies that don't require extensive bureaucracies. Take school vouchers. Teachers unions in America regard the idea as free-market radicalism, but families in Sweden enjoy universal school choice. Sweden adopted its famously progressive policies during the 1970s, but after years of sluggish economic growth the land of ABBA altered its course in the 1990s, adopting a host of free-market reforms, from deregulation to tax cuts.

Although much of the disco-era welfare state remains, economist Andreas Bergh credits the free market reforms with reviving his nation's economy. "Sweden is moving in the market economic direction," says Bergh, "but that does not mean America should be moving in the socialist direction."

What if the two nations continue on in different directions? Maybe some day when America is looking for a way to rejuvenate its economy, pundits will point to a different kind of Swedish model. One that increases individual choice and competition. 

"Sweden—A Supermodel for America?" is produced by Daniel B. Klein, and written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Shot by Jonathan Liberman and Henrik Devell, with additional production support by Zach Weissmueller and Sam Corcos and post production by Hawk Jensen and Austin Bragg. Special thanks to Niclas Berggren, Martin Borgs, Nils Karlson, and the Ratio Institute.

Approximately 6.00 long.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I think I have this figured out. If the US federal government scaled its scope back to the absolute bare minimum (some would say the constitutionally required and permitted scope of endeavor), and each local municipality fired up a little bureaucracy to handle all of its small group of people's needs (a la the Swedish model) then we as a whole can have a generous welfare state just like the Swedes have!

    Nobel Prize, please.

  • ||

    There's something to this.

    In a sense, the (Progressive Era) infatuation with government gigantism has really screwed us over. We now have a polarized debate between really Big, Stupid government and No government involvement in certain problems at all.

    But localized government would work better, wouldn't it? More chance for experimentation and, for dissatisfied citizens, lower cost of exit and escape.

    I'll be passing your nomination to the Nobel Committee by Close of Business today.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...for dissatisfied citizens, lower cost of exit and escape.

    Escape is not even necessarily the only option. There is a better chance at changing failed local policies. Regional leaders are easier to influence or, failing that, dispatch than are state and federal ones.

    I'll be passing your nomination to the Nobel Committee by Close of Business today.

    I hope you do. I've already started spending the million.

  • ||

    Ya got me!

    Instead of a video of Überblondes I get a frickin' economics lesson.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    If you've got a better idea on how to teach economics I'd like to hear it.

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    I'm starting to get bored with the whole Playboy thing, but I'll mention this anyway: The woman pictured from 0:03 to 0:06 in the above video is 1997 Playmate of the Year Victoria Silvstedt from Sweden.

  • ||

    That and your left hand will get you...

  • Brian Sorgatz||

  • ||

    Needs more tits.

    And cow bells.

  • AA||

    How about each state gets to be its own economic experiment, and the Feds just worry about national defense. Then a state can copy what works and throw away what doesn't.

  • Miku||

    I'm okay with the government provides national defense as long as they don't violate anyone's just freedom in that pursuit, but too often national defense is used as an excuse for xenophobia. Be it militarization of the boarder or initiating wars on nations no one in the Congress, Executive Branch and Pentagon feels is necessary to actually understand before entering. At least we have someone with a brain running the war in Afghanistan now that we have Petrayus instead of the shit McCrystal.

  • Warty||

    A GIS for "swedish supermodel" turns up an unpleasant number of dudes.

  • ||

    The link promised tits, and it delivered, if only for a few short seconds. Short, but bankable.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Sweden wouldn't be in existence at all today as an independent nation state if had not been getting military protection welfare from the United States ever since the end of WW2 - just like all the other non-communist block nations of both Europe and Asia.

    That's what cracks me up by leftists in this country always pointing to some European style socialist country as being a "success".

    The model they all operate by is one of dependence on an external power (the U.S.A.) functioning as an unpaid global policemen to keep the bad guys out of their house.

  • ||

    Yep! Israel too.

  • ||

    I actually think Israel would "probably" survive without US help. But it would require a LOT more fighting.

  • ||

    Sweden has pursued a policy of armed neutrality similar to Switzerland's since the nineteenth century. It is not any part of the alphabet soup of mutual defense treaties and has never sought protection under the US defense umbrella. Its government maintains a credible military capability against any threats it finds credible. Although its spending has diminished since the end of the Cold War Sweden's military spending is high compared to other countries its size.

    It is also a significant player in the international arms market.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    " Its government maintains a credible military capability against any threats it finds credible."

    The old Soviet Union could have blown their whole country right off the face of the earth with nuclear weapons any time it wanted to absent the U.S being a countervailing power.

    Or the Soviets could have used the threat of doing so to intimidate the Swedes into being absorbed into the eastern block of Soviet client states.

    Sweeden benefited from U.S. power regardless of whether there was any formal mutual defense treaties or not.

  • Suriously||

    You are an idiot.
    Seriously.
    Read some history books and then return, you moron.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    You aren't the least bit capable of proving me to be wrong.

  • henrik||

    Well, in the late 50's we had the foruth strongest air force on the planet and at full mobilization we could muster 800,000 men. So we were not completely without defense.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Who said Sweden had no military or no defense?

    The point is that Sweeden's military could never hold off the USSR if it had been determined to conquer Sweeden and if the USSR had never had to worry about any countervailing superpower such as the U.S. that might decide to do something about it if the USSR decided to use nuclear weapons.

    Anyone who thinks the Soviets would have hesitated for a minute to use tactical or stratgic nuclear weapons if there had been no power capable of serious retaliation against them in existence is crazy.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    This is the same logic unions and their legislative lackeys use in favor of card-check legislation.

    I'm sure NATO invited Sweden at some point. For better or worse, Sweden decided to remain independent.

    Had the Soviets "won" the cold war, they could claim that the Svenska SSR benefited from Soviet protection from imperialist oppression.

  • ||

    "Swedish Model" is a pretty old (perhaps now stale?) double-entendre. I have had this link in my bookmarks since 2006, for example, and offer it now for anyone who would like to read about the topic rather than watch the proffered video:

    http://www.nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=11488

  • Jordan||

    Regarding healthcare, Mormons in the U.S. outlive Swedes. How about we all convert to Mormonism? I'm sure the healthcare fascists could get behind that.

    Another fun fact from the same article:

    Another fact that surprises most people is that the gap between the rich and the poor in the U.S in use of health care is not larger than the average of other OECD countries. Equal health is more a political slogan than reality in Europe, where the poor live much shorter than the rich.
  • Jordan||

    Not to mention that health outcomes are relatively poor and unemployment is rampant for Sweden's immigrant population, who have access to the same institutions as the rest of the population. Culture >> welfare.

  • ||

    I would not be at all surprised to find out that people of Swedish descent in the United States were healthier and richer than their cousins back home.

  • Max||

    The one thing America couldn't do--at least not without producing an ferocious unemployment crisis-- is reduce the prison population to Swedish levels. In other words, the U.S. could not tolerate Swedish level of freedom and personal choice (the kind people have outside prisons). That doesn't mean, of course, that right-wing hacks and libertarian true believers would have to give up blathering on about freedom.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    You wouldn't know what freedom was if it bit your nose off.

  • Max||

    I'm as free as you are to embrace a simpleminded ideology and ignore everything that doesn't confirm my faith in it, but I choose not to. So go fuck yourself, you right-wing cock sucker.

  • AA||

    Why do you hate yourself, Max?

  • ||

  • AA||

    Jesus SF.

    At least it explains a lot.

  • Subsidize Me!||

    That picture looks like Betty White with a face made of scrotum.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    On the contrary, you are not free to do any such thing.

    You are a liberal - a genetically inferior race of beings with a substantially substandard quantity of brain cells rattling around in your head.

    Since no normal human being would willing choose to accept the validity of anything that even remotely resembles liberalism in any way, shape, form or fashion, your acceptance of such is absolute defacto proof of your classification as a member of the inferior race.

    You are merely a victim of your own inferior genetics.

  • Nykos||

    Oh come on, you're insulting those of us who consider ourselves free market liberals (like Frederic Bastiat and Adam Smith)! Please, stop calling statists by a name they had stolen in order to trick people.

  • ||

    So wanting freedom is just "blathering on" about it? As opposed to the statism you advocate?

  • Max||

    Swedes also enjoy greater social mobility than Americans, who don't belive in class anyway, so it doesn't matter.

  • ||

    Swedes also enjoy greater social mobility than Americans

    cite?

  • ||

    A flat hill is easy to climb.

  • Chad||

    Why are libertarians so bleeping lazy? You should only be asking for citations AFTER you have spent a little time looking for whatever it is you are asking for.

    Found on the first click with google:

    http://www.princeton.edu/futur.....mp;submit;

  • ||

    Well, I am too lazy to research and document the numerous studies that will also, I am sure, be incredibly easy for you to find, but that you have ignored, that document how mobile income actually is over generations in the US. Rich people don't stay rich and poor people don't stay poor. Your argument that somehow the US is unfair also flies in the face of much personal experience: I, and too many other people I know of working class parents, have gone on to do quite well with little in the way of barriers or obstacles. If I felt like wasting time researching the article I am sure the study you cite is as full of holes and bias as you have. Anything a liberal cites always does.

  • Chad||

    Not all "rich people stay rich" and "poor people stay poor", but the evidence indicates that

    1: America has a higher percentage of people who DO than many European nations, despite (or perhaps because of) all of our vaunted "freedom".

    2: America has been getting WORSE by this measure since...duh duh duh...the Reagan revolution! It must be a coincidence that if you slash taxes in the rich, they and their kids get richer!

  • Edwin||

    oh, what evidence is that, Europe's insane unemployment rates, focused mainly on immigrants, who by their nature started at the bottom? Yeah, 'cause you can get richer if you have no job, right?

  • CatoTheElder||

    Swedes also enjoy greater social mobility than Americans

    Just how does a mere subject mobilize to elevatate his social standing to become part of the Swedish royal family?

    You do know that Sweden is a constitutional monarcy, don't you?

  • rho||

    The US does not have a culture of bureaucracy, so we are terrible at it. Well, not terrible at making bureaucracies, but quite awful at running them. They're seen as sinecures for incompetent in-laws and convenient places to employ sociology majors who are otherwise unemployable.

    It's not been much of a problem historically, but now that we're lousy with bureaucracies (and ne'er-do-well in-laws), the costs have become overwhelming.

    Sweden doesn't have quite the same problem because, as P.J. O'Rourke pointed out, all the lazy Swedes froze to death.

  • Jordan||

    Swedish culture is also much more homogeneous than U.S. culture, lifestyles are far healthier, crime is much lower, and productivity is higher. Swedes in the U.S. outperform the rest of the population, and the Swedish population. Furthermore, the life expectancy gap between the U.S. and Sweden is the same now as it was in 1950, prior to any welfare state institutions. Culture is far more important than government institutions.

  • Chad||

    I thought diversity was an advantage, not a disadvantage.

    Apparently it is only a disadvantage when it being an advantage would conflict with one of your ideological arguments.

  • Alan||

    Diversity - like most things - has both advantages and disadvantages.

    Diversity means being able to tap into a multitude of experiences and backgrounds to garner the collective wisdom of many perspectives and apply that knowledge to solve problems.

    Diversity also means higher crime rates and greater misunderstandings.

    It is what it is.

  • Nykos||

    Diversity is an advantage, but only provided it means living together with people whose culture is, on average, greater than or equal to your own.

    So it works well if it means Swedes, Danes, British, Americans live together, but not so well if you start indiscriminately welcoming Afghanis, Pakistanis, subsaharan Africans, Papuans, etc.

  • Edwin||

    And let me propose something here to help explain why these sorts of bureaucracies are easier for Europseans to run, and why they seem to work better over there, and why Europeans have lower morbidity and other bad-stuff rates:

    Europeans lead small lives.

    It's hard for me to explain what I mean by that, but there it is.

  • Robert||

    Could you please at least try? I'm tantalized.

  • henrik||

    A plausible and well formulated theory. My own theory is that it is because Europeans have a higher level of existance than americans.

    It's hard for me to explain what I mean by that, but there it is.

  • qwerty||

    but it's impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible

    You're saying that culture matters? Shhh. Pretty soon people will start saying that unlimited immigration is a stupid idea.

  • Nykos||

    That's what some of us (non-statist) liberals are already saying. You can't preserve liberalism if you gradually reduce the average degree of enlightenment or civilization in a culture.

  • ||

    No, it maybe just means that people ought not to be drawing broad conclusions from aggregate numbers based on dubious data.

  • Edwin||

    "... a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible..."

    This is truer than most people realize. I remember reading a story about when the Lego company first started. Their blocks were selling very well in Germany, but poorly in America. This was because, in Germany, the kids would build the item prescribed by the instructions on the box, and then they would have to buy another box to build another item. American kids would just dump all the pieces out of the box, and build whatever the hell they wanted to at the moment, and later dissassemble it and then build something different.

    One more reason I'm glad to be American. I mean seriously, think about that. How losery and pathetic is that, to just build what's in the instructions? Everybody knows you're supposed to build spaceships and shit with legos. Damn loser Germans.

  • ||

    +1

    lol, that's exactly what I did with my lego's too. I don't think I ever followed the instructions till I was helping my nephew.

  • ||

    Legos came with instructions? Who knew?

  • Van||

    Germans like Werner von Braun and Willy Ley?

  • OMG||

    I also heard (not sure if it is true) that LEGO didn't include green as a standard color for its blocks because boys would build tanks with them if that were the case.

    I was perfectly happy making my tanks in red, however.

  • St. V||

    COMMIE!

  • henrik||

    That's the hole point of Lego, and what everyone does in Sweden as well.

    You need a big pile of pieces though to big those big cool things. Maybe American children lead smaller lives? :)

  • ||

    This made me laugh.

    So true; same of us Canadian kids. I have no clue what the hell I was doing half the time. I think my mother sent me to a psychologist after seeing some of the crap I built.

    Fuck the linear and the deferential! Long live whatever if it is we fucken do.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    From here:

    What limits the limited welfare state? Even with socialism discredited both theoretically and practically, state control over society grows. Do the apologists for government intervention imagine that we can move isotopically towards the electrified fence of totalitarianism without ever touching it?

    Not only has "liberalism" meant ever greater economic controls, but now it means the application of socialist ideology to social issues.

    It's all really very easy to understand as the philosophic analogue to Mises' economic analysis. The initial introduction of a socialist law into a liberal society forces the question: Do we accept or reject this violation of the liberal ethic? If we accept it, we set a precedent for the next proposed socialist law. We have made a very clear moral decision -- collectivism trumps individualism. In contrast to the cynicism that leads to a deluge of special interest groups, this trend involves taking ideas seriously -- i.e., recognizing the mutual exclusiveness of the capitalist and socialist paradigms, and thus the imperative to choose one. It acknowledges the hypocrisy -- the incoherence -- of bringing the socialist outlook to issue A but not issue B, to the "economic" issue but not the "social" issue.

    A commitment to greater statism begets more such commitments, and if what we may call the Ronald Dworkin generation pooh-poohed the "silly proposition that true liberals must respect economic as well as intellectual liberty," the Cass Sunstein generation repudiates as even sillier the proposition that liberals cannot impose on the free market of ideas the same doctrines and controls they impose on the free market in widgets. (The esteemed professor has insisted that speech, like commerce, must have its own "New Deal." With Sunstein [who currently is the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration] as thought control's FDR, who will be its LBJ?)

    Sorry for the length.

  • Robert||

    asymptotically

  • BoscoH||

    Ted, was that a hot dog in a frozen yogurt? Wild!

  • Van||

    Are there any reasons left for living in the U.S.?

    The only thing that keeps me here is the idea that other countries are more socialist, and hence less free, but is that true?

  • ||

    NO!

  • Van||

    So, please name a country that has as much or more freedom, lower rates of taxation, and bureaucracies as easily gamed as ours.

    I am asking this in all sincerity.

    My ancestors left the Alps about five hundred years ago seeking religious freedom and migrated to where I am now, but I'm beginning to feel a bit hemmed in.

  • Alan||

    I hear ya, Van.

    I recently traveled through some of the southern parts of South America. Nice country, nice people. The language isn't too difficult either. They don't speak so fast like the Mexicans do.

  • Van||

    Head South?

    Definitely worth a look. I have been learning Spanish by listening to the "Michel Thomas Method" CD's and watching Mexican television. Barbara Bermudo captures my attention and helps me concentrate but she does blurt out her Spanish muy rapidamente. I find Spanish language films to be much easier to follow.

    What countries did you visit?

  • Nykos||

    I bet Switzerland, Austria and maybe Sweden are better places to live in than the US (except maybe the weather). They may be somewhat more statist/socialist, but the overall freedom, lack of corruption and respect for the law probably more than make up for this.

  • Van||

    Return to the Alps?

    I had thought of that. The Swiss Confederation is actually less statist/socialist the U.S. but they discourage immigration and it takes twelve years to naturalize.
    Also, the U.S. government could regard you as a potential tax dodger and find ways to harass you.

  • ||

    To all angry Americans commenting on this segmemnt - this is why America is hated across the entire world; the arrogance and anger that come through in these emails are frightening... perhaps it's time to accept that everyone doesn't aspire to be Americans and every country doesn't want to be America for the mere reason that power and greed is destroying it!

    TRUST appears to be a word that doesn't exist in the American dictionary and it's failing the country on sooooo many levels!

  • ||

    It's not my belief that everyone wants to be American or that every other country wants to be America. Just the opposite. My impression is that, and you said this yourself, America and Americans are hated around the world.

    I'm guessing that is the impression most Americans have. The problem comes about when people, Liberals mostly, start to actually care that we're hated and want us to change our culture as an attempt to remedy that.

    American culture is different than any other country and it will always be that way.

  • ||

    According to stieg larrson, your nation is going downhill. As he writes and so do other authors of detective/police, fiction, sweden is a hotbed of racism, abuse of women, nazism, greed, and every evil under the sun. all these years of socialism have apparently created a nation of monsters. The self hatred that swedish writers express in impressive.

    Swedes do not reproduce, at least the natives don’t.

    Like the US, Sweden will end up a poor third world nation. It is inevitable.

  • henrik||

    Stieg Larsson is not only dead, he was also a long time member of the Trotskist Socialist Party.

    Which means that he is very much to the left of the swedish mainstream (together with most if not all swedish detective/police writers since the 60's)

    Your fiction writers in general also tend to critize your nation from the left.

  • ||

    You are saying that there is something of the right or middle in Sweden, which is interesting, because from our viewpoint, it is all leftwing. That is all there is and no other voices are allowed. Do Swedes really regard Larrson and other writers as leftwing or as just regular and mainstream?

    We in the US are used to being told we are bad. We are also taught that Sweden is a socialist heaven. Well, that appears not to be true. The interesting question is, why do leftists had a leftist nation? Because it is part of the disease of liberalism that westerners hate themselves. So you end up with this irony of even a leftist nation like Sweden being hated by its artists and intellectuals. The US at least has the excuse of saying we are not leftwing, so it makes sense to hate us for being fascists or whatever.

    I regard Swedes as a pitiful people who cannot maintain their own civilization. The only time they get excited is when they inveigh against the US and Israel, two western nations that mean them no harm. Otherwise, they seem perfectly content with whatever is happening in Sweden or the world.

  • Chad||

    School choice is nigh-meaningless in most of the US, because we don't have a good transit system to support it. Only a small fraction of parents have the time to drive their kids an hour to drop them off at their "choice" school every day.

    On the other hand, in nations where every middle-school aged kid knows how to take the bus or train to school, even if it takes an hour and a half...

  • ||

    Chad: "have the time to drive their kids an hour to drop them off at their "choice" school every day."

    Really?? an hour a day is your strawman argument? Within a 15 minute drive of my house are 7 (public school) elementary schools and about 5 (smaller) private ones.

    As a comparison, in a 15 minute drive there are about 8 (large) supermarkets.

    Except for those who live in a truly rural area, if we recvd vouchers, getting enough choice in which school to pick would not really be an issue.

    Can you credibly present information that would counter this?

  • Rudan||

    American culture at this point pretty much precludes true socialism from ever taking roots here. Quasi-socialism is the most America seems to be able to tolerate. For the most part "progressivism" is a uniquely American concept. Only in America among the developed countries is socialism not part of the mainstream left.

  • ||

    I am wondering what the situation is with unions in Sweden. Do they have unions for government employees?

    Also, you need to fix the link to Andreas Bergh. It's turning up 404. Thx.

  • ||

    These ongoing articles about Sweden and it's own version of The New Economic Policy are getting tiresome. Sweden is plagued by high taxes, high unemployment, a heavily restricted media, a selection of political parties who all "look" the same, and an interesting sociology experiment involving the massive immigration of Muslims beyond most if not all other European countries.

    Charlotta Stern knows that Swedes as a culture don't complain, preferring to let these problems fester and then drink heavily to make them all go away. At some point, this is not going to end well.

  • ||

    Ergo, the propensity for junshi?

  • ||

    No transport system for school kids in the USA? Man, I must be hallucinating all those yellow buses I see every morning, which they definitely don't have in Europe. The US probably spends more on school buses than the entire rest of the world spends on transportation. Even the smallest towns have them

  • ||

    Socialism can seem to work when enough of the people have the souls of Lutheran farmers, In a culturally diverse milieu, it has no chance. The social safety net becomes a hammock for the less industrious and disciplined, and the latter become deracinated. To borrow the imagery of Aesop's fable of the Grasshopper and the Ants, if being a grasshopper will get us by, why bother being an ant.

  • ||

    Lou, you are right. I work with a 60'ish Swede who speaks five languages and has been a VP of IBM among other things. He just became an American citizen after having lived here for almost 20 years. He is very smart, open minded and wise fellow.

    He says that all the great attributes of Sweden - and there are many - (ignoring the 'socialism v. capitalism' aspects for a bit) are just reflections of very strong cultural attributes of Swedes themselves - not programs dreamed up by politicians.

    He says that their form of government works because it is a reflection of the homogeneous culture, values and beliefs of the the Swedish people - not because the concepts embodied in and by the government are politically correct.

    He also says that the Sweden being lauded by many is being "hollowed out" from the influx of immigrants who do not share the Swedish cultural values and do not interact with the Swedish society as needed to make it all work.

    It is only a matter of two to three decades at the most he says before Sweden as we've known it, is gone.

  • E||

    Probably wont take two to three decades. More and more people are getting fed up working harder and harder for less and less money and pay higher and higher taxes. The younger generations have learned that they will get money even without working, and wont do jobs that dont interest them, but expect to have the same disposable income as those working.

    I've heard several people state that I, since I have a job, should pay higher taxes so those that dont have a job can have more money, so they can afford vacations and other necessities.

    I'm seriously considering going Galt.

  • ||

    Many make an assumption that all one needs is the correct government structures and the country will prosper and become a Sweden. Even the most PC person cannot conceive of suddenly turning Burundi into a Sweden by simply having the "correct" government. Sweden is prosperous because the Swedes work hard and work intelligent. To assume that the USA or any other country can become a Sweden by just copying their government, ignores history, culture, people and the surrounding environment.

  • ||

    As sweden becomes more diverse these attributes you speak of will be lost.
    It is so hard to speak honestly about differences between peoples.

  • Edwin||

    Somebody work in the "bork bork bork" chef from Sesame Street into a comment here

  • Wegie||

    The few Swedes with any abilities are willing to bust their ass to support the mutitude of useless assholes.

  • FreedomLover||

    This Reason.tv programme falls for all the usual Swedish mind control and propaganda. Pictures of a supermodel and few streets around the capital's city center are not representative of a country! Sweden definitely turned into a dystopia, half-way between 1984 and Brave New World. Worse is to come. Swedes are very good at not talking about their problems, and projecting a happy image abroad. They think that this is their duty; it's called political patriotism. In reality, there is extremely high unemployment (truly shocking among young people), limited freedom of speech and opinion, serious problems within the criminal justice system, an epidemic of workplace bullying and sexual crimes, growing corruption, disintegration of family, total disregard for an individual, rigging of statistics regarding crime and unemployment. Add to that long dark winters, and social atmosphere of jealousy and human isolation – it is not at all a nice place to live in! The decline is inevitable because (i) work ethics is gone; (ii) big manipulative and controlling government took hold; (iii) lack of humanistic education induces groupthink and ideological radicalism; (iv) there is no culture of individual freedom which harms innovation, creativity and enterprise. If there is anything spectacular about Sweden today, it is the speed of decline.

    And, with all due respect, her behaviour during WW2 was very questionable. The country got rich, because it skillfully played both sides during the war, and emerged unharmed, with industry intact and ready to capitalize during rebuilding of Europe.

  • henrik||

    In what way is freedom of speech limited in Sweden?

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    Wasn't a mayor in Sweden recently heavily fined for saying aloud that Kosovars control 90% of heroin trade in Sweden?

    From what I read, the "hets mot folksgrupp" law borders on the "laws" we used to have in communist Czechoslovakia (defamation of USSR).

  • e||

    Holy crap, that sounds terrible! I'm glad I live in the U.S. where, thanks to our Free Enterprise system, we don't have any of those problems.

  • Van||

    If only Ingmar Bergman where alive!

    He could make a film about lonely alienated Swedes, nihilists facing their emotional isolation and inevitable deaths, deaths which would symbolize the death of Sweden.

    A beautiful young woman, a younger version of Bibi Anderson could play the female lead.

  • ||

    I still wouldn't touch Swedish grub.

    What the fuck was that thing they were eating? It looked like a hot dog from the Kwik-E-Mart wrapped in a gyro with a mayo-tzaziki hybrid and wilted lettuce.

    Speaking of mayo, can someone beat up the person (s) who came up with that utterly retarded Miracle Whip commercial? "We're not going to back down?" From what? Who? Hellman's? Dumbdouched.

  • zhaowei||

    Sunflowers are always happy to looking at the sun, but who can see it behind the vicissitudes of life, pandora bracelets show in front of people is bright, shiny jewelry, it wrinkled the blue veins that is that itpandoracarries the despair, but It will not give up the bright sadness! Now you may have been very satisfied with the work and life, but you is not even on a level like it?

  • zhaowei||

    Sunflowers are always happy to looking at the sun, but who can see it behind the vicissitudes of life, pandora bracelets show in front of people is bright, shiny jewelry, it wrinkled the blue veins that is that itpandoracarries the despair, but It will not give up the bright sadness! Now you may have been very satisfied with the work and life, but you is not even on a level like it?

  • links of london||

    thanks

  • FreedomLover||

    Sweden - one of Europe's oddest nations! Good story in Telegraph entitled "The dark side of Swedish society". Some shocking facts there, rather than the usual myths and propaganda.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cul.....ciety.html

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • ||

    As an American ex-pat living in Sweden for the past several years I have to say that the system here does work, albeit not nearly as "fast" as my upbringing has made me accustom to.

    The things that make it works here, as Charlotta Stern points out, is the culture. Culturally speaking Swedes are brought up valuing group cooperation. For example there is a word in Swedish that exemplifies this that has no other translation. Lagom; the word reportedly comes from the notion that back when vikings would be passing a flagon of mead around that everyone would take enough of a mouthfull that everyone sitting around the fire would get the mouthfull of mead. The word translates in english to "just right, not too much, not too little". My point here is that from the earliest days of preschool through the corporate world, swedish culture is about doing things lagom in the spirit of cooperation. How else would an entire nation manage such a social system, let alone queue up in an orderly manner at every counter in the country?

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