But Everyone Makes Fun of the Püpli Kids!

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IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad has just superseded Bill Gates as the world's richest man. Err, or maybe he hasn't. Though I'm amused to note that the founder of such an iconically Swedish company lives in Switzerland for tax reasons.

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  1. Thanks for another obscure Simpsons reference, Julian. Makes me want to eat an apple made of ham squares…

  2. “Superseded” is the preferred spelling.

  3. The guy lives in Switzerland now… I’m guessing so he doesn’t have to pay Swedish taxes.

  4. He was living and working in Sweden when he combined innovation, efficiency, and globalization to make a vast fortune, improve the choices available to consumers, and set up factories. Heck, I bet he even drove a few older furniture makers and sellers out of business.

  5. No one has really addressed Joe’s argument about innovation and the drive to succeed.

  6. Thank you.

  7. Hmmm… that last bit came out wrong. Remove “not”.

  8. Did anyone else see the pic of Matt Drudge wearing that cowboy hat? What a dork.

  9. A bit of perusing Nation Master supports Dennis claim. The economic freedom index in Sweden is not much different than that of the US. GDP per capita is lower, debt per capita is higher and domestic spending per capita is higher.

    Answer? It looks to me like the differences are what we would expect given the less than I expected differences in economic liberty. There are a lot of ways to splice that data …

  10. Jason Ligon,

    In general, Americans have some very strange notions of what Europe is like; its as if they view as some vast prison. Needless to say Europeans also have some very strange notions about the U.S. as well. 🙂

  11. An IKEA just sprung up here in the Washington, DC area. It looms over the Beltway like the Mormon temple. It seems to yell out “You WILL visit me and you WILL buy stuff”. My girlfriend dragged me to it the other day. The parking lot was like DisneyWorld.. huge and baffling. As I walked the mile between my car and the store, I looked at the other zombies heading the same direction. I glanced back at the gleaming, monolithic building and realized something. This is a temple. People come here to worship. And it is only slightly more interesting then a church.

  12. JB:

    I would be one of those guilty ones in general. I tend to get my views about Europe from the comments of Europeans rather than looking at what the place is actually like. While I worked in Japan with several continentals, I constantly heard how immoral the US is because of its low domestic spending. I formed my opinions about Europe in those discussions. I once had a protracted conversation with a fellow from London (not the continent, I know) who was befuddled when I suggested that it was his responsibility to save for his own retirement.

    In that place, in that time, I became very depressed about libertarian ideals taking root, and the US began to look like the last outpost to me. I was horrified by the notion of 60% taxation, the prohibition against private firearms ownership, and so on.

    What has since become clear to me is not that Europe is better off in those areas, but that the US is much worse off. Combined federal and state taxation in CA, for example very closely approximates total Canadian taxation levels for some income groups.

    That said, with some of your comments in these parts, my perceptions might still be skewed toward the negative …

  13. Imagine how bad it feels for Bill Gates —
    no longer to be the happiest man in the world.

  14. Will,
    That was “Marlboro Matt”, not Drudge.Now I gotta go out and by some Swedish furniture.

  15. “generous social safety net?” Generous??? Bountious, I would buy. Extavagant, certainly. But “generous” suggests a charitible act performed voluntarily. It does not denote the result of confiscatory taxation.

    One man’s “generous social safety net” is another man’s “extravangant cost-shifting mechanism.”

  16. “Bottom line: having taxes and assistance for the poor a little bit higher than you’d like does not equal government ownership of the means of production”

    Who ever said it did?

    And Joe, after saying my argument doesn’t hold up, you make a sweeping generalization about what’s written at this site without supporting it. Was the one supposed to have anything to do with the other? For future reference, please consider only what I post to represent what I think.

  17. Anyway, regarding the relationship between a social net and incentive to succeed, if you could create a social net without any loss of economic freedom, then there would be no relationship at all. Since one thing that adversely effects economic freedom is taxation, it would be very hard to have (or increase) a social net without harming economic freedom to some degree. However, anyone who would claim that any level or increase in taxation would bring incentive to succeed to absolute zero is obviously being ridiculously hyperbolic. But again, I’ve certainly never said that, and I doubt anyone else on this site has.

  18. There is something to be said for the *possibility* that an entrepreneur type might have an advantage coming from a state like Sweden, particularly given that neither he nor his family would have much personally to worry about concerning healthcare costs, education costs, retirement funding, and perhaps would have other necessities and niceties of life highly subsidized, which is to say, paid for by other people.

    My question is, so why aren’t there MORE Swedish bajillionaires?

  19. I went to Ikea for the first time recently. I was under the incorrect impression that they were upscale. They’re actually pretty cheap. For instance, $10 for a floor lamp. That’s even less than old, chintzy lamps at thrift stores. It was made in China however. Maybe China’s political problems resulted in savings for me.

    I’m surprised that so many people would want to Swedify their lives. Nothing against Swedes, but why would someone who doesn’t live in Sweden want to decorate their abode in that style?

  20. “Maybe China’s political problems resulted in savings for me.” Lonewacko, I could kiss you. You’re the first person who even begins to get my point about the connection between China’s politics and their ridiculously cheap labor. Apparently to denizens of Reason.com, outsourcing companies ought not be concerned about why labor is so cheap, just hold their noses and chant “free market… free market… free market…”

    But back to Ikea. Never been there, never bought that, but I’ve heard the stuff is both cheap and stylish. If you can get both at once, it is a pretty attractive proposition.

  21. Joe,

    Regarding your answer to my first question, sounds like apples and oranges to me. But whatever, I (usually) try to stick to dealing with ideas and issues. If you want to carry on about how foolish libertarians are as a class of people, that’s your choice. I’ll get out of your way and let you go down that route on your own….

  22. Re James Ligon’s post, I agree that different societies may react to taxation in different ways depending on their own national character or what have you. Still, I would say that greater taxation will generally always have a dampening effect on incentives and therefore on wealth creation. Please note, Joe, that this is a marginal or incremental effect. Only 100% taxation would lead to zero incentive to succeed.

  23. Kamprad isnt the only super sucessful Swede to live outside his own country Rueben Rausing well up there on the billionaires list , who invented the cardboard tetra-pak milk box lives in the UK.
    The taxes they are trying to avoid are probably inheritance taxes but that never stopped a large proportion of Swedish industry ( Electrolux, Volvo,banking et al) being concentrated in the Wallenberg family until recently. Even Ericsson has moved its HQ to London

  24. A famous comment from P.J. O’rourke:

    O’rourke was interviewing the Sweedish finance minister, who bragged, “thanks to our enlightened system of government economic control, there is hardly any poverty in Sweeden!”

    O’rourke’s reply was, “funny, there’s hardly any poverty among the millions of Swedes that immigrated to America either…”

  25. “And when one free-market-entrepenuer fails, do we rush to conclusions and say “see, I told you the free market doesn’t work!”? ”
    In fact, failures are also proof that the free market works. Free markets aren’t supposed to be a guarantee of success, rather a guarantee against monopoly. That fact that businesses fail means that they aren’t held up by government subsidy and protection. Free markets are supported by libertarians, not only because they provide lots of opportunity, but they also harness the self interest of people and the drive for profits into maximizing benefits to consumers.

  26. Re: Fatmouse

    I think that was Milton Friedman, not P.J. O’Rourke.

  27. Ingvar Kamprad is denying he is the richest man. I believe he is a little scared to admit it.

  28. this is an April Fool’s joke. Look up his wealth on forbes.com – it’s only around $18b

  29. A more amusing anecdote:
    My friend, Dean, was in Stockholm attending a libertarian conference. The conference was being picketed by communists protesting the ‘right wingers’ gathering and passing out flyers.
    Lots of libertarians wanted to purchase souvenir flyers which the protesters were selling for a nominal fee. Seeing the suddenly huge demand for their flyers, the protesters held a hasty conference and announced a significant price increase for their flyers. At that, the libertarians applauded the communists for demonstrating the market in action.

  30. Sam,

    Yes, as we all know, youth in America are neither apathetic or vacuous. 🙂

  31. Umlauts make my throat hurt.

  32. It was Milton Friedman that said it first, but O’Rourke quoted it in Eat the Rich. My favorite: “And the last time I walked through Gamla Stan (Stockholm’s old town), I didn’t wonder where the crazy people were. In Sweden the craziness is distributed fairly. They’re all a little crazy.”

  33. My friend, Dean, was in Stockholm attending a libertarian conference. The conference was being picketed by communists protesting the ‘right wingers’ gathering and passing out flyers.
    Lots of libertarians wanted to purchase souvenir flyers which the protesters were selling for a nominal fee. Seeing the suddenly huge demand for their flyers, the protesters held a hasty conference and announced a significant price increase for their flyers. At that, the libertarians applauded the communists for demonstrating the market in action.
    Sarongs

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