Corporate Welfare

Swedes to Carmaker: It Is Time For You to Stop Your Saabing!

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From The New York Times, which reports that even the Swedes have their limits when it comes to spending money:

Saab lost about $343 million last year. It is now going through a Swedish process known as reorganization, a step short of bankruptcy, as it tries to persuade its creditors to prop it up while it looks for a buyer. Joe Oliver, a spokesman, said in an interview that "around six serious investors," from Sweden and abroad, had expressed interest.

Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson says bluntly, "The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories." The Swedish government is particularly annoyed at GM, which is the main owner of Saab:

Struggling for its own survival, G.M. has said it will completely pull out of Saab by the end of 2009, a course that Ms. Olofsson, the enterprise minister, described as tantamount to declaring "that they wash their hands of Saab and drop it into the laps of the Swedish taxpayers."

She said: "We are very disappointed in G.M., but we are not prepared to risk taxpayers' money. This is not a game of Monopoly."

Whole story here.

Hat tip: Alan Vanneman

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  1. To quote my leftist friends “Why can’t America be more like Sweden?”

  2. Every time I see one of their leggy blondes, I think exactly the same thing. *sigh*

  3. Social democracy aside, Sweden is looking pretty good these days.

  4. No kidding, X. I’m starting to get convinced that the ruinous taxes of Sweden would be amply offset by the tall blondes with loose sexual morals and the death metal.

  5. So you guys like mandatory military service?

  6. Somewhere a jet is crying for its lost child.

  7. This is not a game of Monopoly.

    Might it, instead, be a game of Easy Money? 😉

  8. Just the communal showering part of it, Epi.

  9. That’s only on BSG, Warty. Which, by the way, disappointed me about as much as I expected it to.

    SPOILER

    Starbuck is an angel? Fuck you, writers. Seriously.

  10. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that Sweden had actually moved towards a more “conservative” position, in the literal sense, politically since the 1994 financial crisis showed that the welfare state couldn’t just keep getting bigger (since then they’ve been working on keeping it the same size, and arguably that can’t go on forever, either). Part of that has been a stronger market liberal inclination among the Swedish political class since deregulation and privatization rightfully got the credit for saving them in 1994.

    It’s interesting to see how Europe as a whole is actually positioning itself to the fiscal right of the US right now. Much to the chagrin of Bernake, foreign governments have been much more reluctant to jump on the bailout-stimulus money-from-nothing bandwagon.

  11. Andy, I can’t specifically confirm anything that you mentioned. However, it does remind me of this, from a recent “Lexington” column in the “Economist”

    The fury about “European socialism” is not just wrong as a matter of fact. It is foolish as a matter of policy. Europe has plenty of things to teach the United States (particularly about running a welfare state), just as America has plenty to teach Europe (particularly about igniting entrepreneurialism). Indeed, a more telling criticism of the Obama administration is not that it is borrowing too much from Europe but that it is learning too little.

    Sweden and the Netherlands have a comprehensive system of school choice (the Dutch even allow public money to flow to religious schools). Switzerland and the Netherlands have a market-based system of health care which uses private insurers, covers everyone, and does so at a much lower cost than the American system. Britain has taken contracting-out in the public sector much further than America has done.

  12. Epi, if you’re so disappointed, why don’t you go live all alone on an uninhabited prehistoric Britain so you can heal? As for me, I’m going to become a caveman because I’m tired of technology or something.

    Something just occurred to me: the Earth was in an ice age 150,000 years ago. Britain wasn’t a fucking island.

    I’m getting more and more annoyed with the BSG ending as the happy feeling it gave me fades. (Yayyy, everything ended happily ever after! Yayyy…..wait a minute, what the fuck?) It would have been much better if they had ended it after they found the nuked Earth.

  13. Ireland or New Zealand? Ireland has the beer I like and is much closer to, well everything, but NZ has legalized prostitution which is always nice.

  14. tantamount to declaring “that they wash their hands of Saab and drop it into the laps of the Swedish taxpayers.”

    Maybe we could drop GM into the laps of Swedish taxpayers; it’s worth a try.

  15. Switzerland and the Netherlands have a market-based system of health care which uses private insurers, covers everyone, and does so at a much lower cost than the American system.

    Based on what I heard when I was in the Netherlands last fall, I seriously think that this is the model we should go to.

    Is it Libertariantastic? No.

    Is it a hell of a lot better than anything else we are likely to see in the Age of Social Democracy? Yes.

    Will it ever happen in the US? Not a snowball’s chance.

  16. Nice quote EJM, but I’d leave out anything (very foolishly) praising the UK’s infamously bloated, expensive, and horribly inefficient public sector. If you want to be seem convincing, that is.

  17. Gotta love the Kinks reference, with its Pretenders echo.

    Kevin

  18. It would have been much better if they had ended it after they found the nuked Earth.

    Indeed. I share your anger, young SkyWarty. Let it flow.

  19. Starbuck is an angel? Fuck you, writers. Seriously.

    I read an interview with Ron Moore and he said that no, Starbuck wasn’t an angel. She was real and there and so on. Still he choked on providing any real explanation for her at all. I thought it was a really cheap cop-out.

    FWIW, I like the finale, the battle was kick-ass, tho’ they did kinda gloss over how the assault team made it back to the Galactica.

    What’s bugging me about it the most is not the religious crap, I can live with that, I pretty much just tune it out, but how commentators on other blogs are pissing and moaning about the colonists giving up technology. Yeah, it’s a strained long-shot that it would happen, but that’s not the point. It’s because we descended from them and all that technology would be, uh, inconvenient to explain away. Why is this so hard to grok?

    Something just occurred to me: the Earth was in an ice age 150,000 years ago. Britain wasn’t a fucking island.

    Warty–It was a brief interglacial period until some of the colonists cheated and obviously screwed it up with CO2 emissions from hidden industrial factories.

  20. The reason Swedes are so reluctant is that we tried this in the seventies, tanker ships instead of cars, and it was a horrible failure. Enormous amounts of cash was spent, and the industry still went bankrupt. So, at least some of our politicians aren’t willing to do the same thing again.

    So you guys like mandatory military service?

    In practice abolished, in the making of being abolished in principle.

  21. The Swedes used to be so Progressive. I wonder if the Cheney Death Squads had something to do with this?

  22. P Brooks-

    If your suggestion panned out, the Obama administration would, no doubt, exclaim, “Abba dabba do!”

  23. The Heritage Foundation’s economic freedom index (which I’m not expert enough to endorse or discredit) ranks Sweden the 26th most economically free country out of 179. Sweden’s freedom score was 70.5, America’s was 80.7 and Hong Kong’s was 90.0. Maybe we should sponsor congressional trips to Hong Kong.

  24. So, our administration is dumber about practical socialism than Sweden is. Wow, we really are the short-bus country, aren’t we?

  25. Starbuck wasn’t an angel, she was a ghost, or that’s how I took it anyway.

    It would have been way cooler if she had been Daniel reincarnated though. This way she’s just a giant “deus ex machina”.

    And yes, having Galen move to “the highlands” to found the race of Celts was pretty lame. if they were going to do that, they should have gone all the way and had him wrap a kilt around his ass.

  26. This is one of those OMG stories. Swedish politicians bluntly saying they don’t want to spend the taxpayers’ money on something as risky as a car company, as if they were playing around with funny money. OMG, right? Sweden! AAAAH!

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