Bernie Sanders

Bernie's Right—America Should Be More Like Sweden

But not in the way he thinks

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Joanna Andreasson, photo by Michael Vadon/Creative Commons

Bernie Sanders thinks the U.S. should look to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries to "learn what they have accomplished for their working people." The Vermont senator has said so repeatedly throughout his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, prompting GOP rival Marco Rubio to say, "I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president—of Sweden."

As a native of Sweden, I must admit this makes me Feel the Bern a bit. Sanders is right: America would benefit hugely from modeling her economic and social policies after her Scandinavian sisters. But Sanders should be careful what he wishes for. When he asks for "trade policies that work for the working families of our nation and not just the CEOs of large, multi-national corporations," Social Democrats in Sweden would take this to mean trade liberalization—which would have the benefit of exposing monopolist fat cats to competition—not the protectionism that Sanders favors.

In fact, when President Barack Obama visited Sweden in 2013, the three big Swedish trade unions sent him a letter requesting a meeting. Their agenda: a discussion of "how to promote free trade." The chairman of the largest Social Democratic trade union scolded the American president for his insufficient commitment to the free flow of goods.

This reality will not endear my home country to American socialists, but it's better to be hated for the right reasons than to be loved for the wrong ones, as the saying goes. Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes. Sorry to burst your bubble, Bernie.

Disco-Era Socialism
Sanders isn't completely deluded, of course. Sweden and the other Scandinavian countries have experimented with very big government and semi-socialist ideas. There's just one problem: That experiment coincided almost perfectly with the region's only sustained period of economic decline over the last 100 years.

Sanders' image of Scandinavia is just like the rest of his policies: stuck in the 1970s. Until that decade, Sweden and Denmark had grown much faster than other European countries and had become richer than most other countries on the planet, in large part by limiting government and embracing markets. (Norway is a special case, because oil and gas make up 22 percent of GDP, just a few percentage points below Venezuela. So unless Sanders' policy proposal is to strike oil, the Norwegian example is not relevant.)

During its laissez faire period, between 1850 and 1950, Swedish income per capita increased eightfold as the population doubled. Infant mortality fell from 15 to 2 percent, and life expectancy increased by a whopping 28 years. And all this happened before the welfare state was even a glint in the taxman's eye.

As late as 1950, total taxes as a percent of GDP in Denmark and Sweden were not just lower than in other European countries but lower than in the U.S.: 20 and 19 percent, respectively, vs. 24 percent in America.

It was at this point, when we Scandinavians had satisfied our thirst, that we thought that we could turn our backs to the well. We began to regulate. We increased taxes and beefed up the public sector. It's easy to see how foreigners observing the implementation of these unorthodox policies might confuse cause and effect. But those who think the semi-socialism made us rich would also probably look at a snapshot of Bill Gates and conclude that you become the world's wealthiest man by giving your money away.

Instead, the Scandinavian countries became a real life version of the old joke about how to make a small fortune; you start with a large one. Sweden took democratic socialist policies further than its neighbors, and as a result its economy fell more steeply. Slowly but steadily the policies of Prime Ministers Tage Erlander and Olof Palme eroded productivity and the long-renowned Scandinavian work ethic. In 1970, Sweden was 25 percent richer than the OECD average. Twenty years later, the average had almost caught up with us. Once the fourth richest country on the planet, Sweden was now the fourteenth.

It was a disaster for entrepreneurship and employment. During this time, not a single job was created in the private sector (on net), despite a growing population. As of 2000, just one of the 50 biggest Swedish companies had been founded after 1970.

As the Social Democratic finance minister Bosse Ringholm admitted in 2002: "If Sweden would have had the same growth rates as the OECD average since 1970, our common resources would have been so much bigger that it would be the equivalent of 20,000 SEK ($2,400) more per household per month."

During this brief Bolivarian turn, many Swedish intellectuals feared that their country would become an Orwellian nightmare. The Social Democrats toyed with an incredibly unpopular plan to socialize private businesses, and Parliament implemented a general rule saying that any economic transaction that had the intention of lowering one's taxes was illegal even if the transaction itself was legal. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad and many other entrepreneurs, plus all of our famous sports stars, fled the country.

Sweden's most famous author, Vilhelm Moberg, wrote that the government was out of control, and that we were turning into a third way between democracy and dictatorship "where everybody is discontented and disappointed." Our most famous film director, Ingmar Bergman, was snatched by the police at the Royal Theatre on charges of tax crimes (later dropped). He had a nervous breakdown and left the country.

Our most famous author of children's books, Astrid Lindgren, had to pay more than 100 percent in marginal income tax, prompting her to write a bitter, satirical essay about the kind old witch Pomperipossa and vicious tax authorities: "She had thought that the rights of everybody would be respected in a democratic country. People should not be punished and persecuted because they happened—with or against their will—to make money in an honest way." But in the end, she finds a solution to her problems: "But suddenly it struck her—woman, you must be able to get welfare benefits! Oh, wonderful thought! And then Pomperipossa lived on welfare happily ever after. And she never wrote another book."

Kjell-Olof Feldt, the Social Democratic minister of finance from 1983 to 1990, admitted in a 1992 book that some of the government's program was "unsustainable," some of the policies "absurd," and the tax system "perverse." These policies also collapsed after a debt- and inflation-fuelled boom in the late 1980s.

Whatever these unsustainable and perverse policies did, they did not help the working people that Sanders claims to represent. Real wages in Sweden fell by around 5 percent between 1975 and 1995. Nominal wages increased, but runaway inflation devoured it.

Boom Time
But in the early 1990s Sweden began to abandon its brief detour into Bernienomics. It deregulated, privatized, reduced taxes, and opened the public sector to private providers. The two decades that followed saw real wages increase by almost 70 percent.

All industrialized countries liberalized at least somewhat during that period, but Scandinavia led the pack. Between 1975 and 2005, Sweden improved its score on the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World Index by 2.3 points on a 10-point scale. Denmark's score went up by 1.7. This can be compared to Germany's 0.9 and the United States' 0.5—Ronald Reagan notwithstanding. "Swedes lead Europe in reform," wrote the Financial Times.

In other words, there is no secret about Scandinavia's success, no mystery to be explained. These countries have performed just like any free market economist would have expected. They outgrew other industrialized countries when they had freer markets, and stagnated when they experimented with socialism. Now that they have started reforming their economies again, they are again performing better. "Sweden is the rock star of the recovery," The Washington Post proclaimed in 2011.

The legacy of Scandinavia's third way—its still-high public spending and high taxes, at least compared to the U.S.—has dwindled to fairly normal European levels. The governments provide the citizens with health care, child care, free colleges, and subsidized parental and medical leave. We Scandinavians have our quarrels with these systems and how they function, but at least they have not ruined our societies; indicators of living standards and health are impressive.

Why isn't the system more abused? Why are they not more of a drag on growth?

One reason is that we compensate for them with a more open economy than others. In the summary Fraser Institute rankings, Sweden and Denmark are more economically free than the United States when it comes to legal structure and property rights, sound money, free trade, business regulation, and credit market regulations. We don't have the multitude of occupational licensing laws that block competition in the United States.

Tax the Poor
We also pay for the welfare state in a fairly brutal way, but one that doesn't hurt production as much: by squeezing the poor and the middle class. Unlike the rich, poor and middle-class people don't flee or dodge when they're taxed aggressively.

The Social Democrats knew all along that they couldn't fund such a generous government by taking from the rich and the businesses—there are too few of them, and the economy depends on them too much. So Sweden and Denmark take in lots of revenue via highly regressive value-added taxes at a normal rate of 25 percent of sales—the only tax where the rich and poor pay exactly the same amount in kronor. On the other hand, the corporate tax is just 22 and 23.5 percent respectively, compared to the U.S. rate of 35 percent.

In fact, rich people in Sweden enjoy several economic advantages not offered to their lower-class counterparts. Sweden always admitted very generous tax deductions for capital costs. Labor regulations are tailored to benefit big companies. To attract highly educated specialists from abroad, Sweden now has a beneficial "expert tax" for them, which shields 25 percent of their wages from taxation for a three-year period. "Sure, it is unfair, but we have no better solution," the Social Democratic minister of finance said in 2000, when he implemented special tax exemptions for individuals and families who owned a large share of a listed company.

Unlike Sanders, Scandinavian socialists have concluded that you can have a big government or you can make the rich pay for it all, but you can't do both.

Good Swedes
Sanders has a point when he notes that Scandinavian countries are fairly equal, decent societies with high living standards. Speaking from my own experience, they are also pretty good places to live.

But does the welfare state deserve credit for this state of affairs? When Nobel Prize–winning economist Milton Friedman was confronted with the claim that there was no poverty in Sweden in contrast to the United States, he famously replied "That's funny, because in America, among Swedes, we have no poverty either."

That's an exaggeration, but the data bear out his underlying point. As the Swedish researcher Nima Sanandaji has observed, the income of Scandinavians in the U.S. is about 20 percent higher than the average, and their poverty rate is about half the poverty rate of average Americans.

The 18,000 Scandinavians in Sanders' Vermont and the other 11 million ancestors of Scandinavians in other parts of the United States have also created fairly decent communities with high living standards, even under ruthless American dog-eat-dog capitalism.

Apparently, you can take Scandinavians out of Scandinavia, but not the Scandinavia out of Scandinavians. There is a cultural background that explains some of our success, going even further back than the laissez faire period in the late 19th and early 20th century, a culture of social trust, comparative lack of corruption, and a Lutheran work ethic. This may reflect a long history of internal stability, scant levels of feudalism, and a strong tradition of trading.

Two Scandinavian economists, Andreas Bergh and Christian Bjørnskov, have documented that a high degree of trust is an old legacy, and that descendants of those who emigrated from Scandinavia 100 years before the welfare state are also more trusting. Their conclusion is that trust in others and social cohesion creates the welfare state rather than the other way around, since it is more tempting to give power to politicians and money to strangers if you believe that they are decent people who would never cheat the system.

Scandinavians have always frowned on those who take money they are not entitled to. Sweden is, after all, the country where the leading candidate for prime minister in 1995 had to resign because it was revealed that she had used her official credit card to pay for some small private expenses, even though she always, every month, paid the credit card debt herself.

When asked, "Under what circumstances is one justified in accepting government benefits to which one is not entitled?" in 1991 and 1998, the Nordics led the world in saying "never." (Only Malta says it is more upstanding, and a brief canvass of Maltese of my acquaintance suggests that they are rather likely to have lied on the survey.) Oh, and the United States is 16th, lower on the list than even the Italians.

Commerce, Culture, and Continuity
But culture is not destiny. Scandinavian values were formed once upon a time with the help of economic incentives and institutional support. If that support goes, this culture could start to erode. If you have been brought up thinking that work is an essential virtue, you will work hard even when it doesn't pay much. But what happens in the next generation, the young and immigrants, who enter working age long after the incentives have been distorted?

The proportion of Swedes who say that it is never OK to accept benefits to which one is not entitled is still high, but has been reduced from 82 percent in the early 1980s to 55 percent now.

Some erosion of these attitudes could be seen in the early 2000s, when the number of Swedes on sick leave exploded. Even though we were objectively healthier than almost any other population, we were off sick more than anybody else. Often during large sporting events, coincidentally. During the Soccer World Cup in 2002, the number of men taking short-term sick leaves increased by 41 percent, whereas it did not change for women. God knows what would have happened had Sweden made it past the final eight.

In Sweden, we are experiencing these problems in the form of increased unemployment among immigrants. Now the employment gap between natives and foreign-born in Sweden is twice the European Union average, even though we express less racist and discriminatory attitudes than others. In response, Swedish politicians have recently decided to abandon liberal immigration policies and do whatever they can to scare people away.

It was easier to have a one-size-fits-all approach when we were all alike, from the same background, with the same faith and attitude and a similar education. We need a more flexible model now that we are becoming a little bit more like…well, the United States.

Gunnar and Alva Myrdal, the two leading Social Democratic thinkers of the 20th century, thought that the Scandinavian countries were uniquely suited for experimenting with high taxes and redistribution. They had homogenous populations with a strong work ethic, non-corrupt civil services, a high degree of trust in bureaucracies and politicians—and competitive free trade economies to foot the bill. If it did not work there, they suggested, it would be difficult to think it could work anywhere.

For now, the Swedish experiment in socialism continues along, in a much-altered form and buoyed by a healthy dose of economic liberalization. But attempting to transplant the Nordic 1970s model to the U.S. could have disastrous effects in a country with a less hospitable underlying culture. More government in the U.S. would not get you a big version of Sweden. It would get you a big version of the U.S. Postal Service.

If Bernie Sanders decided to run for the presidency of Sweden, as Marco Rubio suggested, Swedes would find it laughable. He is far too much of a leftist and a protectionist. And there's one other small problem: Sweden is a constitutional monarchy. We do not have a president.

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109 responses to “Bernie's Right—America Should Be More Like Sweden

  1. Unlike the rich, poor and middle-class people don’t flee or dodge when they’re taxed aggressively.

    So working within the current legal framework to keep as much of what I earned as possible is fleeing or dodging to this guy? I understand the article was written for a wider audience, but this probably won’t play well to the H&R crowd that believes what they earn should belong to them instead of the looters.

    1. And he’s wrong about that.Lots of plumbers,carpenters ,auto mechanics painters and such do work off the books for cash.I’ve had a couple guys I know do some things I couldn’t do,wiring and finish carpentry.I’m sure lots of yard work gets done that way also.

      1. It’s not all done by Mexicans?

        1. This is a libertarian site, it’s all done by orphans.

          1. I thought 3/4 of the people illegally entering our country were orphans. That’s why the DREAM Act will supposedly solve everything.

      2. It’s much easier to reduce your tax liabilities by doing work for cash if you own the business.

        Regular folk who work for someone else are going to get screwed.

    2. I don’t know any middle class people who want higher taxes. Also, poor people in this country do not pay income tax, and when they find out they’re going to, they’re not going to be happy about it.

      1. They all want higher taxes…for every single person in America that makes a dollar more than they do. Bernie said so.

        1. Wait until the person making a dollar an hour less than they do, get their wish.

          1. Those dumbasses believe in Top Men making sure that will never happen.

            1. It won’t happen to the Top Men, so they’re right.

    3. It seems you’ve misunderstood the author.

      It’s simply when your tax bill is so much higher, it often pays to undergo the expense of fleeing to another tax regime or setting up legal tax “dodges.” When your tax bill is smaller, moving or setting up tax dodges is more expensive than the benefit.

    4. He’s saying they can’t up and leave the country as easily as rich people. Nor can they hire tax lawyers to help them figure out how to off-shore their money, even if they had enough disposable income to hide off-shore. That said, my German exes’ parents had some money hidden away in a Swiss bank. I imagine Swedes could do the same.

  2. Rape capital of the worrrld…!

    *cough*

    1. No one has yet found a cure for TSJD (Terminal Social Justice Disease). It is the 21st century’s Black Plague, and it WILL kill millions before its all over.

  3. Most of us want to have good income but don’t know how to do that on Internet there are a lot of methods to earn huge sum at home, so I thought to share with you a genuine and guaranteed method for free to earn huge sum of money at home anyone of you interested should visit the page. BE I am more than sure that you will get best result..HJ01

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    1. You say that now, but Bernie has me thinking a “good income” is racist and unfair !

  4. Also, who wrote this? I’d like a credit and a little bio on the author if that’s not too much to ask.

    Unless Reason Staff is a Swedish name, the entire first-person piece needs info about the writer so we can gain a little perspective on our end.

      1. Thank you, SIV. Where did you get that from? Because it wasn’t with the story when I read it.

        1. When I read it it said Reason Staff on the HampR headline, but once I clicked the article gave the author’s name.

          1. The H&R was against Apple users continues apace. The author’s name is obscured by the Facebook, Twitter and whatever those other tabs mean.

            1. I’m using Safari on a Mac and it looks okay.

              Of course, I’m using Ghostery to block ads and such.

      2. He writes once every four years.

        Nice.

        1. Thereby perpetuating the stereotype of the Lazy Swede.

      3. Johan Norberg

        Ed: What I’m trying to say is that, Wilma, as soon as Nordberg is better, he’s welcome back at Police Squad.

        Frank: Unless he’s a drooling vegetable. But I think that’s only common sense.

  5. Take in all the Trump you can get baby!

    1. Trump doesn’t impress me. He’d be richer if he simply invested his inheritance in stock index funds, and as CEO of a hotel/casino corporation, he was the worst around (unless you are looking at the money he took in even though his stockholders lost their shirts – but then, that says he screws people to fatten his wallet, as many ethical CEOs would forgo multi-million dollar salaries if the company they ran lost money). Why people don’t check him out, and do things like spend money at Trump University, shows they are fools.

      There’s a lot more dirt on Trump: mob connections, tax dodging, eminent domain abuse, stiffing small business owners, among others. Wait until he gets the GOP nomination, then the reporters will be reporting them more thoroughly, likely with the help of Clinton’s operatives.

  6. Slowly but steadily the policies of Prime Ministers Tage Erlander and Olof Palme eroded productivity and the long-renowned Scandinavian work ethic. In 1970, Sweden was 25 percent richer than the OECD average. Twenty years later, the average had almost caught up with us. Once the fourth richest country on the planet, Sweden was now the fourteenth.

    Equality!

  7. For a group of people that thinks diversity is the most important thing in the world and that the world is going to get better as white people become less numerous, it always amazes me how their ideal places are the whitest, most culturally homogeneous countries in the world.

    1. It’s only amazing if you expect intellectual honesty from the left. I have no such expectations, so it doesn’t amaze me in the slightest.

    2. I’m amazed that the right lets them get away with that racist argument.

      Of course, the right is also stupid as shit, so maybe my amazement is misplaced.

    3. You aren’t allowed to talk about that.

    4. There’s a video on YouTube of Gavin McInnes making this very point to some feminist he’d brought on his show:

      Link

    5. Not only that, but they used eugenics to make it more homogeneous.

    6. Cultural homogeneity and trust go hand in hand. That’s why he says:

      It was easier to have a one-size-fits-all approach when we were all alike, from the same background, with the same faith and attitude and a similar education. We need a more flexible model now that we are becoming a little bit more like?well, the United States

      But, of course, Bernie’s idiots want us to try to be like Sweden.

      1. “First thing we do, get rid of all the Mexicans!”

  8. So Bernie is right? Message understood.

  9. “Bernie Sanders thinks the U.S. “should look to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries”

    1. Whiter and Blonder
    2. A national bikini team

    1. And about 345 million less people.

      1. Fewer, dammit, fewer!

    2. #2 is a must. Not having one is a national tragedy. Why this doesn’t get more press, I’ll never know.

    3. #2 is a must. Not having one is a national tragedy. Why this doesn’t get more press, I’ll never know.

      1. You can’t stress that enough.

        Ok, that’s enough.

    4. 3. More snow bunnies!

  10. *A libertarian president is elected for America*

    “We did it, guys! Now we can truly be like Sweden.”

  11. I’m probably the only one here who looks at the New Yorker, so guess what? EVERY cartoon in this week’s issue is about Trump. I don’t know if they’ve ever had an issue before with a single theme.

    1. Effects of the bombs dropped in Japan back in the 40s was one such issue.

      .

      1. Thanks. I wondered about 9/11 too. This won’t get as much attention as the Barack/Michelle Muslim cover a few years back, but I expect at least a little discussion among the pundits.

    2. Only time I read a New Yorker magazine was at a doctor’s office, and there was an article on inequality opposite a page with suggested Christmas gifts, which included an $800 hand carved rocking horse and a $400 electric carving knife. Pretty much confirmed everything I thought about the paper.

    3. Only time I read a New Yorker magazine was at a doctor’s office, and there was an article on inequality opposite a page with suggested Christmas gifts, which included an $800 hand carved rocking horse and a $400 electric carving knife. Pretty much confirmed everything I thought about the paper.

      1. I believe the New Yorker’s target audience are people who believe they’re best equipped to make decisions for people who don’t read the New Yorker.

  12. I actually took an economics class in college. We were having a discussion about minimum wage and the prof told us all this: You don’t want everyone to get a raise, you want YOU to get a raise. When everyone gets a raise, the price of everything goes up and things will adjust out so that everyone’s new higher wage will buy exactly what it bought with the old wage. This made perfect sense, but try telling this to a Berntard.

    1. I doubt that guy got tenure.

      1. He had tenure. I went to college way back before it got turned into a communist indoctrination camp.

        1. So tell us what the 1820’s were like.

          1. I think if you graduated college in the late 70’s/early 80’s, you missed out on most of the PC crap.

            In fact, the wife and I were discussing our status as free range kids when we grew up in the mid-late 60’s through HS in the mid 70’s. Mostly we just got on our bikes in the morning returning home for food and drink, then off again to places unknown to our parents. They knew the general area but that was about it.

            If one was born much after 1970, the world was a very different and controlled place.

            1. If one was born much after 1970, the world was a very different and controlled place.

              I think your cut-off is too soon. I was a “free-range kid” in the 1990s, and so were the neighbors’ kids. The idea that someone would call CPS or DCW or whatever the fuck it was called was laughable.

              1. Seconded. I graduated high school in ’96. When I was in elementary school the rule was to be home when the streetlights came on. Through middle school into high school, it was just to let my dad know roughly where I’d be or who I’d be with, and to call if I was going to miss dinner. Eventually it was just “Call me if you’re not gonna be home tonight.”

                1. Oh, and he was a cop.

              2. Me too, my gang of friends(not the Choom gang) were all terrorizing the neighborhood until the streetlights came on.

                1. That’s all good to know. I was beginning to worry.

            2. I think if you graduated college in the late 70’s/early 80’s, you missed out on most of the PC crap.

              Not quite. I graduated from Cornell in 1974, and it was completely infused with PC crap, although the term was not used then. But then again, it was Cornell, and other places drank the kool-aid a bit later.

  13. So Bernie is a faux-populist, blathering, ignorant, idiot progressive-commie. Look at my stoic, shocked face.

    “During the Soccer World Cup in 2002, the number of men taking short-term sick leaves increased by 41 percent”

    To be fair, 2002 made me sick to my stomach too.

  14. All of the countries in South America have had their experiment with socialism and are now throwing out the commies because guess what? It didn’t fucking work, just like we said it wouldn’t. And now Bernard wants us to go down this road? Fucking stupid. Last night in Brazil, the commies were sitting outside on their red flags, delicious commie tears because comrade numero uno got impeached, lolololololol.

    1. Don’t worry, it will be the ?suga Clan bringing things back to the Pablo Escobar era. So I don’t think they’re quite finished yet.

    2. Retreat, regroup, rebrand, fail…rinse and repeat.

      1. We’re not communists! We’re socialists! Do you even know what that means? We’re not socialists, we’re progressives! Who doesn’t want progress?

        1. Progressives want progress for politicians and their rich connected friends. To help make the sale, they say it’s progress for everyone. And it’s progress for them, only thanks to the ability of government to use a gun to take your money from you, so the politicians can send the money to their friends, in return for campaign cash and other favors like contributions to the slush funds masquerading as charities they control.

  15. The other way in which the United States should be more like Sweden is that Sweden is fiscally conservative compared to the United States.

    In 2010, the United States’ budget deficit was 10% of GDP.

    Sweden was running a budget surplus in 2010, with its 2015 deficit at 1% of GDP.

    http://www.tradingeconomics.co…..ent-budget

    Sweden actually has a law that requires a budget surplus that averages 1% of GDP.

    Yeah, maybe the U.S. should be more like Sweden.

    1. The problem is our solution here isn’t cutting spending to get the deficit lower.

    2. This really is the best article on economic issues that Reason has posted in a couple years. This guy is a true classical liberal – not the BS modern American libertarian type who is in the fantasyland of Randian plutocrat-worship or anarcho-austrianism. Because of that, he can point to actual successes in actual places – and use those as a model for what we really could do here. Someone with that approach (and local knowledge) could also dive into the details about places like Estonia, Taiwan, Switzerland, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and yes even Denmark and Netherlands.

      While modern American libertarians are left jousting with textbook theories and Somalian strawmen.

        1. Yes. If the Libertarian Party actually campaigned on the pragmatic stuff this guy talks about, they would easily get 3-7% of the vote – even with the difficulties of third-party. There is a natural connection with the modern equivalent of the yeoman farmer ideal (small businesses, employed Type B’s who just want a level playing field,etc). The D’s and R’s long ago stopped speaking to those folks – and the LP is too busy preaching to itself.

          1. Interesting. I thought that this article is intelligent enough to found a new political party in the US.

      1. I agree with JFree’s premise? giving examples of successful reforms in a libertarian direction would be good to share with liberal friends.

        1. Or we can follow our Swedish brothers and sisters and strive for a world that would be the complete anti-thesis of capitalism. For the sweet 4 letter words of “I told you so”. Our dollar will collapse, bullets will become scarce, guns extremely expensive… cops no longer reliable! /peter schiff propagandz

          (American hardcore punk still pushed out better ish than these swedish twigz)

    3. Not any more – now Sweden is borrowing money to give immigrants welfare.

    4. There are two countries in the world with a debt ceiling.

      The US and Denmark.

  16. I’m suspicious of the whole “culture of non-corruption” argument. There would have to be some pretty powerful incentives in place to prevent people in power from abusing that power for their own gain.

    1. Well, social stigma is a very powerful disincentive. Imagine how things would change in our government if we developed a social more against wasting public funds as strong as the one against, say, child pornography.

    2. One of the important breakdowns comparative politics uses is in separating Catholic countries from Protestant.

      In Catholic countries, who you are, your extended family ties, etc. are often more important than anything else.

      In Protestant countries, that’s called “nepotism”, and what you know is supposed to be more important than who you know.

      One of those cultures probably lends itself more readily to corruption. Can you guess which one?

      On the other hand, taking care of your friends and family isn’t necessarily considered corruption in Catholic cultures. Not taking care of your friends and family first is considered greedy, calloused, and disloyal.

      1. P.S. Sweden is a culturally Protestant country.

    3. The Law of Jante keeps Scandinavians in line? I’m not sure most the-US-should-be-more-like-Scandinavia folks would like to live under the Law of Jante.

  17. Most of us want to have good income but don’t know how to do that on Internet there are a lot of methods to earn huge sum at home, so I thought to share with you a genuine and guaranteed method for free to earn huge sum of money at home anyone of you interested should visit the page. BE I am more than sure that you will get best result..D–02

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  18. Becoming like Sweden is going to take a heck of a lot of exiling to Liberia for our population. Has anyone told Taki Mag? They’re going to love it.

    1. Holy shit, an on-topic, humorous, non-whining comment from Acosmist.

    2. Becoming like Sweden is going to take a heck of a lot of exiling to Liberia for our population.

      Exiling to Liberia and importation from Somalia, you mean.

  19. Bernie’s Right?America Should Be More Like Sweden
    But not in the way he thinks

    Comrade Bernie is right.
    Amerika should be more like Sweden.
    We need more blondes.

    1. Real ones – I hate the bleached / dye job look.

  20. “Being more like modern Sweden actually means deregulation, free trade, a national school voucher system, partially privatized pensions, no property tax, no inheritance tax, and much lower corporate taxes.”

    Not enough room for graft in that equation.

    1. Totally agree – that passage struck me as well.

      Wow, what an article. I wish all the candidates could read this.

  21. “When Nobel Prize?winning economist Milton Friedman was confronted with the claim that there was no poverty in Sweden in contrast to the United States, he famously replied “‘That’s funny, because in America, among Swedes, we have no poverty either.'”

    While I believe the substance of that remark, I have tried and tried to substantiate it and have never been able to find a source. My Google-fu is pretty good, too. Anyone know of a source I can cite when using the quote in the future?

    “Scandinavian values were formed once upon a time with the help of economic incentives and institutional support. If that support goes, this culture could start to erode.”

    Scotland is Exhibit A for that effect. The country used to be a byword for thrift, personal responsibility, and the facing of (almost the embrace of, really) hard, cold facts. Nowadays it seems to be claiming that if it leaves the U.K. it’ll be because England is too conservative and tedious English capitalist concerns are getting in the way of the Scots sinking their asses in socialist butter.

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  23. Smug alert Sweden.

    A good question that is not allowed to be asked in America:

    Are people of certain ethnicity, culture, or race of superior intellect or capability?

    Indians are really good spellers
    Chinese have a higher tendency towards math excellence.
    Many more innovations have come out of Germany over time as a consequence of culture or ethnicity.

    These are fair assignments of intelligence as assigned to a particular people.

    1. You might want to read The Bell Curve.

      Milton Friedman: This brilliant, original, objective, and lucidly written book will force you to rethink your biases and prejudices about the role that individual difference in intelligence plays in our economy, our policy, and our society.

      It was the subject of very heated debate and unbelievable poisonous contempt from the leftists.

      1. Why read? I just believe the internets.

        The whole world is very easy to understand if folks would read Friedman, Hazlitt and Bastiat.

        I read 4 books by those guys and that is really all you need to know about what doesn’t work and what could work with a more educated populace.

        Little hope however.

        1. Bastiat – That which is seen and unseen: the unintended consequences of government spending

          Hazlitt: Economics in one lesson

          Friedman: Capitalism and Freedom.

          It remains confusing to me, however, how Freidman believed the FED can work if done correctly. In my opinion, there is no further departure from free markets than central banks.

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