Everything Works in Sweden! – Part I

While vacationing in Nesslau, Switzerland last summer, I accidently came across a TV interview conducted by BBC Europe with the King of Sweden. Although, it was quite late in the evening, and to tell you the truth, I was somewhat comatose after a day of chasing 8-year-old twin grandchildren up and down hills in the Swiss countryside. However, the monarch made a comment that caught my attention. When asked about Sweden’s Democratic 

Socialist governance, the monarch calmly corrected the interviewer, stating that his country was a Parliamentary Constitutional Monarchy. 

Over the past half century, the American left, politicians like Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and most of the current crop of Democrats Presidential candidates have been palpable in their praise and/or hagiographic genuflections to Democratic Socialism. This is invariably followed by the obligatory citing of Sweden and other Nordic countries as places we poor schmucks in America should emulate. As understood by most real-world economists, (juxtapose to many of their brethren in academia), it is true that countries like Sweden and Finland are notably affluent. What is egregiously false is, that Sweden and other Nordic countries are particularly socialist. They are not! These countries have very vibrant free markets and capitalist economies. One can call this political canon continuously proselytized by Bernie Sanders and far too many on the left, as the myth of Nordic Socialism. 

It should also be noted that the Senator from Vermont has been a very vocal advocate of this belief going back to the 1970s and 80s.  Only during those heady days of singing the praise of socialism, Bernie Sanders, social justice activist like Robert Kennedy Jr., and others Liberal Progressive apologists employed Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua as cultures America could learn from.  Of course, Bernie, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), now enlist Sweden and other EU nations as examples of how well socialism works. 

However, in the case of Sweden, it is critical to point out that it was only over the last three decades, that it had to recover from its own dubious experiment with Socialism and return to a more wealth producing capitalist system. They found out, and more importantly, were wise enough to realize that redistribution of wealth is unsustainable.  

{Sidebar:  Swedish economists Johan Norberg and Gunnar Myrdal, the latter inspiring the building of the Nordic welfare state, realized that the generous public welfare benefits from the 1960s to the 1990s almost wrecked the Swedish economy. To paraphrase Norberg, “the 30-year experiment was a brief interlude of failure”. To reform and save its economy, Sweden reverted back to its capitalist structure. It reduced public spending by a third, demolished taxes on property and inheritance, and reduced taxes in other areas. More importantly, defined benefits were cut and only defined contributions were permitted.}

With that said, countries like Sweden will not suffer the same fate of socialist nations like Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.[i] Government control of these societies has led to socio-economic stasis.  On the other hand, Nordic and many EU countries actually maintain and nurture free-market, wealth producing, socio-economic infrastructures.

Losing the Language

The far left and the Democratic Party (increasingly one and same entity) are famous for manipulating or losing the language.  We have witnessed this over the decades with their insufferable use of the terms racism, sexism or the dozens of other “isms” that they manipulate to shut-down any meaningful discourse.[ii] As stated in a previous article[iii], it is the one thing that drives the current Democratic Party bonkers about President Donald Trump. In the past, charges of racism and sexism had Republicans and conservatives, like Mitt Romney or John McCain, falling over themselves issuing copious mea cuplas. These same charges by Democrats don’t seem to work on Trump.  Many Americans are beginning to wake-up and view hapless accusations of racism and sexism by liberals and Democrats as “boring”, if not exemplifying intellectual laziness on their part.  Democrat politicians, many of their constituents, along with the MSM, will without pause invoke specious charges of whatever convenient “ism” to shutdown constructive dialogue. 

In the current prattle surrounding Democratic Socialism, the confusion lies in Democrats like Bernie Sanders conflating socialism, which often takes the form of government controlling or interfering with free markets, nationalizing industries or heavily subsidizing favored ones, with the welfare state, in the form of government-provided social safety net. It may be true that countries like Sweden target more funding to social welfare benefits. However, this does not make them a so-called Democratic Socialist state.  In addition, it is worth noting, that Sweden and other Nordic states were economic successes long before they constructed their public welfare system. Their productive economies immediately following the second world war and on into the 1960s generated good incomes for their workers. This “later” allowed Nordic governments to raise tax revenues needed, to pay for social benefits. Unlike the politico-economic lunacy spouted by former President Obama, and Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren and others, “the Swedes free market activities really did build the wealth and infrastructure” that made their generous social welfare benefits possible.”

 Here is a simple fact hiding in plain sight.  “Governments don’t have any money.” It is only through deliberately complexed taxation schemes, that governments redistribute, confiscate or in some cases “steal money from one group of constituents, only to be transferred to another. Of course, there are some legitimate functions of “limited government” that stop well short of outright socialism.  As alluded to earlier, the free-market reform instituted by the government in the early 1990s, help keep Sweden from going the way of many socialists’ regimes, which invariably run out of other people’s money. Government benefits and the expansion of the welfare state “does not create nor sustain wealth”.  It was the wealth produced by hardworking ‘free market capitalist activities, that allowed the luxury of generous social benefits, such as we see in Sweden. 

[i] During the 20th Century, Socialism served as the “political gateway drug” to Communism. Cambodia, Mao‘s China, East Germany, Ethiopia, North Korea, as well as many of the Eastern Block countries, that once made-up the Soviet Union, were testament to its perfidy, which frequently left mediocrity and stagnant societies in its wake.  Over the past fifty years many in academia have been the secular missionaries of socialism/communism, never seem to explain that the latter in many instances was just a fully metastasized version of the former.  

[ii] See., Race Matters: Especially to Democrats

[iii] Isms and Ingrates: The Cultural-Political Taxonomy

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