TCS Daily

Crazy for Work

By Nima Sanandaji - September 18, 2006 12:00 AM

Unemployed you say? We can't really offer you a job... but we could classify you as mentally disabled to improve our labor market statistics!

That's the message 25-year-old Swedish citizen Jessica Pettersson got from the state unemployment office. Pettersson has a high school degree in economics and has worked in a post office and in a grocery store, among other jobs. After being out of work for a while, her supervisor at the unemployment agency told her that she ought to meet with a work-psychologist since "it is so hard to be without a job".

Petterson told the Swedish daily paper Expressen that she had no desire to go to a psychologist but was persuaded to do so by the unemployment agency. The psychologist gave her a number of tests that she found stressful and humiliating, such as building objects with wooden blocks. To her surprise the psychologist said that Petterson should be classified as disabled since she wasn't good enough at mathematics. Jessica was shocked to hear this: "I might not be a math genius, but I know how to count," she told the paper.

The unemployment agency explained that it was simply a matter of changing a code in her status as unemployed. If she agreed to be classified as mentally disabled she would be entitled to a range of government subsidies and programs. In fact, she could begin working at "Samhall" - a government project aimed at providing employment for the disabled. There she could get a job cleaning and building wheelchairs.

"I felt the panic spreading in my body," she said. "Samhall is intended for the truly disabled who could never get another job. Could I really work there? A place that might mean a lot for a handicapped person - but that would be a giant leap backwards in my development and self-respect."

Petterson finally managed to convince the unemployment agency that she would never agree to become classified as mentally disabled. She told Expressen that her family, her friends and her boyfriend have reacted strongly to this notion.

Alarmingly, what happened to Petterson is not an isolated incident in Sweden. The state unemployment agency is constantly attempting to force people to "admit" to being disabled. Today 19.3 percent of those seeking jobs at the unemployment office are being classified as disabled.

Stockholm University professor Mikael Holmqvist, who has done research on the subject of Samhall's workers, believes that most of these people are in fact not disabled at all. They have been lured or threatened into agreeing to become classified as such. The reason for this is simply that if you are disabled you are removed from the statistics of open unemployment, something that the current Social Democratic government greatly appreciates.

It is bad enough that the Swedish government hides the country's true unemployment rate by hiring people through various state projects and by manipulating official statistics. But classifying healthy young people as disabled is truly a shameful exercise. If the Social Democrats lose this weekend's election the protest votes the young people humiliated by the unemployment agencies might play an important part.

The author is the president of the Swedish free market think tank Captus ( He is also a PhD student in biochemistry at the University of Cambridge.



My name it is Samhall. Samhall.
I love that song.

You have to love the manipulations of a socialist government as it attempts to keep the polish on a turd economy.

Oh! God! No!
This should never have been published. TCS should do everything it can to see that it's pulled and nobody else can read it. Do you realize the implications? If the Democrats get onto this, they will have a whole new rallying cry; create a whole new set of entitlements; and tax the living **** out of us to pay for them.

Why not? The Dems already field mentally disabled candidates

Case in point:

You can't hide unemployment by public hiring
"It is bad enough that the Swedish government hides the country's true unemployment rate by hiring people through various state projects and by manipulating official statistics."

The more that you do this - use government as an employer of last resort - the more unemployment you will create. Sweden tried this explicitly when they created an actual Employer of Last Resort program -- it failed terribly as every government job created displaced at least one private sector job through crowding out. Now they are trying it again, only cloaking it in the guise of helping the disabled.

Some European economists still argue that an ELR program could work, but it never can, no matter what its called.

The woman described is disabled - by PUDD
She has Post Unemployment Disability Denial.

The Swedes were cruel to try to make her sign an admission of disability.

A truly caring society would have told her she passed all the tests and then sent her to Samhall to perform a job as a Disabled Persons Caretaker.

Münchhausen-by-proxy-Syndrom & Socialism
Consider this description of Münchhausen-by-proxy-Syndrom, a psychological disorder manifesting in caretakers such as mothers and nannies:

A phenomenon in which symptoms of a disease are fabricated by an individual (the Swedish govt) other than the patient (Jessica Pettersen) causing unnecessary and often painful physical examinations and treatments (phsych tests & Samhall). This syndrome is considered a form of CHILD ABUSE (citizen abuse), since another individual, usually a parent (the nanny-state), is the source of the fabrication of symptoms and presents the child (Jessica Pettersen) for medical care.

Can it be any clearer that welfare state socialism as practiced by Sweden is just plain bug-nutty?

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