TCS Daily

Sweden Has Learned From Its Own Lesson

By Johnny Munkhammar - September 21, 2006 12:00 AM

The centre-right four-party Alliance won the elections in Sweden this Sunday, ending 12 years of Social Democrat rule. The Alliance promised to do stepwise market-oriented reforms, as opposed to the Social Democrats promise to do nothing. What conclusions can be drawn from this election and what might it imply for the rest of Europe?

Sweden is mentioned internationally much more often than its size would imply; it has only nine million inhabitants. And not only is it well known for ice hockey and beautiful women. Sweden has been very much in the spotlight when it comes to economic policy and reforms. What happens in Sweden is likely to have a broad influence.

A majority of the voters wanted change. This was despite the feeling that "you know what you have and not what you will get" that exists in any election. It was also despite the fact that a majority of the voters are to some extent dependent on the state. They voted for change despite the enormous resources of the Social Democrats. And indeed, a majority wanted change despite the fact that some things are working well in Sweden.

The Social Democrats were tired, arrogant and out of ideas. The opposition Alliance was united, focused on problems that people feel are real and presented visions for the future. But to the substance, it can be said that Sweden has learned from its own history. Sweden is a prime example of a country that has flourished thanks to a free economy. Now, a new government will take more steps in that direction.

In sum, Sweden became internationally known as the country that went from rags to riches with the second highest growth rate in the world between 1890 and 1950. Then, economic policy took a more socialist turn and it became a prime example of a society with a big state taking care of people from the cradle to the grave - using their own money. And in the 1990s, there was quite a lot of attention around the Swedish market-oriented reforms.

The summary of Swedish success and failure is a story of markets against the state. Every time Sweden has taken a step towards freer markets, it has been very successful. And every time it has increased the size and power of the state, success has sooner or later faded away.

During the phase when Sweden went from agriculture and poverty to industry and wealth, the economy was very open and flexible. Free traders won in the late 19th Century the battle for free trade, which was very important for exports and industry. Entrepreneurs started up small businesses easily in a dynamic environment with low taxes and strong property protection. In fact, the tax pressure rose only from 10 to 20 per cent of GDP between 1890 and 1950.

During the socialist phase, however, the size of the state exploded. The tax pressure increased to 50 per cent of GDP during the three decades up to 1980. Many companies were socialised by the state. The state interference in markets grew and the ultimate aim was a more centrally planned economy.

The socialist period created problems. Growth decreased and Sweden started its decline in the OECD list of countries in GDP per capita. Inflation soared and so did budget deficits, at times at around ten per cent of GDP. Unemployment reached high levels. Problems with matching supply and demand in markets with state intervention and in the welfare monopolies were mounting. Only one of the 50 biggest companies today has been started before 1970, which indicates which period was successful and which one that was not.

This was followed by a rather intense period of market-oriented reforms from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. Inflation was reduced and the Central Bank made independent. The EU membership opened up markets and normalised several of the more radically socialist features of the Swedish society. Marginal tax rates were cut, making education and work more profitable. Many markets, such as telecom, taxi, finance and gas - were de-regulated. That led to a telecom success, with Ericsson as the flagship, and vastly lower prices for phone calls. A pensions reform substantially reduced the level of state pensions and allowed citizens to invest part of the state pension in the private market.

Where does that put Sweden today? A neo-liberal country that became socialist and then embarked on market-oriented reforms in several areas. Today, Sweden contains both socialism and free markets. But the same truth as before applies: where there has been free-market reform, there is success, and where there is socialism, there are problems.

The McKinsey Global Institute confirmed this in their recent thorough study of Sweden. The main explanation for better growth figures during the last ten years has been a substantial increase in productivity. In turn, the de-regulations fifteen years ago provide the explanation for that. But large parts of the Swedish society have remained un-reformed since the socialist era. And during the last ten years, almost nothing has happened.

The labour market is probably the best example of Sweden's problems. McKinsey estimated the total unemployment rate to be 15 per cent. Sweden has decreased the size of the labour force more than any other European country during the last 15 years, shuffling away hundreds of thousands of people from being called "unemployed" to "early retired". In EU-15, between 1995 and 2003, employment grew more in 11 countries than in Sweden. Youth unemployment is 22 per cent, the fifth highest in EU-25, and the number of people under the age of 30 that are "early retired" has increased from 13, 000 to 22,000 during the last six years.

The labour market is regulated concerning hiring and firing, it is very unionised and, in terms of wage bargaining, thus very collectivised. On top of that, the total tax level on labour is one of the highest in Europe and the biggest parts of the service sector - health care, education, elderly care, social insurance - are within the public monopolies. This is where Sweden is still plagued by socialism and where the need for reform is great.

The same tax reductions and de-regulations that worked in the past should work here. Opening up for individual deals in the labour market, entrepreneurs in welfare services and private insurance companies in social security would solve many problems. Freedom of choice would increase and new jobs would emerge. Much of this has not only been done in other countries; it has been practiced by Sweden before and in other areas today.

The centre-right Alliance has of course been cautious; but their main message in the campaign was one of reform. A majority of the Swedes shared that view and supported reform. In a way, then, Sweden has learned from its own history. The positive effects following the first reforms from the new government will imply that Sweden deserves its good international reputation to a larger extent.

Johnny Munkhammar is Program Director, Timbro, a Free-Market Institute in Sweden



Sweden on a US scale
This election moves Sweden a little to the right. But the new conservative government still is off-the-charts liberal by US standards.

Swedish nannies
Sweden, isn't that the nanny state that wants to babysit everybody not only while they are babies, but right from the 'incubabor to the incinerator'? Sure it's a great country for all those muslim immigrants to come to, like Gothaburg, where like England and france, they have no-go zones even for the cops muchless normal people. Sure it's a great place for muslim teens to rappe swedish girls, but only till the rapists turn 18, when they might go to jail for a few weeks for it. Up to 18, they just get a something like a severe talking to. So it's OK for those guys, but what about others? I think some thousands of american deserters and draft dodgers went there during the vietnam war, but apparently most of those americans came back to the US. Does anyone have the stats on that? And why would those americans prefer the US? Could it be for the same reasons most also came back from Canada?

Talar du Svenska?
Talar ni Svenska? It doesn't seem so.

There is crime in Sweden, but far far less than in the US. It is safe to walk anywhere in Goeteborg.

which is why their problems will only get a little bit better.

Back to Basics - Human Defined: Earth's Choicemaker
The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view of self,
others, relationships, institutions, life, and future. Many problems in human experience are the result of false
and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised in
man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the


Semper Fidelis

Socialist competition - - - - - - - - -?
D, your talk of nations who babysit their adults reminds me of the story about three delegates to an international socialist convention bragging about how advanced their countries were. The German said "Ve takink care uf effryone from cradle-to-grave". The Swede claimed they did better, as they took care of everyone from incubator-to-incinerator. The Norwegian, not to be out done, claimed that Norway took care of everyone from erection-to-resurrection.

We owe Sweden a lot for taking our draft dodgers, which improved the quality of our population, at great damage to their own. I've often also felt grateful to Canada for selflessly serving as the US' human trash dump through history. During the French-Indian wars, we managed to chase those awful French, along with their vicious indian tribe allies, permanently, into Canade. During the revolution, we drove our tyranny-loving Tories north of the border. In the Viet Nam draft, the Canucks generously accepted our gutless draft-dodgers, good riddance. Now, they are taking our homosexuals and marrying them for us. The most talented Canucks are constantly, and wisely, streaming to the US, at the first opportunity, where they prosper and improve our nation. I may have missed a migration or two. Anyway, this is nature's way of improving our gene pool, at their expense, so thank you Canada.

Radical fems caused much of the problem
I read on another sight that a radical feminest party had caused a backlash. It seems they wanted to impose a man tax. This is a tax all men had to pay. It was to be used for shelters for abused women. It was then learned that many of the leaders of this movement detested men refering to them as animals One leader actually said men should be cutup into pieces. Norway is also running into problems There is now a demand for all companies in norway to have atleast 44% women on there board by next year or face being pulled from Norways stock market.I may have a few facts wrong because I read the article in passing but I believe I'm pretty accurate with most of it.

Only 44%?
NCAA colleges wish they could be at 44% and be O.K. under title IX; they want an average 52% representation. Feminists - Aarrggghhhh!!

No I don't speak Swedish, but I was just talking to a couple of swede guys a couple of weeks ago who said that it was indeed true re what i said about muslim kids there. But what about them getting away with the gang raping till they're 18? Also, why don't we see american black guys seeking political asylum there since we know they could get a free meal ticket to life?

safe havens sweden and canada
Excellent comment, vandervelde. Don't forget that also some criminals who would get the death penalty in the US, go up to canada cus they know they won't get hung there, but instead a free meal ticket to life. They say that if Osama bin laden really were clever and wanted to be safe, he would try to get to canada, and as he reaches a border guard he just begs refugee status, and they will take care of him(and maybe even his wives) for the rest of his life, and he will never be sent to the States because they think tht it might hurt his self esteem if he goes there, and they are also afraid of all the jihadis already in Canada. Also, re migrations, you did miss another one, they call the underground railway i think in english, whereby a bunch of black guys got up to canada in slave times. I'll bet there's a lot of guys that now wish it wasn't underground, but they had the TGV train like in france, or the bullet trains.

your right
I dont want to get off subject. But I work in that field. Many womens programs cant even spend the scholarship money they are alloted because there are not enough qualified women participating.

Jag kan Svenska; Det inte är säkert överallt i Göteborg!
What are you talking about, LG? Oh that's right, you're a liberal, so you're making up most of what you say. Gothenburg's not safe all over, and most Swedish women won't be caught out after dusk in vast swathes of it. At least that's what a female friend of mine who lives there tells me.

Sweden has severe crime problems because its police are too few in number and too incompetent to effectively battle crime. Your typical Swedish cop is good for manning a drunk driving checkpoint but worthless in a criminal investigation.

Better yet, the Swedish socialist conviction on crime is that it's caused by social iniquities - utanförskap - such that the criminals are really the victims, and the victims are really the criminals, for haven't their social crimes come home to roost on them when they're robbed, raped, and murdered? Isn't this a just expression of their attacker's righteous social outrage?

The anti-immigrant Sverige Demokraterna won 25% of Sunday's vote in some areas of Skåna, which is plagued by immigrant crime. Why do you suppose that occurred, LG? Men jag vet, du har ingen aning varför.

Free will
"[Human] is oriented to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the universe."

Every human who gets a life from God owes God a death in return. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin are death.

How does this reality fit into your Human Paradigm?

Death and the Human Paradigm
Death does not "fit into" the Human Paradigm. It simply represents a physical time-line of life on earth within which we are self-elected to eternal life or eternal death. It is prologue.

The Real story of human life as Choicemaker is yet to begin. Jesus has made it possible, but, we must choose to accept His gift. He will not force anyone to accept. We must choose Him and His payment in behalf of our bankruptcy... Choose. Psalm 25:12 Joel 3:14 KJV

Oh, it is so much worse
After 30 years of pushing this agenda you would think women's athletic programs couldn't contain the swelling number of participants. Not the case. Unlike men's college sports, where they have to lock out the walk-ons, women's programs are giving scholarships to any warm body they can find in every sport except basketball. There is some selectivity in the D-I level, but below that they are having a hard time finding bodies willing to learn; let alone experienced athletes.

Let's face the facts, 51% of the population may be female and colleges may be 52% female; but only around 25% of girls play high school sports vs. 50% of males. But, according to 2003 figures, virtually 100% of males offered a college scholarship for athletics take it and approximately 85% of those will stick with it for four years. Only about 80% of females offered an athletic scholarship take it and less than 70% of them will stick it out for four years. Thus, small colleges (and in some cases bigger ones), are often trying to find warm bodies to fill the roster.

Your a girl who has never played soccer before, don't worry we will teach you and give you a full tuition waiver at the same time! Your a boy who is a 4-time state wrestling champion; sorry we had to cut your program and add women's soccer!

How long do we continue this non-sense before we acknowledge that women just aren't as interested in this type of activity as men? We won't even begin to talk about the money issues. (BTW women as a demographic are twice as likely to pay money to watch men play a game as they are to watch women play it. Worse, men are 10 times as likely to do the same.)

Death is the centerpiece of the Human Paradigm because it is the cost of free choice. Time must also figure prominently because a choice made and acted upon excludes all other possible choices that could have been acted upon but were'nt (opportunity cost).

The freedom to choose is dear, meaning very valuable, very well-loved, but also very, very expensive. So the point I was trying to make to you is don't forget the cost of choice. That's what the left does, and that's why the left fails.

Transcendent Criteria = Visionary Choicemaking
Natural man, locked into a ego-centric predicament, cannot invent Criteria that goes any higher than his eyebrows. Thus, his choices are mediocre at best and evil at worst.

The Creator, who endowed us with choice-making capabilities, has furnished us with Transcendent Criteria. Thus, utilizing His gift, we are equipped to anticipate consequences prior to choosing. That is called Wisdom.

Fools, Left/Right/Center, reject Wisdom and its Source at their own peril. Psalm 25:12 KJV

Clue: We live in a Cause-Effect universe.
Clue: There is a First Cause.
Clue: The Creator made us in His own image.
Clue: "Got Criteria?" See Psalm 119: 1 ---- 176
Clue: Self-imposed ignorance will not excuse...

semper fidelis

What an awful place
I vote we all move to Oklahoma City where buildings get blown up only by conservative self reliant Christian English speaking white boys.

Just curious
I'm not trying to provoke you into an argument. Rather, I'm just curious as to what your replies to the following inquiries will be:

"Clue: We live in a Cause-Effect universe."

What causes time?

"Clue: The Creator made us in His own image."

What capacities did God convey to man when He created man in his own image? Keep in mind the capacities God withdrew from man in Genesis 3:16-24.

"Clue: "Got Criteria?" See Psalm 119: 1 ---- 176"

What are the likely and certain costs of choosing to follow one's own laws instead of the Lord's laws? And isn't the ultimate cost of this choice the same one Adam and Eve paid in Genesis 3, as well as the same cost their issue are still paying?

"Clue: Self-imposed ignorance will not excuse..."

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, I agree. Read Romans 1:18 thru Romans 2:16, and tell me, will the non self-imposed ignorance of those who've never heard of God or his laws excuse them from God's righteous judgment?

See, I think God's trying to tell us that our choice-making capacity (I like to use the term "free will") is no endowment, for endowments are credits with no debits (conditions may apply, but God is no dead hand). Instead, our free will is more like a current account whose credits are life and debits are death (Luke 6:9), such that every sin we commit is debited against our own and possibly someone else's life.

When Paul wrote in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death," he chose the word "wages" because sin serves the purposes of the sinner, who has chosen deadly purposes when employing sin. This choice of words is also a commentary on the valuation of the probable effects of sinful causes, for when an employer pays an employee, he imparts to the employee some portion of the same value the employee's efforts created for the employer.

What say you?

Q's and A's
Time is a natural aspect of the material universe in which we live: Three dimensional and in motion. [Check out 'string theory.']

God did not effect a change in human capacity. However, he did effect change in human environment and opportunities: cursed earth, tree of life access, etc. Man retained his definitive as earth's Choicemaker.

Physical death and spiritual death are the ultimate consequences. Unlike Adam & Eve, we today have payment for sin available. He will not impose it upon us - we must choose to accept it.

All humans are born ignorant. The self-imposed variety is only possible where the gospel is available and is rejected purposefully. Those who never hear the gospel are likely "weighed in the balances of their own choosing and found wanting." God is Just. Our obligations include efforts to reach those who have not heard the gospel. He is worthy. Agape' Joel 3:14 KJV

Semper Fidelis

More Q & A
"Time is a natural aspect of the material universe in which we live: Three dimensional and in motion. [Check out 'string theory.']"

Is time an "aspect" of nature or an effect of nature? I ask because it seems to me that time is an effect of the symmetry of motion on human consciousness (Ecclesiastes 3). String theory doesn't address whether time is a mere human perception, for if it is, then the fourth dimension is nothing more than a human consciousness located at some coordinate within the other three dimensions. And if this is so, then string theory will have to rework its mathematical justifications.

"Those who never hear the gospel are likely 'weighed in the balances of their own choosing and found wanting.'"

Merely likely? If God will hold to account those who know His laws, then mustn't God also hold to account those who do not, lest the former ignore God to avoid His judgment? How can God be just if He doesn't hold everyone to account according to their own accounting regime?

"Physical death and spiritual death are the ultimate consequences. Unlike Adam & Eve, we today have payment for sin available. He will not impose it upon us - we must choose to accept it."

I find it wondrous that so many Christians have failed to notice that sin actually tends to be physically deadly. If it weren't, then Christianity would be a much tougher sell. But God intends the spread of His word.

So the cost/benefit analysis remains true, which was my original point. I'm trying to impress on you the truth that free will is no gift, for it comes with a heavy price. To illustrate, this world is a horrifying place where men do their own will, but a wonderful place where men do God's will. Why do you suppose that is?

"God did not effect a change in human capacity."

Who created the Tree of Knowledge, then?

I like your stuff, and you're on the right track.

God-criteria makes for right-track thinking...
Time is an aspect, a cause, and an effect of nature. Humans percieve it - we do not create it. String theory merely indicates a possibility and/or likelihood of multi-dimensionality. (An infinite God indicates an infinity... See Isaac Newton)

Without the Law there is no sin. God is fair and Just. By any standard, (including man-made religions) man has sinned and is a loser, accordingto their own 'accounting regime.' I am not qualified to judge accurately what God will do with those without knowledge. I do support those who take the Word to the ignorant. (Ex: I've made 8 short-term lay-missionary trips overseas.)

The pleasures of sinning are heavily advertised by "the ruler of this world." He never mentions suffering and disease - let alone death.

Being made in the image of God is a gift of the Creator's wisdom for His and our future eternity. The power of choosing, Liberty, equips us with a future fellowship with our peers and the Lord Himself.

This human life on earth is merely Prolog: A necessary process for a self-election into His eternal fellowship.

We have always had a capacity for learning and growth. Its limits are, at present, unknown. We are not a tree. We are made in His image. Extent: Unknown.

Semper Fidelis

"Time is an aspect, a cause, and an effect of nature."

How does time cause nature?

"Without the Law there is no sin."

What is the Law, and how does it work? Could the Law have been anything God wanted it to be (trick question)? Can our laws be anything we want them to be? Didn't God limit Himself when He created and revealed the Law to man?

"God is fair and Just."

I still get the sense you believe that statement more than you know it and much more than you like it. Why?

"I am not qualified to judge accurately what God will do with those without knowledge."

Sure you are. That's why you went on "8 short-term lay-missionary trips overseas". Still, most Christians I know refuse to confront this question: "How can a fair and just God put me in a prosperous, loving, God-fearing family while putting someone else, who is no worse than me, in the womb of a prostitute addicted to crack?"

It seems to me that you're avoiding this question as well. And if you continue to do so, you'll never be able to adequately explain to people why they should choose good when bad things happen to good people for no good reason.

"Being made in the image of God is a gift of the Creator's wisdom for His and our future eternity. The power of choosing, Liberty, equips us with a future fellowship with our peers and the Lord Himself."

Before God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, could Adam have done so with no consequence? And once God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge, didn't he define His and Adam's relationship for ever after?

Once meditating on the answers to these questions, maybe you'll realize that free will imposes both a cost and a value on every human choice and act, such that Adam's choice to defy God's command carried a cost (death), and that cost had a value (evil). Moreover, maybe it'll hit you that the one-way flow of all physical events ensures that this cost/value regime continues to apply to every human choice and act.

Being made in God's image means being able to impose limitations on onesself in line with the purposes motivating creation. It also means being able to exceed these limitations to satisfy one's own purposes. That we humans do as much of the latter as the former distinguishes us from God.

Sorry but this sounds like a lot of words that don't say much of anything to me. Would you care to synthesize and give me the jist of it?

What the heck...?
Just exactly how does this fit into the conversation? I am so confused!!

As a Swedenborgian I can say that clearly my idea of God and His divine providence align in NO WAY with this nonsense. I worship a loving God - no some bizaar being who wants the death of anyone. How silly!

"Just exactly how does this fit into the conversation?"

It doesn't. It's a tangent that has nothing to do with the Sweden or the string. Welcome to the Twilight Zone of theology.

"As a Swedenborgian I can say that clearly my idea of God and His divine providence align in NO WAY with this nonsense. I worship a loving God - no some bizaar being who wants the death of anyone. How silly!"

Is the God you Swedenborgians (vad är det för nogot?) worship the only conceivable God? Does the discussion of others' conception of God disturb you, provoke you, or otherwise make you ***GASP*** uncomfortable? How does your discomfort align with your God's loving providence? Isn't He supposed to protect you from such things? Then how do you explain what God did to Job?

See, suzylaidlaw, this tangent we're on seeks answers to questions - troubling questions - such as the ones I posed above. Do you have the stomach for them, or is the God you can't conceive just "silly"?

So, the "choice making" that you do
concerns choosing for everyone else, at least emotionally and with regard to their ultimate fates and destinies.

Some "choice", Fundie.

Scripture was made for mankind
and not mankind for the Scripture.

Good Point
That's a good point. God's word must jibe with what He created, for what He created is one measure of His word's truth.

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