A few months ago Ricochet member @mattyvan put up a great post about Sweden, Sweden. Lessons for America? , which included an hour long documentary about Sweden’s economy. Since then we have seen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez become one of the most popular young Democrats and one of the oldest, Bernie Sanders, announce that he will run for president in 2020. With admitted socialist becoming more and more more prominent, it might be worth revisiting this topic.
While Cuba and Venezuela give us good examples of what socialism can do to a country, they do not exactly tell a happy story. So, the folks promoting “Democratic Socialism” are telling us to look to Sweden as an example of what we can do in America. The problem is, Sweden doesn’t really fit the model of what Bernie and company are trying to sell.
First, Sweden is not socialist. The government doesn’t own the means of production. It is a free-market economy.
Sweden does, however, have a huge welfare state and their people like it. Funding the welfare state takes a lot of money and you need a strong economy to create that wealth. Also, they found that government isn’t very good at providing the services people want so they have a more market approach to many of the benefits provided by the state. For instance, they have school vouchers that students can use to go either a public or private school. What might America’s so-called socialists think about that?
Another big disconnect between the Bernie/AOC form of socialism and the reality of what Sweden is doing is how the government is funded. In America politicians use the welfare state as a way to buy votes with other people’s money. They will tell you what you will get and then say it will be paid for by someone else. Someone who isn’t paying their “fair share.” The 1%, the 5%, the 10%, whatever, just not you. In Sweden it is understood that if you want all of these benefits, everyone must pay for them. That means poorer Swedes pay a very high percentage of their income in taxes.
The main point is, if you want a huge welfare state, you have to be willing to pay for it. I do not believe there is consensus for that large of a welfare state in America and there is absolutely no serious willingness to fund one by either party.