Tag: Sweden

A Boy Named Lucia


15420922_10154208922519072_7420073817290444484_nEvery year around this time, Sweden celebrates the feast of Saint Lucia, a Christian martyr who according to legend brought aid to persecuted Christians in the dead of night, her head adorned by a candle-lit wreath. This is commemorated yearly by a reenactment, usually performed by children, carrying candles and singing Christian songs.

Most major Swedish companies do their best to capitalize on this cutesy tradition, but this year Åhlens, one of the largest department store-chains in the country, decided to go above and beyond the traditional and the ordinary. On the cover of the Christmas edition of their company magazine as well as their website, they chose to use a young black boy as the Lucia-model, dressed in the traditional gown and wreath, and the internet lost its collective mind. The comments ranged from “this is genocide on white people” and “A disgusting affront on Nordic tradition” to the more blunt “You make me puke.” Just a few days after the picture was published it had to be taken down after the boy’s mother asked the company to protect the boy from what ended up being a racist hate-storm.

The brunt of the criticism toward the company was focused on two factors: that there was a boy in a traditionally female role and that the boy was black, whereas the Swedish Lucia-procession traditionally features blond and blue-eyed children.

Competitive Capitalism vs. Cuddly Capitalism: Which Is Better?


shutterstock_278463809Europe is a rich, well-educated, orderly place. And many Americans not only like to visit and do business there, but also see it as an aspirational economic model.

Well, not Greece and Italy so much, but certainly the Nordic nations. Many progressive Democrats really have a thing for Scandinavia and its egalitarian social democracies. “I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden, and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people,” Bernie Sanders said during one of his debates with Hillary Clinton. And there are certainly Europeans who agree. For instance, I recently had a long chat with  by Anu Partanen, a New York-based Finnish and American journalist, about her book “The Nordic Theory of Everything.”

In another Q&A, however, my AEI colleague Stan Veuger was skeptical that going Nordic was as easy or efficacious as progressives and Partanen believe. Along the same lines, a 2012 analysis by Daron Acemoglu, James Robinson, and Thierry Verdier argues that even though many countries “may want to be like the Nordics with a more extensive safety net and a more egalitarian structures,” it’s not really possible to have “cuddly” capitalism with America’s more high-pressure, competitive, or “cutthroat” capitalism.  From their research:

The Sweden the Left Never Talks About


twenty20_9bf9c922-5db7-4bb7-9d2f-489488c59803_sweden-e1474057995263One of my Twitterverse friends passes along this 2014 report on the liberalization of Sweden’s economy:

This report describes the history of reforms implemented in Sweden from the early nineties onwards. In the 1990s, the entire tax system was reformed, a public expenditure ceiling was put in place, collective wage bargaining found an entire new form, Sweden entered the EU, state owned monopolies became subject to competition and the fixed exchange rate was abolished. Moreover, privately owned companies were allowed to start schools and enter healthcare markets. Also, completion legislation was strengthened thereby reducing the number of cartels and their impact.

The results of this wave of reforms are remarkable. During the twenty years before 1995, GDP and productivity growth was substantially lower than in other countries. Virtually no net jobs were created in the private sector and government debt increased rapidly. Moreover, disposable income of Swedish households grew only in a very slowly.

Child Care Proposals: Be Like Sweden?


ivanka-trump-donald-trumpThere may be valid criticisms of the Trump (Ivanka as much as Donald) childcare proposal, but the New York Times and the Huffington Post did not find them. As is always the case with new proposed social spending, the New York Times chides the United States for being so very retrograde:

Within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a consortium of 35 countries, including the world’s wealthiest, the United States stands out as the only nation that does not already guarantee paid maternity leave.

This is the familiar refrain. All other advanced countries do X. It’s embarrassing that the United States is the only country without nationalized healthcare, or paid leave, or universal pre-school, etc., etc. During the Cold War, we were constantly hectored that while the Soviet Union didn’t have political freedom, it sure did provide economic freedom in the form of a guaranteed job, free health care, family leave, and so forth. When the Soviet Union fell, we learned that its actual standard of living was the rough equivalent of Bangladesh’s, that Leningrad’s hospitals had raw sewage in the taps, and that no one except the communist party elite had ever seen a banana. (But for her husband’s connections, Lyudmila Putin would have died from injuries sustained in a car crash because the public hospital was so dreadful. So writes Steven Lee Myers in The New Tsar.)

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The headline says “Extremism is on the rise among Swedish teenagers.” What it does not say is what form the extremism takes. In fact, if you read the article, no description of the extremism appears anywhere in the first four paragraphs. (I was reading the article with my fingers crossed, hoping it would be extremism […]

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I am of Eastern European descent, so I think I have a pretty good understanding about the systemic flaws of socialism for someone of my age, though I never had to live in it (everyone else in my family did). But I still get lectured to by my peers who don’t have that background on […]

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The Swedish Model: Shantytowns and Squatters



Something interesting is happening in the Swedish city of Malmö. For months, some 500 Roma migrants, most from Bulgaria and Romania, have been illegally squatting on a private industrial property in the city, refusing to leave. Apart from illegally squatting on someone else’s land, the migrants have been causing a health and safety issue, leaving tons of waste (human and otherwise) and using hazardous gas to fuel stoves.

Today, after months of complacency from the Swedish government and the city of Malmö, the migrants are being forcibly moved by more than 800 police officers; and even though it’s still early hours, fighting and violent protests have started in and around the property.

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Comports with what I already got a taste of living in Europe this past summer. And Claire thought Europe can safely assimilate 60 million of these people. Funny thought. As Harry Jaffa often pointed out, until Islam works out the theolocal-political problem, as Christianity did thanks mostly to John Locke, the Middle East will persist […]

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This final post on The Swedish Report was echoed by a few of my Swedish friends, some of whom now live in America. One of those friends served in American Special Forces, so along with his fellow soldiers is particularly grieved by systemic issues corroding the foundations of liberty and prosperity.  Insane immigration policies, dishonest financial practices, government-run […]

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Swedish Chef Joins ISIS


Michael Skråmo, a Swedish chef from Gothenburg, converted to Islam in 2005. Concerned about the dismal reputation of his new faith, Skråmo even appeared on state-run Sveriges Television to warn viewers about creeping Islamophobia. But today he calls himself Abdul Samad al Swedi and fights for ISIS.

Skråmo took his wife and four small children and traveled to Syria to fight for the terror group IS, which is engaged in genocide, mass rape and commits other types of bestial abuse of non-Muslim minorities in the region.

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The Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, wanted a meeting with the Israelis after Sweden recognized Palestine as a state.  Wallstrom was to attend a ceremony honoring Raoul Wallenberg.  She then planned to pop by the Palestinian Authority for a meet-and-greet with the folks there on her way home. The Israelis were less than amused.  Ms. Wallstrom […]

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An Enemy By Any Other Name


We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and salaries for this bear’s work, that is its affair. We do not come as friends, nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies. As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come. — Joseph Goebbels, on Democracy

A few weeks ago, my country of Sweden got a new government. Or, it’s not so much a new government, but a return to a past I had hoped was long forgotten. Chances are most outsiders wouldn’t have heard of this electoral upheaval, had it not been for one of the new government’s first forays into foreign policy: recognizing the state of Palestine, making it the first major European country to do so. But for those of familiar with Sweden’s the political landscape, this has been a long time coming.

Dead on Payday


I have no idea why this captivates me, but apparently it’s true. People die on payday. A lot. From the Marginal Revolution blog, which posted the summary of a study that can be found here:

In this paper, we study the short-run effect of salary receipt on mortality among Swedish public sector employees…We find a dramatic increase in mortality on the day salaries arrive. The increase is especially pronounced for younger workers and for deaths due to activity-related causes such as heart conditions and strokes. Additionally, the effect is entirely driven by an increase in mortality among low income individuals, who are more likely to experience liquidity constraints. All things considered, our results suggest that an increase in general economic activity upon salary receipt is an important cause of the excess mortality.