Sweden’s shift right is a warning for US

Posted on July 27, 2009



Sweden has been long considered a model for progressive ideas and policies for the last few decades, and its welfare state has been looked to as a sort of ideal for liberal-leaning thinkers. Here’s the catch: the Swedes themselves are getting tired of it.

Forbes has an eye-opening articlewith the finance minister of Sweden, Anders Borg (Heads-up from Skanderbeg at Red State). The son of Social Democrat parents, Borg drifted away from the welfare state when he realized it was creating a “boring, stagnant society.” He sees the 70’s and 80’s as Swedish lost decades which saw increased government spending coupled with a decline in real growth. Now, he and his boss, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt are talking tax cuts, privatizing numerous industries, and letting a free market rule as more and more Swedes recognize the dangerous futility of an all-out socialist society.

What’s happening in Sweden is further proof that Europe is beginning a shift to the right, and shows that the EU parliamentary elections were more than a blip on the radar screen. Furthermore, Sweden should serve as a model not of a socialist utopia, but of the failures of bloated government. Consider this quote:

Next year Sweden’s government is projected to be on the hook for gross financial liabilities equal to 57% of GDP, which is up from 48% two years ago. The debt of U.S. government entities, by contrast, is expected to nearly equal GDP by next year, versus 63% in 2007, says the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development.

So we might be there already if you take government debt as a percentage of a nation’s economic output, in which we already surpass Sweden. Sweden’s economic reawakening should serve as a model for what American government should be doing – cutting taxes, reducing governmental influence and shrinking government. Sadly, with bailouts, stimulus packages, and government takeover of industry, we’re doing precisely the opposite.

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