Being Socialist Just Like Sweden


As another generation is misled into believing that socialism would be worth a try in the United States, one often hears how well the economic system works in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries.  But as John Stossel notes Sweden is not socialist.

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With a prioritization of free markets, school choice, a less-progressive tax system, and privatized social safety nets, it’s arguably less socialist than the United States.  In fact, when the country tried something closer to actual socialism a few decades ago, it was disastrous.  Unfortunately, like the many examples of socialism’s failure, the memory of true believers tends to fixate on the dream of what they hoped would be, rather than the reality.

  • BasicCaruso

    lol, don’t like the results? That’s not socialism! Meanwhile that won’t stop Justin from crying socialism about any number of U.S. market-based reforms.

    “The rich alone use imported articles, and on these alone the whole taxes of the General Government are levied… Our revenues liberated by the discharge of the public debt, and its surplus applied to canals, roads, schools, etc., the farmer will see his government supported, his children educated, and the face of his country made a paradise by the contributions of the rich alone, without his being called on to spend a cent from his earnings.”
    –Thomas Jefferson to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1811.

    Gasp! Socialism!

    • Rhett Hardwick

      Gasp! Socialism!
      Well, not really; it relates to a time when the federal government’s whole income was based on tariffs. A significant cause of our “Civil War”.

  • Joe Smith

    Well, I like Stossel, but..

    Education – In 1992, Sweden adopted a universal school choice, funded by the public but run by in some cases private businesses. The result – in 2015 the OECD said “student performance on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has declined dramatically, from near the OECD average in 2000 to significantly below the average in 2012. No other country participating in PISA saw a steeper decline than Sweden over that period.”

    Pension/Social Security – the social safety nets in Sweden are far from “privatized.” It is accurate that Sweden moved to a portion (2.5%) of a larger amount (than the US) that the government takes for social security to allow for private accounts. That has been tried at a much slower pace here (the military and government TSP for example) with the hope to slowly displace defined benefit pensions. So, yes but the overwhelming part of the Sweden’s social security system is still public.

    Health- again, starting from a 100% state owned system, the Swedes have embraced some privatization of health care – although that is already the case in the US (maybe the VA moving to some privatization) . However, the healthcare insurance is still centrally funded (and raised through taxes). So “medicare for all” is actually moving to the “Swedish” way (or like the charter school concept).

    However, in the Heritage rankings of economic freedom, Sweden is 18 (US is 12) so you could argue both sides. Sweden pre-1990 was indeed far more socialist with not so good results. Sweden since then is a mix of more economic freedom and markets with the government still controlling much of the purse strings, just far less of the actual delivery of services.

  • Mike678

    Socialism and it’s close relative, Communism, have caused more suffering and death than the last two world wars. Yet we have ignorant and thoughtless people who still advocate for it under the guise of “market reform” (which usually involves more govt “oversight” and control of the private sector).

    All to often, these ignorant souls are blinded by greed and envy of those who work hard and are productive, blaming everyone but themselves for their failures.

    • Monique Chartier

      “people who still advocate for it under the guise of “market reform”
      (which usually involves more govt “oversight” and control of the private sector).”

      Yup, some very misguided people want ever more more more control of the private sector. Rhode Island is living proof of the failure of this approach.