Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Update on Sweden

Though there certainly are positive as well as negative lessons to be learned from Sweden, one should be wary of those who claim causal relationships between Sweden's welfare state and its historic economic achievements. The parts of the welfare state that work the best today are the parts that have been reformed, where competition and private alternatives are allowed.

School vouchers, for example, were introduced more than 15 years ago in Sweden. This reform has allowed children to choose a privately run school if they want to, paid for by taxes. Recent research shows not only that independent schools produce the best results but that school choice andthe existence of independent schools has improved overall efficiency and effectiveness in the entire school system.

American documentary filmmaker Michael Moore praises the Swedish healthcare system in his movie Sicko. But he is worried that the new Swedish Government will destroy this paragon of public health funding, as he sees it, by letting in private alternatives. In fact, Sweden has had private alternatives within the healthcare system for 15 to 20 years. That is no big deal for Swedes, at least not as long as the private alternatives don't constitute too large a share of the market. The debate is on the financial side. Should people be empowered to buy private insurance?

There is also a debate whether big emergency hospitals should be allowed to be run privately (still with funding from the government) and if private hospitals should be allowed to make a profit. Hardly anyone other than Moore is totally against privately run health care.

While the quality of healthcare services is pretty good in Sweden, productivity is extremely low because there is too little competition. In 1975 an average doctor met nine patients a day. Today it is down to four. People have to wait for months or years to get basic surgery, with huge human and economic costs as a result. What kind of welfare is that? ...

More than half of Sweden's 50 largest companies were founded before World War I; only two after 1970. Of five million working-age adults, one million remain outside the workforce, even though few are officially unemployed. The rest are either in various state-run job-training programs, on long-term sick leave, or receiving early retirement or disability pensions from the state...

Sweden is not rich because of the welfare state. On the contrary, it is rich despite the welfare state. Sweden has a proud tradition of free-market institutions, and it was market reforms in the late 19th century as well as in the last reform period in the 1990s that explain the country's economic development. In the late 19th century successive liberal governments introduced free establishment in different trades, abolished guilds and stripped the upper classes of economic privileges that bled the economy dry. It was during this time that free trade was a badge of honour, and immigration and emigration were free for all. Sweden's most prosperous companies were born during this era: SKF, Electrolux and Assa (later Assa Abloy). In 1970, Sweden was the world's fourth richest country; today it is No14.

More here



Another Leftist hypocrite: "For years, he was the scourge of the Masters of the Universe and the Sheriff of Wall Street. Now he's a joke. Legions of Wall Street's bankers, traders and investors relished the dark clouds enveloping New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who has informed his most senior administration officials that he had been tied to a prostitution ring, The New York Times reported. The Times reported that Spitzer was caught on a federal wire-tap arranging to meet a $US1000-an-hour prostitute at a Washington hotel last month. Spitzer, a Democrat, rose to political stardom while state attorney-general through high-profile investigations into improper business practices by major Wall Street firms. Though his signature issue was pursuing Wall Street's misdeeds, as attorney-general Spitzer also prosecuted at least two prostitution rings when he ran the state's organised crime task force, The New York Times said. The paper said Spitzer "spoke with revulsion and anger" in 2004 after announcing the arrest of 16 people for running what the paper termed a high-end prostitution ring in Staten Island. Spitzer, who is the father of three children, was extolled for his virtues and unyielding focus on corporate malfeasance." [Betsy Newmark has some acerbic comments]

A nasty guy gets his deserts: "One might call it Shakespearian if there were a shred of nobleness in the story of Eliot Spitzer's fall. There is none. Governor Spitzer, who made his career by specializing in not just the prosecution, but the ruin, of other men, is himself almost certainly ruined."

GWB dines with Aussies: "Former Prime Minister John Howard has been honoured with a private family dinner with his friend and ally, President George Bush, at the White House, during his extended speaking tour of the US. His dinner with Mr Bush - a symbol of the bond the two leaders forged - comes ahead of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's first visit to the US later this month, when he will have an official lunch with President Bush at the White House. Mr Howard is in Boston for two days for engagements at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government."

More anti-American fakery? "There is a video circulating like crazy online of a United States soldier throwing a puppy over the cliff in what appears to be Iraq. What's most disturbing is not the act itself (which is under investigation and the video's authenticity is in question), but how quickly many here have condemned those soldiers, IF they are soldiers at all. We supposedly live in a nation where one is innocent until proven guilty, but thanks to the smearing of our entire Armed Forces because of isolated events at Abu Ghraib, as well as Hollywood's slanderous contributions, many are quick to believe this video's authenticity and our military's guilt. I could be wrong, but I believe the video is a fake. This would not be the first time we've all been punk'd...."

Is the Solution to Hire More Muslim Journalists? "Philip Bennett, managing editor of the Washington Post, offered a franker set of views than perhaps he intended when he spoke on March 3 at the University of California-Irvine's Center for the Study of Democracy about media coverage of Islam, as reported by Alan Blank in the Daily Pilot. Bennett, Blank writes, thinks news organizations ought to hire more Muslim reporters. To illustrate this point he drew mainly from quotes of notable colleagues and statistical polls, rarely giving his own opinion directly. "Six of 10 Americans, according to a 2007 ABC Poll, don't understand the basic tenets of Islam," Bennett said. He attributed this to the lack of Muslims working in American newsrooms. "At the Post I want more Muslim readers and I want more Muslim journalists." Bennett assumes, with touching naivete, that to be Muslim is know Islam. Less touching is the assumption that not to be a Muslim is not to know Islam. This fraudulent expectation of special insight from one's status, religious or otherwise, needs strenuously to be rejected."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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