Since many of our international friends have asked about Nima Sanandajis report The Swedish Model Reassessed published by Libera recently I will give a few short comments. To start with I can say that many parts of the report are very good. I agree with much of the research and data in the report. But since I am not a proponent of the state and not a statist I don’t agree with some observations and conclusions.
In general Nima excludes many new laws and regulations that have been passed in our country with the current government in his analysis when he wants to show how much better things are in certain areas. Examples of these neglected areas in the analysis are laws regarding surveillance, integrity and homeschooling. In certain aspects are my disagreements similar to the ones I wrote about in a comment regarding Samuel Gregg’s article here. The state’s power over us has increased not decreased the recent years, or as I wrote recently:
From my point of view you can take everything I own, I won’t like it but I will survive. But what is even worse is when you further restrict my freedom, tighten the grip of our children’s mind with socialism and state education and invade my personal integrity even more. So spare me the candy in the so called “reforms”, I want real freedom not your deception so you can travel around the world and brag about your “liberalizations”.
In the preface to report Gustav von Hertzen Chairman at Libera Foundation writes:
Democracy itself is built on the basis of morality.
Democracy is immoral, if a person doesn’t have the right to force his will on someone else that implicates that neither does nine million people the right to force their will on one person. Democracy is a lynch mob in action. Read more about Democracy here.
Thirdly, starting in the 1990s, Sweden has dramatically scaled back the size and scope of government, which was followed by a recovery of the earlier strong growthrate.
To call the changes dramatically is a false statement and you can’t even find a support for this in the report. To change the tax to GDP ratio a few percent isn’t a dramatic change even if you should look only at this measure and ignore everything else that is changed to the worse.
Regarding free market reforms Nima writes:
Sweden compensates for its tax policy by employing market-friendly reforms in other areas, such as trade openness, personal retirement accounts and choice of schools. Societies can prosper for many different reasons. Undeniably, the success of Swedish society hinges on the free market policies to which the nation is again returning.
It is wrong to call the reforms that have been made for market-friendly reforms. What has been imposed is some kind of socialistic mixture with heavy regulations and this is true even in the case of the school system. The possibilities and “liberalizations” that have been implemented in schools and kindergartens can’t come close to something you would call privatizations. The only thing that will happen is that when this socialistic model (marketed as a capitalistic free choice model) fails, they will blame the failures on the “free market” and everything will be regulated with even more socialism. So this is nothing but a deception that real opponents of freedom must be aware of and not embrace.
Regarding the Swedish welfare state Nima writes:
The Swedish welfare state does create some social good, for example, by providing relatively generous social security nets.
A welfare state can never produce any social good for the aggressor/parasite or for the victim. To call a process where the state aggresses against a producer to later redistribute the loot a social good is nothing but an abomination. First of all, the state can’t produce anything; it has to appropriate first by force. The aggressor is not a producer but a predator that lives on the fruit of other peoples labour. Instead of living according to man’s nature the aggressor becomes a parasite that is living on other peoples labour and energy. This is clearly against all universal ethics. A man cannot live as a parasite because a parasite must have non parasites to live on. The parasite doesn’t contribute to welfare and is totally dependent on his host. If the parasite intensifies his parasitic way of living this will continue until the producer dies out and shortly after that the parasite will die as well. What you often forget is that the parasite doesn’t only harm the producer but also himself in the process. The aggressor hurts himself by abandoning man’s natural way of living to be a parasite. This is what the welfare state does to people and their nature, slowly step by step they are broken down to parasites until they have destroyed themselves and the producers at the same time. To create a social good is to help people help themselves, not to aggress against innocent people and make other parasites.
I have to say that one of the more strange statements in the report is this:
It is important to realize that Sweden is not a socialist nation at heart. Taxes are high and the labor market is rigid, but policymakers have sought to compensate for this lack of economic freedom with economic liberalizations in other parts of the economy.
How could anyone say that Sweden is not a socialistic nation with 45,8% tax to GDP ratio (2010) and with a non-existing respect for private property, the right to self-ownership, or not to mention the right to your own children? To say that you have compensated this within other areas is a cynical and bizarre statement. I really want to know what these policies are that has compensated all the other attacks on our integrity, and the policies that has tighten the grip on our children’s mind with even more socialism and state education.
Finally Nima writes:
Swedish society is not necessarily moving away from the idea of a welfare state, but continuous reforms are implemented towards economic liberty within the scope of welfare. The rise of government has been stopped and even reversed in recent years. The nation is again returning to the free market policies which served it so well in the past.
That the rise of government should have been stopped and even reversed somehow is a false statement. On the contrary the grip has tightened. The new government is as socialistic as the former one. I don’t share Nima’s view on reality and neither do the large amount of people that are affected by the state’s cold hand of steel every day.
On mises.se we write every day about the abuses and intrusions into people’s lives, and this is something we will continue to do even if some percent of some tax is decreased somewhere in the economy the same time as we are flooded with regulations somewhere else.
The enemy is alive and remains the same, we must continue to fight socialism and statism and don’t give in for deceptions.