I see London, I see France, I see Sweden Kicking Ass

I’m a patriot. I love America and what she stands for. I love the constitution. I think John Adams, Ben Franklin, and George Washington are BAMFs. That being said, I’m horrified at what our country is becoming. Every second, the gap between the rich and poor widens. If you have money, you can get out of anything. If you’re poor, you cannot stand up for yourself. If you’re in the middle class, your back probably hurts from having to bend over and take it all the time. Our education system is falling apart, and the costs for higher education are completely ridiculous. My mom can’t afford to fix her torn rotator cuff or go to the doctor about her broken thumb because she is self-employed and can’t afford health insurance. Our Democracy is in a dead-lock because the only people who have the power to get elected are the people who are already born into money and know how to use it to get what they want. I CAN’T EVEN BUY A GODDAMN HAPPY MEAL IN SAN FRANCISCO!! (Yeah, I’m still angry about that.) I hate to sound like a broken record echoing everybody else, but it all boils down to good ol’ American greed. Your CEO’s and politicians are not concerned about what’s going to happen to you or the future of our country. As long as the money keeps coming in, nothing is ever going to change for us. Meanwhile, we’re all still worried about staying ahead and culturally relevant by buying the latest devices and junk we think we have to have. (I’m completely guilty of this, too.)

 

So, what I’m getting at is that I do love living in America, but I’m not sure if I approve of capitalism. I’ve always said, it’s excellent on paper, but shaky in practice. It seems like a wonderful thing to be able to get in what you put out, right? If I just work hard enough, I can make it to the top of the ladder. But it’s too late, guys. It’s not so much about hard work anymore as much as it is having good connections or getting lucky. Meanwhile, all the money that we do seem to scrape up is immediately thrown back into the system. Utilities, gas, education, healthcare, mortgages, and childcare—just to name a few—are basically essentials to our lifestyle, but yet we still have to pay a “hefty fuckin’ fee” to utilize them. That brings me to socialism. In current American culture, socialism almost seems like a dirty word, doesn’t it? Conservatives scream that the Obama Administration is trying to force their socialist agenda on the masses. Liberals adamantly deny this claim, making it seem as if no one wants to be associated with such a term. However…is it really THAT bad? I mean, ok, I understand that “spreading the wealth” seems like a pretty shit deal. If I go out there and make a bazillion dollars, why should I have to send half of it to the government and let them decide how to use it? Now, in the US, this is a ludicrous idea. After all, the government can’t seem to figure out what to do with the measly tax dollars they already get from us. But…what if we had a government that really DID have our best interest at heart? What if they used that money to provide for us rather than blow it on a bridge to nowhere or a failing welfare system?

And that brings me to Sweden. Oooohh, the Swedes. They’re a different bunch, those folks. Honestly, I really didn’t know that much about their way of life until I happened to stumble upon (literally on Stumbleupon.com) an infographic about their system. Rather than going into a lot of detail on the subject, I’ll list a few of the main points of their economic and social structure. It’s pretty awesome–I’m not gonna lie.

As a precursor, I would like to point out that Sweden is not TECHNICALLY governed by the socialist model, but that of the Scandinavian Model, but the two are very closely aligned. The main difference, that I gathered in my research, being that many companies are privately owned.  Anyway, on to the info!!

  • So the average Swede pays about 48% of their income in taxes. Outrageous, you say? No, says I! You see, the money they pay into the government comes back to them in the form of heavily subsidized public resources.
  • Actually, Sweden spends more of its GDP (gross domestic product) on public services than any other country.
  • Everyone is guaranteed access to medical care, most of which is either free or very inexpensive.
  • Working in Sweden comes with many benefits such as five weeks of paid vacation, more than a year of parental leave, the employer pays pension contributions, and unemployment insurance is available. Also, all residents are entitled to pension from the age of 65.
  • Apparently, the Swedish workplace is also very casual and it’s not uncommon for people to wear jeans and become personal with your co-workers and boss.
  • Childcare is either free or very cheap.
  • It’s free for children to go to school, and even pre-schools and higher education are somewhat funded by the government if not altogether.

I could go on, but these benefits seems amazing to me to by themselves. Can you imagine free school? Or not having to shell out thousands of dollars for college? Five weeks paid vacation?! Granted, you have the burden of paying a large amount of taxes, but you get all these services in return and don’t have to worry about forking over huge amounts of money all at once. Not to mention, the greater population of Sweden seem more than happy to do this, and they frequently are included in the top ten of countries with the highest quality of life. I’m not saying that there aren’t downsides to this, but it is amazing to me how much these people trust their government and how much it takes care of them.

The only problem I see with this is a lack of control over your personal life. I have come across some articles stating the Swedish government tends to overstep its bounds and be somewhat of a “nanny.” However, we are already headed that way in America, I fear. (Did I mention you can’t buy a Happy Meal in San Francisco??) But even then we don’t have the perks that the Swedes experience. So, if we are headed in a socialist direction, then ya know what? I’m not afraid. I’m ready to embrace it.

Plus, Sweden has really strange pop music and that’s kinda awesome.

 

Sources::

http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Work/The-Swedish-system/Residence-based-benefits/

http://www.swedishhealthcare.se/swedenshealthcaresystem.html

 

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~ by aleaderlost on June 10, 2011.

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