Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

Sweden's welfare state 'alive and kicking'

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Latest Breaking News Donate to DU
 
AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 01:04 PM
Original message
Sweden's welfare state 'alive and kicking'
Source: the local swedens news

A wave of liberal reforms has swept across Sweden since the centre-right government came to power in 2006, notably with the sale last week of the state's crown jewel Absolut vodka, but the welfare state is still alive and kicking, analysts insist.
"Swedes are very pleased with, and very strongly support, the welfare state," Barbro Hedvall, an editorialist in Sweden's newspaper of reference Dagens Nyheter, told AFP.

Since winning a general election in September 2006, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's coalition has abolished wealth and property tax, cut income taxes, introduced tax breaks for domestic help, tightened rules for sickness benefits and announced plans to relax rent control in Stockholm.

It has also launched a privatization programme for the state's holdings in six companies aimed at cashing in 150 billion kronor ($25 billion).

But job creation has been the government's top priority, and one of its biggest moves has been to reform unemployment insurance to increase premiums and decrease payouts to the jobless, in a bid to encourage low-income earners to seek work rather than rely on benefits.

Despite all these changes, Sweden remains definitely a cradle-to-grave welfare state, with universal health care and free education, experts say.

Politicians and voters across the spectrum remain heavily influenced by decades of Social Democratic policies -- the party that created the welfare state and governed Sweden for 64 of the past 77 years.

A recent proposal by the junior coalition member Centre Party to limit today's universal child allowance payments to only needy families was swiftly and broadly rejected for violating the egalitarian principles on which Sweden's modern society is built.

And when the unemployment insurance reform left almost a quarter of the labour force without jobless insurance, the government said it would introduce a mandatory scheme for all employees from July 2009.

"Values change slowly," said Dick Kling of the right-wing think tank Timbro.

Hedvall agreed.

"The foundations of the welfare state have not changed, they're still the same. We all pay into a joint pot for sickness insurance, parental leave, and when it comes to unemployment insurance it's always been optional," she said, adding that the rules have merely been tightened to combat abuses.

She recalled that even Social Democratic administrations have in the past introduced major reforms to modernize the system.

According to Kling and Hedvall, an across-the-board income tax cut that gives most Swedes about 1,000 kronor ($167 dollars) more in net salary at the end of the month has been the government's most significant reform.

"That has been a drastic change ... Usually when you talk about the welfare state you only talk about publicly financed welfare, but a lot of welfare is also stuff you can buy with your own money," Kling said.

But Bo Rutstrm of the left-wing think tank Agora said the welfare state was slowly being dismantled.

"There are clear signals that we're moving from universal, collective solutions to individual solutions," he said.

"Lower subsidies leave people locked-in and cause passivity, which contrasts with the previous welfare model's priorities of education and (job) training," he added.

"There may be more people in the workforce now, but that's mostly because we've been in a period of strong economic growth," Rutstrm said.


Read more: http://www.thelocal.se/10940/20080406 /
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 01:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. Another prosperous, happy country ripe for the picking by the vultures.
Edited on Sun Apr-06-08 01:11 PM by JDPriestly
If you haven't already, read Naomi Klein's book, Shock Doctrine.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
New Dawn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 09:09 PM
Response to Reply #1
18. That is what I do not like about social-democratic ideology.
Generations of people's struggles for social reforms that benefit the bottom 90% of the population can be swept away in a couple years by a single right-wing government. There is something not right about that...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Jim Sagle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 11:43 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. So what is the weakness of social democracy that facilitates that?
Edited on Sun Apr-06-08 11:44 PM by Jim Sagle
And what's a better doctrine? (Not a hostile question, just curious.)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Tandalayo_Scheisskopf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 01:11 PM
Response to Original message
2. Ahh yes.
Another one of those failed .eu economies O'Loofah references so often. It's good we have economic geniuses like him and his ilk looking out for us, ain't it?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
lakeguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
3. it's too bad...
it seems like some (i emphasize some) people in sweden have forgotten what got them to this point. i mean, an annual balance surplus (as opposed to our massive defecit), strong growth, and a super intelligent, and well off population. you can go down the list of human rights, education, standard of living, etc. and sweden will usually be in the top 5.

my friends in sweden used to complain that people would cheat the welfare system just to stay home and receive benefits. i always told them, "who would you rather have cheating the system? a few at the bottom for thousands of dollars or a few at the top for millions?" it's individual welfare vs. corporate welfare. every system has its cheaters, you just have to decide which ones you are willing to accept.

a few of the benefits of the swedish "welfare" state:

free college (competition turns from those who can pay to those who are the brightest)
universal health care (businesses and people are better off)
12 months (female) 4 months (male) child leave with 80% of your pay
monthly stipend for each child (few hundred $) to help with expenses
excellent mass transit system (you can get by without owning a car)
much more...

taxes are high, but if any american would live there, i think they would be amazed at the standard of living in sweden. i would be happy to pay my taxes if, instead of going to make bullets, they went to helping our society improve. the nordic countries have it right...i hope they stop this move to "individual responsibility". if they want to do that, why have a society and pay taxes at all?
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. I knew lots of Swedish young people as well as other
Scandanavians like Danes and Norwegians, whom I met in Los Angeles while they were traveling around the world before settling down. I found the biggest complaint about their countries was the climate. They enjoyed being able to go to the beach the year around. However, they usually soured on America when they saw the homeless in our streets and how hard it was to get medical care if uninsured here. A neighbor of mine, a Swedish woman married to an American, often said to me that in Sweden people wouldn't be left to die in the streets like here. Their elderly didn't have to go to snake pit nursing homes either. They were well taken care of. Sometimes the nanny laws in Sweden (like restrictions on drinking alcohol) got to her but she admitted it was a small price to pay for the security the government offered all Swedish citizens. See their government really does work for the people, not the corporate and super rich alone.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NeedleCast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #8
34. Our Freedom Is a Small Price to Pay?
Sometimes the nanny laws in Sweden (like restrictions on drinking alcohol) got to her but she admitted it was a small price to pay for the security the government offered all Swedish citizens.

Not trying to dog out Sweden's system but statements like that scare me to the core. To me it is akin to saying "I don't mind having freedoms and/or rights taken from me as long as I'm well taken care of by the government."
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 12:45 PM
Response to Reply #34
35. Sorry it bugs you but that's what she said although I really
Edited on Tue Apr-08-08 12:47 PM by Cleita
think it's not what she meant. There are conservative Swedes you know and libertarian ones and I think she was of the more libertarian minded ones. That means that the alcohol laws bothered her like our smoking laws here in California bother smokers that sometimes go too far (like new laws that they are proposing to forbid people to smoke in their cars and apartments). She didn't smoke tobacco and drank socially occasionally however she loved her pot and I believe this is what she had in mind although it seems to have eluded her that it's illegal here too as most people smoked it quite openly in our neighborhood.

Also, many Scandanavians tend to like binge drinking. If you've ever shared a bottle of Aquavit with a group of them, you will know that the whole purpose is to down each drink as fast as possible to get drunk. I believe this is why their laws are stricter because of this kind of cultural attitude towards alcohol. It is a democracy so the laws have the approval of the majority of Swedes, even if many of the more libertarian minded ones don't like them. Funny though across the sea in Denmark, you can drink as much as you like, whenever you like. A Danish friend of mine, who lived in a seaport close to Sweden told me that the ferry dropped off Swedes on the weekend in her town and all you saw were drunk Swedes on Saturday who went home on Sunday to sober up. So the laws seem to have backfired in Sweden, while the Danes seem to stay sober enough because it's not forbidden fruit.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-10-08 08:35 PM
Response to Reply #3
41. "taxes are high" I question this. Is there actually an accurate comparison?
There are so many hidden taxes in the U.S.

Plus, when you add in health care, education, etc.,.... well, we're not doing so great with our "low taxes".

:hi:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 01:45 PM
Response to Original message
4. Pretty much happening throughout europe. slow dismemberment.
of worker protections.

global war on the working class.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 02:09 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. The old "me first, every man for himself" crap seems to be catching on, in a way, doesn't it?
Could it be the right-wingers are finding it easier to separate citizens from their common sense in certain European countries by playing on their fear and insecurity by using the arrival of so many third-world workers/refugees in their countries as a way to make them get really anal, and resentful of others, less interested, less concerned in a true community if it's going to include newcomers.

I hope evil is going to be thwarted again and again and again until it's gone. Hope the right-wing is going to meet a resistance it's never seen before eventually.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
JVS Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 07:33 AM
Response to Reply #6
21. Without the proletarian Bad Cop of the USSR, the proletarian Good Cop of Social Democracy is doomed
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
OmahaBlueDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 02:07 PM
Response to Original message
5. I'd love the US to become more like Scandinavia or Switzerland
Industrial, with an economy that strikes a much better balance for all of the citizens....and a country not bent on policing the world.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Shipwack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 07:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. Omaha, a favor please....
Where does that picture come from? I'd love to get a copy... I did a google search for "True Blue" (and variations thereof) and got no useful results.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
OmahaBlueDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 11:07 AM
Response to Reply #17
32. Not a problem
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fshrink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 02:19 PM
Response to Original message
7. Tax rate.
Edited on Sun Apr-06-08 02:21 PM by fshrink
Sweden and most Scandinavian states have the highest top bracket. 59% for Sweden and Denmark, 51% for Norway and a US-like 32% for Finland. Plus probably way less ways to cheat the system than here. Whcih trahnslates into twice as much % of the GDP (i.e. 14% to 28%) invested in welfare stuff.
Try to sell that here...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. Try thinking that we pay over 50%, get less, and won't admit it.
Their 70% includes retirement, health care, mandatory 5 weeks of vacation to start, better sick time, holidays, baby/parent time off, unemployment insurance, disability insurance -- all of which we earn, but we don't count it as part of our so-stated 33%.

Try $100K/year American.
FICA add 7.5K, and subtract it for 15.5K.
Medical 12K
Retire 6K
Vacation add 3 weeks or 6K
Holidays/baby/parenting -- call it the same
Buying a house subtract 11K on both -- call it the same
unemployment 2K
disability -- negligible

make 100K -7K FICA -30K taxes, you get 62.5K
Making 100 +7 +12 +6 +6 +2 = 133K European style
62.5/133 = getting 47%, paying 53%, over 50%

Only we don't get our elections paid for, which means we pay corporate prices for it, but most, our health care and insurances ARE NOT, NOT I SAY, TRANSPORTABLE. And don't cover us when laid off or fired.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 12:52 PM
Response to Reply #11
26. The 50% thing has been debunked. The average American pays about 31%
That's the averaged total of federal, state, and local income taxes, payroll taxes, sales and excise taxes, corporate income taxes, and property taxes.

The problem today is that our economy could only absorb a tax climb to a level like Europes if it were phased in over many decades. Bumping that tax rate to 50% basically means taking an additional 20% out of everyones wallet every month. I don't know many people who could take that hit.

It's like the Prop 13 issue here in California. Most people agree today that Prop 13 was a bad idea, but that tax rate nowadays is built into the price of homes. By some estimates, eliminating Prop 13 and returning to the 1970's tax rates would throw 1/3 of Californians out of their homes. It would make the current housing problems seem tame. The economy is now built around it, so phasing it out is something that can only be done over many decades.

So, we're screwed.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Cite for your number? I'm not quite buying it. n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 01:52 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Took me 30 seconds on Google.
http://www.taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday /

There are plenty of other sources out there if you don't like this one.

The 50% number was invented by right-wingers complaining about being over-taxed, and counted even petty things like national park admission costs, bridge tolls, etc., as "taxes". It also used some rather disingenuous math. For example: According to their math, if you took a flight, and your jet used taxed fuel, the tax totals for that fuel would be counted against each passenger as part of their "tax burden". You might be able to make this argument if the number didn't ALSO calculate in the airlines corporate taxes, and factor those into the ticket too. Since fuel taxes are deducted from their corporate taxes, the 50% number includes a tax that is later deducted. That's just one example of the "fuzzy math" they used to come up with it.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. and it only took me 30 seconds to find out who funds the tax foundation:
scaife & the usual right-wing suspects.

http://www.mediatransparency.org/recipientgrants.php?re...
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
sam sarrha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. it is taxes before loopholes deductions and subsidies
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 11:37 PM
Response to Reply #26
37. What would you debunk here? Mathematics? Any detail?
Do you think any of those items I listed do not exist?

Which one(s)?

Are you a nihilist?

if so, you can stop here.

Do you think I added where I should have subtracted?

If so, which one?

Was my math wrong?

If so, where?

Do you deny mathematics as, say, fuzzy?

If so, never mind.

Otherwise, try adding state tax, city tax, and sales tax to the 100K earners life and see what percent you get.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
burrowowl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #11
38. You get more for your taxes in Europe
How much do you pay for health insurance in the USA, etc. You get a better deal in Europe, with all these bad taxes, my brother in-law has 6 weeks vacation, health care and has the money to travel every year, etc.
You get good roads, infrastructure, education, etc. And damn better salaries!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-09-08 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #38
39. The big thing: TRANSPORTABLE pension, insurance, health, etc.
Here in America we lose our benefits between jobs and by leaving a job for another, we lose our place changing jobs. They don't. AND THEY DON'T PAY MORE. They just get more.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Hannah Bell Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 05:29 PM
Response to Reply #7
13. Not really - when you throw in health care. n/t
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fshrink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 05:46 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. I didn't say taxes were a bad thing!
If it's run for and by the community, it's non-profit, therefore less expensive in the end. But you got to give the amount to the community rather than to a for-profit organization. Which means to pay more taxes. Which is completely fine by me.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #14
36. My point is we are already paying those taxes...
Just not getting the entire benefit.

I added until I reached over 50%. I have yet to include property tax, local ta x(garbage pickup, city police, ...), and sales tax.

With those I'm close enough to Sweden to ask why I'm not getting better service for about the same cost.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Elspeth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 04:22 PM
Response to Original message
9. Notice how the title belies the first 3 paragraphs:
"Since winning a general election in September 2006, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's coalition has abolished wealth and property tax, cut income taxes, introduced tax breaks for domestic help, tightened rules for sickness benefits and announced plans to relax rent control in Stockholm.

It has also launched a privatization programme for the state's holdings in six companies aimed at cashing in 150 billion kronor ($25 billion).

But job creation has been the government's top priority, and one of its biggest moves has been to reform unemployment insurance to increase premiums and decrease payouts to the jobless, in a bid to encourage low-income earners to seek work rather than rely on benefits."
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
fascisthunter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
10. Very Impressive
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
haightpillsbury Donating Member (18 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 05:15 PM
Response to Original message
12. A country that educates and takes care of its citizens...
...is a 'welfare state'?!

And 'individual solutions.' There's another money quote right there. Code for "You're on your own, bitch." Kinda like some other country I know.

Now watch this drive.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 05:58 PM
Response to Reply #12
15. Odd right-wing choice of words, isn't it? Very, very ugly of the headline writer.
They don't even want you to get a fighting chance reading the actual article for yourself without the right-wing breathing down your neck, telling you what it really means! Nothing like having Joe McCarthy writing our news for us these days!


Welcome to D.U., haightpillsbury! :hi: :hi: :hi: :hi:
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 08:27 AM
Response to Reply #12
22. I was going to say . . . "Welfare State" is a negative connotation.
So right before the reader even gets a hold of the story, they're already clasped into the right-wing mindset . . . like "see how great yew have it in good ol' Murka?? In Sweden, it's all about WELFARE QUEENS and COMMIES (cue frightening music)!!!!"

Then again, a high tax system in Murka wouldn't yield anything the Swedes get, like Universal Health Care and education. It would just go to CEOs, pork, politicians and the Pentasewer, because God Forbid the untermensch get help with anything. That just wouldn't be MURKIN!!!!
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Maeve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 06:40 PM
Response to Original message
16. AlphaCentauri
Please be aware that DU copyright rules require that excerpts of copyrighted material be limited to four paragraphs.
Thank you
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-08-08 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #16
33. Ok won't do it again
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-06-08 09:48 PM
Response to Original message
19. Sweden seems like a perfect example of
"It it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
mdmc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
23. God Bless SOCIALISM
Edited on Mon Apr-07-08 10:44 AM by mdmc
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
Winterblues Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 10:43 AM
Response to Original message
24. Welfare State = Good .....The sole purpose of Government is to
Maintain the Health and Welfare of the Nation.......When the "state" has the general welfare of the nation as it's goal it is "good government" America does not have "good Government"..People thinjk america is great because of "Freedom" but in reality every European country is just as free if not more so..
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
KillCapitalism Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
25. Looks like they're trying to become the US of A.
Hey assholes, if you'd like a war-mongering, poor people hating, let brown people drown type of government, we'll gladly send you Bush & Cheney.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
sam sarrha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-07-08 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #25
31. they are soooo screwed
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-10-08 08:33 PM
Response to Reply #25
40. Ohhhhh, you're in an ugly mood. ^_^
:hi:

Send 'em to a country that richly deserves 'em. :)
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Sat Jul 22nd 2017, 04:44 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Latest Breaking News Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC