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Northern lights
www.economist.com/news/special-report/21570840-nordic-countr...
Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%.

Sweden has also donned the golden straitjacket of fiscal orthodoxy with its pledge to produce a fiscal surplus over the economic cycle. Its public debt fell from 70% of GDP in 1993 to 37% in 2010, and its budget moved from an 11% deficit to a surplus of 0.3% over the same period. This allowed a country with a small, open economy to recover quickly from the financial storm of 2007-08. Sweden has also put its pension system on a sound foundation, replacing a defined-benefit system with a defined-contribution one and making automatic adjustments for longer life expectancy.

Most daringly, it has introduced a universal system of school vouchers and invited private schools to compete with public ones. Private companies also vie with each other to provide state-funded health services and care for the elderly. Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who lives in America, hopes that Sweden is pioneering “a new conservative model”; Brian Palmer, an American anthropologist who lives in Sweden, worries that it is turning into “the United States of Swedeamerica”.

DB2
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Well now, that just ruined everything for the conservatives, I mean if there is a socialist backwoods furrin' state doing it then no way we can do it.
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Never thought I'd see a Rightie champion a liberal, socialistic gov't like Sweden by citing an article which says it has a higher top marginal tax rate (57%) and a corporate tax rate of 22% (our effective rate appears far, far lower).
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DB2: "[Swedish] private companies also vie with each other to provide state-funded health services and care for the elderly."

Sweden pays 97% of its citizens' health care costs through taxes, mostly local county taxes. This amounts to about 9% of GDP. Their health system is highly decentralized, and not anything like the monolithic state apparatus that American conservatives imagine it to be. Real living socialism is shockingly different from the dystopia that is regularly excoriated in the wing nut blogosphere.

Having worked in Sweden, I can say that Swedes view the American health care system as a form of lunacy.

Loren

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_Sweden
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My cousin, a Claremont College professor, has done 2 years teaching at a Danish university.

He wrote extensively and enthusiastically about Danish social services, including healthcare.

Of course, he acknowledged that the huge differences in national demographics probably makes a similar system in the USA problematic.
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Having worked in America, I can say that I view the American health care system as a form of lunacy.
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Having worked in Sweden, I can say that Swedes view the American health care system as a form of lunacy.

Probably because the American health care system is insane.
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It's always funny to see Sweden held up as some form of conservative utopia. Why did they survive the financial crisis? They had one in 1991/1992 when I was living there and then reformed the banks so it wouldn't happen again. When the U.S. tried to reform the banks, it was totally watered down and American Conservatives cried that the banks weren't guilty at all. It was all Jimmy Carter's fault and what we need is more deregulation of the financial sector.

I like Sweden. They are not so much liberal as pragmatic. They do what works, and if it doesn't work, they do something else. So, faced with the baby boom, they instituted private retirement accounts. At first, they recommended that everyone invest their own money, with a default choice as a conservative mixed fund designed by government economists. Not too surprisingly, 80% of the people who chose to direct their own funds underperformed the conservative default fund.

So, they stopped encouraging people to invest their own money and let the money go into the default fund. (People still have the option to self-direct their money, but the pension board no longer recommends they do.)

They also do a great job of letting people start companies. This is probably the biggest difference between Scandinavian socialism and for example, French socialism. In Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, it is very easy to start a company. In France and other mainland European countries, it is a bureaucratic nightmare. (It has gotten better over the last decade, but it still pretty much sucks.)

And one more thing. Perhaps they have cut the top marginal rate down to 57%. Just because it is moving down does not mean they buy into "lower rates increase revenue" or any other supply side mumbo jumbo. It is still one of the highest rates in the world.
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They do what works, and if it doesn't work, they do something else.

Wow, imagine! Talk about common sense.


Contrast that with what I commonly hear from the right wing; "we tried that and it doesn't work so lets abandon the effort, move to the suburbs, build a bunker, stockpile food and weapons, it's every man for themselves!"
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