Tag Archives: Sweden

If Sweden and Germany became US states, they would be among the poorest states

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

There seems to be a lot of talk among Democrats and native young people to the effect that European countries have less “income inequality” thanks to bigger government, higher taxes, and more social spending. Is there a downside to this?

The Mises Institute takes a look at it:

The battle over the assumed success of European socialism continues. Many European countries like Sweden have gained a reputation as being very wealthy in spite of their highly regulated and taxed economies. From there, many assume that the rest of Europe is more or less similar, even if slightly poorer. But if we look more closely at the data, a very different picture emerges, and we find that the median household in the US is better off (income-wise) than the median household in all but three European countries.

[…]Using the BEA’s regional price parity index, we can take now account for the different cost of living in different states…
[…]We now see that there’s less variation in the median income levels among the US states. That makes sense because many states with low median incomes also have a very low cost of living. At the same time, many states with high median incomes have a very high cost of living.

Now that we’ve accounted for the low cost of living in Mississippi, we find that Mississippi ($26,517) is no longer the state with the lowest median income in real terms. New York ($26,152) is now the state with the lowest median income due to its very high cost of living.

This has had the effect of giving us a more realistic view of the purchasing power of the median household in US states. It is also more helpful in comparing individual states to OECD members, many of which have much higher costs of living than places like the American south and midwest.  Now that we recognize how inexpensive it is to live in places like Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky, we find that residents in those states now have higher median incomes than Sweden (a place that’s 30% more expensive than the US) and most other OECD countries measured.

Once purchasing power among the US states is taken into account, we find that Sweden’s median income ($27,167) is higher than only six states: Arkansas ($26,804), Louisiana ($25,643), Mississippi ($26,517), New Mexico ($26,762), New York ($26,152) and North Carolina ($26,819).

We find something similar when we look at Germany, but in Germany’s case, every single US state shows a higher median income than Germany. Germany’s median income is $25,528. Things look even worse for the United Kingdom which has a median income of $21,033, compared to $26,517 in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, Colorado ($35,059) has a median income nearly identical to Switzerland ($35,083), and ten states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington State) show higher median incomes than Switzerland. Luxembourg ($38,502), on the other hand, shows a median income higher than every state except New Hampshire ($39,034).

None of this analysis should really surprise us. According to the OECD’s own numbers (which take into account taxes and social benefits, the US has higher median disposable income than all but three OECD countries. Sweden ranks below the US in this regard, as does Finland and Denmark.

The fact that the median level in the US is above most OECD countries thus makes it no surprise that most of these countries then rank below most US states. The US states that have income level above the median US level will, not surprisingly, outpace many OECD countries by a considerable margin.

What’s going on here? Well, it turns out that when you have fewer regulations on business, lower business taxes, and an emphasis on working rather collecting welfare, that people have more money in their pockets and a better standard of living. The trouble with Europe is that too many able-bodied people can get by without working. In the United States, we put more emphasis on making your own way, earning your own pay, and spending or saving your money as you please.

In America, the system is geared towards equipping each person to serve their fellows in the private sector workplace. More people working means more wealth is produced, and more wealth produced means that people have a higher standard of living. You wouldn’t have a higher standard of living in a country where most people didn’t work, and just relied on the few who did work. There isn’t enough to go around in society where most people don’t work.

Should parents or the state be responsible for educating children?

National Education Association
National Education Association

This article from the Public Discourse is interesting because it shows the very different views that big government people have of marriage and family.

It starts by talking about laws in North America, especially in more liberal areas:

The view of marriage as a mere creature of the state to be redefined at will goes hand in hand with the idea that children “belong” primarily to the state, which then delegates (limited) childrearing authority to whomever the state defines as the child’s parents.

[…]We also see the state encroaching on parental authority in order to enforce the new orthodoxy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. “Equality” requires teaching that all family forms are equally good, and public schools do this by introducing “diversity-oriented” activities and readings – including books like Mommy, Momma and Me – across the curriculum.

California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia have made it illegal to give counseling to minors who have sexual-identity issues that in any way discourages them from fostering those tendencies, regardless of whether or not the child would like to receive such counseling, and regardless of whether or not those issues seem to stem from earlier traumas such as sexual abuse. Similar bills are pending in fifteen other states. School guidance counselors are also frequently connected with Gay-Straight Alliances and similar organizations, often placing confused teenagers in contact with such organizations without the consent or even knowledge of the parents.

In a particularly sad Massachusetts case, which I learned about from the parents involved, a teenager was sent by his guidance counselor to a gay youth organization. The organization then turned him against his family and encouraged him to stop seeing the therapist he had been seeing since childhood to deal with the effects of abuse by an older bully in school. As things escalated he was effectively kidnapped by the school guidance counselor and then taken from his home by the Department of Children and Families, without the parents ever having even been accused of abuse or neglect. The boy was eventually returned home after a second social worker investigated the case and deemed the parents to be exceptionally responsible and loving.

There is reason to believe that what happened to this family was not an isolated incident. At their booth at the Massachusetts Gay Youth Pride Parade, Department of Children and Families officials boasted about how they routinely manipulate standard processes to remove children with sexual-identity issues from the homes of conservative and Christian parents.

Does that sounds OK to you? I know that in my case that would not be OK, because one of the main reasons why I am interested in marriage is so that my children will get their values from their parents, and not from, for example, the convicted child pornographer who wrote the gay-friendly curriculum in Ontario, Canada. If I have a choice between me and their mother, and this very liberal Minister of Education, then I choose us.

How far would the secular leftists go to stop me and my future wife from educating our kids? Well, it’s always useful to look at what the secular left has done in countries where there is less of a Christian influence.

For example, the Public Discourse article talks about Germany and Sweden:

The story of the Romeike family highlights the injustice of this situation. Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, along with their five children, lived in a southwest German town called Bietigheim-Bissinge, where their three oldest children attended the public schools. All was well until the parents began to noticedistressing changes in their children. After further investigation, Mr. Romeike was appalled to find that their son Daniel’s health textbook used foul language to refer to sexual acts, and was concerned more generally that the values conveyed in his children’s classes and readings conflicted with the Christian moral and religious values he and his wife strove to pass on to their children at home.

In response, the Romeikes pulled their children out of the public schools and began educating them at home. A protracted battle with state authorities ensued, including police attempts to enter the Romeikes’ home and bring the children to school by force, along with onerous fines adding up to 7,000 Euros. Fearing imprisonment and loss of custody of their children, the Romeikes moved to the United States where they would be free to educate their children as they thought best. Although their request for asylum was denied—a bad sign with regard to respect for parental rights on the part of the current United States government—they were granted permission to remain indefinitely in the country shortly before their scheduled deportation in 2014.

The Johansson family in Sweden—where homeschooling has also been illegal since 2010—was not so fortunate. In 2009, when seven-year-old Domenic Johansson and his parents were on an airplane about to leave Sweden permanently for India (his mother’s home country), armed Swedish police entered the plane and took Domenic into custody on the grounds that he was homeschooled, despite the facts that school was not in session and that homeschooling was still legal at the time. Social workers also claimed that the presence of some cavities in Domenic’s baby teeth constituted evidence of physical neglect.

Since then, Domenic has lived in a foster home, with state-supervised parental visitation for a mere hour every five weeks. A Swedish court definitively terminated the Johanssons’ parental rights in 2012, primarily on the basis that their “isolation” of Domenic from other children his own age was psychologically harmful. The European Court of Human Rights upheld the decision in January 2015, but the Johanssons have not given up hope. They are bringing a new case to the Swedish courts in the hopes of finally being reunited with their now twelve-year-old son. Dozens of other Swedish families have fled the country in order to be able to homeschool their children.

The article mentions Bill 10, which was passed in Alberta, the most conservative province in Canada. That bill, “disallows parents from exempting their children from classroom discussions of homosexuality, and which requires all schools, including faith-based schools, to allow pro-homosexual student clubs like gay-straight alliances.” Does that sound OK with you? Because I can promise you that the Ontario child pornographer Minister of Education is 100% on board with it. He loves that anything that gets your kids thinking about sex at earlier and earlier ages. He’s a secular leftist. Strong families and respect for parental authority put the brakes on his agenda. But he is all for having the schools push sex on young children, and without informing parents. And this big-government education system is all taxpayer-funded. The taxes are mandatory, and there is NO opt-out.

Clinton Foundation fundraising branch in Sweden lobbied State Department for sanction relief

Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypoctritical
Hillary Clinton: secretive, entitled, hypoctritical

More bad news for the Clinton machine, this time reported in the Washington Times.

Excerpt:

Bill Clinton’s foundation set up a fundraising arm in Sweden that collected $26 million in donations at the same time that country was lobbying Hillary Rodham Clinton’s State Department to forgo sanctions that threatened its thriving business with Iran, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Times.

The Swedish entity, called the William J. Clinton FoundationInsamlingsstiftelse, was never disclosed to or cleared by State Department ethics officials, even though one of its largest sources of donations was a Swedish government-sanctioned lottery.

As the money flowed to the foundation from Sweden, Mrs. Clinton’s team in Washington declined to blacklist any Swedish firms despite warnings from career officials at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm that Sweden was growing its economic ties with Iran and potentially undercutting Western efforts to end Tehran’s rogue nuclear program, diplomatic cables show.

“Sweden does not support implementing tighter financial sanctions on Iran” and believes “more stringent financial standards could hurt Swedish exports,” one such cable from 2009 alerted Mrs. Clinton’s office in Washington.

Separately, U.S. intelligence was reporting that Sweden’s second-largest employer, telecommunications giant Ericsson AB, was pitching cellphone tracking technology to Iran that could be used by the country’s security services, officials told The Times.

By the time Mrs. Clinton left office in 2013, the Clinton Foundation Insamlingsstiftelse had collected millions of dollars inside Sweden for his global charitable efforts and Mr. Clinton personally pocketed a record $750,000 speech fee from Ericsson, one of the firms at the center of the sanctions debate.

Now the last time I blogged about these issues, I think what was said was that if a company had offices in America, as Ericsson does, then they would be subject to sanctions from America for dealing with Iran, depending on what they were doing.

What’s interesting is that the responses to inquiries from the media:

The foundation, however, declined repeated requests to identify the names of the specific donors that passed through the Swedish arm.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign offered no comment or explanation despite two weeks of requests.

When Mrs. Clinton became President Obama’s secretary of state in 2009, she vowed to set up a transparent review system that would ensure any of her husband’s fundraising or lucrative speaking activities were reviewed for possible ties to foreign countries doing business with her agency, insisting she wanted to eliminate even the “appearance” of conflicts of interests.

But there is growing evidence that the Clintons did not run certain financial activities involving foreign entities by the State Department, such as the Swedish fundraising arm and the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative based in Canada, or disclose on her annual ethics form the existence of a limited liability corporation that Mr. Clinton set up for his personal consulting work.

The Washington Times article is a must-read, and please do share it. We have to make sure that we do not elect another Democrat who will take our country even further away from its conservative roots. If exposing Clinton Foundation finances stops the Democrats from getting more pro-abortion, anti-marriage Supreme Court picks, then that’s what we have to talk about.

By the way, this is not the first story to come out on dealings like this… we already had one from Canadian allies of the Clinton Foundation, and another from a Ukrainian donor who was dealing with Iran.

Related posts

Kevin DeYoung’s article opposing gay marriage has broad appeal

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

In my own secular case against gay marriage from a while back, I argued for 3 points:

  • same-sex marriage is bad for liberty, especially religious liberty
  • same-sex marriage is bad for children
  • same-sex marriage is bad for public health

My hope when I wrote that was that pastors and other Christian leaders would learn to argue for what the Bible says by using evidence from outside the Bible, so that they would be able to appeal to more people instead of only appealing to the minority of people who accept the Bible. I think that Christians who argue for their views by citing the Bible only will only be convincing to people who already accept the Bible. But there is not a majority of people who do accept the Bible as an authority, so I think that pastors have to make another plan. They need to argue using the Bible to those who accept the Bible, and without the Bible to those who don’t accept it.

Now with that said, take a look at this article by pastor Kevin DeYoung that Dina sent me. It’s from earlier this week. The article makes the same exact three points as I made in my article last year. Let’s take a look at how Kevin does that.

My first point was liberty, especially religious liberty. He writes:

[I]n the long run, the triumph of gay marriage (should it triumph as a cultural and legal reality) will mean the restriction of freedoms for millions of Americans.

This will happen in obvious ways at first–by ostracizing those who disagree, by bullying with political correctness, and by trampling on religious liberty. Surely, Christians must realize that no matter how many caveats we issue, not matter how much we nuance our stance, no matter how much we encourage or show compassion for homosexuals, it will not be enough to ward off the charges of hatred and homophobia.

[G]ay marriage will challenge our freedoms in others way too. It’s not just Evangelicals, traditional Catholics, and Mormons who will be threatened. Once the government gains new powers, it rarely relinquishes them. There will be a soft tyranny that grows as the power of the state increases, a growth that is intrinsic to the  notion of gay marriage itself.

My second point was bad for children. He writes:

[T]he state has an interest in promoting the familial arrangement which has a mother and a father raising the children that came from their union. The state has been in the marriage business for the common good and for the well-being of the society it is supposed to protect. Kids do better with a mom and a dad. Communities do better when husbands and wives stay together. Hundreds of studies confirm both of these statements (though we all can think of individual exceptions I’m sure). Gay marriage assumes that marriage is re-definable and the moving parts replaceable.

My third point was bad for public health. He writes:

The unspoken secret, however, is that homosexual behavior is not harmless. Homosexuals are at a far greater risk for diseases like syphilis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea, HPV, and gay bowel syndrome. The high rate of these diseases is due both to widespread promiscuity in the gay community and the nature of anal and oral intercourse itself. Homosexual relationships are usually portrayed as a slight variation on the traditional “norm” of husband-wife monogamy. But monogamy is much less common among homosexual relationships, and even for those who value monogamy the definition of fidelity is much looser.

He also talks about the definition of marriage, and more.

I’ve criticized pastors before for dealing with social issues by only citing the Bible, like John Piper does. That approach won’t work on enough people to change society, because not enough people consider the Bible to be an authority in their decision-making. We have to use evidence from outside the Bible – like Wayne Grudem does in his “Politics According to the Bible”.

I think that pastor Kevin’s article is quality work, because it follows the pattern of taking an all-of-the-above approach to persuasion. He uses all means to persuade so that he might win some over to his side. I hope that many more pastors will do the same thing on this issue of marriage and other issues – even fiscal issues. Fiscal issues do have an impact on moral issues – think of how abortion subsidies and single mother welfare lower the penalties of recreational premarital sex. We can do this, we just have to do what works, instead of what makes us feel “holier-than-thou”.

Sweden turning to capitalism as money for government spending runs out

I hear a lot of people in my office predicting doom and gloom for the United States. Rubbish. The worst that’s going to happen is that we have the kind of slow economy that France has, and that will only last until we run out of money to borrow.

Yahoo News explains what happens when socialists run out of money.

Excerpt:

The Nordic model, known for high taxes and its cradle-to-grave welfare system, is getting a radical makeover as nations find themselves cash-strapped.

[…]In the wake of a banking crisis in the early nineties, Stockholm scrapped housing subsidies, reformed the pension system and slashed the healthcare budget.

A voucher-based system that allows for-profit schools to compete with state schools was introduced, and has drawn attention from right-wing politicians elsewhere, including Britain’s Conservative Party.

In 2006, conservative Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s government accelerated the pace of reform, tightening the criteria for unemployment benefits and sick pay while lowering taxes.

Income tax in Sweden is now lower than in France, Belgium and Denmark, and public spending as a share of GDP has declined from a record 71.0 percent in 1993 to 53.3 percent last year.

Just so you know, his numbers might be out of date.

The latest Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom says this:

The top individual income tax rate is 57 percent, and the top corporate tax rate has been cut to 22 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) and a capital gains tax. The overall tax burden is 44.5 percent of GDP. Public expenditures make up about half of GDP, and public debt is below 40 percent of GDP. The government is attempting to expand investment in infrastructure and research while reining in welfare spending.

The United States had this:

The top individual income tax rate has risen to 39.6 percent, and the top corporate tax rate remains at 35 percent. Other taxes include a capital gains tax and excise taxes. The payroll tax holiday expired at the beginning of 2013. The overall tax burden amounts to 25.1 percent of gross domestic income. General government expenditures are slightly over 40 percent of GDP. Total public debt equals over 100 percent of the size of the economy.

So we are actually worse than Sweden now, in terms of government spending as a percent of GDP.

Denmark, too

More from the Yahoo News article:

If Sweden is the Nordic country to have gone the furthest in shrinking its welfare state, Denmark has moved the fastest.

When her Social Democratic government took power in 2011, there was little to suggest Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt would make any dramatic changes to the country’s cherished welfare state — funded by the world’s highest tax burden.

After a centre-right government had raised the retirement age and reduced the unemployment benefits period from four to two years, “Gucci Helle” — as she is known among her detractors — went on to cut corporate taxes to 22 percent from 25 percent.

Other reforms have included requiring young people on benefits to undertake training, and withdrawing student aid to those taking too long to finish their studies.

Denmark has been spurred into action by a persistently sluggish economy since a housing bubble imploded in 2007, leading to anaemic household spending.

But among Danes there is also a sense that the welfare state was ballooning out of control.

In 2011, a TV report aiming to show what life was like for the poor in Denmark visited the home of a single mother on benefits, whose disposable income turned out to be 15,728 kroner (2,107 euros, $2,860) per month.

“Poor Carina”, as she was later nicknamed, sparked a national debate on the level of unemployment benefits, with one pollster crediting her with fuelling a rise in the number of people who felt benefits were too high.

It would be nice if we had journalists who could do a story like that.

A different article from a Swedish newspaper called The Local has more on the new Sweden.

Excerpt:

One in ten Swedes now has private health insurance, often through their employers, with some recipients stating it makes business sense to be seen quickly rather than languish in national health care queues.

More than half a million Swedes now have private health insurance, showed a new review from industry organization Swedish Insurance (Svensk Försäkring). In eight out of ten cases, the person’s employer had offered them the private insurance deal.

“It’s quicker to get a colleague back to work if you have an operation in two weeks’ time rather than having to wait for a year,” privately insured Anna Norlander told Sveriges Radio on Friday. “It’s terrible that I, as a young person, don’t feel I can trust the health care system to take care of me.”

The insurance plan guarantees that she can see a specialist within four working days, and get a time for surgery, if needed, within 15.

I used to make fun of Sweden for being so socialist, but then I started to read more about them on Reason.com and from the Cato Institute (two libertarian sites) and my mind changed. These new articles confirm for me  that Sweden is improving their economy by embracing the free market system and rejecting socialism. Obviously, there is more to do, but the trend is good, and the results cannot be questioned. What could the United States do if we acted more like Sweden? It seems like just as they are moving away from government control of health care, we are moving towards it! We are embracing old ideas, and we need something new.

I am still worried about the European countries because of the breakdown of the family, the disrespect of marraige and the low fertility rates. But still, this is a good sign for those of us who are worrying that we need to cheer up. This is how socialism ends. We’ll get there.