reduced pension promises "so that it wasn't as unsustainable," adds Norberg. As a result, says Norberg, his "impoverished peasant nation developed into one of the world's richest countries." He acknowledges that Sweden, in some areas, has a big government: "We do have a bigger welfare state than the U.S., higher taxes than the U.S., but in other areas, when it comes to free markets, when it comes to competition, when it comes to free trade, Sweden is actually more free market." Sweden's free market is not burdened by the U.S.'s excessive regulations, special-interest subsidies, and crony bailouts. That allows it to fund Sweden's big welfare programs. "Today our taxes pay for pensions—you (in the U.S.) call it Social Security—for 18-month paid parental leave, government-paid childcare for working families," says Norberg.
I grew up in Sweden. I lived there for the first 34 years of my life. I speak Swedish fluently and I have written extensively about the Swedish economy and their welfare state. The description of Sweden that Norberg the Pop Tart provides here is so far from the truth I am left wondering what planet he lives on.
I will deal with his mythology in a separate article. For now, let me move on to the next example of ignorant drivel.
Duke University economics professor Michael Munger blatantly states that "Sweden is one of the most robustly capitalist nations on earth."
If you think Sweden is socialist, then you know something that just ain’t so. As has been documented repeatedly by popular treatments and more scholarly discussions, any use of the actual measures of economic freedom that constitute capitalism show Sweden is solidly in the camp of fully market-oriented economies. As Andreas Bergh points out in his 2016 book, Sweden and the Revival of the Capitalist Welfare State, it is inconceivable to think of the Sweden of the current decade as being anything other than a capitalist, and in fact libertarian, country.
Sweden fully privatized its pension system, moving from “defined benefit” to “defined contribution.” Yes, there is a means-tested add-on guaranteed pension top-up for the least well off, but the first-line system is personal pension accounts, invested in one of 700 private index funds, managed by private fund managers. It is the most privatized pension system, by far, in all of Europe.
Sweden has a 100 percent universal voucher system for education. There are questions about whether Sweden’s educational system works as well as it should, but it is one of the most private (and not socialist) education systems in the world.
At present, Sweden is the 19th most capitalist country in the world, measured based on property rights, trade openness, and freedom to use stock to create new corporations. In fact, Sweden is in the top 15 most capitalist nations in terms of property rights, financial freedom, and business freedom. Most sectors are largely unregulated, and the freedom to move capital makes Sweden among the most capitalist nations in the world.
Before Munger runs any further advocating Swedish property rights, he might want to study up on the Folkesta case. I will return to it in a later article; without spoiling too much, let's just say that it makes the infamous Kelo v New London case look good by comparison.
Click here for Part 2.