Author: S R Larson (presentation)
When I was politically active back in the ’80s I learned that if Swedish politicians are given two alternative courses of action to choose between, they will, as if driven by a force of nature, always choose the dumbest alternative. This learning experience has helped me understand Sweden’s slow but steady decline over the past 20 years, but it has also been a source of frustration. This habit of always making things worse for the people of my native country has recently been inherited by a new generation of politicians. My old friends and political combatants are now part of the political elite – and making the exact same mistakes as their predecessors.
The previous generation of politicians, who were mostly born in the ’30s and 40s, made every mistake possible in the economic arena. They raised taxes to world-record levels, then, as the economy started suffocating from those taxes, designed a tax reform which only led to a further growth in the tax burden. When the welfare state began crumbling in the ’80s they started cutting spending but kept taxes at world-record levels. This resulted in a constant drainage of resources from the free sector of the economy, resulting in a permanent decline in employment and standard of living. Instead of reversing course and re-opening income insurance, health care and education to private funding they pressed ahead and did everything they could to preserve the unsustainable welfare state.
Once they had devalued Sweden from a prosperous world leader to a nation plagued by industrial poverty, they decided to take their country yet another step down the slope of Dante’s journey. Instead of a responsible immigration policy that would allow productive migration across the nation’s borders, the political elite opted for a maximized inflow of migrants. And it was not about getting immigrants with skills, education and ready-to-go professional skills. No, the typical immigrant to Sweden over the past ten years has been someone with very little education, rudimentary professional skills and an extremely long way to go before he can begin to function as a productive member of society.
In the meantime, Sweden has suffered a brain drain. The education gap between the country’s inbound and outbound migrants is startling: the average person leaving Sweden has at least a bachelor’s degree. And the exodus has not been insignificant: in Norway alone some 50,000 young Swedes are building themselves a future. It is unlikely that they will ever return home again.
But the mistakes that Sweden’s political elite have turned into their very own religion has not stopped at replacing an entire generation of educated and culturally skilled Swedes with immigrants from the rural corners of Africa’s Horn. The most recent contribution is likely to turn the country into an economic swamp of poverty and social disintegration. Mr. Goran Hagglund, minister of social affairs and responsible for Sweden’s socialized health care system, announced yesterday that the government will remove the last restrictions on who the tax-paid hospitals can offer health care. The purported purpose is to allow illegal immigrants to access health care on the same terms as lawful, tax-paying residents.
It is easy to see what this is going to lead to. Sweden already has one of the most heavily rationed health care systems in the industrialized world. Waiting lists for elective surgery are extremely long, the number of beds per 1,000 residents is even lower than in Albania, and the death rate from curable conditions due to health care rationing are appalling. Even a marginal increase in demand for health care as a result of this free-for-all opening of the health care system, will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Since 1995 Sweden’s government-run health care system has cut away about one fifth of its medical staff. During the same period of time the actual tax burden on working Swedes has increased almost 50 percent: those who pay taxes are a notably smaller share of the population than they were before the recession in the early ’90s. With this lopsided change in who pays taxes into the health care system and the size of the “production facilities” – hospitals – about the worst thing you can do is to open the doors and let anyone from anywhere walk in to a Swedish hospital and demand health care. Which is precisely what the government has now done.
Mr. Hagglund tries to defend the indefensible by claiming that there is no research from anywhere in the world that shows that a free-for-all health care system will result in “medical tourism”. But this is a classic moot point: no one has ever done what Sweden just did. Even the ridiculous measures in Arizona and California that allowed Mexicans to walk across the border to get Medicaid-paid health care came with some restrictions. (After Medicaid in Arizona was driven to the brink of bankruptcy the state actually reversed course, something Mr. Hagglund seems to be blissfully ignorant of.)
Since it is unlikely that Sweden’s political elite will learn from their own mistakes – or others’ – we can safely expect them to make the next mistake soon. The question is: what will it be? For each new mad move to tear the country apart they leave fewer and fewer options ahead of them. One possibility is that they open the country’s income security system to illegal immigrants, i.e., everyone and anyone in the world. Another is that they give illegals the right to vote in elections.
Absurd? Sure, but keep in mind: we are not talking about a normal country. We are talking about Absurdistan.
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