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February 28, 2013

Sweden: Socialist Paradise

Some of you may shake in fear at the sight of the word "socialist", but no worries: Sweden's economic system is not entirely socialist. Just like every other country on Earth, it is a mix of everything. However, many cite Sweden as being the ideal socialist paradise. Before you start pointing your patriotic missiles at me, let me tell you a little about life in Sweden.

Swedish citizens pay a 49% income tax. This may seem incredibly high to you, but the money is put to very good use. Here is a list of the benefits that citizens get in Sweden:

1) Cradle to the grave healthcare - Healthcare is universal from birth to death. If you have an issue, the government pays for it. There are no exceptions.

2) K-College education - Education is provided, from kindergarten to college. Private universities are paid for, but this is completely optional. State schools are completely free.

3) 2 year paid maternity leave - Mothers in Sweden get 2 full years of paid maternity leave. If the mother chooses to work for whatever reason, the father gets 2 years of paid leave instead. Do you know what mothers get in the U.S? At maximum, they get 8 weeks of unpaid leave.  

4) Unlimited unemployment - The unemployed get paid the salary of their last job for as long as it takes for them to get a new job. Your first thought will obviously be: "then people would just sit around all day". This does not happen for two reasons. First, people are wary of the fact that if they do not work and pay an income tax, there would no unemployment benefits. Second, it is considered a massive social shame for people to be unemployed. People are often mocked on the streets for reaping the benefits of other people's hard work. This is often enough for people to look for a job immediately. 

5) Free day care from birth to 5 years - Day care is provided for free; there is no need to pay private institutions while you are away.

6) Military force - Self-explanatory. 

7) Subsidized housing and energy - Basic needs are taken care of.

8) Mandatory 5-week vacation - Employees are required by law to take a 5 week vacation. This is well needed and deserved because Sweden has incredibly dark and depressing winters.

9) 35 hour maximum work week - Swedish workers are not allowed to be subjected to excessive work hours. This is beneficial because it is clear that workers are more productive when they are well-rested. If a worker chooses to work extra hours, they must be paid double over-time.

10) Unlimited sick days - No discrepancies about sick days, because if you're're sick.

11) $25/month unlimited metro pass -  Sweden has a great transportation system. For $25 a month, you are given unlimited access to the metro system. This dissuades people from buying cars, saving them from the ridiculous gas prices.

Now, am I trying to say that Sweden is better than America? Yes No. Every culture has its set of values, so I'm not going to try and argue about the superiority of one country over another. I am, however, a bit resentful. The obvious question of "why can't we have all these things?" comes to mind. Though, Swedes do pay an incredible 49% income tax. That's not something we would want, right?

Well, let's compare. Americans pay federal tax (25%), state tax (7%), FICA (2%), Unemployment (2%), Medicare/Medicaid (6%), and social security (4%). In total, that is 46%; only 3% lower than Sweden. What exactly is going on then? If we pay equally high taxes, why aren't we getting all of these benefits? To put it simply, it's because it's mostly a matter of allocation. It's not about how much money we have, it's about how it is spent. The U.S. government simply chooses to put its resources elsewhere (mostly military).

Americans should not be wasting time raging about higher taxes. The real issue is how our tax money is being spent. Like I said, you may be inclined to reject socialism, but think about it. Our social security? Our medicare/medicaid? Our K-12 education, police, and fire fighters? These are all examples of socialism in America. If we're already a blend of capitalist and socialist ideals, why not use our tax dollars to provide the way Sweden, or any other Scandinavian country does?

And don't say you'd rather just move to Sweden; they honestly don't want you there. Their system works so well because their population is like-minded and small. Bringing in a bunch of Americans would likely tear the system apart. So instead of taking the typical "I want out" route, advocate your opinions and concentrate on your own country first. God knows the U.S. needs some help. 


  1. Police and fire are bankrupting cities all over the country. We have stupid laws and very bad cops and fire is no better they are also total jerks.

    1. Then those cities should be doing something about their problems. Are you implying that we shouldn't have police and fire fighters?

  2. The Swedish Economic Model. Why Sweden’s success has nothing to do with socialism.