Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Those Swedes Again

My uncle sent me an article from his Mensa newsletter, which in turn comes from the most recent issue of the Economist. It's about the Swedes' accession to the presidency of the EU, and how that's a good thing, because they've got a practical approach to changing economies and failing industries. Better than ours, anyway. It is a fascinating article, but it requires some reply.
Yes, I've read about this in other contexts. They seem to have a firm grasp on reality in many ways. But the question of whether this can work on a larger scale than "we're all Swedes here, we can find a way to make it okay for everyone" remains to be seen. That eightfold increase in national wealth and enormous tendency to consensus occurred within the context of sending all their poor people and dissidents to the US and Canada in the late 19th C. Imagine what the US economy could do if our poorest 10% had better prospects elsewhere and were happy to go back to Mexico or some mythical country where the skills of the urban poor were valuable.

They also "stayed out" of WWII and became a de facto arm of Nazi intelligence services. They saved a ton of change doing that, and were able to leverage that into the high-end economy they pride themselves on. Saab was founded in 1947, Volvo moved to exporting in 1944. No one else had any free money lying around then.

It is significant when the Swedes think your current solutions are too socialist for their taste, however.


@nooil4pacifists said...

Agreed. But beyond emigration from Sweden, we also must consider immigration to America, which depresses some trans-national statistics. The U.S. instantly could improve its international rankings by forbidding immigration. That's not my preferred approach, nor--I would guess--a policy supported by the Economist. Still, the thought experiment does counsel caution in comparing statistics of historically heterogeneous Europe with melting pot America. And, again, I recommend this article contrasting Europe and America.

Jeremiah Whitmoore said...

The bottom ten percent of Swedes who came in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries seem to have done pretty well here.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yup. Me included.