måndag, januari 15, 2007

En utlännings syn på Sverige

Jag fick ett mail angående min essä om den svenska välfärdsstaten som publicerats av Ludwig von Mises Institute. Det är från en amerikansk [social]demokrat, som upplevt Sverige. Han säger det bäst själv, och mycket träffsäkert, så jag citerar hela mailet:

Hi,

I was just sent a link to your article "How the Welfare State Corrupted Sweden" and wanted to drop you a note.

I am American and just returned after 2 years in Stockholm with my family. My wife is Swedish and we have two children, one was in daggis and then went into grade 0.

I was surprised to see many 1 year old children in daggis. My daughter was 4 when we arrived and was in school for half the time that most much younger children there. I really wonder how many hours a day most people spend with their kids.

I consider myself quite liberal by American standards and live in San Francisco. After two years in Sweden, I felt like the most right-wing, American Republican. I found myself incredibly frustrated with the lack of responsibility people were taking for their lives, actions and children.

There was a pervasive child rearing "technique" where people let their kids do whatever they want so they could "live." I saw a girl spit in her mother's face and call her a whore in Kungsträdgården and the mother had almost no reaction. I was shocked.

Another big surprise for me was the rampant materialism and its resulting conformity. Everyone had to have the same Canadian Goose jacket or wide headband or whatever. Anyone who expressed individuality was "weird." And I'm from commercial, retail-driven America!

We had problems with every single contractor we had working on our apartment and later house. The workers overcharged (they couldn't even lie or cheat well) and showed up when it was convenient to them. There was very little recourse other then endless discussion. I fired most of the them and did the work myself in the end. Oddly, after getting fired must just shrugged. They obviously couldn't care less if they were doing a good job and getting paid for it or not.

We had a small business in Stockholm and due to the labor laws had no ability to hire extra workers. We just couldn't take the financial risk. We ended up turning away business and stunting what could have becoming a much larger enterprise due to the worker protection laws.

Some things I just found downright laughable. For instance, in sink garbage disposals are common place here. I found out in Sweden they are banned for safety reasons. Similarly I found that Sweden has recently banned power adapter (from US to Swedish outlets) for safety reasons. For me it was just more of the "The government knows best, you are too stupid to take care of yourself" mentality.

The level of hypocrisy was also evident in the state institutions like Systembolaget. They say they need to have high prices to help defray the cost of alcoholism, but they didn't seem to have problems selling single beer cans to the guys panhandling in front of my daughters daggis, across the street from Systembolaget. The recent discussion to lower alcohol taxes in souther Sweden due to Denmark's lower taxes just underscores that the real issue is making money.

After two years, my wife came to the conclusion that she didn't want our children to grow up Swedish. It was a very depressing realization.

We have since moved back to San Francisco. I don't mean to compare countries and say which is better or worse. America has more problems than most countries to be sure. I hope there is some middle ground between some of the protections Sweden has for the most needy and the near lack of any protection here in the US. For us, Sweden didn't give us many options to raise our children in the way we wish.

Nice job on the essay,

Alla kommentarer överflödiga.

7 Comments:

At 15 januari, 2007 10:16, Blogger Emil said...

Mycket bra essä och mycket bra kommentarer i mailet. Man behöver inte vara amerikan för att hålla med i de observationer som görs i mailet. Jag har mer eller mindre exakt samma upplevelser efter att ha bott i två europeiska länder under ett par år.

 
At 15 januari, 2007 10:54, Blogger Michael said...

Reading this made me wonder whether I should try to find a job in the Bay Area. my brother works out there (at Apple), and I've always had an affinity for San Francisco. Stockholm is lovely, but I do tire of the nanny state.

One thing I love about Stockholm is that despite the fact that it's a major metropolis, there are parks and natural areas everywhere. I don't know of a place in the 'States (or for that matter, elsewhere in Europe) that offers such a nice combination of city life and natural beauty.

Perhaps I'll stick it out a few more year here in Sweden and see what the new government manages to acheive.

 
At 15 januari, 2007 13:40, Blogger Jon Millarp said...

Mycket sant! Och bra skrivet.

 
At 15 januari, 2007 21:04, Blogger Johannes said...

Det är sånt här som väcker känslor. Så otroligt sant. Saknar ord för att beskriva det. Fortsätt. Ge mig mera. Klockrent.

 
At 16 januari, 2007 20:03, Blogger Jonas V said...

Apropå Canada Goose, när jag berättar för amerikaner om den märkeshets som finns i vissa skolor avseende kläder tittar de förbryllat på mig. Det existerar inte i USA.

 
At 24 januari, 2007 23:40, Blogger gardebring said...

"Similarly I found that Sweden has recently banned power adapter (from US to Swedish outlets) for safety reasons.".
Stämmer det verkligen? I så fall är min kameraladdare och PSP-laddare olagliga ;)
Häpp, bäst jag är tyst, övervakningsminister Odenberg kommer kanske o tar mig annars..
Intressant skrivet, och stämmer ju faktiskt till stora delar. Folk i Sverige kräver och förväntar sig saker, men om de förväntas göra något själva blir det liv i luckan...

 
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