Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Economics 101: Learning From Sweden's Free Market Renaissance

Video embedded below.


  1. Dude, this video had me on the floor laughing, its like as if you pulled it out of a propaganda case study. I know you think propaganda and truth can never both exist in the same 4 and a half minute you tube video being narrated by an attractive person with a chalk board and some graphs, but that's precisely what makes it good propaganda. It cuts up just enough facts, lays a fat layer of passionately conveyed opinion and you end up cooking something that tastes a little like truth.

    Of course once I went to the foundation for "economic growth and prosperity’s website you find that its run by the same people like Veronica De Rugby and Dick Armey-lobbyists, politicians, academics, commentators all benefactors of the right-wing welfare state- alot of them just happen to have PhDs but so what? I think its generally a good idea when someone who presents themselves as an authority makes a statement to just step back and ask yourself, "wait is that true?"

    I mean even the first 30 seconds of the video; you don't need to know anything about economics but just basic public school history to break out laughing at the suggestion that the period of “1830-1970” was a free one. For who?

    Or that what magically appeared were "fair and honest court systems, property rights" I mean what planet is this lady on?

    In the united states at that time Andrew Carnegie was super free by this kind of conception, too bad the children, immigrants and rest of Americans working 12 hours a day in his death traps/mines/factories, getting paid in "factory money" that could only be spent at "company stores" or working in sweat shops were not.

    No one's against development, that's the point, we want development.

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  3. But If her point is supposed to be that Sweden, and I guess by extension other Western European socialist countries like Denmark and the Netherlands are taking away people’s “freedoms” and hurting “economic prosperity” by adopting welfare models. She then has to explain why these countries have a lot more economic mobility then we do.
    It turns out that the European welfare state isn't just a nice way to lend a helping hand. It does much more to promote intergenerational upward mobility than does an American positive attitude and a “culture of achievement”. The three most mobile countries in the world are Denmark, Norway, and Finland—Scandinavian social democracies with cradle-to-grave public services. No one’s economic success occurs in a vacuum-if people don’t have the infrastructure, if they don’t have the education, If they don’t have the means to coordinate with others and then the resources to act on things you want to do with other people- then there is no economic activity- just neo-feudalism.

    She just keeps saying over and over again that these policies “create the most wealth”It’s a good example of what I mean when I say “cutting facts with opinion”.

    Yes, it's indeed true that we've created the best place in the world to be rich with these kinds of policies. Our tax code is progressive, but the overall rates are comparably low. So not only does a rich person have enough left in his pocket to buy time at a nice preschool for his kids, but also he can know that the preschool is better than what other people are getting. And who doesn't want to give their family a leg up?

    Private school or a big house in an expensive town like Rye Brook with good public schools has much the same effect. Throw in a lack of public funding for campaigns so that politicians are dependent on your largesse, and you've got it made.

    This doesn't, however, work out all that well for the rest of us. The U.S. has spent a huge portion of its history as the richest nation on earth, largely thanks to the highest levels of educational attainment in the world (Brought about because of popular struggles agitating for public education). We're so accustomed to that status, in fact, that there's little awareness that it's anything other than a natural part of the universe. But while the U.S. remains richer than most European countries, our educational lead has slipped away and there's good reason to believe that average living standards are now higher in the Netherlands and Scandinavia. But a lot of Americans cling to the idea that inequality and sky-high child-poverty rates are the price we have to pay for the social mobility we crave, because people like Dick Armey tell us so. In fact, the reverse is true—those are the very things that have made the United States an unusually class-stratified society.

    European Socialism, compared to the system in the U.S., is a good thing. The right-wing welfare state is scared of that and don’t want people talking about it.

  4. @Ian Spencer Dubrowsky - how do you explain the correlation of numbers then?

    Also promoting "intergenerational upward mobility" their way is not lifting up the poor but pulling down the rich. Not something I believe we should do in this country.

  5. A "correlation" doesn't mean anything on its own, there's probably a "correlation" between doing acid and seeing UFOS. Does that mean there are UFOs? no. It just takes a split second of thinking about it to realize these people are on acid. If you saw propaganda relating that "correlation" you would know what to think of it, and probably wonder what the people who made it were getting at.

    Its the same as making the argument for these polices on the basis that during Reagan through Bush the economy grew,- fine until you look a little deeper and learn that all that growth went to the already 1.5 percent richest people- arguably at the expense of a middle class. That's just not a sustainable model for long-term growth.

    "they" disagree with you overwhelmingly about "their way". And "they" are in much better shape then we are. No one is looking at us as an example of how to manage an economy, unless they are looking for negative examples, and if you understand why its pretty sensible.

    The notion that there is some kind of tension between economic opprotunity and "pulling down the rich" is nothing but dogma. I would argue the opposite is true, that our freedom and range of choices in life is narrower because we don't promote intergenerational upward mobility of the kind that gave us the freedoms to choose what we want to do with our lives. look around, the lives we live are a very narrow slice of the american experience. And even the choices we will have will be narrowed further if people continue taking this kind of indifference to the truth of the situation. I posted recently about how poverty is effecting the entire economy, including those of the upper middle class:

    ( don't take it from me though, you could easily figure this out on your own.

    this kind of dogma is also a pretty pernicious lie in my view considering how often in American history some variation of that argument always gets told in order to excuse the powerful from doing something outside of their own interest. Considering how the standard of living is higher in the Netherlands, I wonder if you have really thought through why Socialism is "not something I believe we should do in this country" besides the fact people are just telling that to you.

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