Americans currently promoting socialism tell us that we shouldn’t look at the failed socialist experiments in Cuba or Venezuela. Instead, we should look at Sweden as proof that socialism works and can bring great prosperity.
Norberg makes it clear that “Sweden is not socialist—because the government doesn’t own the means of production. To see that, you have to go to Venezuela or Cuba or North Korea.” He does admit that the country did have something that resembled socialism a few decades ago. The government heavily taxed the citizens and spent heavily. That was not a good period in Swedish history, especially for the economy.
One example he uses is Astrid Lindgren, author of the popular children’s books, Pippi Longstocking. Because her books were popular and sold well, she experienced something Americans cannot even imagine. She had to pay a tax of 102 percent on any new book she sold.
Yet even with the high Swedish taxes, there was simply not enough money to fund Sweden’s huge welfare state. Norberg explains that, “People couldn’t get the pension that they thought they depended on for the future.” At this point, the Swedish people had enough and began to reduce the size and scope of the government.
John Stossel says, “They cut public spending, privatized the national rail network, abolished certain government monopolies, eliminated inheritance taxes and sold state-owned businesses like the maker of Absolut vodka.” While it is true that Sweden does have a larger welfare state than the US and higher taxes than the US, there are many other areas where Sweden is actually more free market.
Sweden isn’t socialist and is actually a good example of why a country doesn’t want to implement socialism.