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Forum Post: Sweden should be our model

Posted 2 years ago on Jan. 23, 2012, 8:23 a.m. EST by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Below is paste excerpt from SWEDEN.SE

"Economists and politicians have long pointed to Sweden as a role model because of its successful combination of generous welfare benefits and high-tech capitalism. It constantly places near the top in international rankings of competitiveness, innovation and standard of living. Taxes are high, but the streets are clean."

People are well taken care of in Sweden. There is NO poverty. Higher education, medical care, childcare, unemployment, etc. are provided by government programs through taxes which, admittedly, are high. However, everyone is taken care of through this social net. Capitalists/Republicans in this country would consider Sweden's model anathema due to the threat it represents to their status quo. Remember, there is a reason why the Republicans constantly sing the tax-cut song.

Capitalism in the US has proven to be Economic Darwinism -- Survival of the Economically Fittest. That is why OWS has arisen.

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230 Comments


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[-] 3 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 2 years ago

Sweden has been a wealthy country for hundreds of years. They are at the top part of the 1% of the world.

During the Thirty Years' War, Sweden conquered approximately half of the Holy Roman states. Their wealth helped them create some very large private corporations Volvo, Ericsson, Vattenfall, Skanska, Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Sandvik, Hennes & Mauritz, IKEA, Nordea, Atlas Copco, Securitas, Nordstjernan

In the 1990s a bursting real estate bubble caused by inadequate controls on lending combined with an international recession and a policy switch from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies resulted in a fiscal crisis in the early 1990s. Sweden's GDP declined by around 5%. In 1992, there was a run on the currency, with the central bank briefly jacking up interest to 500%

The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness, among them reducing the welfare state and privatising public services and goods.

Much of the political establishment promoted EU membership, and the Swedish referendum passed with 52% in favour of joining the EU on 13 November 1994. Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995.

[-] 2 points by Lardhead2 (67) 2 years ago

Yes. Compare a nation of a few million to a nation of 300 million. With a diverse population.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

As I said below in a longer response, if the economic model is valid, the application of that model will follow regardless of size of the population.

[-] 2 points by Lardhead2 (67) 2 years ago

And your proof? This is a nation of constant immigration from the Third World. We have enormous diversity. The economic model is not valid in every situation.

[-] 2 points by rayl (1007) 2 years ago

the percentage of immigrants in the us (10.4%) appears to be lower than in norway (12.2%) and the gdp is slightly higher in norway ($53,376) than the us ($48,147). so norway is more divers than the us but slightly richer. this doesn't seem to be too much of an obstacle to implementing the norwegian model in norway and probably would not be in the us either. where there's a will there's a way....

http://www.ethnicharvest.org/mission/immigratnfacts.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_to_Norway http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

[-] 1 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 2 years ago

That would be DOCUMENTED immigrants. Besides, it seems the US attracts the tired, poor, huddled masses

[-] 1 points by rayl (1007) 2 years ago

every country with a strong economy has illegal immigrants and the tired, poor huddled masses go them too. i live in switzerland and our economy is much stronger than america's and we have a ton of legal and illegal immigration. foreigners make up over 20% of the popoulation. nice try :)

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Please enlighten me as to why diversity would invalidate the Swedish economic model applied to the US. Scaling up to 300 million, in terms of taxation, is just a matter of applying the increased tax revenue to the proposed social programs. It is a matter of applied mathematics. How does diversity enter into it? Are you anticipating a disproportionate share of people that would refuse to work and, thus, contribute no taxes? Does not Capitalism create a vast number of unemployed and economically disenfranchised people who can also not contribute taxes?

If Capitalism has been a resounding success, why the OWS movement?

[-] 1 points by Lardhead2 (67) 2 years ago

You asked several (leading) questions. And a flat tax enables very one to pay the taxes you Marxists want. And if you do 't understand how constant and diverse immigration changes the model then you are beyond help.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

And you didn't answer any of the questions I asked.

I am in favor of a flat tax, as long as there are no loopholes that favor the mega-wealthy income earners. The most level economic playing field as possible is the goal.

If the government accurately tracks immigration and the base population via census every 10 years, then it shouldn't be too hard to apply the necessary tax rate (with perhaps a small pad to allow for margin of error). The government knows how much tax revenue it needs, and it has a pretty good idea how many people are working and thus paying taxes. It then just needs to calculate the percentage based on that data.

I do not subscribe to Marxist ideology. I do believe in economic fairness for everyone as much as possible. Communism in its pure theoretical form purports an economic Utopia in terms of equality, but history clearly shows it is a dismal failure in actual practice.

[-] 0 points by Lardhead2 (67) 2 years ago

I can't disagree with anything you are saying except the economic fairness. That is and will always be a pipe dream and has no application in the real world.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

"... and will always be..." is a very, very long time (i.e. eternity). History shows that progress IS possible -- even when decreed by prophets of the era to be impossible. We now have the technological means to provide every man, woman, and child on the planet with at least the bare minimum for survival (if not much more), yet there are millions (billions?) who don't even have that. The socio-political and economic systems in today's world do not encourage/support such efforts. Why? Because people are too selfishly focused, and they have therefore designed systems that allow selfishness to flourish (a.k.a. Capitalism). But once people are THEMSELVES placed in economic hardship, they suddenly gain a new perspective. That's when efforts like OWS arise. And that's when progress toward greater equality is, at least, attempted (and sometimes obtained).

[-] 1 points by Lardhead2 (67) 2 years ago

Socio-political systems and economic systems in today's world. And THERE is your answer.

[-] 0 points by mediaauditr (-88) 2 years ago

Why? Because people are too selfishly focused, and they have therefore designed systems that allow selfishness to flourish (a.k.a. Capitalism).

Can you name a socialist/communist country that has been more successful in terms of ingenuity, and generated more money for other country's than America?

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

This entire post is not about what doesn't work, but what DOES work in the world. I'm the first to state my opposition to any form of Authoritarianism as historically demonstrated in USSR, Communist China, Cuba, etc. (regardless of the economic model in place) due to denial of human rights. Even modern China is an affront because although they have emerged on the world stage as an economic powerhouse, they have retained social/political Authoritarianism over their people.

The bottom line is that Sweden's system WORKS. Is America's system working? Is that why OWS happened?

[-] 1 points by freakyfriday (179) 2 years ago

Maybe because socialist movements seem to gain a bit of traction during periods of protracted economic downturns? Same thing happened during the great depression

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

That response is slightly off subject. The point is not what happens in economic downturns, but what economic system is the most equitable for the population long-term. Is Capitalism such a system, with it's tendency to concentrate wealth in the hands of a small (sometimes VERY small) minority?

[-] 1 points by freakyfriday (179) 2 years ago

My apologies. I guess

f Capitalism has been a resounding success, why the OWS movement?

was just a rhetorical question?

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I did not intend it as rhetorical, but an actual indictment of the Capitalistic system as practiced in the US.

[-] 0 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

OWS is a radical movement of the few, doesn't represent the U.S. at all just a bunch crazy students , nutty homeless and drug addicts , oh and left wing college professors.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

As I see so often in blogs, you are committing the logical fallacy of attacking people rather than their arguments. Whenever you can put forth well-reasoned arguments to support your views instead of resorting to personal or group attacks, I'll get back with you.. Until then, I won't.

[-] 0 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

What exactly is your argument? That OWS is a serious movement? I don't agree and i don't see any evidence of that.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

It is a serious EFFORT at perhaps making changes that matter to the long-term well being of the citizens of this country. It is, admittedly, composed of people who share a somewhat idealistic vision due to their youth. But change usually comes from some kind of idealism, regardless of age. I am an old fart who can't do nearly as much as the youthful can, but I still share in their since of fairness for all and reformation of a corrupt system founded on greed.

[-] 1 points by mediaauditr (-88) 2 years ago

I'll have to disagree with you Udog. With a smaller, less diverse population, you have less people with non-mutual interests competing for the same resources. Example... California has to print our ballots in 10 languages, costing 10 times more another place that has to print a paper ballot in only 1 language. I know this is a but a tiny example, but its representative of the diversity process. I'm not saying diversity is evil, but it takes more resources.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Did you read the rest of the thread? If not please do.

[-] -2 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

An macro economic model is not like a mathematical model which you can just take and fit somewhere else. A model that would work for US would not work in say China or Nigeria. A model that would work for the middle class would not work for say the below poverty line people. I am not saying that Sweden's model is not replicable in the US, just that assuming it would surely be is a folly.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Hmmm. I'll have to give your response some thought, but still have some difficulty with culture vs. taxation. Tax revenue is tax revenue. If government were a person, tax revenue would be its income for services rendered (unless you live in a tyranny where they just take it from you for nothing in return). I think you're getting closer, but have not conclusively proven your point to me yet. Please keep trying.

[-] -1 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

It's depends on what business you are taxing. If it's say Oil and Gas exploration business, they will have to stay because the oil is there. But if it's say a technology or services business, it can easily move to any other country that provides a conducive business environment.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Oh, so you are talking about the taxation of businesses vs individuals -- and businesses can go elsewhere if they consider the tax burden too great? Well, that may be true, but in the US a lot of businesses have already abandoned home soil. In the capitalistic system, money is no respector of borders -- it just flows (almost like a force of nature) to where it can get the most for the least. That is why the spread of world capitalism is so dangerous to world freedom. Taken to its logical extreme, it has the power to enslave the whole world. That's why we need to change it NOW, and if the world's largest economy can't do it, what chance does the rest of the world have?

[-] -1 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

It is natural that money will go where there is the best opportunity. And so do people. US itself is a country of immigrants, people who came here to make it big. And most did. And while Americans may not like their companies investing abroad, countries like China, India, Philippines can finally get up on their feet because of this investment. We have been reigning the world for more than 40 years now and our growth engine is expected to slow down, there can only be so much consumption. Now american firms have to seek greener pastures abroad if they are to even survive. As much as we Americans think we are the universe, these countries too had to rise one day and nothing we do can stop it. And we have to now share the earth and it's spoils more equitably with them.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I am not saying that countries, and the individuals that compose them, should not ascend. I am only concerned that the system that provides that ascendancy be a fair and equitable one under the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number.

Capitalism tends to concentrate enormous wealth into the hands of a very small, incredibly powerful few (the greatest good for the smallest number). It is plutocracy. That is why I said it has the power to enslave -- economic enslavement aka the wage-slave class. While OWS is primarily a protest against greed and corruption, bailouts, etc., my view is that there is something more important here, and that people need to look beyond the here and now to what the world might be like in a hundred years or so when capitalism has taken over the whole world (it is in its nature to do so). With its focus on profit rather than reasonable use, it's over-consumption of natural resources to sustain its ever-expanding need for growth of the bottom line and the greed of shareholders, it is a model for eventual destruction rather than a model for reasonable use and fairness to all of the citizens of the world.

I am old and have had my day in the sun; my share of the pie and what the world has to offer. I only hope that future generations fair as well, and I tend to have my doubts based on what I have observed the trends to be over the last 30 years. I hope I am wrong.

[-] -1 points by smartcapitalist (143) 2 years ago

If you look at the world, capitalist countries are the ones where most of the population has benefited. Purely socialist/communist countries haven't done all to well. Socialist Capitalist countries like Germany, France have done really well and India and China are two upcoming powers who are also socialist capitalist. US with it's medicaid and social security also has a social dimension to it though in America the word 'socialism' conjures images of dictators and Stalin and the devil himself. Most capitalist countries have a social dimension and do take care of their citizens to varying extent.

The other thing that people assume about capitalism is 'infinite growth'. That's not true. Capitalism talks about unbounded grwoth not infinite.As for 'over consumption', that's more of a leftist crap. Please show me how China or Cuba or former USSR conserved resources? Capitalism does not consume resources, people do. Americans love cars with big engines, the bigger the better while Asians do very well with small cars and frugal engines. Americans household waste an enormous amount of food (and the rest is wasted in retail stores) while Africa, China and India is underfed.

It is not unusual in times of economic crisis for people to suddenly develop love towards communism. It happened during the Great Depression and it is happening now. Once the economy is completely back on it's feet people will get back to their sense and get to work.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Yes, and it is the Social Democratic model like Sweden and other Scandinavian countries that I am advocating (by your own admission these types of countries are doing very well) because OWS has shown that Ayn Randism is great for the rich, but for everyone else, well, not so much (statistics bear this out).

I agree with you that Americans have historically not exercised much restraint/frugality and are generally wasteful. But that is changing as awareness builds. And isn't it true that our Capitalist system encourages such behavior by powerful media advertising of products designed to subtlety influence the general populace into excessive spending (even beyond that which they can afford e.g. credit card debt) in order to sell as much product as possible (and thus maximize profits)?

The sadist part about your response is that people probably will return to normalcy and abandon this noble effort without having gained much, if anything, in the way of social/economic equality for the American people. Too bad. An opportunity to make significant changes that encourage democratic equality (both socio-political and economic) doesn't come along very often. And the Aristocracy that runs the US will just go right along acquiring more and more power and influence -- deaf to the needs of the lower class (because the middle-class would have evaporated). And there you have it -- retrogression towards the era of the Robber Barons of the 1800s.

There is a HUGE difference between Communism and Social Democracy. People "love" fairness and equal rights. The Founding Fathers could never have known that the country would have ended up like this, or they would have developed an Economic Constitution and Economic Bill of Rights (which is what FDR was trying to do shortly before his death), the principles of which would have been governed by Economic Democracy, instead of only focusing on the establishment of a Republic.

That is what this country (and the world) needs -- complete and true democracy in all forms -- Social, Political, and Economic Democracy where ALL citizens of the world have an opportunity to have a comfortable life without the excessive imbalances produced by Capitalism.

[-] 1 points by ThomasJephersson (3) 2 years ago

I am for helping people but on a personal level. Through churches and non-profits. I don't want the Federal Government involved . Look at Lyndon Johnson's Great Society Model . Go take a Visit to Gary Indiana and tell me about the " success of that model ". We already spend 43 cents on every dollar towards the debt. We are at 102% GDP vs Debt right now. What is your " definition of comfortable " ?

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

The national debt is a serious problem.  There are steps that can be taken to make significant inroads in reducing it, but politicians lack the will to do so, because they know it will be very unpopular with the voting public. This really started with Reagan in 1980 when he borrowed a trillion dollars to pay for a massive military build-up (don't really know the exact amount, maybe someone can provide it).  The problem with borrowing money, instead of just taxing the public, is that money must be paid back WITH INTEREST.  So less money would actually be spent in the long run if there is taxation rather than borrowing because, remember, all income to the government comes in some form of taxation anyway,  whether it is business or individual, so it is really we, the public, that is paying for everything.  But Republicans (Reagan was one) hate paying taxes, and are always crying for tax-cuts. So here we are decades later being crushed to death under a mountain of debt, thanks to Republican fiscal policies designed to benefit the wealthy class. Many solutions to significant reduction of the debt have been put forth, and I will not repeat them here (go look them up if interested). 

The key point I am trying to get across is that we could have avoided such a massive debt if Republican fiscal policies had been avoided. But since they are the wealthy party and can pay for their propaganda through the media (like talk radio such as Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) they have been much more successful at communicating their message to the largely unthinking masses than the Democrats have been at getting their message across. 

My definition of comfortable is contained in FDRs proposed Economic Bill of Rights that he recorded shortly before his death. Basically it guarantees every American a certain level of prosperity. Whether that prosperity elevates everyone to middle-class level of comfort or not is debatable, but I think a large middle-class like we had in the 60s-70s should be the goal. Our middle-class has been shrinking since the 80s.  We are rapidly being separated into the small number of wealthy and a vast majority of poor. We need to turn this around with a Progressive Tax, Flat Tax, National Sales Tax, or any other proposed tax changes that can guarantee a fair and equitable tax burden for ALL Americans. The Republicans have been getting away with tax avoidance policies for decades.  It is time to put an end to that.

P.S. FDRs proposed Economic Bill of Rights can be viewed on YouTube through a recorded address if you are interested.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Study: Most Americans want wealth distribution similar to Sweden

By Daniel Tencer Saturday, September 25, 2010 19:28 EST

92 percent prefer Swedish model to US model when given a choice

Americans generally underestimate the degree of income inequality in the United States, and if given a choice, would distribute wealth in a similar way to the social democracies of Scandinavia, a new study finds.

For decades, polls have shown that a plurality of Americans — around 40 percent — consider themselves conservative, while only around 20 percent self-identify as liberals. But a new study from two noted economists casts doubt on what values lie beneath those political labels.

According to research (PDF) carried out by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University, and flagged by Paul Kedrosky at the Infectious Greed blog, 92 percent of Americans would choose to live in a society with far less income disparity than the US, choosing Sweden’s model over that of the US.

What’s more, the study’s authors say that this applies to people of all income levels and all political leanings: The poor and the rich, Democrats and Republicans are all equally likely to choose the Swedish model.

But the study also found that respondents preferred Sweden’s model over a model of perfect income equality for everyone, “suggesting that Americans prefer some inequality to perfect equality, but not to the degree currently present in the United States,” the authors state.

Recent analyses have shown that income inequality in the US has grown steadily for the past three decades and reached its highest level on record, exceeding even the large disparities seen in the 1920s, before the Great Depression. Norton and Ariely estimate that the one percent wealthiest Americans hold nearly 50 percent of the country’s wealth, while the richest 20 percent hold 84 percent of the wealth.

But in their study, the authors found Americans generally underestimate the income disparity. When asked to estimate, respondents on average estimated that the top 20 percent have 59 percent of the wealth (as opposed to the real number, 84 percent). And when asked to choose how much the top 20 percent should have, on average respondents said 32 percent — a number similar to the wealth distribution seen in Sweden.

“What is most striking” about the results, argue the authors, is that they show “more consensus than disagreement among … different demographic groups. All groups – even the wealthiest respondents – desired a more equal distribution of wealth than what they estimated the current United States level to be, while all groups also desired some inequality – even the poorest respondents.”

The authors suggest the reason that American voters have not made more of an issue of the growing income gap is that they may simply not be aware of it. “Second, just as people have erroneous beliefs about the actual level of wealth inequality, they may also hold overly optimistic beliefs about opportunities for social mobility in the United States, beliefs which in turn may drive support for unequal distributions of wealth,” they write.

The authors also note that, though there may be widespread agreement about income inequality, there is no agreement on what caused it or what should be done about it.

“Americans exhibit a general disconnect between their attitudes towards economic inequality and their self-interest and public policy preferences, suggesting that even given increased awareness of the gap between ideal and actual wealth distributions, Americans may remain unlikely to advocate for policies that would narrow this gap,” the authors argue.

[-] 1 points by jbob (74) 2 years ago

dumb mother fucker. we should be our own model. look when we had our best economy. we can do it. we shouldnt be looking looking at other countries.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I usually do not reveal this, but I am a member of Mensa and, therefore, by the normal definitions of intelligence, probably do not qualify as "dumb" (although members of my family, especially my wife, would probably agree with you on occasion). I also do not engage in intercourse with my mother.

When did we have our best economy? Are you talking about the Reagan years? Yes, there was a lot of economic expansion then, coupled with a fiscal policy of corporate deregulation that led to a "Wild West" approach to business, but a lot of that was driven by Silicon Valley and the .Com explosion since it was all new back then. When the .Com bubble burst, all that investment went south, so those years can be considered a lesson in what NOT to do with business practices and investment. As usual, it was all about greed and get rich quick...something very normal for the human animal to do. Of PARTICULAR note is that despite all of the expansion, the middle-class was already starting to decline, as wages did not keep up with inflation due to the decline in influence of the Labor movement that Reagan started with his hard line approach to the ATC strike. Once Corporate America saw THAT, they followed suit with the unions they dealt with. This was the start of the "rich get richer and poor get poorer" trend in the US.

As I have asked so many times in other posts, if Capitalism is so great why is there a growing gap between rich and poor? Why are more people living below the poverty line than ever? Why do so many people lack health insurance?

When you can answer these questions intelligently, I think you'll know why. And you may not like the answer.

[-] 1 points by jbob (74) 2 years ago

im going to be honest, im a little embarrassed. i kind of feel like an idiot talking to you if in fact you are in mensa. haha. but one giant thing jumped out at me when i was reading your post. "if capitalism is so great." now i have no idea anyone especially someone as smart as you, could think that there is any type of government that is better than capitalism.

communism- we all see how well that turns out. (China, N. Korea) socialism- robin hood might like it but that forces people in to classes. there would be an even larger gap of wealthy and poor.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I am embarrassed too. I don't like to ever bring my affiliation with M to a public forum. When you opened with DMF, I had to give some thought as to how I should respond, and that's what popped out off the top of my head. Very lamentable.

Regarding your comment "...could think that there is any type of government that is better than capitalism.", there are millions of people, such as yourself, that confuse government and economics. Capitalism is not government. Capitalism is an economic model. Our government is democratic (at least in theory). Communism, which is reviled in the Free World, is an economic model, not a governmental one. The fact that it was misapplied by Authoritarian governments such as the USSR, China, Cuba, etc. interested in power and control over their people is not an indictment of Communist economic theory per se.

Perhaps this will help clarify thengs. When one examines all of the current and past socio-economic theories/models (and there are a LOT of them), one has to discern what works, not only from a theoretical perspective but how they have or have not worked in actual practice (FYI, I am NOT an economist and only have a layman's knowledge here). When discussing countries, it is always most useful to discuss both the socio-political aspect as well as the economic aspect. For example, the USA is Democratic-Capitalist, China is Authoritarian-Communist evolving into Authoritarian with elements of Capitalism (this is kind of unusual). The European Axis nations of Nazi Germany and Italy were Dictatorial-Facist. Many European nations today are Democratic-Socialist. You get the idea.

My baseline for any system is, first and foremost, that the country not practice any form of Authoritarian/Dictatorial over its people. Once that is established, you can look at the economic systems around the world and make comparisons of the various economic models in place. Key to this analysis is the Standard of Living for the greatest number of people in that country.

As indicated in my original post, Sweden (and most of the other Scandanavian countries) has one of highest SOL in the world. Yes, they have their problems. All countries do. But their socio-political and economic system seems to work very, very well. They are a Social Democracy, meaning that they have a large number of social programs funded by fairly high taxes (but not as high as some people think -- please see other threads/discussion elsewhere in this Forum). They are, of course, democratic with a number of parties contributing to their political system.

I am not advocating that we try to turn the USA into another Sweden. That would not only be inadvisable, but probably impossible. What I AM saying is that they are REALLY focused on seeing that their people have a very good life -- something that one cannot necessarily say about our country due to the problems associated with our system.

I have another post called "Einstein and the evils of Capitalism" that outlines his view of the problems, and I largely agree with his analysis. For a more detailed understanding of problems inherent within a Capitalistic system, kindly read his excerpted essay.

Thanks.

[-] 1 points by ThomasJephersson (3) 2 years ago

The problem is the U.S Government cannot run just about anything efficiently, too much Fraud and lack of control over funding . Pentagon " Lost " 2.3 trillion !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4GdHLUHwU

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Welcome, the Plutocratic States of the Military Industrial Complex......

Leave you wallet and credit cards, at the door please.

[-] 1 points by WooHoo (15) 2 years ago

When you have about 80 people in the army, that frees up a lot of money.

[-] 1 points by pullmyfinger (-6) 2 years ago

Highest taxes in the world asshole. No wonder it appeals to liberals...who constantly demand to be punished for making money, and prefer a nanny state where the government bestows it's gifts on them. 49% income tax 25% Value added tax.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Even if Sweden does have the highest taxes in the world (which could be debated until proven with actual reliable statistics), it also has one of the highest standards of living for all of its citizens. Can the US, with free-market Capitalism, make that claim? Are you an advocate of Economic Darwinism ("I got mine, now go get yours and leave me alone")?

I know that greed is a powerful force deeply ingrained in the human psyche. It comes from our evolution as primitive Predator vs Prey species, just like a large majority of other mammals on the planet are. But the one thing that separates us from the rest of the animals is our capacity to change things for the better if we can -- to desire the greatest good for the greatest number, not the greatest good for the smallest number as Capitalism promotes.

[-] 1 points by philochs (4) from Brooklyn, NY 2 years ago

actually the reason nordic countries can afford it is because 40-50% of state revenue comes from selling natural gas and oil to other countries... if they took out that, then raising taxes by 40-50% would be unsustainable for a country without the residual effects of jobs associated with natural resource development. Small population has little do with this story here..

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

then how do sweden and finland do it?

[-] 3 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

They tax at a higher rate then we do here, and that isn't meant as criticism, it's exactly what we should do here in this country.

[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

they also have a better income distribution and do not spend 54% on their military

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

You´re exactly right. Income is much more equal than in the US fex. Taxation in Scandinavia is also more progressive - the rich contribute more cash than workers. I complain about the politicians in the country I live in, Norway, not taxing the rich enough, I cant imagine how frustrated you guys in the States are...

[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

i have been to bergen - took kids to play tennis in sweden, finland and soviet union (with a stop over in norway) in 1986 and 88 - from what i can see those countries have moved in our direction - in 88 sweden was instituting reaganomics - go figure? your people are not as brainwashed as ours but i am afraid it may not last - look at finland!

[-] 2 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

we have in Scandinavia also been somewhat affected by this global "neoliberalism" unfortunatly. But it´s this neoliberalism we must fight and end.

[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

the whole system has to be changed - what do you know of peak oil and peak everything! and how about max neef? AMY GOODMAN: What do you think we need to change?

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Oh, almost everything. We are simply, dramatically stupid. We act systematically against the evidences we have. We know everything that should not be done. There’s nobody that doesn’t know that. Particularly the big politicians know exactly what should not be done. Yet they do it. After what happened since October 2008, I mean, elementally, you would think what? That now they’re going to change. I mean, they see that the model is not working. The model is even poisonous, you know? Dramatically poisonous. And what is the result, and what happened in the last meeting of the European Union? They are more fundamentalist now than before. So, the only thing you know that you can be sure of, that the next crisis is coming, and it will be twice as much as this one. And for that one, there won’t be enough money anymore. So that will be it. And that is the consequence of systematical human stupidity.

AMY GOODMAN: So, to avoid another catastrophe, collision, if you were in charge, what would you say has to happen?

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: First of all, we need cultured economists again, who know the history, where they come from, how the ideas originated, who did what, and so on and so on; second, an economics now that understands itself very clearly as a subsystem of a larger system that is finite, the biosphere, hence economic growth as an impossibility; and third, a system that understands that it cannot function without the seriousness of ecosystems. And economists know nothing about ecosystems. They don’t know nothing about thermodynamics, you know, nothing about biodiversity or anything. I mean, they are totally ignorant in that respect. And I don’t see what harm it would do, you know, to an economist to know that if the bees would disappear, he would disappear as well, because there wouldn’t be food anymore. But he doesn’t know that, you know, that we depend absolutely from nature. But for these economists we have, nature is a subsystem of the economy. I mean, it’s absolutely crazy.

And then, in addition, you know, bring consumption closer to production. I live in the south of Chile, in the deep south. And that area is a fantastic area, you know, in milk products and what have you. Top. Technologically, like the maximum, you know? I was, a few months ago, in a hotel, and there in the south, for breakfast, and there are these little butter things, you know? I get one, and it’s butter from New Zealand. I mean, if that isn’t crazy, you know? And why? Because economists don’t know how to calculate really costs, you know? To bring butter from 20,000 kilometers to a place where you make the best butter, under the argument that it was cheaper, is a colossal stupidity, because they don’t take into consideration what is the impact of 20,000 kilometers of transport? What is the impact on the environment of that transportation, you know, and all those things? And in addition, I mean, it’s cheaper because it’s subsidized. So it’s clearly a case in which the prices never tell the truth. It’s all tricks, you know? And those tricks do colossal harms. And if you bring consumption closer to production, you will eat better, you will have better food, you know, and everything. You will know where it comes from. You may even know the person who produces it. You humanize this thing, you know? But the way the economists practice today is totally dehumanized. AMY GOODMAN: And if you’re teaching young economists, the principles you would teach them, what they’d be?

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: The principles, you know, of an economics which should be are based in five postulates and one fundamental value principle.

One, the economy is to serve the people and not the people to serve the economy.

Two, development is about people and not about objects.

Three, growth is not the same as development, and development does not necessarily require growth.

Four, no economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services.

Five, the economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible.

And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above the reverence of life.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that further.

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Nothing can be more important than life. And I say life, not human beings, because, for me, the center is the miracle of life in all its manifestations. But if there is an economic interest, I mean, you forget about life, not only of other living beings, but even of human beings. If you go through that list, one after the other, what we have today is exactly the opposite.

AMY GOODMAN: Go back to three: growth and development. Explain that further.

MANFRED MAX-NEEF: Growth is a quantitative accumulation. Development is the liberation of creative possibilities. Every living system in nature grows up to a certain point and stops growing. You are not growing anymore, nor he nor me. But we continue developing ourselves. Otherwise we wouldn’t be dialoguing here now. So development has no limits. Growth has limits. And that is a very big thing, you know, that economists and politicians don’t understand. They are obsessed with the fetish of economic growth.

And I am working, several decades. Many studies have been done. I’m the author of a famous hypothesis, the threshold hypothesis, which says that in every society there is a period in which economic growth, conventionally understood or no, brings about an improvement of the quality of life. But only up to a point, the threshold point, beyond which, if there is more growth, quality of life begins to decline. And that is the situation in which we are now.

I mean, your country is the most dramatic example that you can find. I have gone as far as saying — and this is a chapter of a book of mine that is published next month in England, the title of which is Economics Unmasked. There is a chapter called "The United States, an Underdeveloping Nation," which is a new category. We have developed, underdeveloped and developing. Now you have underdeveloping. And your country is an example, in which the one percent of the Americans, you know, are doing better and better and better, and the 99 percent is going down, in all sorts of manifestations. People living in their cars now and sleeping in their cars, you know, parked in front of the house that used to be their house — thousands of people. Millions of people, you know, have lost everything. But the speculators that brought about the whole mess, oh, they are fantastically well off. No problem. No problem.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Artur Manfred Max Nee has many good points.

Personally I advocate a sustainable Libertarian Socialist society as the end goal:

http://struggleforfreedom.blogg.no/1320873951_the_society_we_should.html

http://struggleforfreedom.blogg.no/1317735903_chomsky_explains_libe.html

[-] 3 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

we agree mostly i imagine - production for use and not for profit

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Yep... VERY frustrated (at least I am).

Really appreciate your input!!!

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Hi again. Just keep on fighting and improvemt will come.

Please also check out these videos.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/noam-chomsky-on-corporations/

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Thanks. Ill watch them and get back to you.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

It´s kind of a "know your enemy" video selection. We have to know what we´re fighting, you know. sff

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Just watched them. Nothing really new from my perspective as I am an old dude and have held these views in common with Chomsky for decades. Seems very evident and just common sense how these corporations and the system operate. Because I worked in the corporate world for almost 30 years, I could watch how they operate and the types of decisions they made first hand. That said, I think he does a good job of just laying it flat out in no uncertain terms exactly what is going on. I put these vids in my YouTube favorites.

[-] 0 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 2 years ago

Right! If it weren't for the US military, they'd all be speaking German today!

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

read some history then look around - do you see any nazis threatening us. i guess you are nor for ronnie boy! is this your justification for 54% of our taxes going to 900 bases around the world?? pretty weak don't you think? here is something to read while you try to get your head around military history - how many soldiers did we lose - now don't count japan! -- "The fighting involved millions of Axis and Soviet troops along the broadest land front in military history. It was by far the deadliest single theatre of war in World War II, with over 9 million military deaths on the Soviet side (out of which 3.6 million died in German captivity[84]); Axis military deaths were over 5 million (out of which 824,000 admittely died in Soviet captivity).[85] Included in this figure of Axis losses is the majority of the 2 million German military personnel listed as missing or unaccounted for after the war.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 2 years ago

Norway, Sweden and Finland have always been rich countries. They control a large portion of the worlds oil and gas

They are the 1% of the world along with Luxembourg and Qatar.

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

I have no problem with people having wealth. Those nations have a long history of social welfare and responsibility. They've taken care of their own people long before any oil wealth.

[-] 1 points by JoeTheFarmer (2654) 2 years ago

The point is they are a small rich country and nobody really needs the social programs. That is why they can do it. They have been cutting back on these programs since the 1990s

In the 1990s a bursting real estate bubble caused by inadequate controls on lending combined with an international recession and a policy switch from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies resulted in a fiscal crisis in the early 1990s. Sweden's GDP declined by around 5%. In 1992, there was a run on the currency, with the central bank briefly jacking up interest to 500%

The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness, among them reducing the welfare state and privatizing public services and goods.

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

Like so many things it's probably many factors. Each nation is pretty much one culture with a strong work ethic too. I've seen some videos on you tube though of welfare fraud in Norway. Not sure if it's a major problem or just an anti-immigrant feeling coming out through the news. Those mentioned in the report and arrested were all immigrants.

[-] 1 points by Spade2 (478) 2 years ago

Maybe the German model?

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Did you research this 40% - 50% figure? Struggleforfreedom80 lives in Norway and says its about 6%. This is a huge disparity in proposed facts. Anyway to ascertain the actual figure?

[-] 2 points by philochs (4) from Brooklyn, NY 2 years ago

here's how i did it. in wikipedia of norway, it says that gas is 20% of gdp. wolframalpha says norway gdp is roughly 400 billion. if goverment expeditures are 300 billion, and because oil revenues are state-owned, 20% of 400 billion gives you roughly 80 billion. divide that by 300 billion and thats 25%. Add to that the soverign wealth fund of over 800 billion funding capital projects at 5% growth rate (basically surplus from excess in oil production) gives you an additional 40 billion pushing the overall income from oil to 120 billion. 120/300 is 40%. this was a little technocratic and back-of-the-envelope, but the numbers can't be outside a magnitude of 2

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Hmmm. Sounds like you did your homework (of a sort). It would still be nice to get the official figures but, if those are lacking, this could be very significant if it can be independently confirmed.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

It is a fact that far less than 10% (about 6) of the yearly national budget (the budget that government use to finance the "welfare state") is from oil revenue (we dont use all we make, we have an investment stock fund. We spend mostly the surplus from this fund). It is also a fact that after WW2 (in which we had been militarily and politically occupied by Nazi Germany) we built a lot of what NaziG had destroyed from (in many cases) scratch at record speed with a social democratic model(much more to the left than today´s model with much more public control) without any oil income (whic didnt start until the 70s), so this myth about Norway building our country with, and almost only living off of our oil revenues is highly overrated. It has contributed, yes, but not as much as many claim.

[-] 1 points by opensociety4us (914) from Norwalk, CT 2 years ago

Forget about it. You can't get rich in a freedom-hating socialist state like Sweden. Oh wait, what's this?

"Ten Swedes make Forbes billionaires list"

http://www.thelocal.se/32510/20110310/

[-] 1 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

The first step would be a willingness to lower corporate tax and raise personal tax. Who is willing to let this happen?

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I would be, if I could get the social safety net they have.

[-] 2 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

I was saying this with that very intent among other things that are "Swedish-like". Corporate tax is much lower than the U.S. and personal tax is much higher. I think a lot of folks do not know this about Sweden. Hey, if the model works then great. I just see the two major parties in our country being so bent on bring right, rather than seeing what works. Could the Dems agree with lowering corporate taxes and raising personal taxes on all peoples while the Repubs allow for single payer (paid by tax dollars) healthcare? A pretty big leap at the moment.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I agree, a very big leap. Congress is such a broken mess I don't see how anything of significance can get accomplished unless there are some drastic changes.

Reminds me of the old bumper sticker -- "if Con is the opposite of Pro, is Congress the opposite of Progress?"

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Yes, I agree our congress is a near total mess. I wonder if we wouldn't be better of with a parliarmentary system, where parties in order to maintain their coalition in keeping power have to agree to more compromises from those to the left or right of them.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I don't really know much about parliamentary systems around the world, but my observations of our Conmess (oops, sorry ...Congress) is that they are so polarized and unwilling to compromise on just about anything (ok, probably an exaggeration, but not much of one) that if they can't turn that around then maybe a parliamentary system would be better.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Yeah, I would like to learn more about a parliarmentary system too, as I don't know if our problems with gridlock could be averted in the system we have. A lot of other countries have a parliarment and I don't know any other country that has our system. Someone here could give us an answer. Let me know if you find out. I guess there is always google too.

[-] 0 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Corporate taxes are not lower in Sweden. Only the official rates are. American corporations do not, as a rule, pay anything close to Sweden's rates.

[-] 2 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

Sorry, guess I should look at the non-official rates. Do you have a source for those? Unofficially of course.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

It's not a question of unofficial tares. Its a question of deductions, exemptions, government subsidies, etc. You only need to look at Exxon or GE to verify it.

Here are a couple of articles; There are dozens:

http://www.businesspundit.com/25-corporations-that-pay-less-taxes-than-you-do/

http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

[-] 2 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

Now I guess the next step is to see the reports on companies functioning in Sweden to see there unofficial rates to see if we really are comparing apples to apples here. Loopholes and lobbyist will be the death of us.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Yes, I did a bit. They are low there, too. From what I have read, they seem to be more or less on par with each other in terms actual percentages paid..

[-] 1 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

Do you have the source for that too? I sure would like to see it. Thanks,

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

C'mon, Wellhungjury, don't you have Google? Type in "corporate tax rate in Sweden".

[-] 1 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

Sure, I could do the work, but you seemed to have a good heads up on it and thought you might already have a link. Isn't that the point of these threads? Help each other out?

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Sorry about my being a bit testy. I have to look up things so often for other people (not you but trolls) that I lose patience one in a while. My apologies.

[-] 1 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

It's all good. Opinions are nice to chat about, but facts have staying power. Just trying to keep my mind open to what is out there.

[-] 2 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Here is one source:

http://www.taxrates.cc/html/sweden-tax-rates.html

I guess my objection is that, because you could have found this as easily as me, instead of my having to search a second time, come back here, copy and paste, you could have saved both of us the effort. It's a little annoying. I have no problem sharing facts and sources, but I prefer if someone put in at least a little effort before requesting that someone else does.

Anyway, sorry again for my tone before.

[-] 2 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

Upon looking at your source, I initially see that they report Sweden as a 26.3% corp. tax rate and the U.S. at 35%. This brings me back to my initial statement of the U.S. having a higher corp. tax rate and a lower income tax rate. I will read deeper into this, but I again defer to my comment of if we as a country would be willing to lower corporate tax rates and raise income tax rates. We can always discuss loopholes that are out there and why they should or should not exist. This seems to be a huge hurdle that I do not think that we are willing to jump. My reasoning is that the very nature of the Dems and Repubs needing to be right instead of finding a good change for a better direction. Again, thanks for the source. It allows me to get on the same page as you.

[-] 1 points by wellhungjury (296) 2 years ago

Thanks for the source.

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Yeah, it is a huge leap and worth a try, but by the time lobbyists get a hold of those proposals, they would be all watered down and twisted beyond recognition.

[-] 0 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

Corporations in the US pay among the lowest rates of taxes in the world. Making them even richer by lowering their taxes even further would only suck revenue out of the country, making its problems worse. And by enriching them further, they gain even more control over the the government, corroding democracy even further than they already have.

But I agree, personal taxes should go up - for the wealthy.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Most countries in Scandinavia, including the one I live in, Norway, have realtively well functioning social democracies with social safty net and much more finacial equality than other countries.

"Capitalism in the US has proven to be Economic Darwinism -- Survival of the Economically Fittest."

That´s not what exists today though. Once these big private tyrannical institutions fail they run to the taxpayer demanding bailout and protection from the state...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7JXfwUtz0w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC1sHqS9RoI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el1CdxiDo6M

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Boy you are dead right about the bailout. I forgot to mention that and thanks for doing so.

I rarely get to converse with someone in Scandanavia. Can you enlighten me as to the average tax rate there? What social programs exist there paid by your taxes? What, if anything, do you consider to be an economic disadvantage to living there?

Appreciate your comment.

[-] 2 points by TIOUAISE (2526) 2 years ago

Just a few notes on DENMARK, which I know well:

"Denmark is a thriving democracy, one of the least corrupt countries in the world, has arguably the highest standard of living in the world, the world's lowest child poverty rate, the world's healthiest work-life balance and university tuition is free allowing citizens to fulfil their potential regardless of income. Yes, this is in part achieved through HEAVY taxation but guess what? It works. Tax the rich for the benefit of a cohesive, happy society."

[-] 2 points by ohmygoodness (158) 2 years ago

In addition, students get a monthly stipend of around 1100 USD, besides of course excellent free health care.

[-] 1 points by TIOUAISE (2526) 2 years ago

Why doesn't the U.S. follow the Scandinavian model?

[-] 2 points by ohmygoodness (158) 2 years ago

Horses for courses...

Culturally poles apart, but that doesn't mean that the US cannot adopt a policy where all of its citizens get free health care and the government is interested in nation-building, rather than being bought out to fight trillion dollar wars for the benefit of a few myopic citizens, sorry congress, the MIC and corporations .

[-] 0 points by Cephalus (146) 2 years ago

What a naive question.

[Removed]

[-] 1 points by opensociety4us (914) from Norwalk, CT 2 years ago

"What, if anything, do you consider to be an economic disadvantage to living there?"

You can't get rich. Oh wait, what's this? "Ten Swedes make Forbes billionaires list"

http://www.thelocal.se/32510/20110310/

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Sweden also has the highest per centage of people per capita who own second (usually modest) summer homes. When you travel the world, you will quite often run into Swedes indicating that they have the time and resources to do so.

[-] -1 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

More people with roots in Norway live in the United States than live in Norway today. Yeah, it's a ringing endorsement. I wonder if that could be true of any other country. Maybe Ireland, but that's gotta be about it. LOL.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Yes, and whole bunch of them live up and down the coast of Alaska. There is a reason for that other than the fact that Norwegians are great seamen/fishermen, something to do with immigration policies at a certain time. Most Swedes and Norwegians immigrated over here (as my Dad did) when things weren't so good in their own countries. Life is quite good there now though, and it has been for some time.

[-] -1 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

I couldn't find anything on Norway, perhaps because it's so tiny, but even Canada remains in net outmigration to the United States in proportion to population size. Yeah, things suck here. LOL.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

No one is saying that things totally suck here, at least not me. One of the great things about this country is its ability to cleanse itself or to right its wrongs. The Civil Rights movement Vietnam War protests,and women's suffrage are all examples of this. There was wide-spread opposition to all of these struggles early on because people that were not affected by the injustices could not see what the problem was or didn't think it was that acute.

Today, in this country we live in a plutocracy that is held in place by a corrupted political system. We simply want our representative democracy returned to the people. That should not be so hard to understand.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

I guess we are both preaching to the choir ssf. We should both devote our time to the unconvinced or the timid. On a lighter note, do you know why the birds fly upside down in Norway?

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

either "because it ain't worth a crap" or "because there's nothing worth craping on" ? :)

[-] 0 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

It's similar, but I was just kidding, so don't get pissed. My dad is from Sweden and I worked with Norwegians for much of my career and am aware of the friendly rivalry that they share. That's all. Save you fury for someone who deserves it.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Hehe. Don´t worry about that. We´re used to these friendly rivalry jokes here:)

[-] 0 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

Great, oppose public employee unions. They've hijacked government to serve its employees, but not its citizens.

And for poverty, if poverty is so bad, how come liberals bash anyone in favor of closing the border with Mexico (a major source of imported poverty) as racists? Just askin'.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

I have no problem with securing our borders, but it is not something that I mentioned in my post, nor did I bring up unions on this post. So find someplace else to vent.

[-] 0 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

No, you didn't. That's the point.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Hi. Sure. Norway is what´s called a social democracy, meaning that there are elements of private enterprise and marked, but with democratically run public and state sector playing a huge role in society, providing free or almost free (there might accure some affordable fees here and there) health care, college, university, elementary school, garanteed social security for all disabled, unemployed, and sick etc. You also get help from your local community finding work if youre unemployed free of charge.

Now, Norway has a relatively good progressive tax system (although I would like it to be better) which means that the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes. So in other words, the rich contribute more to the "welfare state" than the workers. So taxes for the "avarage joe" arn´t that high as many think. Income tax for an avarage pay (for a teacher or carpenter let´s say) is about 30%. There are of course other kinds of taxes (property taxes fex) but the same principles apply here. The more you own, the more you pay. We have local elections every fourth year and national elections every forth year (so we vote every second year) There are serveral parties in parlament yu can vote for, all the way from the Socialist Left party to more conservative parties. The Norwegian Labor Party, being the biggest party, are now running government together with The Socialist Left Party and the Center Party getting the majority of votes combined in the last national election.

Hope this was useful. Yours s sff http://struggleforfreedom.blogg.no/

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Thanks very much for that info. With a great system like that, I could easily imagine a high immigration figure, if it wasn't for the cold and 6 months of darkness. Do you have a lot of immigration? Oh, and is there a difference between Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy? I get confused on that point due to fairly new topic for me.

Aren't Labor Unions real strong in Scandanavia?

I wish your response could get into the hands of every adult American. This is the kind of information that needs a wide read to wake people up and to quit listening to Capitalistic/Republican propaganda on talk radio (Rush, Sean Hannity, etc.). Wish we had more liberal talk radio to counter the Conservative/Republican/Christian Right.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

"Oh, and is there a difference between Democratic Socialism and Social Democracy?"

To my understanding these terms mean more or less the same (although "Socialism" originally ment workers controlling production)

"Aren't Labor Unions real strong in Scandanavia?"

Yes they play a big role in our democratic society working for better conditions for employees.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Thanks again for the info. I am getting more jealous every time I talk to you :-)

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

just keep on fighting and building these wonderful growing movements, and you ll eventually get this too :)

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Is there a very adversarial relationship between the unions and the companies?

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

The relations are over all relatively good between unions/employees and owners/employers. Many employers have accepted the fact that the society becomes better when both parties are happy with their conditions. But we have our share of immoral greedy employers here too.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

There has been some immigration the last decades - pretty avarage compared to neighboring countries, I think.

"I wish your response could get into the hands of every adult American."

Feel free to share the info:) I hope the Occupy Movement and the activism and engagement that have come along with it will contribute to opening more conservative /right winged people´s eyes in the US to new progressive ideas. I really admire what you - americans - have created though: a growing progressive solidaric Occupy Movement :)

btw, one of my favorite media broadcasters are american: Democracy Now. Excellent journalism. The Real News network is also good So there are good alternatives to conservative media

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Thanks so much for this info. Would like to visit your country sometime if I can.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

no problem. Make sure you come in the summer months. Winter here can be a little rough :)

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Check out Bill Moyers. He retired last year, but because of what is going on, he came back. He is on every Monday night at 10, and all the shows are on billmoyers.com. Him and his guests are definitely not the norm.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I have always greatly admired Bill Moyers. I found his interview with Wendall Potter re: single payer health care absolutely fascinating, and such a crystal clear example of institutionalized greed. The below link takes you to the video and transcript.

I might post this as a new original post if there's enough interest.

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/profile.html

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

I just finished watching the Potter interview. It's quite disgusting how our health care system works, isn't it? Since Moyers has come back, he has had two shows on Mon. nights. I've only seen the second show which was really good, but plan to see the first one on line. He also has something on Sun. night at 6pm, but don't know anything about that. I do plan on catching up on all of them though. Yes, good idea to post this about the healthcare industry.

[-] 1 points by mountaineer (16) 2 years ago

dude....do you like have multiple names on here? everytime i read post after yours, its everybody singing your praises...

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I do not use multiple names. One name -- Underdog.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Cream always rises to the top.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

I know that many Swedes go to Norway to work as their economy is more vibrant now, and that 20-30 years ago, the opposite was true. How much of your economy is based on the North Sea oil, and is some of that being invested for the future or is most of it being paid out in social benefits.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

Yes, Norway has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Europe, which attracts lots of people.

I don´t know all the details, but I think about 6% of the national budget is from oil revenue.

[-] 0 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

Norway in an insular country with a minuscule and homogeneous population. It also has a large amount of energy wealth compared to its population size. That's a big pool of money with which to fund a welfare state.

[-] 1 points by struggleforfreedom80 (6584) 2 years ago

far less than 10% of the national budget comes from oil revenue. Its relatively homogeneous, but there are people with differnet cultures living side by side here as well. The welfare is mainly finaced thru taxing, which is much more progressive than in the US fex

[-] 1 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

Yes, Norway is now in the process of fucking itself with immigration, that much is true. It's sad to see. The Euro-trash multi-culturalists are sowing their own demise. In particular, they face islamofication at a fairly rapid clip.

Big oil funds a big welfare state for a small population.

http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/06/10/norways-oil-fund-now-worlds-biggest/

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

I've read the article in other posts, the Swedes have several advantages over us that make it work there. They have a long history of social welfare, they share one culture and history, and most importantly they are willing to pay for what they want.

In the US we pay on average around 25% of our GDP in taxes, in Sweden it's around 45%. Americans tend to want what they see as free money from government without actually contributing. The problem isn't government or even corporations and banks, the problem is us.

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I certainly can't argue with that, except that there does need to be some type of leveling of the current playing field.

A chart off wikipedia (sorry I can't paste it in here) indicates that the annual US income share of the top 1% was 23.9% in 1928 (just before the Market crash in 1929). Over the next several decades, it slowly declined (indicating a rise in the middle class) until it bottomed out at 10% in 1980 when Reagan took office. He removed corporate restrictions (his speech to Wall Street -- "We are going to turn the Bull loose."), sought to bring down the Labor movement (and largely succeeded e.g. The ATC strike), and ran up a trillion dollar debt (instead of raising taxes) to pay for a huge military buildup. In 2007, the income share of the top 1% was up to 23.5% -- almost the same level it was in 1928. This had a HUGE impact on the decline of the middle-class.

And here we are at OWS.

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

I tend to agree with the poster above. The Swedish population is much smaller and much less diverse than the US. That system works for them.

We have too many people with far too many different sets of values and different expectations from government for a system like that to be acceptable to a majority of the people.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

yes and we have many advantages over the swedes - 54% of our tax dollars goes to the military - change that and we can pay for lots of things. we have resources and land and climate that sweden does not - this is not the time to make excuses for why we live less well than other countries. also if you look at polls people here are very open to changing the system - time to move forward (or backwards to where we were in the 1960's) to better wages, higher taxes for those who make the most money and better standard of living for the population as a whole not just the top 10%

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

I agree, military spending needs to be looked at. Personally I'm indifferent toward some level of spending on the military, but we certainly don't need to be occupying other countries. Taxes too need to go up if we are to do what they do in Europe.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

not sure about that - taxes on the top 10% and corporations need to go up - we spend twice as mush as sweden on health care so lots of play in the system. cut military and go back to the rates of 1960 and we are awash in money

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

Higher taxes on the top 10% are higher taxes on those making $80K or more per year. Do you really think that someone making $85K per year is wealthy enough to justify taking more of his earned money to give to other people?

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

yes - next question? here is my question - tell me the % on 85k and 35k - factor in all taxes not just the right wing idea of fed income taxes - all taxes - now think hard - all taxes - sales -gas - tolls go ahead you have your work cut out for you

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

Someone making $85K per year is not wealthy by any means.

And I bet at the end of the day, the person making $85K is already paying a higher % than the $35K guy. They likely make most of their income from normal reasons, not long term capital gains, and thus it is taxed at 28% by the feds to the 25% for the $35K guy. The same goes for state taxes - they are usually progressive also. Plus, the guy making $85K likely probably pays a lot more in property taxes compared to the $35K guy because he likely has a less valuable home or maybe even rents. Probably has a nicer car(s) too. Maybe even a boat. Trust me, once you consider how much more the $85K guy pays in federal, state, and property taxes, the difference of sales/gas tax as a % of income is negligible.

The minute Occupy starts to advocate raising taxes on the middle class another big chunk of the 99% will turn their back.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

first of all let's start with this - P90-100 (top 10%) — 1 out of 10 households — income above $104,696 (average income, $269,658*)........we can talk details if you like - you may be right about someone making 85k - but you are nitpicking - the basic premise is that the people at the top of the income ladder have had it too good for the last 30 yrs at the expense of those at the bottom - we need to fix that!

[-] 1 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

I would not even call a family making $270K per year wealthy. They live much more like a middle class family than a truly wealthy one.

Raise taxes on the top 0.01%. They are the ones that any significant revenue gains are going to come from anyways.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

ok, 270k is not wealthy - then what d you say to someone living on 32k - also middle class - do you know what household income looks like in this country. 270k is huge money - do you make that - i never did! we agree that the top .01% is rich beyond kings and should be taxed - i say 90% like in 1950

[-] 0 points by Mooks (1985) 2 years ago

My wife and I are very fortunate to make close to that number but the two of us and our kids live a lot more like other middle class families than wealthy ones. I can tell you from first hand experience that 270K is not 'huge' money. Again, we are very fortunate but this year we will pay about a 50% tax rate (federal, state, property). We might get to retire a little earlier or take an extra vacation here or there but it is not like we have a butler. On the weekends I mow the lawn while the kids pick up the dog poop just like everyone else on my street.

And not to do the whole job creator thing, but I do own a small business that currently employs 9 people and when taxes go up, my partner and I do indeed sit down and talk about ways to cut expenses to make up the difference. What is, by far, our biggest expense every month? Labor.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

i have my own business and we have just started another one - what i said stands i think - then what d you say to someone living on 32k - also middle class - do you know what household income looks like in this country? you are at the top of the scale!

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Ding, ding, ding, your ideas sound like a winner to me.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

i have trouble telling sarcasm in writing - where do you stand odin - father of thor!

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

No, I am not being sarcastic. I agree with you.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

thanks - i have been battered a bit by the free market nut jobs as you can see

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Yeah, we really don't have a free capitalist market, rather we have crony capitalism where corrupt money goes to buying advantage over others. The perpetrators are agribusinesses, big oil, pharma, banking, etc. I suggest you watch Bill Moyers on PBS every Monday at ten. The old shows can be found on line. Good Luck with your battle wounds.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 2 years ago

also sweden does things we will never do - you might look into their system more closely - they exited the great depression in1934 - using keynesian economics. i assume you know about their bank crisis and do you know they give more than $200 per month per child to every family! we have a long way to go and we can do it with a huge benefit for the middle and working classes - only the top will lose standard of living - as they should!

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

Since Sweden does pretty much have one culture and history, do you think a system like Sweden has could work here in our multi-cultural society? Many people including minorities now think that Lyndon Johnson's Great Society was a failure as it caused a culure of dependency. How could we avoid that?

Even in Vermont which is considered the whitest state in the country my daughter who lives there said that many people up there play the system to get undeserved benefits, as there is little difference between what many people can earn and what they can 'get.'

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Your response has merit, but I think a large part of why people try to work/manipulate the system is that things have declined so much in the last 30 years that they do it merely for survival. If we had our large middle-class back like in the 60s-70s there would be far fewer people in dire straits and the impact of milking the system far less noticeable.

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

We're headed that way, slowly, but you're right we don't have the advantage of one culture. Hard to avoid the welfare trap. We shouldn't just abandon the children of the poor but I don't know how to avoid dependance. When you can get money for sitting at home all week why go out and work for just a few extra dollars?

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

We should expand our trade schools so that people that are at minimum wage, near minimum wage, or unemployed have the chance to advance themselves into a skilled trade.

The other thing which I think is a good idea is to make child-care more easily affordable for people. We should build these places near senior centers. As many seniors still have lots of vitality, they could care for children if they chose and supplement their retirement in the process. Many of the children are separated from their own grandparents. These seniors could also fill a void in their life too as many of them do not live by their own grandchildren.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

I mostly agree. But the notion of the "welfare trap" and dependency is largely a fiction invented by right-wing politicians as a part of the infamous "Southern Strategy."

[-] 1 points by JPB950 (2254) 2 years ago

I agree, the extent of any trap may be exaggerated or even manufactured to some extent, there were welfare families collecting over several generations but to what extent that occurred, who knows.

[-] 1 points by epa1nter (4650) from Rutherford, NJ 2 years ago

One also has to ask why that occurred. We know that poverty begets poverty, and is persistent from one generation to the next. That a couple of generations repeated the cycle is no surprise, not can it be a surprise that when that cycle repeated, those in it would choose welfare over starvation. It must also be remembered that the overwhelming majority of people on welfare stayed on it for less than two years, even when the greatest numbers of people were on it, and Reagan was (and later Gingrich) was demonizing the recipients as characterless and lazy. Keep in mind that the very word "welfare" in the context of politics is dog whistle code for "black": it's appeal for the right wing as an issue is fundamentally racist, even though most people on assistance were white.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Your comment is quite thoughtful and penetrating, especially the demonizing and not-too-disguised racist elements.

Good observations!

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[-] 0 points by occupypuppies (71) 2 years ago

Their jails are more beautiful than my house.

[-] 0 points by ubercaput (175) from New York City, NY 2 years ago

+1 Yes! Go Nordic!

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[-] 0 points by HitGirl (2263) 2 years ago

Of course, Republicans would cry out, "Socialism!" as if it were a dirty word, but the fact remains that these social democracies are far more humane and efficient than the class system Republicans are so relentlessly trying to drive us into. No one can argue with the success of these Scandinavian countries. What is their secret? An educated population? A government less prone to corruption? Racial homogeniety? My understanding is that it is very difficult to emigrate to these countries.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Although I could be wrong, I don't think it's a big secret. For one thing, they all have VERY powerful labor unions/parties that naturally drive the system towards greater equality for the "little guy". For another, their Socialist economic model naturally lends itself to a more equitable distribution of wealth, although I'm sure many in those countries would differ with me to some degree. Our free-market Capitalist system is not designed to be equitable, but to concentrate wealth/power in the hands of those who own the lion's share of the company, i.e. CEOs and other large shareholders.

[-] 0 points by HitGirl (2263) 2 years ago

Well, that might be true. After all, racial homogeniety isn't exactly working for Japan.

[-] 0 points by leandroBR (24) from São José dos Campos, São Paulo 2 years ago

Oh, i wish i had been born there... Brazil is a great country of course, but the economics and politics in this place are totally screwed. The worst part is when everyone celebrates my country's economic ascension. Bunch of idiots that don't realize how lousy and corrupt the government is... 1 day waiting in line at a public hospital, high illiteracy and schools falling apart, and they cheer for the president because of the World Cup... Recently, a law was approved that gives 20% of Brazil's total receipt with taxes to the politicians and they can do whatever they want with it... Sorry for this comment, it was quite away from the subject, but i had to...

[-] 0 points by FreeDiscussion1 (109) 2 years ago

Give me a break. The population of Sweden in 1900 was 5.1 million people. Today the country has only 9.4 million. What an example of out of control growth,,, 4 million in 112 years. Annual population growth rate: 0.158%. I dont think I would change our system based on the fact, "NOBODY WANTS TO LIVE THERE."

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

You have committed the logical fallacy of Non Sequitur (Does Not Follow). The growth (or lack of it) of a population has nothing to do with the success/failure of its Social/Economic model.

Ever hear of Scaling? Let's say, purely for the sake of a totally theoretical argument, that 9.4 million Swedes pay 30% of their income and they all average about $40,000 USD per year. That would be $12,000 per year in taxes times 9.4 million = $112,800,000,000 USD in revenue for the Swedish government.

Now apply that to a US population of 300 million (yes, I know, there are only about 150 million in the workforce, but please go with me for the sake of argument. There aren't 9.4 million Swedes all working either). $40,000 per year @ 30% tax rate is still $12,000 per year in tax, multiplied by 300 million = $3,600,000,000,000. Even by this crude example, there is significant tax revenue if everyone pays their fair share.

The KEY principle to be noted is that if the model is valid, the application of that model will follow regardless of size of the population.

[-] 1 points by FreeDiscussion1 (109) 2 years ago

Fine, move there and enjoy.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I will admit that it is cold and dark 6 months out of the year, and that is the chief reason, more than likely, that the population of the Scandinavian countries is small. But we were not discussing climate, but Economic Systems.

[-] 0 points by FreeDiscussion1 (109) 2 years ago

If people currently live there,, with cold and 6 months of dark, others,,, you would assume,, would go there for a great Economic System. But guess it must not be THAT IMPORTANT,,, is it.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I think most people would rather live in a temperate climate with a malfunctioning economic system than in a harsh climate with a great economic system. The human animal evolved from Nature to flourish in a warmer climate. Only the heartiest of individuals live long-term in countries north of the Arctic Circle.

And that still doesn't mean that we shouldn't take a hard look at the Swedish model, as climate and economics are not the point. Applicability of the model is.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

It is not my aim to get in the middle of your discussion with Underdog, but I just wanted to point out that Sweden's climate is not as cold as many people think. Three quarters of Sweden lies below the Artic Circle. Due to the Gulf Stream, it is not as cold at the same latitude as someplace in say Canada or Alaska. The highs in Jarna (near Stockholm) this week will be in the low 30's F and the lows will be in the low 20's F. In contrast the highs in Palmer, AK (near Anchorage, where two of my daughters live, and close to the same latitude as Stockholm) will be in the low 20's F and the lows will be this week will be minus 10 F. The summers in both Alaska and Sweden are glorious and people go wild celebrating them.

Having spent some time in Alaska in the winter, unless you are way up north even the darknes is not so much a problem. Much of the day is similar to dusk, and while it clearly isn't daylight, it is better than nothing. It is just that f...ing cold that gets to you! You just load up on vitamin D, and find the good books that you have not had the chance to read in the warm weather months, not unlike here. Alaskans are truly a hearty bunch of souls, many of whom feel that living amonst all the crap in the lower 48 isn't worth it.

[-] 0 points by FreeDiscussion1 (109) 2 years ago

I dont see a lot of hispanics crossing over the Sweden border,,, or anyone else.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

As I said before, a harsh climate discourages a lot of people when they can go somewhere more comfortable. Also, you have to know the language to function there, not like in the US where people openly do not speak English and have no intention of ever learning it. In Sweden, you HAVE to be able to read/write Swedish (unless I have been misinformed, in which case I retract that statement in advance). As you know, Europeans usually can converse in several languages, including English, and that's why we've been getting posts from Scandinavian citizens in English here. I think someone who went there would have a pretty tough time getting by without knowing the language, but I could be wrong. If so, would someone please educate me on this point?

[-] 0 points by kingscrossection (1203) 2 years ago

However, the problem with bleeding hearts in this country does not allow the weak to die off so only the strong survive. That is the problem. The poor are holding everyone back.

[-] 1 points by HitGirl (2263) 2 years ago

Exactly so! You're right, kingscrossdresser. Fire up the ovens! Hitler had it right all along.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Spoken like a true follower of Social Darwinism. Hitler had the same idea. Go read about it in Mein Kampf.

[-] 1 points by kingscrossection (1203) 2 years ago

Bro calm down I was only half joking.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Because of the faceless quality of this type of communication, one must rely strictly on what the written word conveys, because you can't obtain all of the subtleties of live verbal communication.

That said, I'm glad to hear you were "half joking". What is the other half that you were not joking about?

[-] 1 points by kingscrossection (1203) 2 years ago

Well I believe that people should be independent on their own. I also believe that people deserve some help when life gets them beat down. It kind of seems to be the best of both worlds. Although you may not agree.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

So what would that look like, in your mind, in terms of a systemic reform? You sound like you "want your cake and eat it to". It would help if you could clarify your vision for me a little more. Thanks.

[-] 1 points by DieNachthexen (103) from New York, NY 2 years ago

seriously wtf I wonder about our education system in the US

[-] 1 points by DieNachthexen (103) from New York, NY 2 years ago

oh wait you want to get rid of money because that'll fix everything bad never mind

[-] 0 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

I always think Darwinism is a misnomer when applied this way, but I won't digress :)

Sure, social democracy is absolutely better than what we have now, but I wonder how collaborative workplaces are in Sweden, how participatory their democracy is, etc.? Nonetheless, at a minimum, I think it's safe to say we can borrow many ideas from Sweden (and other Scandinavian countries).

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

I don't know how collaborative their work places are on the whole. SFF would probably be able to answer that. I do know though that when Sweden experienced its economic downturn, Scania trucks kept all their workers on the payroll (at two thirds or three quarters pay) retraining them, and they also retooled much of their factories. When the economy started to recover, they were ready.

[-] 1 points by francismjenkins (3713) 2 years ago

Indeed, Germany did the same thing. Trade unionism is very strong in these countries, and for some, this represents a strong current of workplace collaboration (and it's certainly much stronger than anything we have in place here in the US). Nonetheless, Scandinavian workers are still largely detached from ownership in the companies they work for.

Don't get me wrong, I recognize the complexities of our modern economy, and considering how technologically advanced our world has become (and how capital intensive some industries are), a reworking of some aspects of anarchist thought may be necessary. However, the basic idea of workers owning the firms they work for is a good idea in probably most applications (and of course it's hard to imagine how participatory democracy could be a bad idea, provided it's applied intelligently).

Moreover, the idea of "division of labor" is more complex today. There are many functions, which require a masters degree or PhD in rigorous subject matter, and high level scientific research really requires specialization (I'm not sure how it could be effectively done any other way). The same can be said for medicine and many other fields. I know there's many people who critique the structure of our educational system (including our university system), but we have to acknowledge that some subjects cannot be learned outside of a classroom. Advanced chemistry and biology require laboratories full of expensive equipment. Modern medicine, including nursing, requires working with cadavers, etc.

[-] 1 points by Odin (583) 2 years ago

That collaborative effort between unions and companies to produce a superior product or service at a competitive price is what has been missing in this country. It is only by having that can unions justify getting a living wage and benefits. Of course competing against slave labor, child labor, etc. is a real problem.

[-] -1 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@ Underdog... Capitalism in the US is not survival of the fittest, it is fraud and deceit perpetuated on the unknowing.

Most wealth in the US is inherited, so they start of rich and maintain it. No need to be smart just keep your money safe and pass it on.

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I think your analysis may be a little harsh. There are a lot of self-made wealthy Americans. I don't have the data to support the percentage of inherited wealth vs. acquired wealth, but wish I did. I'm sure that would be very interesting.

I really don't have a problem with people making money, even a lot of money. My concern is with the overall Standard of Living of ALL Americans, the conditions that have lead to the decline of that SoL, and how to get it back up. We used to have one of the highest, if not THE highest SoLs in the world. We certainly can't make that claim now.

[-] 1 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@underdog...From the Wall Street Journal:

Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison – all self-made – topped the list, once again. And Forbes heralds that fact that “a record 70% of the Forbes listers are self-made.”

Yet their announcement obscures the fact that half of the top 10 on the Forbes list have inherited all or some of their wealth, making America’s billboard chart of opportunity look increasingly like the the lucky sperm club.

The Walton Family fortune towers over all others on the list. Christy Walton has a listed worth of $24.5 billion, Jim Walton has a listed worth of $21.1 billion, Alice Walton has a listed worth of $20.9 billion, and Robson Walton has a listed worth of $20.5 billion.

Yet if the Waltons were counted as a single family fortune – like many others on the list – they would have $87 billion, making them the richest family in America. They would easily surpass Bill Gates at the top of the list, with $59 billion. As he and Mr. Buffett give away more of their fortunes to charity, the individual Waltons could well wind up cracking the top five.

Along with the Waltons, we have the Koch brothers. They inherited the predecessor to Koch Industries from their dad. To their credit, they grew their fortune into much larger businesses, while lots of people inherit businesses and ruin them. Still, it would be a stretch to say the Koch brothers are entirely “self made.”

The rise of the heirs on the Forbes list signals a larger worry, however. America may not be able to create new wealth the way it has for the past 20 years. All of the forces that drove billionaire creation – strong economic growth, a 20-year-bull market, huge technological change and investment – are weakening. We will still create new billionaires, with the occasional Zuckerbergs keeping the flame alive.

Yet preserved family wealth may well start eclipsing earned new wealth. It’s possible that we could be heading into a period like the 1930s, 40s and 50s, when most of the large wealth in America came from one of two places – oil and trust funds.

I hope I’m wrong.

Do you think inherited wealth will outshine earned wealth on the Forbes list?

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I don't really know, and don't like to speculate, since it's akin to shooting craps -- you just don't know the outcome. I prefer to work from known facts and draw conclusions based on empirical evidence. That said, WSJ article does lend credence to believe that inherited wealth is certainly a factor to consider from your original "Most of the wealth in the US is inherited". Thanks for providing it.

[-] 1 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@underdog...Just what in the article was not empirical evidence?

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I am very suspicious of sources that have anything to do with large, established for-profit institutions like WSJ. The data might be perfectly accurate, but you never really know. Propaganda is propaganda, and you have to be very careful not to just accept something just because it's in print. There are frequently ulterior motives behind anything you see in print. Doesn't mean there ALWAYS are ulterior motives, just that you need to take things with a grain of salt until the evidence becomes overwhelmingly obvious that it can't be anything else but true.

[-] 1 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@underdog...Huh!

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

After re-reading my response to you, I think I should provide a little more clarification.

Objects presented to our brains through our senses can be of two types: 1) Concrete and 2) Abstract. Examples of Concrete objects like apples, chairs, skyscrapers, etc. are usually accepted as real and trustworthy since they are directly tangible through our senses (unless one wishes to subscribe to the possibility that we are disembodied brains in bell jars being fed false data about our reality as in The Matrix) :-) the other type of objects, Abstract objects, cannot be directly perceived in the same way as Concrete objects and fall into the realm of information, ideas, thoughts, etc. that requires reasoning and objective judgement/evaluation to determine the reality and truthfulness of the information object.

Obviously, all information obtained in the media is suspect of varying degrees of truthfulness ranging from complete truth to complete falsehood. To verify truthfulness of data as closely as possible, one must attempt to obtain corroborating evidence from as many other independent sources as possible. If the data from all these sources align closely, one can make a cautious assumption that the data is at least, PROBABLY reasonable accurate and trustworthy. The more independent sources one has the better. If the data from all of these sources does not align, but diverges, the data is suspect and one must wait until new evidence is obtained and the information proven trustworthy.

I know the above is very verbose, but I wanted to be as clear as possible about how I evaluate the reality of information, especially media information, in the world.

[-] 0 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@Underdog...So nothing is true only information that conforms with your predetermined concepts will be considered by the average man.

If their is no truth than we are not real.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

i did not say that nothing is true, only that the media frequently provides misinformation, and sometimes intentional DISinformation, so one should exercise caution in the first case and EXTREME caution in the second. In particular, blind acceptance of media messages from large corporations should always be suspect until independantly verified, unless one wishes to be led astray by what may be, at best, benign mistakes in facts or, at worst, intentional propaganda.

[-] 1 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@underdog....How is the information verified?

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

As I said, many independent sources not related to each other in terms of media ownership or affiliations is a start. I'm talking about a SERIOUS investigation into the facts of whatever information you are trying to verify. Many other types of information may not be important to you and can be dismissed as a casual read (and therefore filed away as something perhaps interesting to be aware of but unworthy of time and effort to investigate through multiple sources). Probably the vast majority of information contained in newspapers would fall under this category. Of course, newspapers frequently make mistakes or distort the facts. The Op-ed sections, in particular, are frequently full of propaganda that the owners use to get their Conservative or Liberal message across to the masses that read them. A person would be quite foolhardy, in my opinion, to accept anything there as "factual" without further independent investigation.

The great thing about living in the age of the Internet is that there is a massive amount of information available at everyone's fingertips to provide verification of assertions. It still takes time, but not as much as in the old days when library research may have been necessary.

Did I answer your question?

[-] 1 points by chuck1al (1074) from Flomaton, AL 2 years ago

@underdog...No., by the time you verified one piece of information it may not be true anymore.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

I see your point and acknowledge its validity. I can't speak for anyone else, but in those situations I personally would think that if the data is changing that rapidly, then I would rather suspend forming a firm belief/acceptance of that information and wait for independent confirmation than go ahead and accept it. Truth is just that important to me, and I have a basic mistrust of media information...especially if the info seems like it is trying to assert something or trying to convince me to accept something. I just can't seem to get away from possible hidden agendas on their part.

Man with his burning soul has but an hour of breath to build a ship of Truth In which his soul may sail on the sea of death. For death takes toll of beauty, courage, youth -- of all but Truth.  - John Masefield

[-] -1 points by Ninetyninenot (-57) 2 years ago

If poverty is an indictment of a society, how come when anyone brings up how we should stop importing more, liberals flip and smear them as racists? Want less poverty? Stop importing it. Close the border.

[-] -2 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

Funny that no one mentions all of the muslims immigrants that live in Sweden. Police get attacked when they respond to emergency calls in the muslim areas of town. Jews have even been leaving Sweden to safer ground. Your Swedish utopia isn't really that great anymore and their welfare state may note be able to support all of these backward immigrants.

[-] 1 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Could you provide some links to where you are getting this information? I would like to read up on your assertions.

No country is a utopia. All countries have problems. I have not been discussing immigration in this post, only the applicability of the Swedish economic model to the USA.

[-] -2 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

Are the trains on time? Sorry but there is poverty in Sweden, there are Muslim immigrant towns in Sweden that the police don't even want to go into. Immigrants go there for the free stuff not for jobs. I don't think Sweden is an economic model to look up to at all.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

If it isn't a good model, do you have a better one? I am all ears and open to any proposals that support the principle of Greatest Good for the Greatest Number and not the Greatest Good for the Smallest Number. Over time, Capitalism tends to concentrate wealth into the hands of a small minority, reduces (or eliminates) the middle class, and tends to separate people into the very wealthy minority and the very poor majority. That has been gradually happening in this country for 30 years. I know, because I am old enough to have personally watched it happen and not learned about it in some history book.

That is why OWS exists today.

[-] 0 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

your theory about capitalism is rubbish and just that a theory. The U.S. has practiced capitalism for centuries and every time we have a recession, all of the socialist come out of the woodwork tell us we need to change. Well, go live in Sweden see how great it is. Maybe you can drive their Chinese owned Volvo's or their Saab's ( oh wait Saab is dead).

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

My "theory about capitalism" is not so much a theory as it is pure observation of the facts. It is a FACT that the middle-class in this country has suffered significant decline in the last 30 years. It is a FACT that the wealthy class get significant tax breaks while the average taxpayer gets none.  It is a FACT that the American Aristocracy influences Congress to pass legislation that favors their agenda through well-funded lobbying and PACs. It is a FACT that they can purchase and control the media messages that the largely unthinking masses absorb. 

Were their latitude warmer, and if I did not have a family and other responsibilities that keep me here, I might give serious consideration to immigration. But that can also be construed as giving up; bailing out on America. The US still has a lot going for it, but it has lost it's way.  Mired down in a mountain of debt caused by poor fiscal policy over decades, coupled with politicians being influenced to maintain the status-quo through rich contributions by the Aristocracy, the USA is on the road to becoming insignificant in the 21st century. 

All I am calling for, and all OWS is calling for, is fairness and equality for all. That is the founding principle upon which this country was created.

[-] 1 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

You've lost your way the u.s.a. hasn't. The lobbying that's going on includes billionaire socialist, environmental radicals, and Unions all things that you support. You even have a left wing president and you are still not happy. so my conclusion is that you want a Chinese model of government, i.e. no democracy that forces your solutions on the country. Your fairness and equality that you call for is garbage, you want me to work and give more than half of my income to some bum or illegal alien so that everything is equal. It doesn't work that way. Sweden, Greece all those socialist European countries are falling apart, they are insignificant already. The U.S. will become insignificant if we follow your solutions. We won't though as the U.S. is a right of center country and people like you and not taken seriously. The only way you could take power is through violence, and seeing what a bunch of sissy's the left has i don't think you'd stand a chance.

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

You did not respond to the previous FACTS I outlined before, but I'll go ahead and respond to your assertions below.

1) "The lobbying that's going on includes billionaire socialist, environmental radicals, and Unions all things that you support." ---- I am willing to acknowledge that lobbying happens on both the Right and the Left.  Can you provide any examples of billionaire socialist lobbying? I am unaware of any and would like to know. Union lobbying, if there is any, would not likely attract any serious attention since union coffers are nowhere near the levels that they used to be since they started going into decline.  The best proof that lobbying is primarily focused on the Right agenda is that we have not seen any significant Left legislation come forth as a result of Leftist lobbying efforts (at least none that I am aware of -- perhaps you or someone else could enlighten me on that point). 

2) "You even have a left wing president and you are still not happy." ---- What people fail to understand is that it doesn't really matter much who occupies the White House. Congress creates and passes (or defeats) legislation.  The President merely signs it into law or vetoes it. Congress has the power. The President has influence and provides a focus for legislative efforts, but that is about all he can do.  Unfortunately, Presidents get blamed for a lot that is beyond their control. It is easier for the public to focus their frustrations and anger on one person than an entire Congress, and Congress is broken -- very broken -- and has been for a long time. 

3) "you want a Chinese model of government" ---- As stated throughout these posts, I DO NOT support any Authoritarian form of government. I am for MORE freedoms for people ( socio-political and economic) not less. 

4) "you want me to work and give more than half of my income" ---- I do not know what the tax rate would be under a Progressive Tax system that supported all the social programs that the Scandinavian countries have. However, previous posts from others who actually live in Scandinavia like struggleforfreedom80 have indicated that the average would probably be about 30%. To know the details about the tax burden of Scandinavian countries would require a lot of research.  I encourage you to determine the true tax burden of Scandinavian citizens as it may be much lower than half of a person's income. 

5) "Sweden, Greece all those socialist European countries are falling apart" ---- I'll admit that Greece is in pretty bad shape economically. But Sweden? The original post is about Sweden and I am unaware that it (or even the other "socialist European countries") are "falling apart". Please provide specific examples/data to support your assertion. 

6) "The U.S. will become insignificant if we follow your solutions. " ---- Whether the country follows my solutions or not is not the point. I am but one lone voice expressing my right of Free Speech. The real point is what kind of state is the country in and is it moving in the correct direction to realize the best interests of all of its citizens. I am advocating that it is not. Is the USA really better off than it was 30 years ago? Are more or less people unemployed and economically disenfranchised? Are more or less people covered by health insurance? Are more or less people living below the poverty line?

7) "The only way you could take power is through violence" ---- Whether through violence or peace, change is needed. I do not advocate violence.  But I also realize, as a lay student of history, that revolutions do happen, and would prefer they occur within the framework of peace such as Ghandi in India or King in the US.  Whatever happens will happen regardless of what I would want. The American Revolution, French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, etc. were all violent. When people are repressed and things get bad enough, they will rise up (the most recent examples being in the Middle East). This can only occur when the status quo becomes intolerable. Whether it is or not in this country has yet to be determined.  OWS reflects a growing frustration brewing in the common man/woman. Remember that the freedoms you enjoy today are a result of what started in 1776 -- revolution.

8) "what a bunch of sissy's the left has" ----  Name calling? Really?  The old bumper sticker "America, love it or leave it!" should be replaced with "America, love it and change it for the better!". Which requires more courage -- to do nothing and accept a bad state of affairs or to try to improve conditions for everyone?  To resign oneself to the status quo or fight for improvements requiring a lot of effort and determination? 

I actually care a great deal about what happens in this country long-term, as it takes a lot of time and thought to intelligently respond to those like yourself who have opposing opinions. I could certainly be doing other things with my time. I am old, and who knows when I might be taking the big dirt nap. But what about the younger generation inheriting what we have left them? If something isn't done to improve the trends I have personally witnessed over the last 30 years, they could be in for a really difficult time (unless they are wealthy Republicans of course).

[-] -1 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

you seriously don't think there is no Union lobbying ? come on! The SEIU has visited the White (w/ Obama in it) more than anyone else. And unions do have a lot of money.

[-] 2 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

If you can provide concrete verifiable data regarding their lobbying contributions, and it is a significant amount, I am willing to acknowledge that and would retract on that point.

[-] 1 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 2 years ago

It's a shame to bury this info in this thread, but take a look at this: Oh hell, tried to cut/paste but you can't read it this way.

But, from 1989-2012, the SEIU ranked 5h, w/ $37.8mm thrown at politicians....76% to dems, 2% to reps and I don't know where the rest went....Goldman Sachs came in 7th and they funded Dems over Reps 60/39%. Here's the link.... http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

Organized Labor is very well represented in the top of the listing

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Wow! I must admit that I am surprised, given the decline in the influence of Labor in recent decades. Perhaps they are trying to pump a lot of money into the system just for that very reason...I don't know.

I studied the data on the site you provided for at least 15 minutes, and do retract my previous comment on this point. Thank you for educating me on this.

[-] 1 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 2 years ago

Perhaps....but they suffered a big blow today. My state (indiana) is working a right to work bill, Passed the house today and is expected to hit Mitch's desk early Feb. Unions are threatening to disrupt the super bowl. If you look at a map of rtw states.....IN would be the first north of mason dixon, east of Mississippi to do so, tho we were briefly rtw in late 50's/early 60's. Our state dems fled to Illinois late last yr to avoid a vote but came back recently.

[-] 3 points by Underdog (2971) from Clermont, FL 2 years ago

Don't know if you are a supporter of Labor or not, but if so, my condolences.

I live in Florida which has been rtw for as long as I can remember (perhaps even longer than I've been alive... I don't know). Even though we are the 4th most populated state in the Union, everybody comes here from up North or elsewhere to retire, so there is a huge chunk of the population here that doesn't care about rtw because they don't work anymore!

Crappy service wage jobs and ineffective unions are the norm here.

Really sorry to hear about IN. You might not be, but I am.

[-] 1 points by ronniepaul2012 (214) 2 years ago

I have mixed emotions about it. Just cuz we are rtw doesn't mean existing unions are gonna die or new ones can't come in. I know the fear is folks won't pay dues if they don't have to, but what does that say about unions in the first place? If you think you are getting value from your dues I would think you would continue paying them. I know I would, But, I also know alot won't. Be interesting to see how this plays out over several years. I suspect some unions won't see a decline in membership cuz of Vinnie and Vito :-)

[-] 0 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

Nine SEIU members and workers from key states across the country have relocated to Washington, DC for a three-month long stint as a grassroots lobbyist on Capitol Hill.

SEIU’s selfish lobbying continually threatens to bloat government budgets and infringe on government employees’ rights across the nation:

In Oregon, SEIU successfully lobbied the state’s governor into signing an executive order granting “card check” rights to organize lottery employees. After a court ruling decided lotto workers were not included in the order, employees voted in a secret ballot election – not to unionize with SEIU. SEIU topped the donation list to a campaign that would keep a retirement tax on the citizens of Watsonville, California. In Washington State, taxpayers are forced to pay for the time of state employees to negotiate against the state. According the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, Washingtonians were forced to pay for 154 missed days of work for SEIU negotiators. In 2006, the Boston Herald editorialized against a political campaign by SEIU to block much-needed reform of the state’s childcare services – and make it easier for SEIU to unionize more people. The Herald noted, however, that “Question 3 is clearly good for organized labor, but there is no compelling argument it will be good for kids. In fact the opposite is true.”

[-] -1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Define, "a lot of money".

And then think about it in light of some $2.000,000,000,000, in liquidity, that corporations are currently sitting on.

Then, step away from the RupetRush Juice.

There is NO comparison.

[-] 0 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

if you read my comment i used a double negative i meant to say 'you seriously do think there is no Union lobbying'. I don't listen to Rush. Who is Rupet? Maybe you should step away from the rubbish you read.

[-] -1 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

You're surprisingly drunk on for not knowing what it is.

There is NO comparison on the lobby front.

None what so ever.

Pointless to even mention it.

And you know that.

[-] 1 points by Carlitini99 (-167) 2 years ago

yes sir, of course you are right, i submit to the new left wing dictatorship of the OWS!

[-] 0 points by shoozTroll (17632) 2 years ago

Too much juice has made you irrational.

I suggest you take a nap.

It "might" clear your head.

Now, What were you saying?