Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A Nightmare Scenario..

Tech Central Station has an article on politics in Sweden (also known as the Greater Toronto Area Europe) It would seem that Sweden has finally accomplished what Toronto based pundits and media can only dream of.

Until recently, the Swedish political landscape has been more or less invariable since the 1920s. The social democrats have been in power since then, with a couple of brief interruptions of non-socialist rule (1976-82, 1991-94). The tax burden is now 51.4 percent, compared to the EU average of 41.5 percent. Sweden is now the only country where more than half of GDP is channeled through government. Denmark, the first runner up, falls just below 50 percent. Now there's a world record that ought to be shunned.
The center-right parties, on the other hand, usually run for election on lowering taxes. Not to lower them a great deal, but at least roll back the expansion of the last couple of years. At the end of World War II, Bertil Ohlin, leader of the Liberal Party and later Nobel laureate in economics, tried to explain that taxes were too high and needed to be lowered. The tax burden was 18 percent. The ambition is usually to reverse the last year or so of tax hikes. People who dared to suggest larger cuts; reversing, say, the last five or six years of tax hikes, were maligned as cruel, insensitive libertarians without any concern for the welfare of the people.

However, it was always clear that the opposition wanted lower taxes. The man on the street would be able to distinguish between the social democrats and the opposition; the ruling party wanted higher taxes or at least status quo and the opposition wanted lower taxes. Well, no longer.

The conservative party has grown impatient with its unpopularity. After the former party leader was kicked out a year and a half ago, his successor decided to give up the battle for ideas and move the party platform closer to the electorate. The ambition to lower taxes was one thing that was quickly toned down. So far, the move has been reasonably popular among the party members. Since the last election, the party has soared in the polls, up from 15 percent to about 25. No one seems to remember that the numbers were pretty much the same four years ago, when the party still fought for meaningful change.

That sounds like the sort of "Conservative" party that Belinda Stronarch wants to be leader of. A ho hum "us too" socialist party that would simply perpetuate the current intolerable status quo with its stiffling layers of bureaucracy, aversion to freedom and feudal levels of taxation. Sweden is the most contemptable of developed nations. Far too many elites have warm fuzzy feelings about a nation that perpetually hovers on the brink of bankruptcy.


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