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Be Careful What You Wish For

I just had to share this with you. I was talking to a family member about the election tomorrow, and said that it looked like his candidate, John McCain, would probably lose. He agreed it didn't look good and then said, "be careful what you wish for, if Barack is elected the country will suffer." I said, "I can't see how it could be worse than the last eight years." "Oh yes," he said, "It could get much worse." I asked how, and he replied that we could end up like Sweden.

I laughed, I couldn't help myself. "Like Sweden," I said, "I'll take it."



Now I'm no expert on Sweden, but aren't we talking about a high standard of living aided by socialized medicine and quality education, a low crime rate and lots of fit and charming hotties? wow, sounds awful!

I'm always fascinated by how some Americans perceive other countries. When I hear Republicans talk about the Canadian healthcare system, I shake my head in disbelief.

Obviously your relative has never visited Sweden. Tell him it's kind of like the midwest without the guns, Walmarts, home foreclosures, healthcare bankruptcies or crystal meth epidemic. I know, sounds scary.

Well, I'm an American who has adopted France for the last 28 years, a country where we do pay a lot of taxes but get great health care, where I can come home in most parts of Paris at 2am on the train without fear, where we have freedom of speech, the rule of law and a damned good looking country with lots of good food and wine and I recently spent a wonderful week in Gothenburg, Sweden's 2nd city - what a wonderful city.... but then, they are a fairly homogenous country -Americans , open your minds and your hearts and eyes -- and compare the comparable! And stop being so insular!

While I agree with most of this, I have to take exception with the idea that France has freedom of speech. Try telling that to someone like Brigitte Bardot. How many times has she been fined for inflammatory statements?

I'm sure Sweden is great, but I don't believe we could ever become Sweden. We could, however become more like the functional and sane parts of the country we already have. More Virginia, New York, Oregon, New Hampshire and Illinois and Wisconsin, and less Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming, Texas and Indiana. The latter are all real America, but they don't work very well.

I think I understand your general point but I'm curious about what you mean by "functional". As in its social attitudes? Or governmental structures? As a former Western New Yorker attending graduate school in Oregon I find it much the same in many respects as the second half of your list. Small towns with with "real americans", disdain for any sort of taxation, but plenty of complaining when every single road way is marked with potholes and little money for basic governmental programs (like a police force), large meth use and theft problems and what not. And it is much the same in WNY except taxes are high since its has the unfortunate position of being in the liberal Northeast and attached to Liberal NYC with a (R) mayor. (ha). Even so WNY politically is vastly different than that stereotypical view of NE liberal politics. So I suppose my point really is that I am hesitant to say certain states have it "right" although I'm sure your well aware and most likely making a general statement. Its only that I often hear comments about why certain state in the NE or NW are much better than Southern/Midwestern States and I don't always like to buy into those generalizations because idiots are idiots and they are everywhere. :-) In any case, I wouldn't mind the US being more like Sweden because I like when the government gives me stuff.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that we have exceeded self-parody, and are accelerating towards the event horizon.

In other news, white supremacists support Obama:

Hold on to your butts. According to Hawking and Douglas Adams, we are about to enter an incredibly improbable alternate universe.


Erich Gliebe, chairman of the National Alliance and former pro boxer with the nickname “The Aryan Barbarian”: "...Perhaps the best thing for the white race is to have a black president. My only problem with Obama is perhaps he’s not black enough."

I'm with you on the parallel/alternate universe. Holy schlamoly.

Now, I'm no expert on Sweden, but I am an expert on Norway, in which I live. (I lived in MN for a year as well.)

I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that your family member never ventured outside the North American continent. Sweden and Norway are pretty similiar, except that Norway is less well-known and a lot richer, and I'll tell you that given the choice between having my country end up like Sweden or Bush's US, it's a no-brainer.

Let's see. Free healthcare, free dental, free college, low crime rate, awareness of evolution, no horrid disrespect of science, and no senseless foreign entanglements. And their minister of finance has a ponytail. Yeah, I'm gonna go with Sweden.


Well... Being a swede myself I wouldn't get to upset if the US turns a little bit more like Sweden, it's not that bad, trust me.

Since I'm a student i get $300 every month to be able to pay the rent and buy books. Without it I could never afford to go to collage. But then again, you guys got a lot better climate so...;)

Please, please, please elect Obama tomorrow so we can get this world back on track!

Sweden is like Canada: Moose, hockey and some really awful music. Oh, and all that socialist stuff that people in the U.S. have been brainwashed into not wanting.


Hey. Canada has great music! No healthcare system is perfect. My brother is an emergency care physician in a Montreal major hospital and he has only seen one gun shot victim in several years. Doesn't seem like such a bad place!


you have funny friends :D

Sweden ranks #1 on the Economist's "Democracy Index": (The U.S. ranks 17th -- though I think they're being a little too kind to the U.S.)

I love the little anecdotes like this that you sometimes offer, Norm.

I imagine, given the Obamaphilia already among the left-wing, an Obama that "threatened" to bring us to the brink of Swedish level respect for human rights (including social rights) and entitlements would bring them to climax. Obamaphiliacs would then become Obamasexuals, which are a little like new york metrosexuals, but less pale, and more cheerful, because better taken care of by the state with health care and other such "government entitlement programs".

I expect nothing so orgiastic from Obama. All I want from him is a return to the rule of law; an end to torture, illegal spying, secret memos and an entire shadow government redefining the law in secret behind closed doors; and a leader who thinks through his decisions carefully and considers all evidence, where possible, before reaching a conclusion, and who understands the difference between politics and policy. In short, a post-enlightenment grown up. I am embarrassed, frankly, that my aspirations seem so small. I even thought, until the recent financial downward spiral, that perhaps something could be done about health care--not full blown universality, but a noticable improvement. But after the last 8 years, those seem to me like high hopes indeed.

It's funny how people are afraid of the big "S" societies. Damn, places where citizens see tangible returns on their taxes every day. Isn't it Sweden that offers a full year of parental leave, to be divided between the parents as they see fit? Not to mention the other goodies above.

I think that if we could get over the big Socialist scare, our government and tax system could become malleable enough for the services to be both effective and appreciated.

I think Obama will win, and like Adam, I am just hoping for some return to basics, never mind improvement in actual governance or welfare of the people. I think a lot of people will be disillusioned with Obama, like it or not, he will still answer to corporate power, and like it or not, the Democrats are not for true universal health care or restraining US power abroad or reforming our ailing financial system. The status quo will be restored..perhaps, but nothing more. I do hope Im wrong, but as Howard Zinn and many others have observed, true change comes from grass roots rebellions, and Obama does not strike me as that type of reformer.

Like Sweden? That was an actual LOL moment reading that.

Well, I guess it could be worse - we could turn out like Norway, another 'loser' in that arena.

I'm shaking in my shoes. We might have universal health, generous family leave, a more enlightened society with no death penalty..

However, it's true that we will lose the American exceptionalism of working long hours with few benefits. Oh no!

The discussion was longer, I was reminded that we're the land of the free and of unlimited opportunity. I told him I'd gladly give up my chance of becoming a millionaire for some decent healthcare coverage. Oh no indeed!

Obviously your relative has never visited Sweden. Tell him it's kind of like the midwest without the guns, Walmarts, home foreclosures, healthcare bankruptcies or crystal meth epidemic. I know, sounds scary.

Like the Midwest but without the meth, damn Terry, I wish I had written that. Brilliant.

Norm, this little anecdote is brilliant. I don't think you could better encapsulate the thinking (non-thinking) of a huge segment of American society that has been brainwashed into thinking that Europe is some sort of socialist hell-hole. I have contended for many years that if we forced all of these people to travel to Europe, make them actually visit a hospital, take a train, and basically just see how well folks live here, they would go back home to Alabama or Nebraska, put a gun (figuratively, I hope) to their politicians' heads, and demand more from government.

Reading this blog is some comfort on an evening when I feel very nervous.

Thanks to the 1gm people.


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