At the Cato Institute, Michael Chapman highlights the work of Johan Norberg, a Swedish author who debunks Bernie Sanders’s regular pining about Sweden’s socialist past. Chapman writes:
When Senator Bernie Sanders (I‑VT) talks about Sweden as a socialist paradise, he is promoting a tax‐the‐rich “pipedream” from the 1970s that never really existed, said Johan Norberg, a Swedish author, historian of ideas, and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Norberg added that Sweden today is a “much better and much freer place” than it was in the 1970s.
“So today, if Bernie Sanders wants to imitate Sweden, he would have to reform Social Security, partially privatize it,” said Norberg in an interview with ReasonTV, a division of Reason.com. “He would have to … abolish property taxes and inheritance taxes, and stuff like that, implementing national school voucher systems…. So, Sweden today is not what he remembers from the 1970s. It’s a much better and freer place than it was back then.”
“If Bernie Sanders wants to imitate Sweden, he would have to reduce many taxes. Reduce corporate taxes from the U.S. level, abolish property taxes and inheritance taxes,” says @johanknorberg, author of “The Capitalist Manifesto.” pic.twitter.com/bH1uwp80hv
— reason (@reason) October 24, 2023
Norberg, also a documentary filmmaker, earned his M.A. in the History of Ideas at Stockholm University. His latest book is The Capitalist Manifesto, which was praised by Elon Musk on X. During the ReasonTV interview, Norberg was asked to respond to some of Sanders’ glowing comments about Sweden, which the self‐described socialist had made during his 2015 presidential campaign.
In an inserted news clip, Sanders said, “In countries in Scandinavia, like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, they are very democratic countries obviously. Their voter turnout is a lot higher than it is in the United States. In those countries, health care is a right of all people. In those countries, college education, graduate school is free. In those countries, retirement benefits, child care are stronger than in the United States of America. And in those countries, by and large, government works for ordinary people and the middle class rather than, as is the case right now, in our country, for the billionaire class.”
When news host George Stephanopoulos then said that Republicans would run an attack ad accusing Sanders of wanting to make America more like Scandinavia, the senator replied, “That’s right, that’s right.”
ReasonTV host Zach Weissmuller then asked Norberg to comment on Sanders’ remarks.
Norberg replied, “This is why Sweden is not a libertarian paradise. We might have free markets, but we do have a very generous welfare state. It’s true that many of these things are handed out by the government – it’s funded by the government at least through private providers. But the thing is we pay for these things ourselves. That’s an incredibly important point to make. Because there is this pipedream of Bernie Sanders and others that this will somehow be paid for somehow by the rich.”
“But Sweden learned in the 1970s. You can pick one: a big generous welfare state or you can make the rich pay for it all. You can’t have both. If you have a universal generous welfare state, and make the rich pay for it all, they will stop being rich. They will move. They will stop starting those businesses, the Ikeas of the future, and will move. Instead, you have to get most of the taxes from low‐ and middle‐income households. That’s the dirty little secret of the Swedish welfare state.
Read more here.
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