Being a writer, I spend a great deal of time at my computer every day. Far too much of that time is spent roaming the Internet, where I invariably find myself in a debate over US politics. This always leads to some uninformed back-handed and utterly wrong slam against Sweden. Let me state upfront that I was born in the US. I lived there for 48 years, and just recently bought a house in Sweden. I am married to a Swedish man. I am not speaking from a stance of ignorance where the US is concerned. I want to clear up some silly perceptions about my adopted country right here and right now.
Myth #1: Sweden Taxes People to Death
Hardly. The truth is my husband pays 30% income tax. Based on his income level, if we were to move to the US, that would jump to 40%. Plus, there would be no foreseeable benefit to those taxes. In Sweden, we get universal health care. We would not only be paying higher taxes in the US, but would have to also pay outrageous amounts of money for health insurance.
Now, sales tax is actually 25%, but before you start yelling AHA! See? We knew it! Let me state that we never see that tax. Rather than give a false figure like the US stores do, the price an item is marked is the price you actually pay. The MoMs is already added in to that price. There are no surprises at the check out counter… and on most things, the price is still cheaper than in the US, while being of better quality to boot. The exception is cars. I will give you that one. Cars are much cheaper on initial purchase price in the US than in Sweden… except that you then have to add tax to that sale price over there. Here it is already added in, so the final difference is fairly negligible.
Myth #2: The US Has Better Quality Health Care
That one always sees me laughing uproariously. Get serious here, folks, and please try to check your facts before showing your ignorance. The truth of it is that the US was 32nd in Infant Mortality Rates in 2002, and has dropped to 57th place under the Bush Administration. Sweden is number 2. Infant Mortality is the main determining factor when figuring quality of health care. As you can see, the US sucks bad.
You want to know why the difference? I will tell you why: Because in the US, the medical field is a business. It is all about keeping people alive, but sick. They are in it to make the best profit, not to help sick people. In Sweden, everything is universal, nobody gains from keeping the country sick. Well OK, Pharmaceutical companies would gain, but they have no foothold in the government here like they do in the US. The Doctors here care about their patients. Period.
Myth #3: Suicide Rates Are High in Sweden
I’m not sure where that one came from. Perhaps the northern Lapland part of Scandinavia where they have 6 months of midnight. Seasonal Affective Disorder is rampant there. But that is a very small part of the population of Sweden. Very small. In fact, the life expectancy rate in Sweden is 80.63, making Sweden the 5th ranked country in the World for longevity of its citizens. The US is ranked 29th… given those odds, I’ll take my chances with Sweden, thank you very much.
Myth #4: All Swedes Are Tall, Blonde, And Have Blue Eyes
OK this is not political, but I wanted to toss it in there anyway. The prevalence of blonde hair, red hair, and blue eyes is higher here than anywhere else, but that does not mean that everyone has that combination. You can see all body shapes and color combos here. Although, what you will notice is that people are mostly tall or short. The mid-height range is what is under-represented. If they are generally healthier, it is because they are not raised on fast food, they value the earth, and they have fantastic health care.
Myth #5: Sweden is Full of Evil Socialists
First, most Americans have no clue what Socialism even is. They are taught a bunch of crap propaganda in the schools. It is not evil in any way. Watch Star Trek much? Ever say man, what a great system! If so, you are a Socialist at heart. Take that! Having said that, the truth is that about 10 different political parties are represented here fairly evenly. The elections are not Winner-Take-All as they are in the US. The winner is the Top Dog, yes, but the others take a place in the government as advisers. The States Minister does not have total power to run amok even if he wanted to. It is a very balanced system that makes sure the people’s desires are taken into account in all decisions. Imagine that…
Myth #6: Sweden Is Full Of Poor, Lazy People
I have come upon comments stating that the people here are freeloaders because of the system. That is utter crap and again something falsely pushed by the US government. The truth is that the Swedish people are a proud, hard-working people. They take pride in a job well done. The employers here also realize that a well-rested worker is going to produce more in 40 hours than someone you push and push and push will produce in 70+ hours per week. That is why they get so much vacation time, and are not required to work overtime. They do work overtime, however, if they think the job needs them too… and they get paid for that OT, unlike salaried folks in the US.
And poor? Oh please. Look up Most Traveled Citizens. Sweden is at the top. They like to get out and about with all that vacation time. They are very aware of other cultures and like to go explore it. That would be rather hard to do if they were all poor, no? Also, go look up the richest man in the world… Thank You. I rest my case.
Homelessness, anyone? There are a few here and there. You have to look hard to find them. Let’s compare that to the homeless population in the US, shall we? Now which country has the most poor? It isn’t Sweden… the difference is not a freeloading mentality. The difference is that Sweden cares about its people and gives them the tools to help themselves.
Although, one of the great things about the Swedish people is they do not put a lot of stock into how much someone makes. I have a neighbor who won the lottery. You would never know it to see him and talk to him. Money does not change or influence them.
Actions and deeds are what impress the Swedish. I should have moved here a long time ago.
All I’m saying here is that you really need to get off your butts and go see the truth of the world. You cannot sit at your desk and blindly spew what you have been fed from birth. A lot of what you learned is so far off the mark, its scary… especially don’t try to tell a resident what their country is like. how ignorant is that?