Saturday, July 21, 2012

Canada, Sweden and The Collapse of American Culture

average life expectancy cost of healthcare world rankings infographic
National Geographic: Per Capita Healthcare Cost Across The Developed World

Hello James,

Although a native-born American citizen, I graduated the University of Toronto and know from experience that Canada embodies better civilization than what we call "civilization" here in the United States.

As for "sociological experiments," I think America will either undertake a successful experiment in government-supervised universal healthcare, or, we will become a radically bifurcated plutocracy that is "democratic" in name only. 

Concerning your daughter's experience with the Swedish exchange student...

Once we leave the domain of misleading anecdote and embrace statistical truth (which, like it or not, is the foundation of scientific truth) we find that the average Swede uses one third less energy than the average American even though Sweden has a very cold climate with corresponding need for generated heat. (The whole issue of "statistical truth vs. anecdotal truth" begs closer scrutiny if we intend to resolve the irrational confusion-and-conflict that beset the United States. At some point, statistical truth must be taken into account: otherwise we will revert to wishful thinking and superstition based on occasional "anecdotal miracles." For now, that discussion will have to wait...)

I know a fellow who grew up in Joe Biden's neighborhood and for years served on Biden's senatorial staff. A decade ago, P married a Swede and moved to Sweden where he resides in blissful contentment. He is so happy with life in Sweden that he did not even consider an open offer to occupy the West Wing as Biden advisor. 

P tells me there is a phrase in Swedish which means "a home for everyone" and that Swedes are delighted that everyone has a home. 

Perhaps P's most surprising observation is this: "My money seems to go farther in Sweden." (Now that it costs $15,000.00 to purchase health insurance for a family of four, Sweden's enhanced purchasing power comes into focus.)

A related note... 

While on business in Mexico, I lodged at a hotel with a Norwegian businessman who founded and operated a successful software company. Somewhat apprehensively, I asked how he felt about "paying all those taxes." Without hesitation, he replied, "I am happy to pay my taxes because Sweden is able to insure that no one is destitute. Of course, this story is only anecdotal and therefore untrustworthy in "the scientifically provable scheme of things." Nevertheless, I was intrigued by its neat coincidence with P's account of life in Sweden.

As for productivity, Sweden and Norway are among the most productive countries in the world. 

Like prosperous Canada and Germany - who also provide topnotch universal care - neither of them is in economic extremis.

Norway leads the world in productivity, and Sweden occupies 12th place, not far behind America's third place finish.

More importantly, here is a world map of "Purchasing Power Parity" -

Notably, this PPP map was published in 2007. 

Since that year, the net worth of "the average American" has fallen 40%. 

This collapse in America's "fortune" was occasioned - disproportionately - by the inimitable foolishness of the Bush administration.

On the other hand, the stock market has recovered quite remarkably under Obama. (Apparently, American capitalists know something we don't...)

What do you think? 

Is it time for Bush 2.0

If Romney is elected, I will happily bet "even money" that the American economy tumbles precipitously.

Be that as it may, the median Swede and the median Norwegian enjoy a much higher standard of living than the median American. 

In a democracy - as distinct from a plutocracy - "median well-being" has existential significance as The Greatest Generation, committed to The Common Good, knew well. 

As mentioned in previous correspondence, I am pleased by your spotlight on George Carlin's "The American Dream." It is a marvelous rant by one of America's pre-eminent radical-left thinkers.

Revealingly, my most dependable conservative correspondent, G, is a fellow who  -- amidst the bilge he circulates (and I say this in full knowledge that there are many thoughtful right-wingers) -- also circulated Carlin's "Dream." 

Just yesterday, G emailed "The Most Honest 3 Minutes On TV?" (You may view this entire "Newsroom" episode at

The fact that Sorkin's "Three Minutes" resonates with conservatives - just as Carlin's "Dream" did - tells me that "something" is "stirring in the depths" and that "American flag wavers" now know it is neither enough to wave the flag, nor truthful to pretend that America is still #1. (Yes, I know... It's all that commie Muslim anti-Christ Kenyan's fault: George Bush was a great president! Dick Cheney an even greater vice president! And Romneycare Mitt "the Right man for the job!" Thanks be to God. Amen. Allleluia.)

How has America fallen so far, so fast? 

After all, The Shining City On A Hill illuminated "The Whole World" just 23 years ago.

"Inside Job" tells the tale of America's collapse, revealing the treachery and betrayal at the heart of predatory capitalism.

It is specifically that predation which propelled America's fall from Numero Uno

Take time to watch the whole documentary. Do not "cut out" after the opening "Icelandic sequence." 

As for "slick," I think you're confounding the oiliness of American financiers with Ferguson's acid analysis of what really went down. 

Even if we accept the theory that "irresponsible borrowers took money they could never pay back," it is an enduring fact that "pushers" are much more responsible than poor bastards who get hooked on "the drug." 

Seen "Breaking Bad?" 

Junkies are pawns in the sophisticated games of rich, clever, ruthless scum buckets.

In any event...

Gnosh on this. 

A communist country - largely reliant on central command and control - is whooping our capitalist ass.

Fact: Highly financialized capitalism has NO productive, job-creating mojo. None.  ///

Giving plutocratic "job creators" more tax breaks, more "free market" favors, and more opportunity to increase the "sucking sound" at the top of the pyramid, is not going to restore America. 

Nor will the election of Etch-a-Sketch, who - as surely as night follows day - will usher in a depression to make the last one look like placental calm.

Pax on both houses

Alan Archibald


On Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 8:15 PM, jc wrote:

I just finished watching, on Iceland, it left me wanting as though I was watching a slick docugenda done by Michael Moore.  No mention of what Iceland was really like other than wonderland on ice. Trust, people took home very little money, the state ran everything and provided that to their people.

I have no desire to live in a failed sociological experiment do you?

My daughter had an exchange student live with us for a number of months from Sweden, she could not understand why I wanted her to turn off the lights….In Sweeeeeeeedem it's all free she told us.

Her dad told a different story about the Swedish Tax system.. Stay loose…Live free or the other fucker dies, J.C.

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