What's the Matter With Sweden?

What's the Matter With Sweden? An interesting article about some podunk little third-world countries like Sweden, Norway, Canada and England that actually support the arts with public funds.
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25 Responses:

  1. seminiferous says:

    "A lot of times people don't know who they are, and then they turn out to be Nickelback."

    Hate it when that happens.

    • flipzagging says:

      Canadian arts funding is a pretty mixed affair. I'm glad it exists, but it has a pernicious influence too.

      The music funding is probably the least objectionable. They just ask that more of the personnel be Canadian, not what you're doing.

      Visual arts and film seem to be more controlled by arts councils. I think this has a bad influence on the artists. I know prolific, intelligent artists who can't conceive of doing anything without a grant. And you can imagine what kind of art that councils fund. They go for uncomfortable and edgy impotent commentary on society.

      The model that small countries really ought to follow is Quebec. They have this well-oiled star system that promotes home-grown talent and makes it entertaining. (No Celine Dion jokes, please. This was an experiment that escaped the laboratory.)

      • fantasygoat says:

        For Quebec, it's a matter of cultural survival - no one else in Canada is going to produce anything in French, and there's nowhere else in the world with the same mix of French and American culture to provide them with entertainment, like the rest of Canada can count on from the Amercians.

  2. Talking of The Knife and healthcare makes me want to listen to We Share Our Mother's Health on repeat again. It's almost annoyingly catchy.

  3. latemodel says:

    Shut up and enjoy your warfare state.

  4. scullin says:

    What's wrong with Sweden? Töö mäny Ümläüts.

  5. ak_47 says:

    Well, the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of someone else's money.

    • blech says:

      Have you seen the size of Norway's bank balance?

      • ak_47 says:

        Norway possesses one of the world's largest oil reserves. Also, it is mainly monoethnic christian country. And on the top of all that, there are less than 5 million of inhabitants there. Not every country is that lucky.

        Laws of economics apply everywhere. Some countries inherited hefty amounts of resources from their mother Nature, but others didn't. Norwegians were prudent enough not to waste it during one generation.

        • Going in the other direction isn't a guarantee of efficiency either; while societies which are too unequal suffer inefficiencies from having to allocate more resources to "guard labor" to reinforce the hierarchy and keep the have-nots in their place.

          There is a sweet spot somewhere in the middle, and I suspect Sweden's closer to it than the US these days.

        • heresiarch says:

          i frequently see this argument in attempting to explain why northern european nations have succeeded in minimizing inequality and providing basic social services to all, that it's partly because they are so ethnically homogeneous. i've been living here in northern europe (germany) for the last 6 months, though, and i'm still trying to figure out exactly how that would work. many American states are pretty small and homogeneous, and used to be even more so (say, New Hampshire), yet they haven't accomplished the same thing.

          i suspect that northern european nations like Sweden and the Netherlands have succeeded in the way they have because, after a few centuries of world domination and extractive colonialism by western european nations, culminating in violent nationalism, two bloody world wars, and mass genocide and related unspeakable horrors, that these countries thought heyyyy maybe social equality is a better route to peace & prosperity than unchecked, unfettered capitalism.

          at least, that's my current thinking. too bad it mainly only applies to how europeans treat other europeans, and that europe has not made as much effort to address the detrimental effects of colonialism everywhere else.

          • volkris says:

            Small, homogeneous American states don't have the luxury of not having tax money intercepted by a large, bumbling federal government.

            Here's my answer, though: those goals haven't been accomplished in the US because the citizenry simply doesn't want them or, at least, doesn't want them enough to pay for them.

            It's funny how those promoting equality and "basic social services" don't tend to recognize the option of simply not pursuing those goals. The European countries you point at decided they did value the goals and went for it. We've decided we value other things more, so we apply our resources elsewhere.

            It's pretty simple, really.

    • jwz says:

      It's a funny quote, as long as you conveniently forget that you're quoting Margaret Fucking Thatcher.

      • ak_47 says:

        I know it is Margaret Thatcher's quote. Why should I forget this? I think this quote catches the nature of socialism quite presicely. Oh, wait, are you trying to say that it doesn't matter what a quote says as long as you don't like the person who said it? Well, this is devastating argument indeed.

        • jwz says:

          Look, if you toss around "let a hundred flowers bloom", don't expect people not to laugh at you as they point out what a monster Mao was. Maybe you should get your bumper stickers from a less despotic supplier.

          • ak_47 says:

            I am not sure M.Thatcher can be classified as "despotic". Obviously she cannot be compared with Mao or any other communist despot (without quotes) for that matter. The above mentioned phrase is catchy and right on the money (pun intended). But Thatcher or not, it is not the point. There are plenty of great thinkers who wrote numerous books on this subject. Socialism was explored both theoretically and tried in practice time and again in different cultures, countries and what not. The result is always the same: those very beneficiaries who intended to enjoy the enterprise must pay dear price for this in the end both with their material well-being and freedoms.

            • jwz says:

              Well, I'm sure that with just a couple more go-rounds here on my LJ, we will have reached a mutually satisfactory conclusion to the pressing question, "Socialism: Threat or Menace?" Surely the Nobel will follow close behind.

              Picture Jon Stewart leaning on the back of his hands and saying, "GOOOO OOOOOON."

              • ak_47 says:

                Well, you're right. I am sorry I started this. You asked what's the matter with Sweden. I think it is wrong to spend public money on arts, you think it's right thing to do. So, basically, that's it.

  6. bifrosty2k says:

    Whats *REALLY* sad about Sweden is they pay approximately LOWER taxes than we do in California, and get more for their money... bloody hell.

    • Isn't California chronically teetering on the verge of bankruptcy because, a few decades ago, rich people in gated communities voted to amend the constitution to make tax increases politically impossible?

      • bifrosty2k says:

        I don't know where you live, but we're close to bankruptcy because we're overspending rather than under taxing. Californians basically get the worst return per tax dollar; I could make a guess as to why it is but I don't know for certain. Last I checked, we spent %20 of our tax money just on debt service alone.. We also paid around %20 just in healthcare costs, most of that going to cover illegal immigrant issues.

        California has the highest tax rate in the nation next to New York and New Jersey. California also has a fairly business-hostile climate in terms of regulation/etc so we're losing a lot of tax money there as well.

    • luminalflux says:

      Even factoring in that swedes pay 25% VAT on most items and you pay around 50% income tax on income exceeding a certain amount? I'm finding that hard to believe, but please provide numbers.