Anyone who reads Swedish news on a regular basis can’t help but get struck by a general sense of doom descending whenever finances are discussed.
Finance minister Magdalena Andersson made headlines last fall when she took office and started out by announcing that the coffers were empty, and there was no way to finance any new initiatives for anything. This week she held a press conference to announce that things were getting even worse than last year, wringing her hands about the government “bleeding money” with no end in sight.
The news stories chime in on this tale of spreading malaise. The Swedish health care system, hailed across the world as proof that socialized medicine is working, is actually crumbling. According the Swedish state radio SR, the number of hospital beds have decreased from 120 000 in the late 1960s to just 20 000 today. During that time the population has increased from just under 8 million to just under 10 million today.
Of those hospital beds, a significant percentage are unused due to staffing shortages of qualified personnel. A number of doctors are sounding the alarm about inadequate funding for proper cancer care. The mental health field is no better off. These are just a few samples; there’s a constant stream of alerts about inadequate availability and lack of qualified specialists (many leave for Norway upon completing their training, as the salaries are considerably higher).
The Swedish defense has gone from a well-funded, respectable force in Scandinavia to a non-existing joke. The stated goal is to defend the capital for a week. That is the best-case scenario. These days, the Russian troops are just laughing at Sweden, says Russian-born expert Vera Efron. “We do not consider Sweden as a country anymore. Sweden has no longer any army, no defense.”
Schools? Don’t even get me started. The responsibility for scools was shifted from the state to the individual municipalities in 1991. The governments own investigation call it a “failure” and the PISA results speak for themselves. Fellow blogger Swedish surveyor has more on this.
The only area that seems to be really growing is the immigration industry, where fortune-seeking entrepreneurs collect tax money hand over fist to provide overpriced housing and services.
But that aside, the sky appears to darken by the day. So it’s a good thing Sweden can pride itself of being a “humanitarian superpower” to counter all the bad news. Things may be going bankrupt on the home front, but at least the citizens can keep their heads high for being the altruistic do-gooders of the world, damnit!
Besides taking in ten times as many refugees per capita as the rest of Europe, a significant chunk of the GDP is doled out to various countries in foreign aid beyond any UN guidelines. Recipients include North Korea, “Palestine” and various heavily corrupt African nations. The Swedish general accounting office has issued a number of scathing reports over the years for the poor control of how the money is spent.
Government foreign aid organization SIDA handles 19,2 billion of the 38,4 billion total, so it should come as no surprise they play a central role in such critique.
Well, this week’s headline is the revelation that SIDA has spent upwards 100 million on media talk shows and pro-EU/pro-NATO advertising in former Soviet member state Georgia. The effort is done in cooperation with American aid organizations funded by, and partially run by representatives for US oil interests, most notably Chevron.
Only a cynic would start speculating about this having anything to do with oil and gas pipelines in the area. Personally, I am absolutely convinced there is no corruption whatsoever to be found here. So I will settle for breaking out the pom-poms and cheer the generous spirit of the Swedish taxpayer, whose trust in the government employees handling the common tax funds so responsibly remains as pristine as ever.