Northern Future Forum Stockholm 2012

”Den nordiska modellen är löst definierad men kan kort beskrivas som en ekonomiskt framgångsrik välfärdsstat med omfattande trygghetssystem, höga skatter och starka fackföreningar. Vissa lägger till jämställdhet mellan könen och ambitiös miljöpolitik.

Modellen har alltid förknippats med socialdemokratin och särskilt Stockholm betraktades av internationell vänster länge som ett nytt Jerusalem. Men den tiden kan vara på väg att rinna ut.”

Göran Eriksson writes this in Svenska Dagbladet today. I find a problem with such a definition since “ekonomiskt framgångsrik”, or economically successful, is what pays for all this security. So, what in reality is interesting is how the Nordics can pay for all this, if you exclude Norway with its oil and gas. Why are they economically successful? Civil society not the state is the key. I think my generation grew up with the idea that the state does everything and it still sounds like this. This will probably have to change.

A key issue then is whether this “model” is interesting for Germany and Britain or if we should move in either of their directions instead. Assuming that it will be possible in the future to be friends with both sides, as Reinfeldt suggests. Reinfeldt has brought up the issue of whether there will be money for the Nordic welfare state in the future but this ultimately depends on the business sector performance rather than on the state performance.

PJ Anders Linder at Svenska Dagbladet writes today that the journal Expressen had polled only 2% in favor of Reinfeldt’s 75 year retirement initiative. I guess Reinfeldt wanted to see what the response is to this economic problem. It seem like the message is not taken in properly. Daniel Alling at the Swedish Radio said that Germans had calculated that today 3 people work for one retired person and in a not too distant future 1 person would work for two retired persons. Such examples amount to catastrophe for the welfare model in general. The question then arises if the age of the Nordic model, as it is described above, isn’t at its end?

From The Nordic Way report from Davos 2011 that was distributed at the Northern Future Forum in Stockholm 2012:

“Many people see the Nordic countries as some kind of compromise between socialism and capitalism. This is not at all the case, according to Berggren-Trägårdh. Instead, it is the combination of extreme individualism and a strong state that has shaped the fertile ground for an efficient market economy: Less tied down by legal, practical or moral obligations within families, individuals of both sexes become more flexible and available for productive work in a market economy. Gender equality has resulted in both higher fertility rates and higher female participation on the labor market than in other parts of Europe”.

This report can be taken as evidence for the benefit for Swedes to align to Anglo-America rather than Germany and the Eurozone. However, I am not sure how the authors combine individualism and equality. This seems to be the magic in what they call the Nordic Model, although the economist does not think there is anything to export in this model. The historians talk about trust being important. In Fukuyama’s book, Trust, there seems to be a relatively weak argument for trust being important for economic progress. The historians say that individuality does not have to lead to social fragmentation and it is interesting to note that Hayek used the same argument in 1944 in The Road to Serfdom. Nordic individualism differs from the American by being more friendly to the state. If this report is authentic, there must be some factor that makes individualism coexist with equality in spite of the Law of Jante which would work against it. Milton Friedman said: if you put equality before freedom, you will get neither one. The question is if this rule is valid in the Nordic countries?

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