Sweden Is Not So Equal
By Staff News & Analysis - May 03, 2013

The Real Reason for Swedish 'Equality' … Super-Economy: The Upper Class and Wealth Inequality in Sweden … Sweden is viewed as an egalitarian utopia by outsiders, but reality is complex. In some ways Sweden has less social equality than the United States. While the American upper class is largely meritocratic, the upper class in Sweden are still mostly defined by birth. – SuperEconomy Blogspot

Dominant Social Theme: Sweden is very equal, indeed.

Free-Market Analysis: When leftists speak about the redeeming qualities of Swedish communitarianism, they don't mention that Sweden has an inbred, titled elite.

This is very interesting and might change the context of a conversation that usually celebrates Sweden's confiscatory tax rates and Green cultism.

Reading this article, one is provided with the insight that one reason for Sweden's over-the-top socialism is that the titled elites living mostly in urban centers have used regulation and taxation to protect their own power and authority. Here's more:

Historically, Sweden, Norway and Finland alone in Europe never developed Feudalism (Denmark was closer to continental Europe). The Nordic nobility was a small share of the population and not as powerful as the nobility in continental Europe, though still influential. The upper class in Sweden today consists of the nobility and of wealthy bourgeoisie families that socially merged with them. Wealthy bourgeois families live in the same neighborhoods and have adopted similar behavior and identity as the nobility. Despite long Social Democratic dominance they remain a coherent social group, with a distinct and recognizable accent, way of dressing, values etc.

The upper-class families still owned most of private industry, but because of taxes those assets were simply not worth much. Paradoxically the high taxes and capital regulations which prevented foreign investments seem to have helped freeze the asset distribution into place, with the share of wealth owned by the rich being fairly constant between 1970 to the 1990s. Though Sweden was historically a country with a high rate of entrepreneurship, the economic policy of this era made it extremely difficult to build new wealth. Of the largest firms in Sweden's only a couple were founded after 1970. Needless to say this reduces reducing mobility into the upper-classes. Meanwhile the combination of generous pension and high income tax rates reduces the incentives of the middle class to accumulate capital.

The article speculates that workers and the upper class are aware of the manipulation of the middle class, but the middle class itself is not in aggregate aware of how the power of the state is used to retard social dynamism and more fungible ownership of private sector initiatives.

This is indeed a paradox, and one of the more intriguing ones of the modern era. Middle classes throughout the Western world have been provided with an elaborate rationale for why their wealth ought to be confiscated and their behavior subject to the severe moderation of the state.

This article on Sweden shows us once more that the reality of state control almost inevitably advantages one group (usually top elites) at the expense of others (usually the middle classes).

After Thoughts

Whether this sort of manipulation will continue to be successful in the 21st century is questionable, in our view.

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