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As the Rest of the World Embraces Capitalism...

By Ross Kaminsky

For a total of all but one decade in the past nine, the Social Democrats, the main center-left in Sweden, have governed under massive welfare state policies. Sunday, for the first time in 12 years, they lost power to the center-right coalition led by Fredrik Reinfeldt and his Moderate Party which campaigned on cutting taxes and slimming down (though nothing like dismantling) the welfare state.

According to the UK's Independent, "On paper, things have been going well for most Swedes with economic growth higher than 5 per cent and inflation low. But while unemployment is officially 6 per cent, the rate for young people is several times that figure and much joblessness is hidden with huge numbers of people on sickness benefit. The Moderates argue the true unemployment figure is higher than 20 per cent."

Over recent decades, we have witnessed the spectacular collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet Bloc, and East Germany, and the large degree of acceptance of capitalism in Communist China. We have seen at least nine countries in Eastern and Central Europe adopt a flat tax. And we have the continuing spectacle of structurally high unemployment in the still socialst France and Germany, with corresponding weak economic performance.

Even Sweden, the left's paradigm of the beauties of socialism and the redistributive welfare state is now moving, albeit in baby steps, toward the economic freedom that countries all around them are demonstrating to be successful.

It is fascinating to see the countries with histories like Estonia, Lithuania, and Georgia, i.e. those with the most personal experiences under full-fledged socialism and communism, those who really know the damage that Marxist thinking does to a people, be the leaders toward economic freedom.

In another fascinating story, there is the "leaked" tape recording of the Socialist Prime Minister of Hungary saying how his party lied to win the last elections. According to the BBC story,

A brief excerpt was played on Hungarian state radio and others appeared on web sites. It is not clear how they were leaked.

In the excerpts, Mr Gyurcsany says harsh economic reforms are needed.

"There is not much choice. There is not, because we screwed up. Not a little, a lot. No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have.

"Evidently, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years. It was totally clear that what we are saying is not true.

"You cannot quote any significant government measure we can be proud of, other than at the end we managed to bring the government back from the brink. Nothing. If we have to give account to the country about what we did for four years, then what do we say?"

And in a truly fascinating bit of political theater, if true, the BBC story continues:

In a speech sprinkled with obscenities, he says: "We lied in the morning, we lied in the evening."

Some analysts suggest the leak may be with the prime minister's permission as he posted a full transcript on his own web blog.

Mr Gyurcsany may be trying to emphasise the need for tough reforms, they say. Local elections are set for 1 October.

Maybe even true Socialists are seeing the light...just not American socialists. As George Will says, there are more Marxists on the faculty at Harvard than in all of Eastern Europe.

Countries which have a longer history of economic and political freedom, those which should be the paradigms of liberty, sit back pathetically, letting the politics be dominated by unions, idealist idiots, haters of capitalism and freedom, or simply people who don't care or know enough to act for change. Sweden has finally moved out of that category, if just barely.

The tragedy from my perspective, however, is that the United States, the freest country that ever was, history's great example of a nation founded on classical liberal principles which theoretically include capitalism and property rights, has an electorate which might consider handing the reins of government over to people like John Kerry or Al Gore or Nancy Pelosi...people whose economic views are to the left of the voters in Sweden, maybe even to the left of voters in France, and far to the left of voters in Eastern Europe who, I repeat, have experienced what lefist policies really do to a nation and its citizens.

Americans are just barely escaping the unholy alliance between big unions, especially teachers and government workers, and the Democratic Party. These groups work together to reinforce each other and buy votes to keep themselves in power. It is a testament to us that they keep losing the most important elections, but also shameful that they are consistently so close.

Maybe people will not throw the ideas of socialism out of their heads until they suffer under it. As someone once said, a smart man learns from his mistakes and a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. The American voters are sadly unwise, but at least so far they have been just wise enough not to elect either of the last two Democrat candidates for President. Still, it is hard to be optimistic when the Republican Party has abandoned any pretense of standing for liberty or limited government. President Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan instantly added an unfunded liability triple the size of the entire Social Security liability. Spending is out of control and they can't even reform the disgusting earmark process.

Maybe we do need to suffer under a few years of Democrat control of government. While it's tempting to think that to force the GOP to get back to basics, I am so afraid of the damage the Democrats will do to our economy and our national security that I must hope the GOP keeps control of the House and Senate, at least for two years, and wins the next Presidential election. If a Republican wins the Presidency in 2008, I could probably live with them losing at least one house of Congress. The GOP has demonstrated clearly that one-party control is a fiscal disaster, no matter which party it is.

So, back to the point of the day: Next time you hear some leftist arguing for higher taxes, a bigger welfare state, and socialist-leaning policies, ask him what he thinks of Sweden. He probably won't know anything about yesterday's election since liberals rarely deal in the world of facts. Then you can tell him that his idols in that liberal paradise are slowly but surely abandoning their destructive fantasy...and suggest maybe he should do the same.

Ross Kaminsky blogs at Rossputin.com

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