As a true conservative, I find it comical when right-wing Republicans like Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell, in a country where our Pledge of Allegiance promises “liberty and justice for all” (that’s A-L-L), call Democratic presidential candidates “radical” for proposing a social contract with Americans that protects their rights and provides universal health care, free college tuition, paid parental leave, affordable day care and preschool, gender equality for our wives and daughters, and voting rights that can’t be disenfranchised or gerrymandered.
These right-wing GOP false conservatives, whose only goal is to protect their power, often bad-mouth Sweden and other Nordic countries. Just last year, the National Review, in an article titled “Nordic Socialism Won’t Work in U.S.,” claims that innovation has disappeared there and people are in distress. Trump, McConnell, and small potatoes like John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer parrot such phony rhetoric and fake news. Over the border in Minnesota we call that all foam and no beer.
- Bender: Republicans and their fear of socialism
- Letter: There would be no winners or losers in a socialist state
Let’s provide these fake conservatives with some real facts.
Sweden is capitalistic. It has more billionaires per capita than the United States and some of the most successful corporations in the world. (Ever heard of IKEA?) Unlike the IRS, the Swedish Tax Agency is popular. “You don’t have to like taxes, but most people seem confident that things are done fairly.” There’s the difference, folks. In the United States, the top federal tax rate is 37%; in Sweden, it’s 35%. Sweden doesn’t have an inheritance tax; it was abolished in 2004. It doesn’t have a wealth tax; Sweden, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Finland, Iceland and Luxembourg have abolished it in recent years. The wealthy are not overtaxed, but neither do they get a free ride like they do in the U.S.
Sweden is a well-functioning society with a universal safety net. Health care is free after a $119 annual deductible and prescriptions are free after a $239 yearly deductible. Big Pharma doesn’t get to dictate prices. A couple can receive up to 480 days (18 months) of paid parental leave. Day care and preschool are affordable and subsidized. Both undergraduate and postgraduate college are free. Interest-free loans are available for additional education expenses. Seventy percent of Swedish workers are unionized. Retirees receive substantial pensions and subsidized care (and, if needed, housing). In terms of life expectancy (infoplease.com), Sweden ranks 15th at 82 years of age; the United States ranks 43rd at 79 years.
If Sweden, a dynamic social democracy with more billionaires per capita than the United States can do it, why can’t we? When GOP hooligans use words like “socialism” to tar and feather their opponents, they argue that corporate corruption should be favored over equality and true freedom. They argue for license instead of liberty. I say to them, as a true conservative, recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Say the words: “Liberty and Justice for all.” That’s A-L-L. That means every American, not just your rich cronies.
The GOP loves to discriminate and keep working men and women down in the dumps with minimum wages and few if any benefits. As a true conservative, I want to make America proud again after three years of corruption and mediocrity.