Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last week I traveled with my family to Sweden, where my brother Mark is currently honored to serve as US Ambassador. He and his wife Natalia are profoundly grateful for the role they have at the embassy and for the opportunity to work with their talented colleagues to advance the American interest.

Sweden is a beautiful country, as you can see from the photo. Topographically it’s a lot like Maine or the Pacific Northwest (and gets really cold in the winter).

But what fascinates me is to see just how much Sweden, a relatively small country of nine million people, punches above its weight on the world stage. I think most Americans would be surprised to learn just how globally engaged the Swedes are. For instance, did you know that they have joined us in Afghanistan, Libya and Kosovo? With a four percent growth rate, they are also an economic success story at a time dominated by global economic challenges. Much of this success can be attributed to Sweden’s world class innovators: Spotify, Skype, and Ericsson are all leading Swedish companies.

Many of Sweden’s social program initiatives set the country apart from other nations across the globe. For starters, the entire population has equal access to public health care services, which rank among the very highest quality in the world. Government financial support is available for children up to 16 years old and parents are able to stay home from work to take care of their children for up to 480 days per child. Such programs also include special benefits to care for sick and disabled children.

Swedish citizens are also helped with education starting at an early age. Swedish education is managed nationally by the Ministry of Education, and its responsibilities include preschool and child care in addition to standard education.

  • Women equality is not the only thing Scandinavian countries have to offer, their standard of living and, especially, quality of life is much higher than in the USA. Their healthcare system is fantastic, their economies are stable, employment is plentiful, workers enjoy one month vacations like in the rest of Western Europe, crime is low, and they are not obsessed with warfare, cultural hatred or greed. I love my country and would not trade with for any other, but if ought to learn from others, emulate what they do better, and preserve what we do best.

    • I would trade my country for one like this…I just don’t think other countries are interested in having more citizens right now. Perhaps when I retire…

    • onedonewong

      Might be becase they have only 1 racial group

      • Al Swearengen

        You certainly are “one done wrong”. You got a real knack for being wrong again and again and again.

        • onedonewong

          Reallly how many blacks and Mexicans live there?? I’ve been there many of times and never saw a brown face

          • clubenLKPG

            You’ve obviously NEVER been to Sweden, now stop it.

          • onedonewong

            spoken like some one who can’t even find it on a map… PS its not in Africa

          • dtgraham

            There has been quite a lot of Muslim immigration into Sweden from the middle east and north Africa in recent decades. Same as France and Germany. You can find it on you tube.

          • onedonewong

            I have international Direct TV and have never seen a black or mooslim newscaster on German TV how come??

          • James70094

            That’s because DirecTV doesn’t offer German channels. Well, not according to their website or customer service people anyway.

          • onedonewong

            Hence the rise of the Demoratic party and its Nazi ties from years back

          • clubenLKPG

            I bet YOU can’t find Sweden on a map. I’m from Linköping, a town in southern Sweden, and some of my best friends are from Vietnam, Croatia and Pakistan. NOW WHAT??

          • onedonewong

            Riggght I knew that comment wold make it here. If they are then why do you define them as Vietnamese or Croatians or Paki’s. Why wouldn’t you just call them your friends

          • DurdyDawg

            By your recollections, it’s in uranus.

          • You’ll be surprised. There are large numbers of African immigrants in most industrialized European nations, especially in Germany and in the Scandinavian countries. In fact, the winner of the Eurovision song contest this year was Sweden, and the singer that represented that country was a Berber woman from Morocco! I could not believe the number of Latin American, black African, and Chinese immigrants working in Spain the last time I visited that country.

          • onedonewong

            I’ve been to those countries a number of time and the Africans are viewed with great disdain. Your comment is typical for an enlightened lib…I have some black friends and my response is why do you define them as black if it doesn’t matter

          • Large proportion of people of middle-eastern descent who’ve sought asylum (predominantly from Iran after the fall of the Shah, and Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein).

            Islam is the second largest religion after protestant Christians (though given the number of atheistic/agnostic people who are members of the Swedish church, Islam might be the largest religion in terms of practicing people, especially since many muslims from the former Yugoslavia fled to Sweden.

            In the north, there are large areas inhabited only by Sami tribes, who ethnically aren’t that dissimilar to some native American tribes.

            There are other racial groups than whites/blacks/mexicans.

          • onedonewong

            And how are they viewed??/ No different than minorities in the US

          • Wearing your KKK uniform agaain!

            When one visits these countries and sees how they live, it is a wonder that IS NOT SEEN IN THE USA!

          • onedonewong

            Hmmm have you ever been there?? And what is the % of minorities there??? Better still have you ever seen one there?

          • DurdyDawg

            Do you think brown and black are the only alternatives to white one dong? Man, you really must not get out as much as you claim.

          • onedonewong

            They fall into the same category non white

          • DownriverDem

            What a sick white man your are!

          • onedonewong

            How about answering the question

          • There are sizable communities of refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Eritrea and Iran. They also have people from Turkey, China, and Syria Living there. Perhaps, hen you were there you didn’t look where you were.

      • tivolirose

        My husband was a Swedish immigrant and I have been to Sweden at least ten times and have stayed for months on end. There are many people of “color” there who have come from Africa and the Mideast especially. Sweden is a great country because of its economic system, the way the government cares for its citizens and the opportunities that abound there in environmental causes, medical research, education, child care and, of course, for its incredible beauty. You are so wrong about Sweden being “racially” of one group. Clearly you are an American racist.

        • onedonewong

          Then why did your husband come to the US?? Pretty much answers your post

          • tivolirose

            My husband came here because he didn’t like the cold weather there. BTW, my sister-in-law just emailed me with the info that one of every nine Swedish citizens is from another country. We were going to move back to Sweden (in spite of the weather) when he died of cancer.

      • DownriverDem

        And let me guess, you are a white man. I am a white woman and find your views disgusting. No wonder white men are so angry. They just waste time fighting reality thinking we can force millions of Americans back to the bad old days. (1950s and early 1960s).

        • onedonewong

          Are you denying the racial make up of the country???

      • lunar1

        Of course you are right. All of this comparing the U.S. to countries like Sweden is simplistic. For the Morning Joe crowd and the like we will get little more than “bumper sticker” answers to complex issues.
        Those that study serious issues of the day must be frustrated. Write a “fact lite” book appealing to some base group reinforcing their beliefs, no matter how wrong headed, and you get on cable tv and make money.

      • Step up of your couch and begin to educate yourself…

        • onedonewong

          Got nothing hun??

  • ARepublicanNorthlandGrad

    Not quite accurate on some points though, 3rd largest defense industry and they are neutral. Also allowed Nazis to march through to Norway while staying neutral. I am sure it is pretty, and I would visit, but author is not right on some of his facts.

    • The author is a she. By your logic we should not want to visit or have anything to do with US, where Nazis are allowed to continue to exist and where we are what – the first arms exporter? Yes, there were brown shirts in Sweden. That’s not a happy part of the past. Yes there are still skinheads and neo-Nazis in Sweden – because Sweden has freedom of speech – a tradition as long and strong as our own.

      • ARepublicanNorthlandGrad

        Can not find my comment here, but I did say it would be a nice place to visit. I have a lot of people here locally (Northern Wisconsin) that fall all over themselves about the Swedes and sustainablity without mentioning they supply arms to both sides and it is part of what keeps them going. I was simplying pointing that out, didn’t say we shouldn’t go there. Please read the post. From a Norwegian view of history they sold Norway out while keeping their neutrality. Long time ago, and I suspect must have let bygones be bygones, but it is still history and I thought I read something that counterdicted that. Don’t see it on the first page and I don’t want to go to the 2nd and lose this string. And I don’t think I mentioned the author’s sex at all. As for Skinheads, I suspect they infect just about every mainly white country.

      • ARepublicanNorthlandGrad

        “And last but not least, this is the land of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who chose not to be indifferent to Nazi oppression during World War II.” Knew I saw it, but I guess my Swedish history would have to be better to understand it. Must of what I know is colored by Norwegian influence I guess. And I see I did refer to the author as “his” without ever looking at the name. Of course in my neck of the woods Mika is a last name so I would probably still got it wrong.

  • Skype is Estonian, and managed by Microsoft. It’s not Swedish.

    • clubenLKPG

      It is Swedish, created by Niklas Zennström with the help of a Danish guy, Janus Friis. Just because Microsoft owns it now doesn’t mean they created it.

  • Heaven forbid we should become a Sweden! Oh my gosh! Bill OReally has warned us of the creepieing dangers of Swedish Socialism! To be happy and have health care! It’s too much. What would be our motivation to work while we’re sick if the government just provided us with health care, instead of our having to earn it!

    • Fred Helstone

      Dangers of Swedish Socialism? What’s that supposed to mean? I’d very much prefer the Swedish Socialist Model to the American socio-political model where a substantial percentage of the population is living in dire circumstances of poverty and unemployment whilst presidential candidates are spending tens of billions of dollars on their filthy campaigns telling folk nothing but lies (especially Romney) and deceiving them with false promises. In Sweden (and many other Western European countries), excellent health care at least, is available for everyone, not just for those who can afford it. Amen.

      • Don’t fret, Fred. I am quite sure that Carl was being sarcastic and he is advocating the Swedish model of health care. People before profit….what’s not to like?!

  • The Sweed’s have the best health care plan in the world, they take care of the old young and helpless. To bad our leglislators can’t think.

    • onedonewong

      They got that mentality from eing on the side of Hitler during WW2

    • clubenLKPG

      Don’t listen to onedonewong, he’s a brainless jackass who just wants to badmouth Sweden for some reason. I agree that us Swedes do have a great health care plan, I for one had extensive knee surgery about a month ago, and only paid around $20 in all, for the surgery as well as three days’ stay in the hospital with food and medication included! I’m 23, so I don’t enjoy the same “perks” as under-18s and the elderly do, and it was still really cheap. I was in the US a few years ago and had to get a CT scan, which cost $3000!!! I have no problems with our taxes being high when we get the great health care we do.

  • citizenmb

    I wonder how much the homogeneity of Sweden contributes to their generous governmental policies. I talk to too many people who balk at voting for universal health care in the U.S. because it will go to “those people, ” who “everyone knows” don’t do a lick of work and just live on welfare. The tragedy that is racism is alive and all-too well in this country.

  • anitapope

    Part of the reason that this country is so great is because the country is Lutheran.
    They are more in tune with social justice and fairness rather than judging others.

  • It’s a wonderful nation full of wonderful people. Sixty years ago my father, who was teaching in Norway at the time, got sick and was hospitalized in Sweden. His care was better than he’d have gotten in the US (according to my mother) and though he was an American, the cost was minimal.

    I believe they pay high taxes and have a high suicide rate, too.

    • clubenLKPG

      We do pay high taxes, but the suicide rate thing is just not true! I have no idea where that rumor comes from, but it’s just not correct.

  • onedonewong

    Too bad the swedes were on Germany’s side during WW2

    • clubenLKPG

      WRONG – Try again. You should probably read up on the subject instead of spreading ignorant crap like that.

      • onedonewong

        Obviously you have no idea of the worlds history. That is why your post is so childish

        • clubenLKPG

          Dear God… I’m SWEDISH, we are taught history in school from a very young age, you don’t think I know my own country’s history?!

          • onedonewong

            Revisionist History rather than admit your Country were Nazi sympathisers and fully embraced Hitler your history books try and paper over the facts. As the Democrats in Sweden have become main stream and are reverting to their brown shirt days

    • Magmishoe

      Sweden was technically neutral during WW2 and always against nazism. Yes, the government let the germans use the swedish railways to transport their goods, which in some cases meant weapons they used in their occupation of Norway, but that was mostly so the germans would leave Sweden alone. A free Sweden managed to help lots more jews and others than an occupied Sweden would have. A lot of jews and other followed people were granted sanctuary in Sweden during the war. So get your facts straigh, Sweden was on noones side military and most swedish people just wanted Hitler to lose and the war to be over.

      • onedonewong

        They marched hand and goose step with Hitler

        • clubenLKPG

          I’m just gonna flag all of your bullshit comments.

          • onedonewong

            Might want t0 start with your foul mouth

          • clubenLKPG

            Might want to start filling your brain with actual facts instead of propaganda and ignorance, how about that?? I bet you’re from the US, probably somewhere in the south or mid-west.

          • onedonewong

            No I’m part of the SS your know the same group of soldiers that you embraced so gladly during WW2

        • Magmishoe

          I don’t know why you think that and it’s quite sad that not everybody pay attention in history class when it comes to as important subjects as the world war. Sweden, Switzerland and in some senses the Iberian countries where neutral during the whole war. After the war Sweden joined neither NATO or the Warsaw Pact, but stayed neutral during the cold war as well. Sweden was never on anybodys side in the war and most certainly not on Hitlers.

  • Magmishoe

    The taxes on regular working people are in some cases higher in the US than in Sweden, but in the US most of their taxes pay for the huge military costs while in Sweden they can be used for wellfare and building the country. If the US stopped paying people to die for their country they could start paying for healthcare and education for their citizens instead.

  • Lelando

    According to Eurostat, in 2010, there were 1.33 million foreign-born residents in Sweden, corresponding to 14.3% of the total population. Of these, 859 000 (9.2%) were born outside the EU and 477 000 (5.1%) were born in another EU Member State.

  • DownriverDem

    And guess what folks, they are going to die just like all of us! My point is why do we fight over such silly issues (health care, infrastructure building, banking rules) when our time here really is short. What will history say about our time of running things?

    Even Mika a repub, knows how screwed we are here.

  • My dear Mika.
    You don’t have to go so far away to enjoy what is a real free nation. I’m surprise that you don’t know about the wold outside your borders. Are you so brainwashed that you can figure by yourself what is freedom?
    If so, I know why you let Mister Scareborough (No Mistake here) treaded you like a…a …(I don’t want to be as irrespectful as he is ) well…like a inferior human being ( Republican well mannered obliged).
    There is a real free wold outside US….

  • In what kind of country are you living ? I reed the post below and the racism is well and alive.
    There is a free wold outside your borders but if you are brainwashed like your fellow American’s well you are living in a dream (The AMERICAN LIES ahhh The American dream). It was appropriate in those years to be able to lure the ignorant populace but now, come on …nobody will take a bite.. hummm

  • A country where there is (almost) no racism, no sexism, no exploitation, equality and wellbeing for everybody….well if it is existing t in your country ….are you really free ?

  • Morning Joe brew by republican is a fascist brainwasher show, not an educational show.