… To Love and Hate

Allow me to offer a campaign platform:

  • A nationalized health care system, funded and managed at the state/local level, with private health insurance purchaseable by those who want it.
  • A transition to a privatized, defined-contribution Social Security system, with a “floor” on benefits.
  • A flattened tax code, that imposes substantial income and consumption taxes on everyone, not just on “the rich.”
  • Privatization of the US Postal Service, Amtrak, and other state-owned enterprises.
  • A 100% voucherized (i.e. backpack funding) taxpayer-funded primary and secondary education system, applicable to both public and private schools.
  • Elimination of the estate tax.
  • A long-term commitment to reducing government spending as a percentage of GDP, dedicated to reducing that percentage (currently at 105%) by half in the next 25 years.
  • Economic policy that favors free market activity over government regulation.
  • Labor policy that mandates minimum vacation and sick time, family leave time, parental sick time, mandatory termination notice periods of a month or more, and similar benefits, but abolishes the minimum wage.
  • Taxpayer-funded tertiary education, managed by gate-keeper tests and a structure that controls the types of available degrees and study programs.

No, it’s not a libertarian platform, not by a long shot. Nor is it a platform that either Republicans or Democrats would come up with. It has things in it that one party or the other might support, things that one party or the other finds abhorrent, has things in it that neither party would dare suggest, and it would be a pretty radical change.

Setting aside its unlikelihood, and also setting aside the un-libertarian aspects of it, what do you think of it as an alternative to America’s current setup? As a package, not as a menu – it’s either all or nothing, and that includes the commitment to cutting federal spending.

Impossible, you say? Unworkable, you say? No one would agree to all of it, you say?

Maybe so. Maybe America and Americans couldn’t handle such a system, or don’t want such a system.

Thing is, this is the system that the Progressive Democrats are promising… in outcome. Vaguely. And, deceitfully, if we are to be honest.

This platform is Sweden’s system.

It evolved out of Sweden’s disastrous dive into socialism, one that saw the nation’s economics stagnate and its citizens break with the traditional siren-song of socialism. It’s still a heavy-taxation welfare state, but it’s one where people actually pay for the benefits they get, instead of counting on the fleecing of other taxpayers and endless borrowing. Sweden has reduced her national debt from 70% of GDP to about 41% in the past 25 years by instituting these policies.

Socialists like Bernie Sanders speak fondly of Sweden, and suggest we should emulate her policies. He’s either ignorant or lying. His proposals don’t align with Sweden-style governance, not by a long shot, and if anyone suggested voucherizing education, curating university degree programs, privatizing Social Security, privatizing state-sponsored enterprises, increasing taxes on the middle and working classes, and eliminating the minimum wage to him, I’d bet he’d denounce all of the above.

That’s the dirty little secret and the perpetuation of voter ignorance: the progressive Democrats claim they’ll create Sweden-like results with policies that much more closely match Venezuela’s shift toward socialism. Yeah, that’ll work.

But, back to my platform. Obviously, as a libertarian, I’d recoil from several of the planks in this platform. But, as an incrementalist, with a fear of the growing problems rooted in the unsustainable behaviors we witness in our government today, I might actually consider this package, en toto with no redactions, over what we currently have. It’s not a panacea, and even in Sweden’s case it needs to continue evolving away from socialism, but it could rescue America from her headlong rush over a fiscal cliff.

Of course, I can say that without fear of being excommunicated by fellow libertarians (that’s a daily hazard, over much more picayune impurities) because neither major party would even think to run such a platform. And, if it did, it would be laughed off the political map, because we’ve become a nation of rent-seekers and partisan absolutists.

Keep that in mind next time someone suggests we would do well to emulate Sweden. Offer this list up to them, and see if they stick to that suggestion. And, when they claim they’re cool with some of the planks, remind them that it’s a package deal. They’ll probably get mad at you. That’s the fun part.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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