As a half-Swedish, half-American (with citizenship to both countries) I feel as though I’ve forever stood with one foot on each side of my metaphorical border. I spent summers growing up on Swedish beaches eating fresh picked strawberries and forcing myself not to stare at all the boobs on the beach. With adulthood, however, and the development of who I am as an individual, I now see Sweden as more than just a vacation getaway but rather a colony of people that just seem to get life “right”. Before the extreme conservatives start threatening to bomb me for such disgraceful acts of treason, I ask them to read this and perhaps meet me half way in agreeing that places with universal health care maybe aren’t so bad (and that perhaps you’re also much more “smorgasbord” than cheeseburger).
What’s something that a majority of college graduates have in common in the US? The debt of student loans. Perhaps it makes sense to pay in order to get paid, however, with the job market so over saturated it’s hard to see the benefit. The Swedish government, to put it simply, gives free college to it’s citizens (and up until a few years ago even people from around the globe). In addition, they offer grants and loans for expenses to give students the ability to focus solely on school. Your test scores, work ethic, and ambition (rather than daddy’s wallet) are what ensure your future in the career of you choice which gives an even playing field to all of Sweden’s young people, regardless of the cards they were given.
2. Medical Coverage
Universal health care is a constant social battle between those who empathize and those with cave man like “each man for himself” attitudes. When I speak of how universal health care flourishes in Sweden I’m usually hit with a scoff and a fact about how Swedes must pay obscenely high taxes in order for this system to work. If you compare how much the Swedes are taxed in order to ensure their cancer treatments won’t leave them homeless, you’ll see that their income after taxes have been withdrawn aren’t really that different than the average American’s. I remember an instance in high school where my math teacher started an argument with me on the topic, only to apologize the next day after doing thorough research and joked about booking his ticket to Stockholm. When people say it just doesn’t work for the United States, it’s true. It boils down to ethics and hypocrisy. There is much irony in the fact that the same Americans who are such strong nationalists and thus support our obscene military expenses in order to protect their fellow Americans dislike a system that does just that.
The Swedish system of social welfare dates back to the 1700s and is based off of the poor relief organized by the church. Benefits include monetary support for children, elderly, the disabled, and, simply, the poor. Simply having a child grants you “barnbidrag”, similar to child support only coming from taxes rather than the other parent. With such benefits you would assume that teen pregnancy rates would be incredibly high in Sweden. False, America still takes the cake. The benefits are there if they need them, however, the system sees much less abuse than does the US.
3. The Women
As an added bonus, Swedish women are ranked number one in the world for their beauty. Not that your choice of relocation would be based on such shallow reasons, however, I don’t think anyone would complain about the perk of being surrounded by super models. Not to mention, Swedes love American men, as Swedish men are comparatively shy and introverted.
4. Their Neutrality
Sweden hasn’t gone to war for over a hundred years. Remaining neutral even during the holocaust, the Swedes seem to follow “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” mentality. Sweden has a military, of course, however most of their government expenditures aren’t going towards invasion but rather feeding their people. Deemed weak or scared by the war hungry, Sweden takes a much less violent approach and, ironically, lives in much less fear.
Did you know that much food we consume in the United States isn’t legally sold in Sweden? This is because our food is modified and stuffed with additives, and, therefore, is not healthy or even deemed consumable in the European Union. How bizarre is it that we as Americans have to pay more in order to ensure our children aren’t consuming dangerous chemical? This explains for why the obesity rate is so much lower in Europe, and reveals why I managed to lose 15 pounds in a matter of weeks after living in Sweden and not making any lifestyle changes.
I think is all boils down to ethics. No, without honesty, empathy, and worldly knowledge the Swedish ways would never flourish in the United States. I can’t blame Americans for being so selfish, however, as it’s all we have ever been taught. I do, although, hope that anyone who wants to debate with me on global matters is actually capable of locating Sweden on a map. And no, Switzerland is not the “same thing”. So confusing, the SW- sound, I know.