UNICEF: US is one of the worst countries in the world to raise kids

  • #51
alxm
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However, you are wrong on one point, misunderstanding a key component of freedom, that I feel I can't ignore: Freedom, in its purest, most basic, literal, dictionary definition clearly means "the absence of control, interference, regulation, etc."

Yes, but it's purely political and subjective to imply that government control is the only form of restriction and control that's worth taking into account. A market controlled by a private monopoly is no more 'free' than one controlled by a government monopoly. It's less free, in fact, because in a democracy people have at least indirect control over what the government does.

Socialistic politics has perverted the definition in peoples minds to make them believe the clearly self-contradictiory idea that the government can be making their decisions for them, yet they are still free.

How does the government make people's decisions for them? Or for that matter, lead to less freedom? In Sweden I could choose any doctor I wanted and go to any hospital I wanted, public or private, funded through a single health insurance system. It would not matter whether I was employed or not, or who my employer was, or whether I had pre-existing conditions or anything. In the USA I don't have that choice unless I pay for it out of my own pocket, something which is beyond the means of 99% of the population for anything other than routine care. I certainly don't feel I have more 'freedom' when it comes to health care.

Not to mention civil liberties. In the US, the government can tap my phone without a warrant. They can hold people imprisoned without letting them know what they're accused of. They can execute you, and have a recent history of torture, even. And the US government doesn't have a problem telling my gay sister who she can and can't marry.

You're telling me a country that's doing the above is more 'free' than a country that does none of the above, because that country has universal health care and more generous welfare benefits? That's absurd. Are you suggesting that the countries of Eastern Europe who suffered first-hand under Communism, are 'socialists' who don't appreciate freedom? Or for that matter, Finland, mentioned above, who fought three bloody wars on their own soil against Communism in the last century?

And as I aleady pointed out, there are many ways in which countries like Sweden are less regulated.

How about citing some specific examples about how these 'socialist' governments are restricting people's freedoms, rather than spouting the hand-waving vagaries (and outright fabrications, such as forced vaccinations) which you believe are true simply because you've been told they're true? Or even better, why don't you go live there for a while and find out for yourself. I think you'll find that every American who has done so, tends to cut the 'we have more freedom' nonsense.
 
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  • #52
mheslep
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The railroads are deregulated but the government still owns the largest operator of non-goods traffic (SJ). But this is in fact the case in the USA as well, with Amtrak. The government only has a partial stake in a single bank (Nordea) which they had to bail out in the 90's. (Again not actually different from the US gov't at the moment).

LKAB doesn't have an American equivalent (other Swedish mining companies are private, btw).
I won't be defending the US record of state ownership which has a bad history, and given that track record has decided to do even more of the same and buy a sinking car company and home loan company or two. I argue that central planning occurs wherever the state owns business, at least in that business area.

In any case, it's hardly a 'planned economy'. These are all ordinary, for-profit corporations acting on a free market in competition with other corporations. It just happens that the treasury is a major stockholder.
Sorry I think that's naive. State owned firms talk that talk, but in the background they generally continue to loose money, get cash infusions from the treasury to make it appear they don't loose money, and all the while the State still pulls the strings: where they operate and how, placing controls on the competition, etc. I call that state planning.

But having state control over a natural resource of huge national-economic interest (Europe's largest iron ore deposit) isn't really controversial anywhere.
If you mean having the state regulate or license out rights to use a natural resource, yes that's not controversial. If you mean having the state own and operate the usage of the resource, an entirely different thing, then no. That's highly controversial, here at least, if not in Sweden.
 
  • #53
alxm
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I argue that central planning occurs wherever the state owns business, at least in that business area.

That's not how 'planned economy' is defined. Is goods transport in the US a 'planned economy' because of the existence of the US postal service? Nothing is stopping you from setting up your own company. The government is not telling FedEx, DHL and UPS what their production quotas are. Etc.

Sorry I think that's naive. State owned firms talk that talk, but in the background they generally continue to loose money, get cash infusions from the treasury to make it appear they don't loose money, and all the while the State still pulls the strings: where they operate and how, placing controls on the competition, etc. I call that state planning.

Yeah, make an accusation with zero evidence and accuse the person who actually knows something about the topic of being 'naive'. Sorry you don't know what you're talking about. Cite specific examples of how Sweden's propping up these companies if you can, or you're just BSing. You think the current center-right government of Sweden would be doing that, in direct contradiction of their ideology?

(Aaand with that, this is turning out exactly the way I predicted to begin with. Here I am with all the benefits of having lived in these places for years, with an intimate knowledge of the society and political and economic systems. And I have to argument against people with none of that telling me how they think it 'actually' works)

If you mean having the state own and operate the usage of the resource, an entirely different thing, then no. That's highly controversial, here at least, if not in Sweden.

Oh, so where are the calls to get rid of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve?
 
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  • #54
mheslep
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That's not how 'planned economy' is defined. Is goods transport in the US a 'planned economy' because of the existence of the US postal service?
It's a matter of degree, and to that degree, yes it is. The US postal service sets the rate floor for common mail in the US, etc.

alxm said:
Nothing is stopping you from setting up your own company. The government is not telling FedEx, DHL and UPS what their production quotas are. Etc.
Let's clear this up: simply because the government does not plan the entire economy, does not mean it does not plan parts of it. Hence Lenin's phrase "The Commanding Heights".

alxm said:
Yeah, make an accusation with zero evidence and accuse the person who actually knows something about the topic of being 'naive'.
Not you, but the idea expressed in that post.

alxm said:
Sorry you don't know what you're talking about. Cite specific examples of how Sweden's propping up these companies if you can, or you're just BSing. ...
When you said "These are all ordinary, for-profit corporations" I took it to mean state owned companies in general, not just in Sweden. Was I wrong? If you want general examples, I have plenty. Do you expect that Swedish state owned companies are very different from those in the US, or the rest of the developed world?

alxm said:
Oh, so where are the calls to get rid of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve?
That's a couple of months of supply, hardly a fraction of the resource. But more to the point, you said earlier:
alxm said:
But having state control over a natural resource of huge national-economic interest (Europe's largest iron ore deposit) isn't really controversial anywhere.
[emphasis mine]
I stated that licensing or regulating the resource by the state itself is not controversial. Having the state run the extraction (mining, drilling) ala LKAB and distributing it is. That is, having the state own the coal land might be uncontroversial. Having the state own the coal mining company is. BTW, the control of the US SPR is very controversial, especially when oil spiked.
 
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  • #55
Office_Shredder
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BTW, the control of the US SPR is very controversial, especially when oil spiked.

The US having the SPR wasn't controversial. People were simply saying that the US should use its reserves to drop the price of oil; i.e. the controversy was over whether the government should actively manipulate the oil market. Whether the US should have a reserve was never discussed
 
  • #56
mheslep
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The US having the SPR wasn't controversial. People were simply saying that the US should use its reserves to drop the price of oil; i.e. the controversy was over whether the government should actively manipulate the oil market. Whether the US should have a reserve was never discussed
?? If it is used, then the US no longer has one, at least temporarily.
 
  • #57
Gokul43201
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But the argument was never made (to my knowledge) that the US no longer having one would be taking a step away from socialism, and therefore a good thing.
 
  • #58
alxm
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It's a matter of degree, and to that degree, yes it is. The US postal service sets the rate floor for common mail in the US, etc.

Well by that definition there does not exist a single economy in the developed world which isn't "planned", so besides not being the way the term "planned economy" is usually used, it's not a useful description. Unless your goal is to play guilt-by-association with communism.

Let's clear this up: simply because the government does not plan the entire economy, does not mean it does not plan parts of it. Hence Lenin's phrase "The Commanding Heights".

"Planning" the economy implies some central control over production rates, rather than supply-and-demand. This is just not the case in European economies.

Not you, but the idea expressed in that post. When you said "These are all ordinary, for-profit corporations" I took it to mean state owned companies in general, not just in Sweden. Was I wrong?

Yes you were wrong.The idea that government-owned corporations in general are run as if they were private and not propped up by the government would certainly be naive, because it's patently false. You only need to take a look at the ex-Communist countries and how quickly most of their state-run businesses failed or were taken over after privatization.

But there is simply no resemblance between how the Soviet Union ran their 'businesses' or how China runs its businesses, and how Sweden or Germany run/ran their state-held businesses. The evidence for that is pretty clear: Their businesses have typically continued to do well after privatization. (E.g. Deutsche Telekom)

I didn't say it didn't happen. I said it was not the case in Sweden, and for that matter, most of Europe.

I stated that licensing or regulating the resource by the state itself is not controversial. Having the state run the extraction (mining, drilling) ala LKAB and distributing it is. That is, having the state own the coal land might be uncontroversial. Having the state own the coal mining company is.

Okay, I made a bad choice of words. I agree it would be controversial. In US politics even the president's place of birth is controversial. What I meant was that it is not unthinkable, or completely off the political radar screen. (which, say, nationalizing all industry would be. Including in Sweden) I doubt a majority of Americans would support the idea of public ownership or joint public ownership of production. But it's hardly a fringe position either. (In fact, a lot of voices were raised to that effect over the BP spill)

BTW, the control of the US SPR is very controversial, especially when oil spiked.

Which is indicative that the opposition is not primarily ideological.
 
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  • #59
Office_Shredder
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?? If it is used, then the US no longer has one, at least temporarily.

Suggesting that the SPR be used is not the same as suggesting the government should not have the SPR
 

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