I am a Ph.D. political economist, originally from Sweden, went to graduate school in Denmark and moved to America in 2002. After making a living as a college professor I went to work in public policy, which is what I have been doing since 2005.
My research (see a list of publications below) is focused on macroeconomics, the welfare state and the relationship between political ideologies and economic policy. My interest in this subject was awoken by the severe austerity crisis in Sweden in the early 1990s, when my native country became one of the first to enter an economic state I have defined as “industrial poverty” (see book in list below).
With more than 20 years of scholarly research and experience from the practice of economic policy, I have come to the conclusion that the welfare state is a chokehold on the free-market capitalist economy. It has already brought Europe down into economic stagnation, is doing the same with Canada and has begun sinking America as well.
Ending the welfare state is an existential mission for our country, and for Western Civilization as a whole.
- Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024. Palgrave (2021)
- Faith and Freedom: The Moral Case for America. Resource (2019)
- The Rise of Big Government: How Egalitarianism Conquered America. Routledge (2018)
- Industrial Poverty: Yesterday Sweden, Today Europe, Tomorrow America. Gower (2014)
Articles and research papers:
- Paid Family Leave: A Fork in the Road; SSRN Oct. 2019
- Preventing A U.S. Fiscal Crisis: An Experiment in Political Economy. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 20, 1 (2019)
- Fiscal Crisis in America, Parts 1 and 2. Prosperitas, Vol. XII (2018)
- Fiscal Monetarism: Theory and Practice of the European Stability and Growth Pact. Presented at the Forum for Economists International annual conference, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, May 26-27, 2018
- Redistribution and Economic Decline. RAIS conf., Rockville, MD, Oct. 2017
- Balancing the Budget: Can the Swiss Debt Brake End Endless U.S. Deficits? Journal of Governance and Regulation. 5, 4 (2016)
- Is Life after the Welfare State Possible? Journal of Insurance and Financial Management. 2, 7 (2016); also presented at WINIR conference, Boston, MA, Sept. 2016
- The Structured Exit; Three papers on spending reform in Wyoming:
- The case for a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment: Discussion papers for Compact for America Council of Scholars:
I wonder, if you were a poor black/hispanic/asian/mexian….. or even white woman or man in today’s United States, with no prospect of getting a job – if you would have the same disdain for welfare. We convince ourselves that only a ‘competitive’ money driven way of life is what works. Isn’t that because competitive, money driven individuals want society that way? Some people just want to live and work, without fighting so hard for everything. Some people (Oh my god! get ready for this) don’t want to be CEO of the universe. Some people want to work, but just enough to live their lives and contribute to society – some more, some less. It is not fair to say that the welfare system is evil. There is a place for it – sadly, everyone has a different opinion of what that place is. More sadly, many people abuse the welfare system when receiving aid, others misappropriate the funds when delivering the aid, and yes, some get ‘trapped’ in the system. But what does someone who has been in a horrific accident do if they are the sole provider for their family? What about jobs lost to the global economy? What about any extreme situation, where people do not have family or friends to help or incapable of helping? People on the very bottom of the ladder have very little voice – and when they do have a voice, the struggle is long and hard. The promise of the U.S. to the people was to take care of its individuals. If generosity is to be solely a private endeavor – then how does that ‘privatized’ generosity get controlled? I hear, much more often about ‘not-for-profits’ keeping 25, 50, 75 percent of donations for ‘handling’ fees etc. I have read about Heads of organizations such as The United Way, embezzling millions of dollars for personal use. Just recently, Sandy storm victims, Sandy hook victims, 911 victims should have received money from all of the contributions of individuals that ended up instead in the hands of ‘charities’ that did as they saw fit with the money, including lining their own pockets.
You compare Obama’s ideals to Sweden. Isn’t Sweden one of the most unaffected economies in this global time of crisis? Isn’t Sweden historically an intensely steadfast country socially, economically, etc.? Maybe it is hard to ‘own’ Sweden, and that is why people, such as yourself, want to run from it, come to the United States, where the sky is the limit? Sadly, Many want the sky without limits, while other compassionate, caring, selfless individuals want limits set to protect the masses – that 99.999% who are hard workers (or want to be, given the opportunity).
What about Mt 25:31-46, or Proverbs 22:9? How can a ‘devout/orthodox christian’ not believe in welfare? I learned a term in my church in college – ‘hardening your heart,’ which it seems happens to so many people when they have enough money do just slightly better than get by – money is after all a root of all evil is it not?
The problem is not in welfare by definition. The problem is the way in which the system is run, organized, maintained, etc. The problem is the fact that people are not given viable options for helping themselves, or pulling themselves out of their current situations. When Poor cities, are given LESS money for their schools, LESS money for infrastructure, LESS police presence, LESS care, then how can anyone blame them for being less? What would happen if we cut out welfare altogether? 30 million people who can’t support themselves because a few hundred individuals need private jets to fly them around to their multiple residences around the world, to keep their ($100,000 min. spending required) black cards active, to sit on their pile of trillions (yes trillions) of dollars. If I were one of those 30 Million, and if everyone was like myself, who suddenly had no welfare and was starving etc. – well lets just say you would suddenly find yourself having to fend off 30 million individuals who would stop at absolutely nothing to get the essentials for life. Do you even realize that there is no option for individuals to take care of themselves outside of ‘society?’ You cannot live anywhere because individuals own all of the world’s property, you cannot hunt for survival or you are a poacher. You cannot plant food because you don’t have any land. What are the options? Slavery? Indentured servitude? Collectivism with equality = bad? But Monarchies with starving minions good?
There is no Goal set for humanity. What is the purpose of our society? What is the purpose of the global economy? Is it just to allow that one super money-driven ego to own the globe? Is there any goal for bringing the entire world’s individuals up to snuff such that everyone can prosper? What percentage of individuals truly work towards the greater good, rather than their own personal gain?
If we strip it down, isn’t the welfare argument just a battle of generosity versus greed? Humans are fundamentally greedy, deceptive, manipulating etc. In the bible, god gave Adam and Eve everything! Well except one thing. The woman wasn’t happy with almost everything. she wanted what she couldn’t have and manipulated and deceived Adam into breaking god’s rule. And they were punished. Their children were even more greedy (assuming Cain kills Abel out of jealousy). And down that family tree comes modern U.S. society. You can candy coat your disdain for welfare, any way you want, but to want to stop helping those in need is just another form of greed.
Perhaps you want to change the way the welfare system helps individuals in a different way. To that I say Kudos! But to say you want to end welfare, which by definition means to ensure everyone’s well being, to that I say, you aren’t much of a christian. Maybe what you say above isn’t what you mean? But you make a point to say you are a Ph.d., so I assume you mean what you say. But I guess there is hope for you. Even Saul on the road to Damascus was bitch-slapped by god. Even the most educated and ‘devout’ of us all have good intentions. But every single one of us, every good, bad, horrible, wonderful, evil, etc. one of us has justification for our words and actions.
Oh and what is so bad with a collectivist mindset? In the bible, isn’t there that whole – every part of the body is still part of the body – One body. Sadly it seems everyone wants to be some sort of politician who controls society and does it in the name of god. I would love a purely THEORETICAL communism where everyone contributes their own skills so as to allow for a perfect society. But it is the extremely lazy and the extremely greedy that prevent that from ever being a possibility.
Why don’t you put your efforts forth to destroy the evil of Greed!? I don’t recall Jesus ever saying that he wouldn’t help someone by healing, or feeding or clothing them! But I recall him throwing over tables at the avarice of the pharaohs. I think you have worked hard, but have lost your way. Christians follow Christ. I think Christ would have put his efforts towards something other than towards destroying “A social system whereby the state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens, as in matters of health care, education, employment, and social security.” (-free online dictionary).
Again, if you mean that you want to REFORM the welfare state, which I agree needs reform, then perhaps you can just adjust what you say on your site. But if you really want to destroy the welfare system, then I wish you would change your religion to something more appropriate. It is bad enough the Catholic priest and cardinals prance around with 1000 dollar robes on living the fat life while so many of their people suffer needlessly (i.e. today’s modern pharaohs).
Oh, and just so you know, I work, support myself. I pay my taxes (more than the 1% does). I am happy to know that my money is being used to help the needy. I know it is not a perfect system, but I like to know that there are Christ-like actions taking place in my country, even if they are being done by political offices. It saddens me that so many self-proclaimed ‘Christians’ not only have lost site of Christ’s own life and actions, but they are hypocrites contributing to the true evils of our society. Seven deadly sins maybe?
First of all, you don’t come to my blog and rant. Most of your comment is incoherent nonsense. Secondly, you have no idea who I am and what my background is. I’ve been poor for a good part of my life but I have avoided welfare like the plague. I learned that from my poor, hard working grandparents whose living conditions you could not even imagine. Third, you can live whatever life you want, but if that means you make deliberate choices to not feed your family, then don’t expect me to work more just to feed you.
What a fake you are! Poor Sven.
You say “then don’t expect me to work more just to feed you”. Still you have no problem to expect ME to work harder to pay YOUR student loans! And brag over it! Truly Sven, you are not a bit better than the people you despise.
But you know what my dear Sven, justice will always catch up…
I do not despise anybody. That is a Swedish pastime, though. And you are not paying my student loans. I don’t know where on God’s green Earth you got such a silly idea. By the way, Fredrik, you should be careful using your employer’s computer for incendiary personal attacks like this. If it happens again I will contact your employer and their internet provider.
I notice with dismay your pledge, “I made a promise to God to fight this evil construct…” How about dropping supernatural being(s) from your promises , and rather make it a pledge to yourself, Larson?
And, besides, you appear very young and totally brainwashed indeed, with your statement, “…the welfare state is over. It is fiscally and morally unsustainable. It has wreaked havoc in Europe, brought Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and other countries to their knees.”
Without a fiat monetary system controlled by a few private bankers, a wellfare state is indeed viable. And!.. the ruin of Europe ecconomies and democracies we ared observing are not caused by any wellfare system, but like Nigel Farage bravely point out, the Euro and the bastards behind the EU! To me you sound like a very, very fake Scandinavian indeed mr. Larson!
As is common with leftists like yourself, you cannot construct a single argument, barely even a sentence, without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Tragic but quite predictable.
Now to the thinly spread content of your comment:
“Without a fiat monetary system controlled by a few private bankers, a wellfare state is indeed viable.”
This is a mere statement without any back-up at all. But feel free to explain how the means of measuring value is irrelevant to any economic activity where resources are forcefully taken from one citizen and given to another. Until you do, your claim is as hollow as a bird’s bone.
“the ruin of Europe ecconomies and democracies we ared observing are not caused by any wellfare system, but like Nigel Farage bravely point out, the Euro and the bastards behind the EU!”
Farage has never denied the role of the welfare state. On the contrary, he takes a soundly libertarian approach to the proper role of government. Study up. But him aside, just referring to someone like you do here does not make your own statement any more valid. Try piecing together some sort of analysis – and try do it without ad hominem attacks next time. I know it’s hard for you leftists, but I happen to believe that even you guys can come around and grow up.
Your display of utter superbia and arrogance, Sven Larson, evokes more than doubts about your claimed Ph.D. 😉
(By the way, I earned my M.Sc some 37 years prior to your claimed Ph.D, and have met a few like you in my time.)
Once again, nothing but personal-attack garbage. Yawn.
LOL Noooo!… merely a vox populi, dude!
Your argumentation is dishonest!
30% tax on the poor, yes. But on the other hand they receive a lot too. Poor families don’t get homeless when they are too poor to pay the rent, like in the US.
Btw, do you think Jesus would have said: “I want my followers to be as though as possible on poor people”… Then he died, right?
“30% tax on the poor, yes. But on the other hand they receive a lot too.”
Check your facts. A study by CES-IFO, a German research institute, showed a few years ago that low-income families in Sweden pay a larger share of all taxes than their income share, while they get the same share of benefits as others. Bottom line: the poor pay more to get less than middle-class and upper-income families. There is an OECD study that verifies this. Do your homework.
“Poor families don’t get homeless when they are too poor to pay the rent, like in the US.”
That is a flat-out lie:
“Btw, do you think Jesus would have said: ‘I want my followers to be as though as possible on poor people’… Then he died, right?”
This makes no sense.
I’m glad my country got rid one more s.o.b. like mr. Larsson, a total selfish whiner.
Dear Kent E,
Thank you for your insightful, illuminating comment and contribution to a productive discussion about the problems facing Sweden today. We have definitely learned a lot from what you had to say.
Another right-wing reality twister to explain as reality their own personal beliefs. Claims of ‘ad hominem’ attack are simply the standard right-wing defence of a person who cannot stand anyone disagreeing with them. Read on.
First, as an intelligent person growing up in Sweden you left a huge number of equally or more intelligent people who stayed and generally prefer their situation to what you advocate in these pages. You cannot simply sweep aside as entirely inconsequential these many individuals’ separate choices to remain in the country you decided to leave. And you cannot simply accuse them of failing to understand reality, as then you have committed a gross generalisation coupled to a general, unfounded personal attack on all these individuals.
They have stayed in a country that is generally functioning well (tho I do not claim, as many, that it is paradise on earth). Your links above may point out real trends, but likely are the result of incompetence among Swedish journalist to understand statistics and related trends. Take the SvD, as it is more reliable than the other small town rags you also reference. This article (from 2010, which you cite in 2013) leads with statement ‘Under 2009 var ökningen av antalet vräkningar en procent jämfört med året innan.’ Nice point you made there … in 2009, in the midst of the world financial meltdown (caused by people other than O’bama), there are more people in Sweden losing their homes to debt collectors than the year before. For this you deserve the standard rag … “And your point is?” And the ‘one percent’ is hardly an alarming rate.
In any case, it is not evidence of your general theme here that the country, or the ‘Swedish Model’ (however socialist) is collapsing uncontrollably. Further, this is representative of many of your claims about how bad things really are in this country. Oversimplification and misrepresentation of the conditions in Sweden simply to ‘prove’ your extreme claims. However, we could spend several doctoral theses arguing over these points, so I’ll limit myself to this single rebuttal.
I moved to Sweden at about the time you left (perhaps you consider studying in Denmark as the same as living in Swe?). And things were, indeed, crazy in the country then, with many economic issues totally messed up by political interference from the left. Things started to change, tho, immediately after the bank crisis here at the time. But you ran away from it. And found sanctuary in the sparsely populated isolationist state of Wyoming.
My hardworking neighbour (a business executive solidly in the capitalist camp, who must be about your age), one of those who stayed to help make things better, referred to the situation here in mid-2013 as being a good time to be living in Sweden — for all those who have jobs. There you will certainly retort with your claims about unemployment — seen as high here but really on international comparison … and it is certainly manageable; and youth unemployment – equally manageable says one with three sons in the youth category but not unemployed. There are points to discuss there that you seem absolutely too sure about. I am confident I could rebut enough of them to convince many other people that your primary claims about Sweden are simply not correct.
I did say ‘first’ above, so have to at least get in a ‘second’. Which I’ll address in this way. Growing up in the US, in a Republican stronghold in mid-NJ, we learned to stay away from Wyoming unless you were enjoying the wonderful parks it contains. With a pop. of less than 1 million it seems people in this inconsequential state have resigned as one from the world and isolated themselves in some kind of extreme time warp refusing to accept the reality of the world outside. There it is seemingly too easy to dismiss everybody else living elsewhere in the US (and the rest of the world) simply because all non-conforming individuals leave the state for more tolerant pastures. The intolerance in Wyoming for anything not strictly complying with their warped view of the world is well-known. Oops, I just judged an entire group of people, perhaps unfairly, just as you have. But I am convinced I am more correct about Wyoming than you are about Sweden.
Another liberal who cannot present a single consistent argument but whose comment is filled to the brim with personal attacks.
“First, as an intelligent person growing up in Sweden you left a huge number of equally or more intelligent people who stayed and generally prefer their situation to what you advocate in these pages. You cannot simply sweep aside as entirely inconsequential these many individuals’ separate choices to remain in the country you decided to leave.”
The vast majority of Germans stayed in Germany after Hitler took power. Does that make the Third Reich a delightful, morally astute country?
“They have stayed in a country that is generally functioning well”
Who is generalizing now?
“in 2009, in the midst of the world financial meltdown (caused by people other than O’bama), there are more people in Sweden losing their homes to debt collectors than the year before.”
No. If you actually read the stories quoted you will see that people are not “losing their homes”. They are to a very large degree being evicted from leased apartments. That is an important difference as those homes are almost without exception public housing units, built as part of the expanding welfare state. Furthermore, Swedes get housing subsidies when they rent, a form of welfare state covers about half of all families with children. Despite all this, eviction rates skyrocketed. IOW, the welfare state, built to protect people in tough times, failed to protect people in tough times.
“I moved to Sweden at about the time you left (perhaps you consider studying in Denmark as the same as living in Swe?). And things were, indeed, crazy in the country then, with many economic issues totally messed up by political interference from the left. Things started to change, tho, immediately after the bank crisis here at the time. But you ran away from it. And found sanctuary in the sparsely populated isolationist state of Wyoming.”
No. Not sanctuary. Prosperity. Besides, your tone is very aggressive, with a nasty personal overtone. Are you perhaps bitter over your choice to move to Sweden, yet too proud to admit so?
“…and youth unemployment – equally manageable says one with three sons in the youth category but not unemployed. There are points to discuss there that you seem absolutely too sure about. I am confident I could rebut enough of them to convince many other people that your primary claims about Sweden are simply not correct.”
At 26 percent, it is hardly a manageable situation. Besides, I am sure you have familiarized yourself with the thirteen or so categories of “non-employment” income replacement programs that the Swedish government provides in order to moderate unemployment figures. Even the national federation of unions (LO) has admitted that the real unemployment rate – during the “good times” before the recession – was somewhere around 20 percent. Methodologically similar statistics for the United States is about ten percent.
Besides, if you are not going to argue any points, why do you keep droning? You offer no facts, only a thick layer of bitterness hinting of regret that you left the United States. It gets boring.
One last point: you are apparently completely ignorant of what Sweden was like before the ’90s crisis. You would be well advised to read my book, out this summer, about the European economic crisis and how it compares to Sweden back in the ’90s.
Hi S R Larson!
What is your view on monetarism and the Chicago School of Economics? Are you critical against their theories?
Best regards Sigurd Sigurdsson
Monetarism has been given a bigger place in economics than it deserves. I find it difficult to match the modern monetary system with the foundations of monetarism. Money today is a much more complex phenomenon than it was when monetarism was developed. That said, I do agree with those who criticize excessively lax monetary policies, especially in Europe in general and in Sweden in particular. See my article on Sweden published October 28. But it is also important to keep in mind that expansionary monetary policy is not a problem so long as there is real-sector activity there to absorb the liquidity. Monetarists tend to believe that monetary policy can lead the economy, when in reality all the monetary system does is provide an adequate supply of liquidity for the real sector to function smoothly. Excess supply of liquidity, though, becomes a problem as my article explains.